Marc Acito's debut novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater, won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, was selected an Editors' Choice by the New York Times, and is in development at Columbia Pictures. He is an irregular contributor to All Things Considered, the New York Times, and Live Wire Radio.
Here's part of a Q & A from his website:
Read the entire Q & A.
Who are your five favorite authors, and why?There are four authors whose laundry lists I’d read if they were available, because I’ve already read everything else they’ve written:
1. Agatha Christie. Despite the fact that I don’t write genre mysteries, I continually return to her books to relish their page-turning, corkscrew tight plots. I still find them totally absorbing and love to get lost in them.
2. Dorothy Parker. The best comedy for me is the kind that is born out of emotional pain. Parker writes about dark emotions in a light way. I aspire to do the same in my work. I think of it as making a soufflé out of garbage.
3. David Sedaris. Likewise, Sedaris mines his own dysfunction with an eye for the absurd detail, and I strive to do the same. Readers of my column, ‘The Gospel According to Marc’, which is also first-person and non-fiction, have often compared my voice to his, and I’m flattered by the comparison.
4. Christopher Isherwood. I’m endlessly fascinated by bourgeois oppression. I just can’t get enough of stories about uptight people losing their inhibitions, (I’m especially fond of Merchant-Ivory costume dramas and movies in which teenagers lose their virginity.) I love the way Isherwood fictionalized his own experiences.
I’m also a big admirer of Nick Hornby, J.K. Rowling, Michael Chabon, Alan Gurganus, Toni Morrison, Michael Cunningham and Chuck Palahniuk. My guilty airplane reads are Dan Brown, John Grisham, Michael Crichton and E. Lynn Harris.
Of the famous dead writers, I regularly return to Dickens, Austen and Forster, all of whom make me laugh out loud.
Check out the Page 99 Test: How I Paid for College.