Best answer yet to that question

By rocker Susanna Hoffs:

It’s worth it for me to remember that, because I am a bit of a snob formalist when it comes to evaluating published writing (prose or verse).

The NYTimes “By the Book” series is always fun, especially when writers put on airs when trying not to. As in Janet Malcolm:

What books are on your nightstand?

I take it you mean the imaginary Doric column that supports a teetering pile of current and old books that the interviewee wants to bring to the reader’s attention. My actual nightstand is a small wood table with a box of Kleenex, a two-year-old Garnet Hill catalog and a cough drop on it. When I go to bed I bring with me the book I am reading during the day. Right now it is the British edition of Sally Rooney’s brilliant, enigmatic new novel, “Normal People.”

I own all of Malcolm’s books and will always mourn that I never met her, no matter how much she might have disapproved of me.

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