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Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area (South Pasadena, to be exact). Her first language was Farsi, her second (and luckily[…]

“Wuthering Heights” to start.

Question: What’s in your personal literary canon?

Khakpour:    Well I have a completely obsessive love for “Wuthering Heights” like I think many writers do.  But I think it’s probably the only novel I’ve ever cared to re-read, and re-read, and re-read.  I hate the idea of re-reading, but “Wuthering Heights” is a big one because the whole book is so eccentric, and so passionate, and crazy, and delirious, you know?  It’s too bad the chic lit writers didn’t go by that model, because it’s a romance, you know?  But it’s done in such an eccentric, wild manner.  I love it.  Then I would say “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace, of course.  That’s a big one because of the relentless innovation, and the play as well as the ___________.  “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon, a big one.  Boy this is a hard one.  This is brutal.  I’ve had three.

I would say a very important novel definitely would be Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”, which I get into fights with people about because I like it better than “Midnight’s Children”.  And I like it as much for the story and the prose as much as for its significance.  It’s not just a book, but it’s an important cultural moment.  And then . . .  And then probably I would have to put a tie between two books I find similar – James Salter’s “Light Years” and Richard Yates’ “Revolutionary Road” – which I always think of hand-in-hand because they have the similar obsession.  But I like that American novel.  To me those are the great American novels, and I like the clean nature . . . the clean prose.  It’s very different from my own, and I think I can learn a lot from that sort of writing.  Yeah, I think those are it.