Alan Riding is a writer for The New York Times. He served for 12 years as the European cultural correspondent for the paper. He has also served as The Times bureau chief in Paris, Madrid, Rio de Janerio and Mexico City. Riding is the author of Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans, and most recently, of And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris. Before discussing whether artists have a moral responsibility in war, Riding sat down for our In The Green Room Q&A.
Q. Where would we find you at 10 a.m. on a typical Saturday?
A. At the gym. Very boring.
Q. What music have you listened to today?
A. It’s terrible but I don’t think I’ve listened to any. I do listen to music a lot, but just the circumstances of being in a hotel, I couldn’t.
Q. What do you consider to be the greatest simple pleasure?
A. Sitting watching my grandson play.
Q. What surprises you most about your life right now?
A. That I have so many friends.
Q. What do you wish you had the nerve to do?
A. It’s a bit late now, but at a certain point, to run for political office.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional character?
Q. What is your favorite cocktail?
Q. When do you feel most creative?
A. After I’ve dealt with all my bureaucracy, after lunch, with a cigar in my hand.
Q. What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
A. Concert pianist.
Q. If you could take only one more journey, where would you go?
A. The moon.
Q. What is your most prized material possession?
A. In truth I could walk away from everything. But there is one thing I do value, a late 17th or early 18th century painting of the Virgen of Guadalupe.
Q. What should you throw away but haven’t been able to part with?
A. I’m very good at throwing things away, but I suppose old clippings.
Q. Who is the one person living or dead that you would most like to meet for dinner?
A. Shakespeare. He’s such an elusive person, even to the point that whether he exists is questionable. It would be wonderful to see if there was any link between the person I was having dinner with and the person we know as Shakespeare.
To read more about Riding’s talk, click here.
*Photo by Sarah Rivera.