I’ve Probably Wasted Years of My Life Playing Computer Solitaire

Writer Francine Prose Likes Libraries and Deep-Fried Foods

Francine Prose is the award-winning author of many books of fiction and nonfiction, including Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife. She is also a former president of PEN American Center. Before joining a panel discussion on the virtues of gluttony and feasting, she talked in the Zócalo green room about heroes, superpowers, and being alone.

Q:
What superpower would you most like to have?

A:
You know, flight wouldn’t be bad. It would spare you a lot of airport time.

Q:
What’s your least favorite thing about the Internet?

A:
Computer solitaire—I’m addicted, and I’ve probably wasted years of my life.

Q:
Who was your childhood hero?

A:
I watched a lot of TV. We had one of the first TVs on the block, and I was into early TV. Early cowboys: The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers. Not so much Dale Evans.

Q:
Where do you go to be alone?

A:
My desk, the inside of my brain. That’s why I’m a writer. It’s not exactly the most social thing you can do.

Q:
What food are you most likely to eat too much of?

A:
Pasta. Certainly pasta. Anything deep fried ... or everything deep fried.

Q:
What’s the biggest misconception people have about Anne Frank?

A:
That she wrote that book from start to finish, that she lay on the floor kicking her legs in the air. She was a maniacal reviser—people didn’t seem to know that about her. And she was ambitious. She wanted to be published.

Q:
What’s your favorite thing about the New York Public Library?

A:
The 42nd Street branch is incredible. I had one of those fellowships to the Cullman Center, and I got to be there before the library opened. And the Berg Collection. They have the paw of Dickens’ cat. They have Virginia Woolf’s walking stick. They have everything.

Q:
What profession would you like to practice in your next life?

A:
A musician for sure. I want to be Tina Turner in my next life. I don’t think she wants to be a writer in her next life.

*Photo by Jake Fabricius.