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.
What superpower would you most like to have?
You know, flight wouldn’t be bad. It would spare you a lot of airport time.
What’s your least favorite thing about the Internet?
Computer solitaire—I’m addicted, and I’ve probably wasted years of my life.
Who was your childhood hero?
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.
Where do you go to be alone?
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.
What food are you most likely to eat too much of?
Pasta. Certainly pasta. Anything deep fried ... or everything deep fried.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about Anne Frank?
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.
What’s your favorite thing about the New York Public Library?
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.
What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
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.