Entertainment Weekly interviewed Ms. Collins last week and asked her a few questions about “the books she loves.”
What did we learn? Well, for one thing, that Katniss’ last name is a hat-tip to Thomas Hardy and the heroine of Far from the Madding Crowd (Team Gale, take heart! The original Miss Everdene returns to her first admirer in the end).
Not too surprisingly, she reveals that she loved myth collections as a child-reader and that Wrinkle in Time and The Phantom Tollbooth were also favorites.
Her favorites? The books she re-reads frequently?
Your thoughts? Has anyone read The Hot Zone? Any quick connections between favorite books and authors — L’Engle, Blair/Orwell, Hemingway — and The Hunger Games?
Here’s my off-the-top-of-the-head survey to jump-start the conversation:
Far from the Madding Crowd: Ms. Collins says Katniss and Bathsheeba “are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts.” I’m with her on “very different” but the heroine of Hardy’s classic doesn’t inspire much sympathy in her heart struggles relative to Katniss’.
A Wrinkle in Time: Young woman fights Central/Capitol to save those she loves with not a little religious artistry and meaning. Here’s a match.
The Phantom Tollbooth: The existentialist’s Pilgrim’s Progress in the guise of a children’s book, Tollbooth is not only drop-dead funny, well, punny, but also an immersion in the contradictions and madness of the nominalist age in which we live. It’s a critique of our times in a children’s fantasy novel, so there is a connection, but it’s a reach beyond that, no? Milo and Katniss are almost absolute contraries except being caught in a story they don’t understand.
1984: Dystopian classic and the nightmare of our times. The one book I think we all would have guessed was on this list.
Lord of the Flies: The horrors children are capable of, Flies is a nice set-up for the madness of the Hunger Games, in which, of course, the whole point is that children murder children.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: New to me — anyone familiar with this book care to draw connections?
Germinal: Now we know why Katniss is from an oppressed mining district. Look for a remarkably claustrophobic finale in Mockingjay, if it’s a Germinal knock-off, with Peter, Gale, and Katniss trapped underground by a vengeful President Snow or even by an angry Haymitch.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: [Shudder] Reading this is hard work; the thought of re-reading it is downright scary to me. And to do so repeatedly? Wow. If this book is a big influence on Mockingjay, we are about to have the “undependable narrator” experience of our lives.
A Moveable Feast: This one has me shaking my head. Ms. Collins isn’t very big on scene descriptions or detailed character profiles or long reflections. Is it the Hemingway terseness of language? You got me.
If I am ever asked to write Katniss Everdeen’s Bookshelf, I now know the titles in the table of contents. Thank you, Ms. Collins.
I look forward to reading your ideas about the Entertainment Weekly interview and Ms. Collins’ best-loved books.