Laurie wrote: “… someone has to ask (and it might as well be me) … what is your favorite book, Avi? (No fair saying it’s whatever book you’re currently working on.)”
Let me answer this in two parts: The reason why many writers say their current project is their favorite book seems fairly obvious: They are completely engaged in it, and it seems to be full of possibilities. In fact, it can be a problem when that current project is NOT the favorite book. It takes very much more energy to start anew each day.
As for which is my favorite book, I truly don’t have one. As per the above, I’m too engaged in too many projects to go back and be nostalgic about any one work. I truly want the next book to be my “best.” That said, there are books of mine that while sometimes overlooked, are books which I think in terms of, “I did such-and-such particularly well.” I think of Beyond the Western Sea, Seer of Shadows, City of Orphans, in that way. I think of the forthcoming, The Most Important Thing as one of my better books.
While I don’t believe in perfect books (not by me, anyway) I confess, if there is any one of my books that word for word, sentence for sentence, gives me great satisfaction, it is The Barn.
Dealing with the care a boy (Oregon, 1840’s) gives his mortally ill father, it is upsetting to people who have had no such experience. But for those who have dealt with similar issues, it seems to strike a very deep chord.
It was triggered by a casual remark I heard about the building of an old barn, and the almost simultaneous news of my father’s illness. While it is in no way autobiographical, those two events allowed me, in Paula Fox’s injunction, to do what writers need to do, that is, “To imagine the truth.”
Favorite book? Not quite. But, well, almost. The Barn. Try it.