Author and Former New York Times Chief Critic Interviews Himself About His Quest for Doing Nothing

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www.shadowteams.com

Q AND A

BERNARD HOLLAND: What were your goals in life? Have you achieved them?

BH: From an early age my life’s ambition was to do absolutely nothing. After 60-odd years of obstacles and detours I am nearing my goal.

BERNARD HOLLAND Who was your role model?

BH: Friends of D.H. Lawrence say that he would sit in a chair for four or five hours at a stretch, immobile and silent. I’m not a big fan of his books (I do love “The Sea and Sardinia”) but he’s my kind of man.

BERNARD HOLLAND: What have you been reading?

BH: Georges Perec’s “Life: A User’s Manual” _ a huge encyclopedia of things that interest me; Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” – I read one volume, and rush to the next;. At the moment Joseph Roth’s delicious little newspaper items from 1920s Germany (“The Hotel Years”) ; Next for me is Houellebecq’s “Submission” and Edward St. Aubyn’s newest.

BERNARD HOLLAND: What books on music do you read?

BH: Very few. I admired Ian McEwan’s “Amsterdam” for nailing the contemporary music community (spot-on, uncanny}.Thomas Bernhard’s fantasy Glenn Gould (“The Loser”) is fun too

BERNARD HOLLAND: Do you read critics?

BH: I always keep up with Alex Ross. I’ve read things by Justin Davidson I admire. I like the depth and civility of British music magazine writers but they are usually engaged in a kind of Consumer Reports (this performance is better than that one). I try not to listen that way. Every performance is different; learn from each of them. The New York Times has some interesting new stringers.

BERNARD HOLLAND: How are you coping with retirement?

BH: During my working years I was surrounded by connoisseurs and experts always happy to lift me to their stratospheric levels of wonderfulness. Retirement has freed me from the chains of excellence. Mediocrity interests me. My scotch is at the bottom of Johnny Walker’s color chart. Great wine gives me hives. I doze in the arms of the second-rate. Oh how happy I am.

BERNARD HOLLAND: What are you listening to these days?

BH:. Silence. It’s very powerful.

—– to order your copy of Holland’s Something I Heard, click on the title.

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