Hilary Weston Prize: JJ Lee wants to dine with...

hilary-weston-writers-trust-80.jpgTo celebrate the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction shortlist, we've teamed up with the Writers' Trust and Loblaws to bring you the Feed Your Mind contest. We've been asking readers which nonfiction writer they'd most like to dine with, what they'd serve and what they'd ask them.

The shortlisted authors have gotten in on the fun as well! Here is what JJ Lee, author of The Measure of a Man, had to say:

jj-lee-profile.jpgI'm in a certain mood. So the answer goes: The memoirist I would like most to have over for dinner, and by "having over for dinner" I mean 'take out to a Texas barbeque,' is Larry McMurtry, the author most well-known for writing the novel Lonesome Dove and the screenplay (with Diana Ossana) of Brokeback Mountain.

McMurtry has written wonderful memoirs about a life spent reading, storytelling, writing, and, this is important, collecting books. I have been a collector of a number of obsolete technologies: manual portable typewriters before, film cameras, and, yes, books. So, I identify with McMurtry.

When I read in McMurtry's Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen and then AGAIN in another of his books, Literary Life: A Second Memoir, the offhand boast that he once owned H.P. Lovecraft's copy of Melmoth the Wanderer, I knew I had found a kindred spirit.

McMurtry is older and I worry he would have dietary restrictions. If he didn't, we could perhaps split two pounds of dry salt and pepper ribs in the German smokehouse style that I'm sure he is familiar with. We'd feast off brown butcher paper on a picnic or bench table.

Potato salad and a few soda crackers would be on the side. There is one pit in East Texas that  serves only tinned peaches as dessert. He'd be welcome to order it and the drink unique to his part of Texas, Dr. Pepper and lime. I would stick with a bottle of Coke.

I'd ask him how he came across H.P. Lovecraft's copy of Melmoth and, if I may be so bold, I'd ask to whom he sold it and for how much.

Later, we would drive back to Archer City, still talking about the thrill and agony of buying, trading, selling and collecting.

In Archer City, he owns an antiquarian bookshop spread throughout the entire town. Apparently every third door in Archer City will lead to a portion of his stock of titles. Heaven.

As the sun sets and we sit on the porch, I would ask Larry, 'How have you been able to keep writing all these years?'

Then we would talk about the photography of Richard Avedon and Avedon's series, In the American West.

Then, when it got good and dark, we would gossip about Cybill Shepherd, who was the ingenue on the set of The Last Picture Show.

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