posted on april 08, 2016 over at nytimes.com
by Hugh Dancy
For his bookshop and website One Grand Books, the editor Aaron Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. The next in the series is the actor Hugh Dancy, who shares his list exclusively with T.
“The Pickwick Papers,” Charles Dickens
When I need to read something that I know will fill my imagination, lift my spirits and also be effortless, I go to Dickens, and this is the most preposterously, comically overflowing of them all.
“Women in Love,” D.H. Lawrence
Nobody has ever written like Lawrence (except bad imitators, and nothing’s more embarrassing than knockoff Lawrence. Sometimes he’s pretty embarrassing, too). This novel transports you.
“Sabbath’s Theater,” Philip Roth
The most anarchic, provocative, lewd and brilliant Roth novel. It feels like it’s on fire.
“Lucky Jim,” Kingsley Amis
I was recommended this when I was a teenager trying to figure out how to start reading “serious” books. Great recommendation, because on the surface it’s nothing of the sort, but it is brilliant.
“My Struggle,” Karl Ove Knausgaard
In part because reading the first two gave me the unsettling sensation of knowing what it’s like to be someone else better than I know what it’s like to be me, and in part because including it might force me to read the remaining four.
“Tristram Shandy,” Laurence Sterne
You could spend years on the first chapter alone, in fact people have. But in a good way. There’s so much going on and so much reinvention it’s bewildering.
“The Big Sleep,” Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler is one of life’s great pleasures, ideally in a bath with a drink to hand.
“The Left Hand of Darkness,” Ursula K. Le Guin
Forced to pick a single sci-fi novel, I’ll go with this because, in ways even beyond most sci-fi, it is so far ahead of its time. You’re left believing entirely in the worlds she’s imagined, including a better version of this one.
“The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology,” P.G. Wodehouse
I know that on and off I’ll be reading this until I die.
“The Tremor of Forgery,” Patricia Highsmith
I could pick almost any of her novels — “Deep Water” would be another. This one is typically masterful in the way it measures out information and suggestion, laced with a growing sense of dread. And a great title.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the first three episodes of The Path.]
In the world of The Path, Hugh Dancy’s Cal has been a confident and charismatic leader within the religious movement at the center of the show. But the third episode of the series gave viewers a glimpse at what’s been going on beneath the surface, and what was revealed was pretty dark. Not only is Cal helping to conceal the deathbed illness of the founder of the movement, Steve Meyer, but he’s using that information to position himself as the next leader of the movement.
Viewers also learned a lot more about Cal’s background through a toxic visit with his alcoholic mother (played by Kathleen Turner) and learned how close to the edge he lives. The Hollywood Reporter talked to Dancy about what all this means for Cal, and whether we can trust his motivations.
This episode is quite a turning point for Cal. He’s been kind of mysterious up to this point. Given what happens with him, was it important to learn something sympathetic about him, that he’s coming from this background with alcoholic parents, at the same time that we learn he’s keeping this huge secret from the movement?
I didn’t think of it as a counterbalance, exactly. For me, actually, the fact of him keeping the secret, I’m as sympathetic towards that as I am towards the difficulties of his background, because I think that he’s chosen to do something that is incredibly difficult and lonely in order to preserve this thing that he believes in. And I guess what you understand by seeing him with his mum and learning a bit about his background is why it’s so important to him and why, in a sense, he couldn’t afford to have this belief system collapse because it’s probably the only thing that’s holding him together. So the two things inform each other a bit.
So part of why he feels compelled to go that far is that he needs this movement as much as the movement needs Steve to still be alive.
I think, yeah. He’s taking on that responsibility for lots of very complicated reasons, but one of them is just simple self-preservation. And you could also say, and I’m sure he would say, that he can speak personally to the power of message and the beauty of the message and its ability to save people, so why wouldn’t he want to preserve that message for other people? That’s part of it.