I am balancing three books right now. One is The Birth of Venus by British writer Sarah Dunant. It's a story about a woman growing up in Florence in the 15th century during the rise of Savonarola, the crazed monk. It's a really skillful kind of intertwining of love story and murder mystery and the coming of age of a young woman - and very rigorously told in terms of its historical perspective. I'm also reading the latest Harry Potter ["Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"]. I'm a sucker for an orphan story. And I'm reading David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day. I think he's very talented, very funny.
... Listening to?
I'm obsessed with this record that a lady named Juliana Hatfield made a long time ago, called "Become What You Are." I bought it when it came out [in 1993], but I rediscovered it on iTunes. I don't know what happened to her, but it's just a great record with all these great songs on it.
I love Extras, the Ricky Gervais show. I think The Office [which Gervais created and starred in] is one of the most brilliant things that's ever been on any screen, big or small. "Extras" is a tiny bit more self-conscious, but I think he's a genius. The brilliance of "The Office" was ... it took place in this existential wasteland of this paper company, and the banality of that provided this sublime backdrop for what went on in the world of this show. Whereas [with "Extras"], there's something about a movie set that's obviously a little more familiar, but still I love it. The best movie I've seen in a while is The Squid and the Whale. It kind of raises the bar for the modern divorce-fueled coming-of-age story. Talk about sad and funny. There is a really truthful, original tone to the dialogue.
• "The Ice Harvest" will be released Nov. 23. "Casanova" comes out Dec. 25.