Welcome to “Marginal Interests,” a series highlighting the varied reading habits of the local comp community. This month, we spoke to Matthew Monson, attorney with his own Monson Law Firm, based in Mandeville. Read on for his take on reading for expanded perspective.
Comp Blog: What’s your favorite book of all time and what speaks to you about it?
Monson: I’d have to say it’s A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole. The characters are outrageous and memorable and the book’s New Orleans roots are obviously close to home for me. What strikes me the most about it though is how hard Ignatius Reilly works to be lazy, I think about that and that attitude in the world a lot.
Comp Blog: Any favorite literary characters from childhood or now?
Monson: I read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in high school and Raskolnikov is an exceptional character. I’m interested in how that novel looks at shame as a force behind self-promotion, and ultimately, insanity. We certainly live in a culture that hides in plain sight that way, especially with social media.
Comp Blog: What genres do you gravitate to the most?
Monson: I primarily read novels, but I also follow a lot of political writing from various perspectives, not all of it in book form.
Comp Blog: What are the non-book forms? What type of political writing?
Monson: It’s mainly an internet rabbit hole, but I’ve always been interested in politics. One of the things that’s struck me about the current presidential campaigns is this push toward “outsider politics.” The reality is, those on the far right and the far left have more in common than they are lead to believe, but this has been especially apparent with the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters. On the local level, Jeremy Alford’s blog LaPolitics is one of my go-tos.
Comp Blog: What’s your book collection like (paper or digital, organized or chaotic, etc.)?
Monson: My book collection is a mixture of a few selected old books, some high school and college favorites, along with a few downloads. I prefer to have paper, but reading on a device is much more accessible. My ten-year-old daughter, Jessica, is a voracious reader and has taken over our shelf space. She would rather read than watch television or play video games. We also download a lot of books for the family.
Comp Blog: Any favorite book stores around town?
Monson: We mostly order books from Amazon, either print or digital.
Comp Blog: How do you think reading benefits your personal or professional life?
Monson: I enjoy keeping up with the issues of the day, especially on international economics and politics. It allows me the opportunity for great conversation over a few cocktails with friends and business contacts.