RHYS BOWEN: At the end of August I was crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2. On the second day out we awoke to high seas and gale force winds. Rain peppered the windows and we had to hold on to walk anywhere. (Luckily it was the one rough day. The rest were smooth, bright and beautiful). But the first thing that came into my head when I saw those waves were the words "None of them knew the color of the sky."
They are, of course, from the opening line of Stephen Crane's The Open Boat, a story of surviving a shipwreck. It made a big impression on me when I first read it. The rest of the first paragraph goes like this: None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level, and were fastened upon the waves that swept toward them. These waves were of the hue of slate, save for the tops, which were of foaming white, and all of the men knew the colors of the sea. The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks.
Jane Austen, of course. I'd love to be known for Pride and Prejudice.
Walt Whitman's poetry. I'd like to sing the body electric.
Robert Frost's poetry. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood sums up my life.
More recently Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, A. S. Byatt's Possession,
and in our field Tony Hillerman's Southwest, Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height.
So how about you: What do you wish you had written?
HALLIE EPHRON: Oh, Rhys - great choices!
I just finished GONE GIRL and I wish I'd written it -- I've been a Gillian Flynn fan since her debut with "Sharp Objects." She writes completely riveting novels with nary a likeable characters. That's writing.
Also wish I'd written: Olive Kitteridge (Elizabth Strout); The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)... and The Da Vinci Code, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and all the Harry Potter novels.
And I'm with ya, Hallie, on The DaVinci Code. That would have been fun. Oh! Presumed Innocent. Mos def. A really good and fair surprise ending beats all.
JAN BROGAN - I wish I'd written The Remains of the Day. And I really wish I'd written Lonesome Dove.
I'd also be happy if I wrote The Big Short, but only if I could have done as good a job as Michael Lewis.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, tough one, Rhys. Like you, A.S. Byatt's Possession. Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night. Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales. Lord of the Rings and all the Harry Potter books:-) Non-fiction? Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa. Such a simple opening line: "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of Ngong Hills." Once read, never forgotten. Crime novels; Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height is brilliant. There are so many more....
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Look, I'd naturally be proud to have written any of the books mentioned, but I'm much more likely to think - I wish I'd written that sentence or paragraph - not an entire book. It's not ego, just the way my brain works.
RHYS: Okay, I confess. I wish I'd written Harry Potter. Not just because of the money it has made but because of the way Rowling created a universe and the warm, terrific characters she put in it.
So let's hear from you. Is there one work of literature that you wish you had written?.