This interview with artist Pegge Hopper originally appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser in December, 2006. Our conversation was among the best I’ve had in thirteen months of writing this column. On a side note, Hopper recently illustrated a charming children’s book called A Clever Dog.

What I’m Reading | Pegge Hopper

Q&A with Christine Thomas

–What are you reading?

I’m addicted to the New Yorker; when it comes I drop everything. That, American Prospect, Harper’s and the Atlantic Monthly are my favorite magazines. When I was in Mexico last month I read “The Book of Salt” by Monique Truong, and I love Harriet Doerr. The last book of hers I finished was a collection of short stories called “The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions.” She has written beautifully and sensitively about Mexico.

–What do you like about it?

It’s mostly her sensitivity to details. “The Book of Salt” was interesting and you were very conscious of the writing—for me the writing overpowered the story. But with Durer you’re so wrapped up in her sensitive descriptions and the story she’s telling that it almost transports you to the place.

–Is Durer also captivating because you, too, focus on delicate elements of composition to transport viewers to a fictional, painted world?

You may be right. There’s a gentleness about Durer, but underneath that gentleness there’s a really strong spine. She writes from strength but the things she notices about life are very gentle and sensitive and beautiful. I don’t consider myself to be literary—I guess I just want to be transported, not necessarily challenged. I really do love beauty. I used to balk at being called a decorative artist, but now I don’t care. There’s nothing wrong with loving beauty.