Books We Love and a Few Books We Don't
1. Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell
2. Life in Double Time: Confessions of an American Drummer by Mike Lankford
3. My Pilgrim's Progress: Media Studies 1950-1998 by George W.S. Trow
1. Anything by Martin Amis or Don Delillo
1. Collected Shakespeare plays
2. Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night
3. An imaginary book of the best of the New Journalism that might include parts of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the first half of Mailer's The Executioner's Song, sections of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, and some Southern and Texas practitioners that would include Terry Southern, Robert Sherrill, Larry. L. King, and Dave Hickey.
4. Selected works by Charles Portis including Norwood, True Grit, and Dog of the South.
5. Selected works of A.J. Leibling that would include The Earl of Louisiana.
6. Songbooks with lyrics by Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, and Randy Newman.
7. Compilations of cartoons by Walt Kelly (Pogo Possum) and R. Crumb.
8. The Annotated Lolita and Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov.
9. Recipes and food writing by James Beard and Elizabeth David.
10. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust.
Ponderous Paragraph on Trends:
1999 was not a stellar year for publishing other than providing an opportunity to think about the centenary anniversary of three giants: Hemingway, Nabokov, and Borges. For me the space devoted to Hemingway was refreshing because of my spring trip to Havana, where Hemingway is very much alive and well. No American writer has been more psychoanalyzed and vilified, yet his early work and the swath he cut through the stylish Twenties and Thirties in Europe, Florida, and Cuba does endure. At his house outside Havana, his memory is carefully preserved with the contents of the rooms preserved as if he had just stepped out.
For me, Nabokov and Borges, the chess player and the librarian, created the intellectual framework and style of the century after the heroes of modernism.
Locally and in Texas, this year's publishing and writing seemed robust, with worthwhile new books from the usual talent with which we are blessed. The spring of 2000 looks like a blockbuster to me with the new long-awaited novels written by Steve Harrigan and Bud Shrake leading the way.