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Bibliomania

Books We Love and a Few Books We Don't

January 7, 2000, Books

Tom Grimes

Year
1. Out of the Woods: Stories by Chris Offutt
2. Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine: Stories by Thom Jones
3. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges: Stories by Nathan Englander
4. Borrowed Hearts: New and Selected Stories by Rick DeMarinis
5. The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie

Decade
1. Underworld by Don Delillo
2. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
3. Independence Day by Richard Ford
4. City of Quartz by Mike Davis
5. The Goldbug Variations by Richard Powers
6. Chaos by James Gleick
6. The Iliad and The Odyssesy translated by Robert Fagles
7. The Origins of Satan by Elaine Pagels
8. The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett
9. A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Desert Island
1. The Collected Shakespeare
2. The Dialogues of Plato
3. The Tanakh
4. The Tao Te Ching
5. The Divine Comedy
6. The Roaring Stream: A Zen Reader
7. The Collected Stories of Kafka
8. The Upanishads
9. Masks of God by Joseph Campbell
10. Desert Island Style by Martha Stewart

I think it's best to take the long view with regard to literature. As you can see from my desert island list, only works that ultimately speak to the divine, or our relationship to the divine, matter. The rest is just typing. I feel priveleged to be able to participate in the literary life. I believe that we all, writers and readers together, work toward the creation of the great works that, as Nietzsche said, make existence bearable. I also agree with Socrates, who claimed that only works that seek the truth are true works of art. Truth isn't a popular or agreed-upon word or concept these days, thanks to the idiocies and evasions of literary theory, which is no more than the flip side of religious fundamentalism. It's secular totalitarianism. But I think truth will win out, since in seeking to express it we, according to Plato in the Phaedrus, offer ourselves to one another in love. And that's something we will never find in pop or commercial culture, no matter how fast things go, no matter how many choices we have. We will find this only, as before, in the music of one human voice speaking with love to another.

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