Books We Love and a Few Books We Don't


Clay Smith

1. Crossing Shattuck Bridge: Stories by Annette Sanford
2. Whompyjawed by Mitch Cullin
3. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
4. No Other Book by Randall Jarrell, edited by Brad Leithauser

1. Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt
2. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius by Ray Monk
3. Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice by A.S. Byatt
4. The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol translated by Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear
5. The Harry Potter Books
6. Sight-Readings: American Fictions by Elizabeth Hardwick
7. My Pilgrim's Progress: Media Studies, 1950-1998 by George W.S. Trow

Desert Island
1. Confessions by St. Augustine
2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
4. The Dialogues of Plato
5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
6. Emma by Jane Austen
7. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
9. The Metamorphoses by Ovid
10. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus

I went regional last year and got my panties all in a wad because of it. Again and again throughout 1999, I felt that I had "found" fine writers published by small presses who deserve more coverage than is typically given to books from small presses. So I huffed and I puffed and I -- tried to cover in a persuasive manner the authors I liked who write with a sense of place. I actually spent time last year lamenting the existence of those pitiable readers who weren't aware of the regional writers I had determined should be on the world stage. That's because I detest that hackneyed notion that goes something like this: "If I can affect just one person with what I have to say, then I will have done some good in this world." The truth is, when there are so many books to cover, reaching just one person isn't at all good enough. So here's to being content with the experience of finding a book you like, reading it, and doing what you can to share it with others.

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