Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Is a book the same book―or a reader the same reader―the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never.
The editor of Rereadings is Anne Fadiman, and readers of her bestselling book Ex Libris will find this volume especially satisfying. Her chosen authors include Sven Birkerts, Allegra Goodman, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Phillip Lopate, and Luc Sante; the objects of their literary affections range from Pride and Prejudice to Sue Barton, Student Nurse.
These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.
alluringly non-Catholic. In fact, it appeared she was not religious at all, perhaps an agnostic. This was all good, good news. I can’t think of Katherine Mansfield without conjuring Doris Derman—not because she entrusted her books to me and set me on the particular literary path (favoring clarity and immediacy, the bittersweet but fundamentally comic point of view) that I still think of as the high road. Not even because she introduced me to the “personal voice” in literature when she handed me
S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy aloud to him. I had originally read it when I was eight myself, and although I’d reread the better-known Narnia books—The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Magician’s Nephew; The Silver Chair—in the interim, more than forty years had passed since I’d read The Horse and His Boy. Reading a favorite book to your child is one of the most pleasurable forms of rereading, provided the child’s enthusiasm is equal to yours and thus gratifyingly validates your literary
that changed everything. I suddenly knew what I would be, and even though visual art continued to tug at me, I never really deviated from my course. I knew that I would soon be an impossibly young writer of astounding gifts and wisdom far beyond his years. I quickly acquired some secondhand books, all of them titled something like How to Write for Publication, and had my parents get me a subscription to Writer’s Digest. These sources gave counsel on how to compose a cover letter, how to begin a
published to profit from the release of a new film version starring Peter O‘Toole, with a breathless blurb promising a lusty tale of adventure on a tropical isle. Lawrence of Arabia, which I had seen two years earlier, was my first important experience at the cinema: when I saw young O’Toole, with those soul-impaling pale blue eyes, pirouette in the desert in his Arab robes, my heart stopped, seized by the deepest throes of romantic hero worship. Richard Brooks’s film version of Lord Jim, with
the prohibitions that watchfulness creates, I think I heard Lawrence even more powerfully than I had twenty-five years before, enjoining me to read and listen with the soul (as he does, preeminently, in his Studies in Classic American Literature), and taking me precisely to those areas where words are of no use. Lawrence approaches the world, his characters, and even the reader as if he were their lover (and an impatient, restless lover at that), and taking him on his own terms, as one has to do,