Booking Through Thursday -Endings

Booking Through Thursday

I had a couple of people (Readerville and Nithin) leave me suggestions in response to last week’s post on Beginnings, but this one was already on its way! I mean, it was the obvious next question….

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

I actually DOhave a favorite last sentence. It’s from Janet Evanovich’s Two For the Dough: Morelli tells Stephanie that she’s the worst bounty hunter ever, she gets mad and shoves him out the door, and tells him “This is war!” To which he flirtatiously replies:

“Lucky for me,” Morelli said. “I give good war.”

I’ve never suddenly liked a book simply for a great wrap-up sentence. If the last 300 pages sucked, one final sentence isn’t going to change that. What the last sentence is for me is the parting kiss of an intimate friend. Depending on the quality of our relationship, that kiss may be something that warms my heart and helps me hold onto the joy and pride and love I’ve felt, or it can be a kiss I’m in a hurry to get through, happy it’s over so I’ll never have to see it again and awkward because the kiss-giver doesn’t realize how much I can’t stand it.

I think beginnings and endings provide a frame, but if the middle is terrible then the reader will never make it to the end. Great Bs and Es with a crap middle is like taking an antique frame and putting your kindergartners stick people drawing in it. Likewise, a flat B and E with a phenomenal middle is like hanging a Monet over the garbage can.

Mishka Book Giveaway!

An Adoption Tale

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is a beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written book about Mo the bear’s journey finding a family and home. It’s a great story for all children and perfect for opening the discussion of adoption. In the tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit, this emotionally touching story is written from the point of view of a stuffed bear.

I am giving away a beautiful, brand-new! copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale. It has been signed by Bashista. Maggie and I reviewed Mishka (click here for the review), and I interviewed Mishka‘s author Adrienne Ehlert Bashista.

So here are the rules:
1. Post a comment here for your entry. (I will save comment information from this post for contact info, if you’re not entered here, then you’re not entered.)
2. Post this giveaway on your blog, then let me know, for two extra entries.
3. Post a comment on the review for another entry.
4. Post a comment on my interviewwith Bashista for another entry.
5. Doing all four will get you two more entries, for a total of seven chances to win.

This contest is open until Saturday, August 9th.  I will announce the winner in my Sunday Salon post on the 10th.   So get busy and enter already!

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

Title: Mishka: An Adoption Tale
Author: Adrienne Ehlert Bashista
Illustrator: Miranda R. Mueller
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: DRT Press
Publish Date: 2007
ISBN: 9781933084015

Mo sat high on a shelf in an airport gift shop.
Every day he watched as people rushed by. He wondered where they were going, and what they were like. Often, he’d see a mother and a father and some children and he’d long for them to come into the shop and buy him, but no one ever did.
More than anything, Mo wanted a family. He wanted a home.

Mo’s feelings echo those of any child living in an orphanage, watching people and families going about their own busy lives. When Mo finds himself in the company of a man and a woman, he wonders where they’re going. When they land in Russia, he asks if it’s their home. And at the orphanage, he wonders who they are seeing. Throughout the whole book, it’s Mo’s uncertainty that we hear, which of course reflects the child’s feelings.

It is for these children Bashista has written Mishka: An Adoption Tale. This is quite a beautiful book, both the detailed illustrations and the story are captivating and heartwarming. Mishka walks the reader through the process: the initial visit between prospective parents and child, then claiming the child and getting the paperwork in order, and finally the going home. However, it’s not an “instructional” or even a chronicle of events, instead it’s written from the point of view of Mo the bear who is the thread that connects the couple and the child throughout the story.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’ve read it three or four times already. I just can’t stop smiling whenever I look through it. Mo the bear’s body language and facial expressions change on each page, expressing the feelings of the moment. He is the ball in the game of catch, and he is the comfort object during the couple’s absence.

Maggie’s review:

I really loved this book. I liked Mo the bear and want one of my own. They should make a Mo to sell with the book so I can hold him while we read the book. My favorite part is when the man and the boy play catch with Mo as the ball. I think this book is so sweet! And I love the drawings, they’re pretty. The book has two stories in it. One story is about the little boy’s adoption. The other story is about Mo the bear getting a family and a home. I thought the part at the beginning when he’s on the shelf and nobody wants to buy him is sad, but if somebody had bought him then he wouldn’t have been Yuri’s Mishka. This book is for children in Russia who are getting adopted. I give this book 100 stars out of 5 stars. I really really liked it!

Mishka: An Adoption Tale is a perfect book for a classroom reading time book for ages 4 through 8 (though, Maggie’s 9 and loved it, too). It’s a wonderful conversation-starter and I found myself, quite unexpectedly, telling Maggie about how I had considered giving her up for adoption while I was pregnant with her. We talked about that for a while, as I explained to her that I had thought of it because I had wanted her to have the best life possible. I couldn’t do it, obviously, and I’m very glad I didn’t. I think the process makes her special to me because I chose to keep her. And I think adopted children are loved with that same special love because they were also chosen.

The ability of a book to draw out discussions of more difficult subjects without effort is a characteristic of an exceptional book, as is the ability to carry the reader along without the reader seeing the process, and Mishka does this.

I give Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista five out of five stars. :-D

Don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale!

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

Title:  The Sleeping Doll
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Hardcover: 398 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: 2007
ISBN: 9780743260947

I see violent crime like dropping a stone into a pond. The ripples of consequence can spread almost forever.

-The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deavers, page 40

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaversis an amazing labyrinthine crime thriller. Intelligent and highly suspenseful, the twist and turns of this novel kept me guessing and surprised me again and again to the very end. There were a few things here and there I could guess at, which is a nice thing for the author to do so I don’t feel completely stupid, but I could not anticipate many of the plot twist and revelations. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and Deaver might supplant Coben as my favorite crime thriller writer.

Set in scenic Monterey, California, The Sleeping Doll is the action packed story of Kathryn Dance, human lie detector and Kinesic Interregator for the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation). The first line of the book,

The interrogation began like any other.

Sets the reader’s feet on the track… let’s you know to lace up your running shoes… and quickly takes off. The interrogation is with Daniel Pell, dubbed “Son of Manson” for his cult-family set up, his belief he was a Svengali, and the clippings and books he had about the infamous La Bianca mastermind, Charles Manson.

When this sociopath is sprung from the minimal security of the county jail in an explosive and elaborate jail break, Pell begins racking up the body count while Dance and her team desperately hunt for him. They use everything at their disposal, including reuniting Pell’s “girls” and speaking with the sole survivor of the Crayton family murders for which Pell was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Theresa Crayton had been found sleeping among all the toys on her bed and had been dubbed by the media, “The Sleeping Doll”.

With the help of the women, among others, Dance nearly catches him a few times, but he always manages to be five minutes ahead of them. Is he that smart and lucky? or is someone helping him? Dance wonders. Throughout all this action that comes with the job, she also must balance children and family, and as a widow and mother, not to mention an attractive thirty-something woman, she must balance honoring the memory of her late husband, father of her children, with the practice of dating. I’m not sure which is tougher: Chasing maniac killers or raising teenagers while trying to date and meet people.

For me, this book was a blessing. After reading the disjointed and dull One More Year and the rather sleazy (but fun.. sort of… in that “caught touching yourself” way) Tan Lines, The Sleeping Dollwas a fantastic page-turner that was an absolute thrill to read! The kinesics (the interpretation of body language such as facial expressions and gestures) that is throughout the book made me very aware of my body whenever I spoke, and aware of others, too. It is a fascinating study, one I’ve always been interested in.

It does contain some profanity, a bit of sex, including forced and S & M, as well as violence, kidnapping and death. This book is not for those who are sensitive to violence, and is wholly inappropriate for anyone under the age of 16 (IMHO). I would rate this book R.

However, anyone seeking an exciting thrill ride of a book, The Sleeping Doll would make an arresting book to read! :-D

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday Thingers – Catalogue Me, Baby!

Today’s question: Cataloging sources. What cataloging sources do you use most? Any particular reason? Any idiosyncratic choices, or foreign sources, or sources you like better than others? Are you able to find most things through LT’s almost 700 sources?

This is a fairly easy question, as we are only really given three options:  Amazon, Library of Congress and that German thing.  Amazon is the only one I use except for the rare occasions that my book is so old Amazon doesn’t have a clue or the ARCs that I might have to hand enter.  I never knew there were more than those three, let alone nearly 700.

I use Amazon because I’m lazy.  It’s the first choice, the default choice really, and why would I click on the LoC if Amazon can get me what I want?

The Sunday Salon -Tan Lines and Lemonade Stands

The Sunday Salon.com

For some reason, I feel this week has been very unproductive. I’ve really only read one book this week, Tan Lines. I finished Sana Krasikov’s One More Year, and I’m about halfway through The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deavers.

I did receive a nomination for the Brilliante Weblog Premio 2008 award, finished my interview with Nam Le, author of The Boat. Technocrati set spiders loose, LT recommendations were discussed and favorite lines from books were shared.  But I still only read one book. :-(

Part of the reason for only reading one book is I can’t seem to keep away from the computer.  If I would just keep my happy butt off of it I could get some things done.  That problem will be remedied this week since Sammi, my 15-year-old, has come back from her dad’s and she’ll be taking over the ‘puter.  A second impediment to reading this week is people won’t leave me alone!  I no sooner than crack the spine and the phone rings or there’s a knock at the door.  Someone selling Amway products came by this week… Amway?!  I thought they were run out of the country back in the 80′s. 

Friday and Saturday I got nothing read… at all.  No, correct that, I got the same paragraph read… over and over… of Julius Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul.  Mags had Vacation Bible School this week and Friday was the program for their families.  Then she was invited to go to Indiana Beach, so she had a Fresh Baked Cookies and Lemonade stand yesterday.

Okay, when did a child showing inititive and motivation become the equivelent to begging? My stinky-head neighbors (the ones I don’t like) treated her like a leper because she was hawking her wares. She gave up on the stand after an hour and took her products door to door (just on our block where I could see her). She made enough to go, but her friend never came and picked her up to go. What the heck happened to decency? If her mom had decided she couldn’t take a friend, or if she’d picked a different friend as her plus one, she could’ve called to let Mags know. People!

-)

Mags and Sam with their blue tongues :-)

Then, of course, Sam came home and wanted to get her 3-weeks-attention last night. Mags missed her, as did their friend across the street, and they played until 10:30 to 11 o’clock last night.

So, here I am… nothing much in the way of bookish things to report. Last week was the fair, this week… not much excuse. Next week I’m gonna make it up and get three books done. I swear!! :-D

Oh, I almost forgot! My First Ever Giveaway!! has 691 entries. Prizes are now the $20 Borders gift card, plus two $10, and a $5 gift card. Another 9 entries, and I’m throwing in another $5, which makes the total prizes add up to $50. But, I’m thinking 700 entries is pretty monumental, so I’m giving the grand prize winner a mystery prize to boot. So don’t forget to enter!

Tan Lines by J. J. Salem

Title: Tan Lines
Author: J. J. Salem
Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: July 8, 2008
ISBN: 9780312374150

Normally, I like to start my reviews with a quote from the book. However, I think you’ll enjoy this video of Tan Lines’ first line the good people of St. Martins press has posted over at YouTube.

So with a first line like that, you’d think this book would definitely be a fun and steamy summer read, right?

Well, it’s definitely steamy. If you took all the sex out of it, Tan Lineswould probably be whittled down from the 306 pages to 220. AND, if you took out the drinking and doping, you’d be further reduced to about 190 pages (it would have been even less, but some of the drinking and doping is mixed in with the sex). Then, if you took out all the who’s wearing what designers clothes, shoes and undies… Undies, for cry-yi-yi! One line says Kellyanne stripped down to her La Perlas, I thought it was some new slang for being naked. Turns out La Perla is designer underwear… So taking out all fashion apparel text, it’s down to about 165 pages. Now, take out the name dropping, the “Kelly Ripa was at the table next to them” and “Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker was leaving as they were going in”, and the book would be cut down to about 158 pages.

With almost half of the original text cut, what is left? One hell of a story, to be honest. It could almost be a joke, or a Reality TV series: What happens when you take Hillary Clinton, Courtney Love, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck to the Hamptons to share the same house for the summer? That is kinda-sorta the premise of Tan Lines.

Of course that’s not enough to make a book, J. J. Salem (who is a guy by-the-by) adds Liza’s stalker, Kellyanne’s cruelly possessive sugar daddy, a closet party-guy neocon who’s hanging from the chandeliers on coked out benders with Billie while being engaged to a frosty-queen old money deb, Liza’s shiftless leach of a fireman husband who Liza believes is cheating (what’s really going on with his is a complete blindside), and several other characters hear and there that wouldn’t be a stretch to see killing one, or all, of the three.

Revealing that one, or all, of the characters will die is not a spoiler, by the way, because the prologue says: “…the way those girls had been in the beginning, before everything had gone so wrong.” and that the condo owner is remodelling because “she could not look at those ghastly bloodstains one more day.

Reviewing Tan Lines, for me, is an exercise in schitzoprhenic writing. On the one hand, I could seriously done without all the sex. Really. I learned things reading this book I had never heard of before, and I scored 36.6% on the purity test! Booty bumps and bleached bungholes were completely new concepts to me. After a while, Tan Lines’ sexual content had the same effect as the nude tribesmen in the National Geographic specials -after 20 minutes, you stop seeing their nakedness. Also, I really could have lived without all the drinking and drugs. AND I don’t care that much about fashion and designers.

But, on the other hand, I thought Salem’s writing is quite effective, his plot development compelling, and the twists and turns he throws in completely disarming. He is an exceptional storyteller, and his characters are very human -even if most are the dregs of society.

The ending was quite a surprise. For one, it was beautifully happy and fair. Second, it was inevitable. and Third, it was all of a sudden and shocking… and I just didn’t get why it couldn’t have been the rock star! It sucks, and it wasn’t fair.

There are some really wonderfully sweet scenes, as well. Liza’s blossoming relationship with her arch nemesis and Kellyanne’s realization that she’s more valuable than being some nasty old man’s sperm receptacle. When it comes to Billie, unfortunately the only epiphanies had are those of the people around her deciding she’s a lost cause and they’re better off exorcising her from their lives.

I would definitely say this book is an X rated book, but not erotica. It’s graphic and explicit, full of foul language, alcohol, and drugs… even forced sex on a couple occasions. It is NOT the book for the Christian Women’s book club. I probably wouldn’t even recommend Tan Lines to me. But I would have to say it’s a great read, very compelling, and sticks with you for a while… for better or worse.

Overall, I’m giving Tan Lines 4/5 stars.

Booking Through Thursday -Beginnings

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What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

The book I’m currently reading, Tan Lines by J.J. Salem, has a very memorable first line. St. Martin’s Press made up a little video where several people in a public park read the line on camera. It’s such a sensational first line, I can post it here without even looking:

There are eight thousand nerve endings in the clitoris, and this son of a bitch couldn’t find any of them.

I should have the review posted later today.

Most of the time I don’t really remember any lines from a book. I’m more of a “concept” reader than a “word” reader, so a particular line has to really be great or memorable to stick. Since blogging reviews, while I’m reading a book I keep an eye out for a quote to post with the review, but I don’t remember all of those, even.

Janet Evanovich’s books have a lot of sticking lines. The first two line of the first Stephanie Plum novel made me an instant Plum fan: There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me — not forever, but periodically.
Other lines that stick out are:

“Writers use lies to tell the truth” from V for Vendetta
“There is a way to be good again.” from The Kite Runner

Yeah, see… Like I said, I’m a concept reader, not so much with the words.

The Technocrati Spiders are Loose on my Blog!

I keep hearing about Technocrati and asked my techno-savvy brother about it. I still don’t know what he was talking about in his answer… the technical aristocracy? Anyway, I clicked someone’s Technocrati button and signed up at the site, adding my blog to the listing. Mt. TBR ranks 156,324 on Technocrati… whatever.

So when I signed up and stuff, I was told to post this:
Technorati Profile

on my blog. Okay, easy enogh… done. I went back to tell it I’d done that, and then it let the spiders loose on my blogPhotobucket
EEEK! I hate spiders. Do I need to call The Orkin Man now? Kill it!!  Kill it!!

An Interview With Nam Le

I’m so excited to announce my first author interview! A couple weeks back I read and reviewed The Boat by Nam Le, and was very impressed with his writing and the stories. Shortly after reading the first story, Love and Honour, I asked Le if he would be willing to do a Q & A interview with me, and he was gracious enough to agree.

First off, I want to say that Nam Le is very personable, friendly, and down to earth. The emails back and forth was just like receiving email from a friend, even remembering my daughter’s name. His answers show he took time to consider his answers, and I was impressed that he treated the questions of a blogger with as much respect as an interviewer from a major newspaper.

And now, In the Shadow of Mt. TBR’s first author interview

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Q: I know you’ve been asked this several times in interviews, but this is the question that made me want to do my first Q & A with you. The narrator in the first story shares so much with you, same name, work history and Iowa Writer’s Workshop, how much of the first story is autobiographical?

A: It depends on your definition. Certainly the protagonist shares my name, and many of my circumstances, but of course it’s arguable that all fictional characters are, through their elements, frankensteined from ‘real life’. (I don’t mean that flippantly!) A lot of people assume that it’s easier cribbing from ‘life’ than from ‘imagination’ (a distinction that’s false on many fronts, not the least of which is because both are unavoidably mediated – and complicated – by consciousness (not to mention the vagaries of memory)), but in fact I reckon it’s much more difficult. Why? Because me being me – that is, me being supported by my own entire subjective infrastructure – I’ll almost always find my accounting of my own experience more compelling, more resonant, than readers who can only go by my words on the page. Writing from autobiography can tend to be a selfish enterprise that way. And as a writer, I feel it’s my responsibility to make the words on the page as charged and suggestive as possible – for a set of readers bigger than just myself!

Here’s another proof that the first story isn’t straight reportage from my life: ‘real life’ is hopelessly messy whereas my story is pretty ruthlessly determined. It deals, to an almost painful extent, with cliché, with hackneyed conventions: the blocked, alcoholic writer, the close-mouthed father, the story spewed out overnight in an inspired rush, its single (typewritten!) copy then burned (in a gasoline drum!), etc, etc. I contrived this story in this way to show up the contrivance – the artifice – of such stories – as well as the body of assumptions we readers bring to such stories – whilst attempting to nevertheless get some truth or feeling across. Art, after all, is – at its best – a lie that tells us the truth, and here I needed some of the truth from my own life to improve the lie.

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Q: The Boat as a book and you as a writer are receiving a lot of attention from critics and the media. How surprised are you by this, and how are you dealing with it?

A: I’m very surprised, and I’m dealing with it as best I can! That is, with gratefulness, as well as guilt – and some grog thrown in – for the chances my book’s received that other books haven’t. It’s got to be said, of course, that expectations are so low for short story collections in general – let alone debut collections – that any attention at all is gravy. I’ll be first to admit how lucky I’ve been – most of all for the incomparable team of folks that have supported me and the book. When it comes down to it, you write to put your hand up for a conversation – with other readers, writers, and books that have inspired you – so it’s a thrill to think that this book’s getting called on.

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Q: Some of the stories in The Boat seem to not have an official ending, the reader just seems to exit the scene before the end. Did you write these so as to leave it open-ended for the reader to interpret, or are they endings more of a resolution of the characters’ emotions?

A: I like that you used the word ‘official’ – part of my personality balks at anything official, and so I guess it goes with these stories. That’s the easy answer. The tough question highlights the fact that each of these stories has its own type of ending. When you say some of them ‘exit the scene before the end’ I think that’s telling: it posits an assumed or expected end (though of course it’s not the end – the end before the end is the end … are we clear yet?) There’s a tired (though not entirely legless) workshop axiom that endings should be ‘surprising but inevitable.’ Here’s how I see it. First, my stories are longer than the average so having laid down all the narrative threads it would stretch credulity to have them tied up at the same time. Second, there’s nothing like having a clear end in sight to make the intervening stuff feel like filler; I ideally strive to command the reader’s full attention at every moment in the story. Third – a clear endpoint enhances the power of a bait and switch. And isn’t it all bait and switch? I largely adhere to the idea that there are few clean resolutions in life; that even epiphanic moments come broken and bruised and bent out of shape. Why should fiction be any different?

Of course, as we’ve discussed, a story is a contraption, and as such its parts have to answer, to some degree, to each other. For me, an ideal ending sheds light on what’s come before; it speaks to its own concerns and it justifies the occasion of the story – while at the same time it gives its elements (character, place, situation) life outside its own body. Paradoxically, I know to leave a story just when I feel it coming alive in that more sustained sense.

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Q: Recently I had a conversation with my local bookstore manager about short story collections. She said that short stories don’t sell, except to people who buy books by particular authors. How do you feel about this statement, and why do you think readers don’t want short stories?

A: The conventional wisdom that short stories don’t sell is, like all conventional wisdom, pretty instructive until it’s not. There’s an element, of course, of self-fulfilling prophecy about it, as well as a somewhat institutionalised sense that short stories are merely training grounds for novels. Another strain of conventional wisdom proclaims itself baffled that short stories aren’t more popular in this age of sound bytes and fragmented attention spans; I don’t buy this at all – I reckon it’s fair to say that given half an hour, a complete short story usually requires more concerted, careful attention than a novel chapter – particularly if it’s not the first chapter. It’s people like you and your friend who are on the front lines of the effort to challenge this conventional way of thinking.

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Q: Hari Kunzru of The New York Times suggested the subject matter of the stories in The Boat was “calculated to tug at the heartstrings – and wallets – of liberal American readers…” How do you respond to this?

A: As I understand it, Hari Kunzru was referring not to the subject matter of the stories in The Boat in general but to what he called ‘war porn’ of the first story. After the quote you reference he actually goes on to ask: “Could the writer, just possibly, be lying? For money?” It’s unclear whether he’s referring to the character “Nam” in the first story, or to me as the author. Either way, I thought it an odd question – for many reasons – but particularly given that that first story, “Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” makes no secret of its calling out of ‘ethnic’ narrative exploitation. In fact, that’s maybe the primary point of the story (and one that I’ve received flak for). For example: at one stage in the story, the protagonist, trying to justify the appropriation of his father’s ‘ethnic story,’ muses “If I write a true story … I’ll have a better chance of selling it” – that is, he’s asking the very question Hari Kunzru accuses him/me of ignoring. So I’m not sure I understand Kunzru’s point. Nor, come to speak of it, do I understand his premise: if indeed I wanted to pluck and pick-pocket those sucker Western liberal heartstrings and wallets, wouldn’t I (per his reasoning) then stick to Viet war porn? Why would I digress into the globe-trotting hodge-podge that’s the rest of the book?

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Q: Finally, I’m a big fan of the shortlist. What books are on yours?

A: Okay, arbitrarily limiting myself to fiction (and with all the usual caveats): Melville’s Moby Dick, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Nabokov’s Lolita, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet On The Western Front, Frank Conroy’s Stop-Time, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road, Graham Greene’s The Power and The Glory and The Heart of the Matter, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and The Road, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, Edward P. Jones’s The Known World, fiction by Kazuo Ishiguro, Robert Stone, Mary Gaitskill, Martin Amis, William Golding, Philip Roth, Virginia Woolf, Peter Carey, short fiction by John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Andrew Dubus, Tim Winton, Charles D’Ambrosio, Isaac Babel, Leonard Michaels, and on and on.

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