Bound to Last is a book that’s an ‘I am as you desire me.” type of read. I don’t think you’re likely to read every essay. You’ll read the ones that speak to you, perhaps because you’ve aways loved the book the essayist wants to discuss or because you’ve never read it and always wondered about it and want to talk to one of its lovers. And believe me these readers do everything but sleep with their favorite book under the covers.
I discovered Montaigne by chance twenty years ago, when I was looking for something to read on a train from Budapest. A selection from the Essays was the only English-language book available in the station bookshop, so I bought it out of desperation. I was afraid it would be dull, but instead I found myself meeting a person I felt I already knew well – a person just like me. Since then, I’ve never stopped reading Montaigne.
I’ve always come across Jim Shepard’s work, he pops up every other year or so, sometimes I find myself reading his stories, other times I completely miss them. When I miss his collections I feel horrible, but this time around the nice people at Knopf sent me an early copy of his new collection, You Think That’s Bad, which will be published in March of next year. Books are rarely sent to me unsolicited, Harper Perennial and Knopf are the exceptions, I like what they publish, they know what I like to read, and both houses recognize the power of early buzz from the blogsphere.
Percy’s muse is central Oregon, an area I’m quite familiar with, having spent a lot of time down there (between Bend and the high desert in Christmas Valley to the south). Like Dickey’s fictional Cahulawassee River Valley, Percy’s setting for The Wilding, Echo Canyon, is a rugged wilderness slated for destruction.
Zenyatta would have no place at Indian Mound Downs racetrack in West Virginia. IMD is a home for has-beens and never-weres, the drifters and the longshots, the schemers and the hangers-on in Lord of Misrule. Jaimy Gordon loves this riff-raff – men, women, and horses alike.
Bruce McPherson, publisher of McPherson and Co, was kind enough to send me an ARC for Lord of Misrule even though I’m sure he was being hounded by plenty of others after the unusual occurence of it having been named to the shortlist of the National Book Award a month before its release. It’s worthy of the hype. You can read my review this afternoon.