So the volume I recommended is now in the process of disappearing from your local bookstore. When my rep told me that I couldn’t have a reorder, my response was: “Well, at least I have one”. I had bought it. I’m glad that I didn’t take the chance and ask for a review copy. I probably wouldn’t have gotten it.
It is like a jukebox at the diner, flip through until you find one you like. There is one that I particularly love, about a man falling to earth afer his parachute didn’t open. He hits a pigeon in his flight, and the bird dies pressed against his chest. The man can feel the birds heart beating it’s last beats as they fall to earth.
Tell me how you read and I’ll tell you who you are. It’s the most common type of readership that we want to avoid. But we are all guilty of engorging an enormous hunk of text into our brains and letting nothing come out. It’s like sitting down to a gourmet meal at a friend’s house and then when it comes time to clean up, refusing to join in.
“Media fawning is addictive,” Lionel Shriver writes in The Guardian, “but not very nutritious… The world is teeming with hungry has-beens snuffling around for public acclaim with all the unseemly desperation of heroine addicts. Snort a few hits, just don’t start main-lining.”
I remember reading Chaon’s collection Among the Missing on the train to and from work. I got so involved I would often miss my stop. Over the years Chaon wrote two more novels, which are highly literate and wildly entertaining. Await Your Reply is possibly one of the best literary thrillers to come along in some time.
Both artist and bookseller stand at the vanguard of culture. Both struggle for something essentially impractical, unlucrative, and yet unspeakably necessary. Both have labored to build a life in accordance with a passionate vision. Both accumulate intangible rewards, usually in the absence of lower gratifications (prestige, affluence, vacations). Both are cursed and blessed to live in the conviction that what they do has relevance and worth in this world — to spend their days in service to something they love unreasonably and irredeemably.