I fell in love with A.M. Homes, and to know me is to know I love her writing almost as much as Zadie Smith’s work. I have a girl section on my shelves, Smith, Homes, Zoe Heller; all take up the same spot. I have all of their books signed in US and UK first editions. I probably have fallen hardest for Zadie Smith’s On Beauty and can’t imagine ever letting it go. Like Benioff, she is the prize of my collection.
When I was a buyer at a book wholesaler I used to work at, I read Drift by Victoria Patterson in manuscript. I never got her novel This Vacant Paradise or Drift signed, as she’s never come out this way. I could send them, she actually writes for our blog. If you need a good collection to read, a real assbeating, read Drift.
In the field of books I collect that I’ve not read, David Mitchell and Karen Russell are two writers that I have all of their books, signed in first edition and have never really gotten around to reading. It seems selfish of me to admit this, but maybe I’m not ready to read these writers?
In recent years I’ve found authors like Claire Berlinski, and her brother Misha, whom have both written great novels, Loose Lips and Fieldwork. It is strange how tightly knit the book business is, brothers and sisters getting published at almost the same time.
I really like a book by Alan Glynn called The Dark Fields, and never really got around to reading his follow up Winterland. I discovered him on the shelves at the Strand, and devoured the book immediately. It was finally made into a movie that I haven’t seen yet, and maybe never will. There is a kind of wild freedom to The Dark Fields; a man who takes a pill that makes him really smart and productive.
A couple years ago I came across The Imperfectionists, a screenwriter friend mentioned it, and I read and loved it. Tom Rachman is a great writer, full stop.
Lately I’ve been partial to American realism, specifically Richard Yates, John Cheever and John Updike. I don’t have any first editions from this gang, but different editions of their paperbacks. I keep the Rabbit trilogy handy, as it really keeps my creative juices flowing while writing my own book. In the picture I have here, the four books are watched over by a shadowy Paul Auster. My collection is my own, sort of unique, based in nothing more than my tastes, which I think is how all collections should be.
I moved into an apartment a while ago, and dragging these books around is starting to wear thin. I keep adding to the stock, filling the pond, and never really worrying about what will happen to them. I love my Lisa Lutz books; The Spellman’s are a badass bunch. Even the James Frey books, all signed even one inscribed to me by James. Say what you want about the guy, he’s always been cool with me, and I’ve never asked him for anything. I was floored to be on tip of that wave. On it’s heels, Adam Ross came my way, and things haven’t really been the same since I read Mr. Peanut, his stunning debut novel. Adam is a super nice guy, and signed the books happily, even sent me the UK version of Mr. Peanut, on his dime.Years ago I picked up this great book called The Right Man for the Job by Mike Magnuson, and loved it, his talents cooled over the years, but that was one hell of a debut. Keith Dixon wrote a great, great, great first novel called Ghostfires, which was magical and brutal. He wrote another book that slipped off the radar called The Art of Losing, and Keith is a true talent. I’m thrilled to have him in my collection. He and Adam sit together on the same shelf.
There is a book that I wish I’d written myself called The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. A first novel unlike anything you will ever read. It is a brutal masterpiece of men doing one thing, hard labor; only to find out they are stranded there forever. I can’t see my life without these books. One way or another I will try my best to keep them with me forever.