David Martin works in Viking Editorial and lives in Queens. His accompanying portrait was, unfortunately yet predictably, photobombed by Mookie Wilson and Michael Barson.
It says something that I haven’t read the two other novels in this volume (Living and Party Going). Probably that I’m easily distracted and slothful. But Loving is so remarkable a piece of writing that part of me doesn’t want to read anything else by Henry Green because I, selfishly and irrationally, want everything to be like Loving.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas—I reread this last summer. It might be the most perfect “commercial” fiction novel ever written. It is also, more importantly, funny. Very very funny.
A number of years ago Penguin published a few novels by Pearson: True Cross, Blue Ridge, and Polar. They are each worth reading. Pearson is a writer condescendingly labeled as “regional.” Which we all know means Southern, eccentric, peripheral. Yet his region seems much more wide-ranging than those territories scoured by many current authors whom we hold in much higher esteem.
If Penguin Classics solely existed to put back into print books like this, then for that alone we should be grateful. How had I never stumbled upon the writings of Don Marquis before? Archy is a cockroach who types out poems on a rickety typewriter and Mehitabel is a cat, many times reincarnated. Don Marquis published Archy’s “poems” in the New York Evening Sun in the teens and twenties. They are exemplars of the American idiom. And yes, also, very very funny.
Elmore Leonard Four Novels of the 1970s: Fifty-Two Pick-Up/Swag/Unknown Man No. 89/The Switch
This one is a bit of a cheat. It’s published by Library of America (August 2014) but we distribute LOA so close enough, right? It’ll have to suffice for now. Leonard wrote a lot of books. And many of those books were not so good. But when he was good, he was very good. And this quartet features some of his best. Swag and Unknown Man No. 89 contain two of the greatest first chapters in all of Western literature. And Unknown Man No. 89 has the best opening since Moby-Dick and Lolita. Hyperbole? I guess. But honestly, not really. Just read them.
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