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978-0-385-72086-1 / 0385720866

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About the book:

Writers, it's often said, are readers first and writers second. Frequently, it is the indelible mark left by some book that inspires a person to commit to the writing life. Mining that vein, the editors of Brick, a Canadian literary journal, asked their contributors "to tell us the story of a book loved and lost." The "Lost Classics" issue has been expanded into a book, in which 73 authors--Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, John Irving, Philip Levine, Anchee Min, and Michael Ondaatje among them--write about the books they've loved and lost.

These are books worth stealing, books remembered in the twilight that precedes sleep, books that, for these authors, provided "that moment when a reader seems to have found the perfect mate." Though many of the books extolled here are acknowledged classics, many are not. Helen Garner cherishes a childhood book that "except for members of my immediate family, no Australian I've mentioned the book to ... has had any knowledge of it whatsoever." Sarah Sheard writes lovingly of Down and Out in the Woods: An Airman's Guide to Survival in the Bush, "a manual of food, shelter and first aid [that] was the companion text of my childhood summers." Michael Turner reminisces about a book he never actually read, and Erin Mouré describes a book about the history of fishes that "no one I knew was ever interested in reading." Anne Holzman laments her inability to find a copy of a book for lefty activists called Reweaving the Web of Life (hint to Holzman: check online--used copies are readily available). And Nancy Huston introduces Kressmann Taylor's Address Unknown, "a perfectly astonishing [and prescient] little book." A kind of Rand McNally for the literary explorer, each chapter a hand-forged map leading down bookish roads less traveled. --Jane Steinberg

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