Year in Reading

A Year in Reading: Mark Sarvas

By posted at 11:00 am on December 5, 2010 3


coverThe book that has left the greatest impression on me in 2010 is not, surprisingly, a novel.  It’s Tony Judt’s heartbreaking collection, The Memory Chalet.  Judt died, far too young, in August from ALS.  Imprisoned in a failing body, his mind turned to memories of his youth in Europe, and he wrote a series of unbearably moving essays, the majority of which were published in The New York Review of Books during the last months of his life.  Judt poignantly bids farewell not just to his own life, but to a way of life that leaves us all markedly poorer for its loss.  An impassioned, independent, alert thinker full of healthy skepticism and wry humor, Judt was the result of particular kind of European education, and we are unlikely to see the likes of him again.

covercoverOther memorable books this year:  Saul Bellow’s Letters is everything you have heard and more, an essential text for any writer, aspiring or published.  I was directed to James Salter’s A Sport and A Pastime, a marvelous, haunting rendering of an erotic affair in France (sex, Paris, what’s not to like?), and now I am feverishly reading all the Salter I can get my hands on.  And I returned to Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer this year as the core text for my UCLA novel students, and was amazed at how much I’d missed when I’d first read it years ago.  It’s very much a novel of ideas, and it works brilliantly, distilled through the unforgettable voice of Binx Bolling.

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3 Responses to “A Year in Reading: Mark Sarvas”

  1. P.T. Smith
    at 9:17 pm on December 5, 2010

    Total time after reading this bit that The Memory Chalet appeared on my wishlist, 32 seconds (I stopped to read the description on Amazon too). Likelihood that I buy this to send to my friend in the Czech Republic who loves Postwar, fairly good.

  2. Pamela
    at 12:21 pm on December 6, 2010

    especially if you loved Bellow’s letters, as I did, you will love Salters letters to and from Robert Phelps, just published this past summer.

  3. Damon Garr
    at 3:49 pm on December 6, 2010

    I, too, was directed to Salter’s Sport and a Pastime and loved it. Felt a little dirty reading it in mixed company. Followed it up with his LAST NIGHT story collection, including the fantastic title story. And looking forward to reading more.

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