The Pharmacist's Mate

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A Year in Reading: David Shields

Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist (there are passages in this book that I love as much as anything Baker has ever written–which is saying something)

Grégoire Bouillier, The Mystery Guest (I reread this book seemingly monthly, attempting–futilely–to figure out how he managed this brief, perfect magic trick.)

Joe Brainard, I Remember (I’m very late to the party on this book, but it’s an extraordinary assemblage of seemingly unconnected–in fact, profoundly interconnected–sentences)

Albert Camus, The Fall (see The Mystery Guest)

Robert Clark, The Angel of Doubt (an as yet unpublished manuscript; a gorgeously written, deeply felt, and relentlessly smart sequence of intereconnected essays about religion, art, and sex, not necessarily in that order)

Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave (see The Mystery Guest)

John D’Agata, About a Mountain (a beautiful embodiment of what is to me a
central principle of great nonfiction: it’s not remotely about what it purports to be about)

Amy Fusselman, The Pharmacist’s Mate (see The Mystery Guest)

Simon Gray, The Smoking Diaries (4 volumes of diaries; read together, they dwarf his plays and are commensurate, I swear to god, with Proust)

Spalding Gray, Morning, Noon, and Night (see The Mystery Guest)

David Kirby, The House on Boulevard Street (very late to the party on Kirby, too; I love his work; “poetry as well-written as prose,” as good ole Ez said)

Phillip Lopate, Notes on Sontag (I disagree with Lopate’s assessment–in my view, too generous–but I love the book)

Sarah Manguso, The Two Kinds of Decay (one of the least sentimental and most deeply emotional books I’ve ever read)

Alphonse Daudet, In the Land of Pain (see above)

Maggie Nelson, Bluets (utterly brilliant)

Brevity: Blaise Pascal, Pensées; Don Patterson, Best Thought, Worst Thought; François Le Rochefoucauld, Maxims

Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima Mon Amour (the screenplay; the best book she ever wrote)

Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (where it all started and ended)

More from A Year in Reading

The Collected Blurbs of Zadie Smith

A small but satisfyingly eclectic batch of blurbs from the pen of Zadie Smith. Prior to today, I don’t think I’d ever seen the phrase “the mutt’s nuts” printed on the back of a book.On Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – “This is an excellent comic book, that deserves a place with Joe Sacco and even Art Spiegelman. In her bold black and white panels, Satrapi eloquently reasserts the moral bankruptcy of all political dogma and religious conformity; how it bullies, how it murders, and how it may always be ridiculed by individual rebellions of the spirit and the intellect”On Love, Sex & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives by Simon Goldhill – “It’s great, and great fun… a sparkling, erudite and amusing remedy for our collective historical amnesia”On Dogwalker by Arthur Bradford – “Arthur Bradford’s stories are quite simply the mutt’s nuts: One of the funniest, smartest, tallest writers working in America today.”On The Pharmacist’s Mate by Amy Fusselman “Ms. Fusselman’s book, brief as it is, affected me deeply. Not only that, the talent displayed therein was somewhat unnerving.”On Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer – “The kind of brilliance for narrative that should make her peers envious and her readers very, very grateful.”See Also: The Collected Blurbs of Jonathan Safran Foer, The Collected Blurbs of David Mitchell

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