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Essay Review    



Remarkable Reads:
34 Writers and Their Adventures in Reading
Edited by J. Peder Zane
W.W. Norton and Company, 2004
Trade paper, $15.95 (352 pages)
ISBN: 0-393-32540-7

Remarkable Reads is a genuine pleasure. Editor Zane, whose day job is editing the book page of the Raleigh News and Observer, wanted the thirty-four writers included to select a single book and use one adjective to their encounter with it. The resulting essays and list have the potential to offer any reader many, many hours of excellent reading. 

Using the fill in the blank formula of "The Most ______ Book I Ever Read," authors selected adjectives as diverse as: memorable, lovely, enchanting, daunting, resonant, wisest, classiest, familiar, devastating, fearless, exotic, seductive, elegant, disappointing, unpleasant, loneliest, maddest, hippest, technically elegant, tempting, and luminous. 

The authors, whose work reads like "deeply felt blends of literary criticism and the short story," include: Lee K. Abbott, Bebe Moore Campbell, Frederick Busch, Haven Kimmel, Jonathon Lethem, Betty Adcock, Denise Gess, Scott Weidensaul, Robert Morgan, Eric Wright, Anthony Walton, Joab Barfoot, Marianne Gingher, Clyde Edgerton, Fred Chappell, Howard Bahr, Doris Betts, Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith, Charles Frazier, and others. 

Their selections are sometimes literary classics (Camus, Forster, Welty, Faulkner), occasionally esoteric, and often books one feels one should have read.  

Each essay originally appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer under the guidance of J. Peter Zane. His syndicated column won the ASNE Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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