Bill Clegg

Three dreamers sustained and tormented by beguiling visions.

Bill Clegg Bill Clegg’s new memoir Portrait of the Artist as a Young Addict tells a story whose outlines are familiar: the successful young man — in Clegg’s case, a literary agent representing some of the most sought-after writers of the day — undone by the magnetic pull of drug addiction.  But in this sensitive memoir, this harrowing tale is entwined with a sensitive and complex memoir of childhood, and of the young life of a mind for whom reading, among all other pleasures, stands paramount.  Here, Bill Clegg recommends three of his favorite books.

Books by Bill Clegg


Jude the Obscure

By Thomas Hardy

“A book I think about all the time. Hardy’s story of a boy who imagines a better life in the haloed city just beyond the horizon of his small town and who grows up chasing that future until his end. Watching Jude reel from one crushing disappointment to the next is devastating, but Hardy’s storytelling is so spectacular and so audacious that you want to start again from the beginning the moment you finish.”


A Scots Quair

By Lewis Grassic Gibbon

“A trilogy of books—Sunset Song, Cloud Howe and Grey Granite—about a young girl growing up on the eastern coast of Scotland. In a mesmerizing braid of Broad Scots and the Queens English, Gibbon traces how Chris Guthrie and the family and town around her struggle with love, religion, war, patriotism—’all clouds that swept through the howe of the world with men that took them for gods.'”


The Catcher In the Rye

By J. D. Salinger

“For all the same reasons as everyone else but mainly for that vivid image of stalled innocence, circling forever on that carousel, safe from the crummy corruptions of the world. And for the voice, that arch and aching voice that creeps instantly under your skin, under your consciousness, and which—if you read it when you are young, as I did, and perhaps even after—begins to shape and change the way you see and hear everything.”

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