Featured Fiction Author

Book Cover Image. Title: The Adventures of Augie March, Author: Saul Bellow

The Adventures of Augie March

Saul BellowChristopher Hitchens

Perhaps more than anyone else, Bellow inspired me to write, and though there are many to choose from, I consider this his masterpiece.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Selected Stories, Author: Alice Munro

Selected Stories

Alice Munro

Cynthia Ozick said, "She is our Chekhov," and I agree. I especially admire "The Progress of Love," "Miles City, Montana," and "Family Furnishings," which is from a later collection, but almost any story of Munro's contains more than most novels. Reading a Munro story is like peeling back the layers of an onion. The story opens up, and opens up, and opens up some more.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Ice Storm:  A Novel, Author: Rick Moody

The Ice Storm

Rick Moody

My favorite of Moody's novels, and perhaps more than any other novel it influenced me in writing The World Without You. A masterful rendition of compressed time.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Consider the Lobster:  And Other Essays, Author: David Foster Wallace

Consider the Lobster

David Foster Wallace

I'm a particular fan of Wallace's essays, and this collection is him at his best. The title essay and his essay on English usage are probably my favorites.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Journals of John Cheever, Author: John Cheever

The Journals of John Cheever

John CheeverRobert Gottlieb

Cheever is best known for his short stories, but if I had to take one Cheever book to a desert island it would be his journals. Here we see Cheever laid bare, and the prose is at once lyrical and economical.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Age of Grief, Author: Jane Smiley

The Age of Grief

Jane Smiley

Whether setting The Decameron in L.A. or King Lear on an Iowa farm, whether writing about horses or realtors, Smiley is among our most versatile writers: every novel of hers is different from the one before it. But my favorite is her novella The Age of Grief about a dentist whose wife has fallen in love with someone else and who bears his pain in silence. I can think of no better work of fiction about what's left unsaid.
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Book Cover Image. Title: This Boy's Life:  A Memoir, Author: Tobias Wolff

This Boy's Life

Tobias Wolff

If there's a writer whose aesthetic I'm most influenced by it's Tobias Wolff, whose work feels so unwritten it's as if the characters have taken over and the writer has gotten out of the way. I teach his short story "Say Yes" every semester and I go back again and again to This Boy's Life, his memoir about growing up on the move with his feckless mother.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Sweet Talk, Author: Stephanie Vaughn

Sweet Talk

Stephanie Vaughn

Tobias Wolff wrote the introduction to this reissued collection of stories, which not enough people know about. I read Sweet Talk when I was starting to write, and it influenced me deeply.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Gryphon:  New and Selected Stories, Author: Charles Baxter


Charles Baxter

Baxter is an absolute master of the short story, and this book bears many rereadings. I'll never forget the first time I read "Fenstad's Mother," and that line, "To express grief on skates seemed almost impossible."
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Book Cover Image. Title: Desperate Characters, Author: Paula Fox

Desperate Characters

Paula FoxFoxJonathan Franzen

As a Brooklyn novelist, I get asked a lot about Brooklyn writers and Brooklyn novels. There are many good ones, but this is my favorite.
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