Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn these short essays, published in association with the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, 57 contemporary writers reminisce about their childhood encounters with reading. Although there is an overabundance of memories of being read to by parents and early encounters with libraries and librarians, the pieces are still varied and engaging. Bob Edwards, host of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, who now lives in a house with so many books it resembles a library, tells of growing up with parents who read only newspapers. Poet J.D. McClatchy recalls being instructed to read The Odyssey by candlelight in the basement of his homehis teacher wanted his students to duplicate the atmosphere in the hold of a storm-tossed ship. Fiction writer Ursula Hegi confesses to indulging in trashy romances that the family housekeeper hid under the ironing-board cover. Poet Naomi Shihab Nye sums up in one sentence the general sentiment: "Reading is, simply, the best thing I ever do in my life." Buchwald is publisher of Milkweed editions. Dorris (Cloud Chamber) died earlier this year. (Aug.)
Library JournalEditors Dorris (Cloud Chamber, LJ 11/15/96) and Buchwald, editor and publisher of Milkweed, intend this collection to inspire readers and to serve as "a love letter and thank-you note to every librarian, English teacher, friend, relative, and parent" who introduced someone to a book. The collection of short, mostly original essays is lively and personal. In alphabetical order, 57 contributors, some better known than others, describe the first book they remember or how reading, and often writing, began for them. Short story writer Charles D'Ambrosio, for instance, describes how he used his first book to beat his sisters over the head, though he also read it with great interest. Other contributors include Sherman Alexie, Nicholson Baker, Gretel Ehrlich, and Robert Pinsky. Published in cooperation with the Library of Congress's Center for the Book and the "Building a Nation of Readers" campaign, this is appropriate for all libraries.Nancy P. Shires, East Carolina Univ. Lib., Greenville, N.C.
Kirkus ReviewsThe late Dorris (Cloud Chamber, 1997, etc.) and Buchwald, publisher of Milkweed Editions, have assembled 57 brief recollections by writers of how, in Dorris's words, they "first encountered the magic of the printed word." As one might expect, these experiences vary widely: Sherman Alexie recalls learning to read from a Superman comic book; Nicholson Baker explains how he learned to read ("in the sense of of knowing how to follow a story with pleasure") by being read to by his mother; Susan Kenney recollects her surprise when she discovered "that words on the page make pictures in your mind, and you could take in a story with your eyes as well as through your ears." Larry Watson recaptures the exhilaration he felt when, at the age of 13, the local library allowed him to begin taking books from the adult section. Some pieces are unfocused, others perfunctory and unrevealing. But the best here are passionate and surprising, offering some distinctive celebrations of a lifelong infatuation with the power of the printed word to transport and enchant.
- Milkweed Editions
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- 5.50(w) x 8.41(h) x 0.95(d)
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