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December 01, 2004

Julie Edelson's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

edelson.gifJulie Edelson is a native Brooklynite with a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell who's now teaching writing at Wake Forest University. She's also the author of five novels, most recently The Fat Friend. She offers two recommendations for gift ideas; I'm not well-read enough to say anything about the more literary offering, but as a longtime Ricky Jay fan, I can heartily second her other choice...and throw in Jay's Journal of Anomalies while I'm at it.

Best beloved, here come the holidays, and I'm imagining you surrounded by family or their ghosts, maybe pleasantly, maybe not. I see you stealing to a private corner for some distance, and I want to give you a magical book that will take you away but not for too long--in satisfying increments.

I'm hoping that you havenít read Isak Dinesen's Anecdotes of Destiny. I often wish that I hadn't read it, so that I could read "The Immortal Story" or "Babetteís Feast" for the first time again. I can attest that these stories bear repeating; I teach the former, and every year, it surprises me. They are rich fare, meant for bookish sorts--a wintry, solitary reward. Thatís why I'm also giving you Ricky Jay's Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. When your household has run out of things to say or, at least, things you want to hear, you will be able to redirect the conversation to 18th-century musical cat-acts and impart new life to the party! And there are pictures...

photo: Aaron Hantgan

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