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introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 11, 2004

Michelle Herman's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

Michelle Herman is the author of Missing, A New and Glorious Life, and The Middle of Everything. Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a James Michener Fellowship, and a major teaching award from Ohio State University, where she has taught since 1988. The novella Dog will be published by MacAdam/Cage in early 2005.

I've always known I was a book lover, but until I read the essay "Never Do That to a Book" from Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, I hadnít thought of myself as a carnal--as opposed to courtly--lover. Yet this is exactly what I am (and she is, too), for I dog-ear pages and break spines... and read at the beach in a chair planted in the ocean, waves breaking over legs, lap, book.

Fadiman dispenses le mot juste, delights and gives comfort (for years I was ashamed of how long it took me to allow my husband's books to mingle with my own; not, however, since "Marrying Libraries"), amuses, and moves one to tears. I defy any devoted book lover (courtly or carnal) to read "Scorn Not the Sonnet" without weeping--less for Fadimanís father as he goes blind (or even for his daughter, grieving for him) than over the dazzling peek into his future she provides, as she swiftly tells us that Clifton Fadiman will "learn to use recorded books and to lecture without notes--to discover, in short, that the convent's narrow room was considerably wider than he had expected."


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