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November 08, 2010

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I remember reading QBVII when I was in middle school and just being destroyed by it. I mean this in a good way - I think I read it three times in a row. There are parts of it now I still remember verbatim - and some of those parts I would now like to edit (using the word "uttered" instead of "said," for example) - but the book made an incredibly powerful impression on me, both for the story and the writing, which, despite the flubs my inner editor now wants to fix, was vivid, energetic, and compelling.

Laura, I also read QBVII and enjoyed it. Maybe it was because of the age at which we read these books, but their power was undeniable. Those early teen years of reading make lifelong impressions. I still recall my response to reading Sinclair Lewis. I wish those profound, serious, and positive reader reactions played more of a role in how books are evaluated.

I love LO's comment as I had a similarly intense fondness for books by Leon Uris that I read as a teenager -- in my case "Exodus" and "Mila 18." I was, I have to admit, similarly enthralled by Allen Drury ("Advise and Consent") and Herman Wouk ("The Caine Mutiny," "Marjorie Morningstar," "Youngblood Hawke"). I think the mistake we made was in allowing ourselves to believe that if we loved James Joyce, we couldn't also love books not written with an eye for eternity.

DL - did you ever read "City Boy" by Wouk? I feel like I'm the only person who ever read this book - it's charming.

I'm not sure about David, Laura, but I devoured "City Boy" and all of Wouk. I even went back to his first novel, "Aurora Dawn," and liked "Marjorie Morningstar" and "The Caine Mutiny." But, because I was interested in writing, I still recall walking home from the library thrilled to be carrying "Youngblood Hawke."

I loved "The City Boy," LO. And perhaps like Larry, and for similar reason, I couldn't wait to get my hands on "Youngblood Hawke." I even joined the Literary Guild to get a copy in hardcover. Other Lit Guild picks of mine included John Dos Passos's "USA," JP Sartre's "The Words," and Bellow's "Herzog." I liked Herzog's composed but unsent letters to the world, but it was "USA" that mad me glad to have joined the literary guild (lower-case) as well as the book club.

Herbie Bookbinder lives!

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"After You've Gone"
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from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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