So I find myself re-reading. Here are titles I've re-read in the last six years, in no particular order until the end of the list.
- One Man's Meat, E.B. White, many times now
- several novels by Robertson Davies, for at least the fourth time
- Thoreau's Walden, again for the nth time
- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
- Gorky Park, Martin Cruz-Smith, one of the few detective stories I'll ever re-read
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig, surprisingly fresh in places, understandably turgid in others
- A Year in the Maine Woods, Bernd Heinrich, third time? fourth time?
- The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett, must be approaching ten times now
- a couple of Elisabeth Ogilvie's Bennett Island novels - time to re-read the whole series
- Intruder in the Dust, William Faulkner, still unbelievably good, need to re-read everything
- Anthony Trollope - see below
- all of George Eliot, Middlemarch for at least the fifth time
- all of Jane Austen, in what must be my sixth or seventh time through
You can guess that the 19th century English novelists remain my ideal. In graduate school of course I fell in with the pantheon of white American 20th century males - Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Bellow, Roth - but only Faulkner makes me want to re-read. Whereas Eliot and Trollope (the six Barsetshire novels, the six Palliser novels, plus a few more) and Austen, especially Austen, are as alive as ever, writing for me and for the ages, the perfect combination of character and plot and wit and laugh-out-loud humor and the great themes of birth and love and death. Dear reader, they say (often literally), come along and watch me display the eternal joys and follies of humankind, and when you're done, you won't remember I was there.