Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Book of Other People

The Book of Other People is a book of short stories edited by Zadie Smith. Smith writes in her introduction that the only guideline was to "make somebody up" and that the writers donate the stories on behalf of 826 New York, to whom all the proceeds of sale go, apparently. If you're not familiar with the various 826 organizations, you really should check it out. It's an amazing program to help young people, and to stir the creative juices. It was started by Dave Eggers, and, not surprisingly, he and and a lot of other hot young writers (what I wouldn't give to be part of that social group) are featured in The Book of Other People.

Unlike Atwood's Moral Disorder, which, to me, called out to be read front to back, The Book of Other People is merely arranged by character's name, and can be read in any random order without fear upsetting any balance. Skip ahead to A. M. Homes's Cindy Stubenstock, a fabulous story about Ladies Who Buy Art - delicious sort of name-dropping stuff that really made me laugh:
   "We're going from day to night - swapping all the black paintings for white, we sold the Motherwells and the Stills and now she's bringing in Ryman, Richter and a Whiteread bookcase."
    "Sounds great - very relaxing - no color at all."
    "I heard you bought a Renoir in London."
    "We had a good year. I like it so much I want to fuck it."
    "When we got our Rothko - we had sex on the floor in front of it."
Skip the Nick Hornby, it doesn't make any sense. There are several tales told in graphic novel style - one by Daniel Clowes and the other by C. Ware - both terrific.

I'm crazy about Smith's Hanwell Snr, which I wrote about after it was published in the New Yorker. It's worth the price of the book, if you ask me.

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