I’m currently reading Ali Smith’s The Book Lover. It’s an anthology of Ali’s favorite excerpts, short stories, comic strips and poems chosen from the books on her own bookshelves. There’s a nice balance of well known and lesser known writers in here. Everyone from Jane Austen to Joyce Carol Oates, from Virginia Woolf to Lydia Davis. Ali Smith is one of my favorite writers; if you haven’t read Hotel World, check it out here, and the same goes for The Whole Story and Other Stories. She’s a delightfully playful writer who often incorporates a lot of metafictional elements into her stories. (A boat built out of copies of The Great Gatsby is just one example). If you love Jeanette Winterson, you’ll love her.
Reading this is making me think of who I’d put into my own anthology of favorites. It’s so hard to narrow it down from the many books I’ve read and loved. I know for a fact some of Louis de Bernieres would have to be there; same with Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jonathan Safran Foer, George Eliot, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, David Markson, and John Kennedy Toole. And then there’s Kevin Brockmeier, Tobias Wolff, Mary Gaitskill, and Tolkien. The list sort of goes on and on. Who would be in your “ultimate” anthology?