cover image Am I Alone Here? Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live

Am I Alone Here? Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live

Peter Orner. Catapult, $16.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-936787-25-8

Orner, a distinguished fiction writer (Last Car over the Sagamore Bridge), appears here as a devoted book lover, inviting the reader to an intimate and friendly book group of two. Closely scrutinizing individual stories, he illuminates writers as canonical as Anton Chekhov and Nikolai Gogol, as well-known as Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow, and as far-flung as Álvaro Mutis and Yasunari Kawabata. Eudora Welty gets an eye-opening reading, not as “anybody’s favorite auntie” but as a “badass” writer. The heart of this book is with short-story writers, including, among 21 of them, Gina Berriault, Wright Morris, Breece D’J Pancake, William Trevor, and Robert Walser. Orner’s recollections of reading are always situated in a specific place and moment; in Albania or Haiti, South Carolina or Wisconsin; while he’s searching his book-overstuffed garage for a particular work, or waiting for a traffic light to change; at the hospital where his grandmother dies, or reflecting on the death of his father (for whom this book is very much a memorial). Orner is a pleasure to read, and to read with. Readers will be delighted to join him, grab one of the stories he delves into, and enjoy his company. (Nov.)