Am I Alone Here?
(Catapult Books, 2016)
This book is a wonder and I came upon the title as I do simply wandering book shelves
in a bookstore, new or used, or the town library. I can't tell you how many books I have read on this idea of discovering unique and common books and writing about them, and each collection has come up disappointing since every erudite reader/writer wants to be seen as an erudite reader! It's the same books, the same authors, or as an editor for a poetry anthology told me once on the phone: "I had to drop that great poem because the poet doesn't have a name, and replace the poem with another poem by a more recognized poet." It happens every day.
It's making reading quite miserable, yet challenging if you are a hunter.
Peter Orner behind the wheel has finally given us the gift. I approached his book with genuine interest and began leafing through to see where he would be taking us — everywhere! Plus his writing is relaxed, humorous and it sparkles when you throw it on the floor.
A quick stab into a few of his picks like Gina Berriault, Breece D'J Pancake, and Bohumil Hrabal, never mind Herbert Morris, says we're with an explorer. He butterfly nets sleepers. And then out of the blue, and it will win him no kudos, he chooses a book like Rembrandt's Hat by Bernard Malamud, an author very few read any longer. Their loss. I love Orner's daring and dives. He also sneaks in — and I like it that he does — essays about his father, family life, and the rumple of hanging in there.
This is a great work glove of a book.
[ BA ]