Of all the books I own – I’m a weirdo who still buys hardcover and paperback books – there are a few short works that have been on my nightstand for years and years. I also travel with them whenever I can. I was thinking about the good company they provide last night as I was packing for a return flight to New York this morning, particularly E.B. White’s Here is New York, an homage to my favorite American city, because within their pages lies inspiration unbounded.
Do I carry them with me because they are short? No, I relish a long read equally. It’s pure serendipity that my appreciation for them is long lived, but that they are compact enough to carry wherever I go. Bound separately as they are, the individual writers’ voices are unarguably distinct one from the other, like paintings on a wall, or buildings rising into the New York cityscape, or Japanese cherry trees in full bloom in the nation’s capital in Spring, or an aperitif before a sublime dinner, not to be mixed with the wine accompanying the main course and to be separated by time and conversational lingering from the dessert wine and, perhaps much later in front of the fire, a satisfying after dinner liquor.
Here is my list, in the pages of which can be found bon mots about my favorite subjects, New York (of course), writing, flying, privacy, freedom, life, death and nature…and fairy tales.
Here is New York, E.B. White (essay)
A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (essay)
Night Flight, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (fiction)
When One Has Live A Long Time Alone, Galway Kinnell (poetry)
23 Tales, Leo Tolstoy (short stories)
There is one short work I would add to this list, although it is new within the past decade and it is by my favorite writer (if there is such a person), Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Memories of My Melancholy Whores is about an old man’s passion for a 14 year old girl and a must read if you ask me.
I would love to know what your own favorite short works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry…whatever are, if you care to share with me and everyone else!