Lost Literary Classics, from “Talk of the Nation” on NPR

Back on Boxing Day in 2002, the NPR show, Talk of the Nation talked with about a half-dozen writers about their favorite “lost” classics. Among their suggestions:

• Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination — suggested by NPR’s Neal Conan, host of Talk of the Nation

• Darcy O’Brien’s A Way of Life, Like Any Other — suggested by Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient

…[I]t’s about (O’Brien’s) parents, about himself as a boy and his parents, who were silent movie stars. And after they divorced, he’s sort of brought up by both of them very ineptly. It’s a very, very funny book and quite devastatingly critical of his parents, but it’s something like Catcher in the Rye, really, for our time. It’s a very, very good book.

• Louise Bernikow’s The World Split Open: Four Centuries of Women Poets in England and America, 1552-1950 — suggested by Honor Moore, poet, author of Darling, A Collection of Poems

[P]ublished in 1975, and at that time there were so many fewer women poets in the canon than there are today. …the poems that she chose from these poets were chiefly poems about or out of human experiences had mainly by women, like childbirth, relationships between women, mother-daughter, so on and so forth.

• A.R. Luria’s The Mind of the Mnemonist — suggested by Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

[T]he story of a man, a Russian, in the 1930s whose memory had no testable limits. He remembered everything that ever happened to him. And it became a torment, because, you realize, forgetting is almost as important as remembering things, forgetting through life.

The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees, Donald Justice, editor — suggested by Anthony Lane, author of Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from The New Yorker

[I]’m quite interested in a poet called Weldon Kees, who’s a very semi-mythological figure, which means he’s almost entirely unread. Kees was born in 1914, and in 1955, his car was found near the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s presumed that he disappeared or went to Mexico like Ambrose Bierce….

You can listen to the full segment at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=894272

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