Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris: A.J. Liebling
Life of Johnson: James Boswell
The Geography of the Imagination: Guy Davenport
Lives of the English Poets: Samuel Johnson
The American Scene: Henry James
American Musicians II: Seventy-one Portraits in Jazz: Whitney Balliett
And Even Now: Max Beerbohm
Gulliver’s Travels: Jonathan Swift
Plays and Poems: William Shakespeare
The Ideal of Culture: Joseph Epstein
Pale Fire: Vladimir Nabokov
Stories: Anton Chekhov
The Collected Poems: 1956-1998: Zbigniew Herbert
Daniel Deronda: George Eliot
Nine of the fifteen authors from ten years ago remain on the list. In the case of Liebling, I switched allegiance to another title (I can’t go wrong with Liebling.). Only one living author (Epstein) is there, and it was tough choosing only one of his titles. Immediately I see the absences. Where are Italo Svevo, Spinoza, Santayana, J.V. Cunningham, Proust, Whittaker Chambers, Geoffrey Hill and Gibbon? Where are the King James Bible, The Divine Comedy and Tristram Shandy? How fortunate I am to have an overflowing list.
The old list was booby-trapped with sadness. I had forgotten that the late David Myers and I assembled lists without a single shared title. Five of the books on his list I still haven’t read and probably never will. Friendship need not be rooted in agreement.