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LOST CLASSICS by Michael Ondaatje

LOST CLASSICS

By Michael Ondaatje

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-72086-6
Publisher: Anchor

Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Ondaatje, and many, many others remember favorite books the rest of us have supposedly forgotten. When editors of the Canadian literary journal Brick sat down on a rainy afternoon and thought of asking their long-time contributors to tell them “the story of a book loved and lost, books that had been overlooked or under-read, that had been stolen and never retrieved, or that were long out of print,” one imagines them envisioning an outcome similar to what happened on another rainy evening long ago when Byron and the Shelleys challenged each other to a ghost story. What results this time is no Frankenstein. The 70-odd short reminiscences of mostly obscure works, while at times touching, are largely self-serving and do not resonate from one vignette to the next. The pieces are too short to yield useful theoretical musings on the memories of reading—which is especially unfortunate since such a forum would be the perfect opportunity to study some well-known writers as readers. While the concept is enticing, its execution leaves something to be desired.

A great idea for a journal issue, but forgettable in this format.