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The literary world was terribly saddened to learn this week that Louis Decimus Rubin Jr. has died. It is impossible to overstate his place in the world of Southern letters. As Anne Blythe reported in her marvelous Raleigh News & Observer obituary:
Your spouse and friends can assure you your novel soars. It is even sweeter when a publishing house tells you the same with a check – any size will do. Still, reviews matter; not just for sales, but the ego. They remain the sincerest form of validation.
Breaking News: Robert Morgan read our blog item, saw our shameless request for his Top Ten List, and complied. No threats were involved. Honest. We are delighted to add him to our little club, which, pace Groucho, is a pretty fine one. And boy were we relieved to see "Doctor Zhivago" on the list (see Bob's essay below.
So, without further ado:
Robert Morgan's Top Ten List
Did you feel the ground rumble in here Top Ten Land? It was the literary earthquake known as Ishmael Reed. A polymath man of letters who has described himself as a trickster, recycler and a practitioner of neo-hoodooism, he is an accomplished poet, essayist, playwright and novelist. Reed’s sharp wit and keen social conscience have made him one of America’s funniest and most disturbing satirists. He never shies away from controversy; few people have done as much to champion the work of others.
“In 1994 Jonathan Franzen gave away his TV set,” David Wolf writes in the Guardian. “It was becoming too much of a distraction. ‘I understand my life in the context of Raskolnikov and Quentin Compson, not David Letterman or Jerry Seinfeld,’ he wrote the following year. ‘But the life I understand by way of books feels increasingly lonely. It has little to do with the mediascape that constitutes so many other people's present.’ "
“It must be a strange feeling to write a blockbuster novel,” observes Charles Finch in USA Today. “Very few people will ever know what it's like. The author must think: Why me? Why this particular book? And perhaps most importantly, what next? Gillian Flynn and E.L. James, though the first is a master and the second a scribbler, are nevertheless both experiencing this phenomenon right now, all alone on their hilltops.