On Book Reviewing Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses and Dennis Lehane's The Given Day

Back in 1994 it was I reviewed my first book and I’ve been at it ever since, with professional rigor (and sore eyes, at times), for the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, and most recently, the Dallas Morning News. (I’m doing a book right now, J. Robert Lennon’s Castle.) The best side: now and then I get a knockout book at my doorstep, like last year’s favorite, Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses: the best novel I’ve read, outside Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, in several years. More recently I reviewed Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day (both of these were for the Dallas MN), which has a terrific and horrifying depiction of the Boston policemen’s strike of 1918, and some great fictional Babe Ruth moments. How else do you know what’s being published? Today’s edition of the NY Times reviewed a biography of John Cheever (Blake Bailey’s Cheever: A LIfe) that would no doubt be a great read. Cheever’s best stories, like “The Country Husband” or “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill,” are American classics, as they say. Plus the posthumous Seinfeld appearance is an added bonus to his prestige. He sounds like a drunken monster, but we won’t be tedious. I also reviewed Per Petterson’s To Siberia recently, also good but not a knockout like Out Stealing Horses. Petterson is a Norwegian, which is only one of the most gorgeous countries in the world: I spent a month there in 1984, hiking fjords with blonde Norwegian medical students.

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