In Phillip Lopate's fabulous essay "Waiting for the Book to Come Out," he describes the phenomenon of Prepublication Syndrome as one that travels through the stages of "anxiety, rage, megalomania, bitterness, terror, self-reproach, resignation, and acceptance." Over the past couple of months, as I've been waiting for the April 1st publication of Love and Treasure, I've cycled through the series at least half a dozen times. The only thing that has been able to reliably calm me down is reading fiction.
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth My favorite of Roth's books, where the balance tilts toward what I love (the language, the insight) and away from what I find tiresome (the solipsism, the sexual compulsion).
Missing You by Harlan Coben This man is a master of plot and propulsion. And among the nicest people I know.
Gone by Cathi Hanauer A lovely and painful mediation on what a long marriage means.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein A historical novel about a train?! Is it any wonder I read this in a single, deaf-to-the-world sitting? Also, Christina is one of the most generous and lovely writers I know.
Casebook by Mona Simpson Simpson examines divorce and adolescence with her always-remarkable microscope. I loved this novel.
Bark by Lorrie Moore When I want to remind myself how to write, I turn to Lorrie Moore.
Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn Holy shit! This book will snatch you by the throat and not let you go until you're finished.
The White Album by Joan Didion A reread, because I'm working on a TV show set in the time and place in which most of the essays take place.
Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li This woman can write a devastating description.
LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy Research
The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken I hadn't read this in years and really loved it.
The Kept by James Scott Though the story fell apart a bit for me in the end, I loved it almost all the way through.