My latest e-book, the third in a series of twelve, is out, and this one means a real lot to me. Chiaroscuro: Assorted Literary Essays is my own selection of the best literary essays I've written on this blog since 2004.
I wanted this to be a short book, so I forced myself to choose only ten pieces (and, in a Spinal-Tap-like moment, ended up choosing eleven). You can see the table of contents if you click through to the official book page, where you can also read the blurb I solicited from my good buddy Ed Champion (hey, what are friends for?).
I'm being flippant, but the truth is that the eleven pieces in this book mean more to me than I can say; they are my gems, my blows against the empire, my big fish, my keepers. This book is also arranged to represent a progression of ideas and literary notions -- transgressive visions, comic visions, great writers, overrated writers -- that encapsulates something I believe about the meaning of literature in all our lives. Mostly, this book contains the eleven essays that moved me the most when I wrote them, and I hope you'll give the book a chance and see if they move you too.
I selected these pieces with a very narrow lens. I did not include essays about technology or the business of publishing, or politics or music or philosophy, or any of my pieces about the New York Times Book Review. (I also left out several pieces about the Beat Generation, because those are going into my next e-book, coming out in July.) Chiaroscuro is the culmination of a lifetime's absorption in literary aesthetics. It contains nothing but essays about books and writers I love, and a few books and writers I hate.
I also designed what I hope you'll agree is a very cool cover for this book. I'm going to tell you the story of the cover in my next blog post. Till then, please buy my book and see if any of the essays in this book mean as much to you as they mean to me.