This Reading Life: Reader recommendations

My name is Corey and I read fiction.

Corey Mesler

I have been putting my email address at the end of my columns, here in our lovely community newsletter, asking anyone to talk to me (I’m so lonely!). It was most gratifying this month to get a response to the column from someone who genuinely wanted to talk books and writers, a kind soul named Robert Humphreys. He said this nice thing: “Thanks for bringing something fresh to the paper. I found myself going straight to your editorial in this latest edition.” Well, I mean, gosh, wouldn’t any columnist find that a joyful thing, an encouraging thing? And Robert recommended a couple short stories that I had not heard of: Mohammed Mrabet’s “Doctor Safi,” and Wolfgang Borchert’s “Do Stay, Giraffe.” I will seek them out because that is what I do. I am a shamus on the trail of noteworthy literature, and, like all good espionage, one clue leads to another, and that new clue leads to another and then, one leads me to a book that possibly becomes essential to me. It goes, to use a hackneyed phrase for Internet phenomena, goes viral.

So, thanks, Robert Humphreys, for trusting me with your opinion, for sharing book talk. This is what I had in mind when The Lamplighter so kindly gave me this space. Robert also mentioned John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire, as the book he was currently reading, and Kerouac’s On the Road, as the book he was rereading. Nabokov famously said, “There are no good readers. There are only good re-readers.” Vladimir would be disappointed in me, in this aspect, I fear. I rarely reread anything (except for a few brief personally important novels like The Stranger, The Moviegoer and The Sun Also Rises) because I figure my time is limited (Damn, you Damocles!) and there are authors I still need to discover. Here are a few: Balzac, Stendhal, H. E. Bates, Benjamin Percy, Tana French, Dawn Powell, Harold Brodkey, Stephen Dixon, Alexander Dumas, Louisa May Alcott, Victor Hugo, Don Carpenter, Louis Bayard, John Milton, Isaac Babel, Carl Hiassen, Edward P. Jones, Henning Mankel, Elizabeth Spencer, Eric Kraft, Booth Tarkington, John Galsworthy, Christopher Isherwood, Yukio Mishima, to name a few.

O, the richness of literary endeavor! O, the depth of my ignorance! Do you still respect me?

I am 58 years old as of the 20th of July, 2013. I have my work cut out for me. Having exhausted some of my touchstone writers — that is, I’ve read everything by them — I must cast my net wide. But, I also have novels left by some of my favorite writers: a few of Nabokov’s, many Peter DeVries, one Joseph Heller, many Alice Hoffmans, a couple Alasdair Grays, a few Updikes, a couple Philip Roths, many Thomas Bergers, a few Graham Greenes, many Wodehouses, many Ross MacDonalds, a couple John Barths, and one, only one novel left from the divine Dame Iris Murdoch’s incomparable output.

Here is how we can stay in touch: coreyjmesler@gmail.com.

What am I reading now, you ask. Thanks for asking. I am reading Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden, or The British Agent.

– Corey Mesler is the owner of Burke’s Book Store in Cooper-Young.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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