You can’t handle the proof! (Sorry)

Recent good books and my life in reading copies, also known as uncorrected proofs.

Sixteen years ago, when I was working at a Borders store in Austin, I drew a picture of a rickety table piled high with books and captioned it: “MAGNIFICENT & UNATTAINABLE READING COPIES THAT CATHY IS SURE EXIST!!” My friend R. was in charge of fetching the mail, and every day around two o’clock I used to be eaten up by the paranoid fear that he was taking all the good reading copies. When I left the Harvard Book Store four years later, the buyer gave me a pair of Hilary Mantels with the inscription: “I hope these will help to ease the transition to civilian life.”

Last summer I unexpectedly gained access to a new source of reading copies. This is swell! Here are some I enjoyed.

Heft by Liz Moore:

Trevor’s house is so beautiful and so full of delicate things that I have to stop myself from breaking them one by one every night before bed.

Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru:

Looking back, that was the real start of the war between the town and the Ashtar Galactic Command.

The Call by Yannick Murphy:

What the rabbit said while I lay on the floor and she was sniffing my hair, sniffing my ears: Give the spaceman your kidney.

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (the second elipsis is sic):

The Orphan Master had bent his fingers back and removed food from his very hand. And the other boys at Long Tomorrows, as they died in turn, stole from him the notion that your shoulder should be turned against death, that death shouldn’t be treated as just another latrine mate, or the annoying figure in the bunk above who whistled in his sleep. . . . Perhaps only his mother had taken something grander by depositing him at Long Tomorrows, but this was only speculation, because he’d never found the mark it had left . . . unless the mark was all of him.