Books

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

I love books.  This might sound self-evident, given that I work in the industry.  It’s certainly true for all the “lifers” I know — those of us who are likely to die at our desks because we can’t even conceive of doing anything else with our lives.  Publishing is not generally a high profit margin industry…at least not at the beginning.  Many coming in at the assistant level struggle just to make rent.  Thus, it takes a commitment and adoration for the printed (or electronic, these days) word to stick with it long enough to reap the rewards.  These days I don’t have the time I used to for browsing books that I don’t represent or am not considering for representation, but every once in a while, after evaluating proposal after proposal, etc., I have to take a break or risk burn-out.  I have a staggering “To Be Read” pile, because, even knowing this, I can’t resist buying books.  I’m an addict.

This weekend, needing something afield from what I generally represent, I picked up Erik Larson’s excellent non-fiction work THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which tells the story of the creation and history of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair alongside connected historical events, including the atrocious acts of the serial killer who used the fair to his advantage.  It’s an amazing book, reminiscent of Ken Follett’s PILLARS OF THE EARTH (fiction about the building of a cathedral in 12th century England) and Caleb Carr’s THE ALIENIST (also a novel, this one about the beginnings of psychological profiling in connection with a serial killer operating in New York City just a few years beyond the events in DEVIL).  Of course, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is sheer truth and utterly compelling, not only in the chilling moments where we read about the killer who called himself H.H. Holmes, but in the sheer determination and ingenuity it took to overcome all the obstacles to creating the fair, especially in the short time from winning the bid to opening the gates.  It’s an incredible book, and so well written, instilling in the reader awe for the people involved and for the grandeur of the vision.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

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