As a reader (and as a writer), I am most interested in the marriage of story and language. When I find a book that magically combines both, I am transported. Some of the novels that have done this for me are: That Night by Alice McDermot, Lies of Silence by Brian Moore, Cal by Bernard McLaverty, The Child in Time by Ian McEwen, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, and Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard. These are old favorites, ones I return to often, like going again and again to the well. Oddly enough, with the exception of the Hazzard, all of the novels are short. (Maybe this has something to do with the sharp shock of the short novel.)
Like many readers, I am continually in search of books that allow me to lose myself in an entirely unique universe. And thus, I am constantly adding new favorites to my list of old favorites. I am thinking in particular of The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman, The Untouchables by John Banville, and Mail by Mameve Medwed, all relatively recent books that have given me a great deal of pleasure. I can think of no other experience quite like that of being 20 or so pages into a book and realizing that this is the real thing: a book that is going to offer the delicious promise of a riveting story, arresting language and characters that will haunt me for days. When I find such a treasure, I immediately want to savor it, to parcel it out in small doses, to make it last.