The Forgersby Bradford Morrow
When a suspected forger is brutally murdered, his sister’s lover—himself a notorious counterfeiter of the handwriting of literary greats—is caught in a web of truth and lies that puts his own life in jeopardy.
When a suspected forger is brutally murdered, his sister’s lover—himself a notorious counterfeiter of the handwriting of literary greats—is caught in a web of truth and lies that puts his own life in jeopardy.
From acclaimed novelist Bradford Morrow, called “a mesmerizing storyteller who casts an irresistible spell” by Joyce Carol Oates, and “one of America’s major literary voices” by Publishers Weekly, comes a richly told literary thriller about the dark side of the bibliophile community.
The rare book world is stunned when a reclusive collector, Adam Diehl, is found on the floor of his Montauk home: hands severed, surrounded by valuable inscribed books and original manuscripts that have been vandalized beyond repair. Adam’s sister, Meghan, and her lover, Will—a convicted if unrepentant literary forger—struggle to come to terms with the incomprehensible murder. But when Will begins receiving threatening handwritten letters, seemingly penned by long-dead authors but really from someone who knows secrets about Adam’s death and Will’s past, he understands his own life is also on the line—and attempts to forge a new beginning for himself and his beloved Meg.
“In The Forgers, Bradford Morrow hits the sweet spot at the juncture of genre crime fiction and the mainstream novel with an almost mystical perfection. Readers of either form will be gratified and impressed, and those who are readers of both will be thrilled. In its deep knowledge of books and those who trade in them, and in its thousand vivid, unexpected turns of phrase—its depth of both subject and language—The Forgers could have been written only by Morrow: and at only the rare and striking level of mastery he has now achieved.” —Peter Straub, author of A Dark Matter and Ghost Story
“[An] artfully limned suspense novel. . . . The insights Morrow offers into the lure of collecting, the rush of forgery as a potentially creative act, and underlying questions of authenticity render the whodunit one of the lesser mysteries of this sly puzzler.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Bradford Morrow’s The Forgers is a bibliophile’s dream, an existential thriller set in the world of rare book collecting that is also a powerfully moving expos’ of the forger’s dangerous skill: what happens when you lie so well that you lose touch with what is real? In beautifully controlled prose, Morrow traces the shaky line between paranoia and gut-intuition, memory and self-delusive fiction, hollow and real love. It’s perfect all-night flashlight reading—Bradford Morrow at his lyrical, surprising, suspenseful, genre-bending best.” —Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Swamplandia!
“The Forgers is quintessential Bradford Morrow. Brilliantly written as a suspense novel, lethally enthralling to read, and filled with arcane, fascinating information—in this case, the rarified world of high-level literary forgery.” —Joyce Carol Oates
“Will, the narrator of Morrow’s seventh novel, is a fine creation. . . . A pleasurable study of the lives of book dealers. . . . Morrow’s well-researched passages on the collector’s art meshes well with Will’s romantic longueurs about the life of fakery he left behind.” —Kirkus Reviews
“As Morrow pulls back the curtain to reveal the murky world of book sellers and buyers and ushers readers into the mind of a forger for whom falsifying the perfect signature is a thrill, he also draws us deeper into the puzzle . . . Morrow writes with a sure, clear voice, and his prose is lush and detailed. . . . a twisty and suspenseful conclusion. Recommended for readers who enjoy atmospheric literary thrillers such as Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.” —Library Journal
“The Forgers is remarkable. Bradford Morrow is remarkable. The Real Thing, which is rare on this earthly plane.” —Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and The Snow Queen
“Bradford Morrow illuminates the seamy side of the rare-book trade in The Forgers.” —Vanity Fair
“Those who like their murder mysteries soft-boiled and with a literary bent will love The Forgers. Devotees of Arthur Conan Doyle will especially appreciate Bradford Morrow’s exploration of the seamy underbelly of the rare book world. . . . Morrow’s language is so pitch perfect, his metaphors so startling, and his truths so pithy that you continue to listen to his tale with a growing fascination and unease.” —New York Journal of Books
“Written in a highly polished style . . . The Forgers is an unusual blend of mystery, romance, and the fine art of the fake.” —Joseph Scarpato, Jr., Mystery Scene
“[A] gem that spins its deceit in the antiquarian book world. . . . Very clever, a certain prize winner.” —Jeff Mannix, Durango Herald
“Long meditations on the intricacies of script, on the modest intrigues of the rare book world or even on the pubs of small-town Ireland . . . read so elegantly I sometimes found myself regretting the moments he’d eventually move on. . . . Delightful to read.” —Colin Dwyer, NPR.com
“From its provocative opening line . . . Bradford Morrow’s latest novel takes on a knowing, nourish tone, like a crime movie by the Coen brothers. . . . The pleasure of reading The Forgers comes not only from trying to figure out what happened to Diehl but also in deciding, chapter by chapter, how much trust to grant the narrator, who is our only source.” —Nancy Klingener, Miami Herald
“An excellent suspense novel. . . . Bradford Morrow is, quite skillfully, paying homage to one of Agatha Christie’s most famous whodunits. Yet even then, he offers a few twists of his own and will keep all but the most astute mystery aficionado guessing about the truth until the end.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“[A] consistently unnerving mystery. . . . The best moments in The Forgers come . . . from its intimate knowledge of books, details about signatures, ink, bindings, the slant of Arthur Conan Doyle’s handwriting . . . creating an ambience of old-fashioned gothic suspense that bibliophiles in particular will enjoy.” —Charles Finch, USA Today
“An engaging mystery to keep the night lights burning and readers guessing.” —Chris Stuckenschneider, Missourian
“This novel . . . provides a glimpse into the mind and the ‘art’ of the forger’s work, providing intriguing nuances of the trade. The lyrical prose and poetic writing distinguish this novel, and it is wonderfully entertaining, even as it exposes criminal behavior little suspected by lovers of antiquarian books . . . A definite change of pace from the usual fare, the novel is recommended.” —Gloria Feit, Midwest Book Review
“A smart, literary suspense novel. . . . Well done.” —Rae Padilla Francoeur, Pocono Record
“The Forgers is a reader’s dream: intelligently written, with beautiful details paid to the use of inks and stationary, pen pressures and hand flourishes. Bradford Morrow has created in Will a character rich in criminal indignation. . . . Are his protestations true, his proclamations of love genuine, his desires to quit the business sincere? Read, read, and decide for yourself.” —Kate Ayers, Bookreporter
“I could not and did not want to put down this book. . . . The Forgers is sure to captivate any audience.” —My Springfield Mommy
“Erudite and entertaining. . . . Morrow does an excellent job of giving us the viewpoint of a slightly supercilious, slightly sociopathic, clever, and uncommon man.” —Murder by the Book’s Mystery Book Blog
“The Forgers is the first full throttle biblio-mystery to come along since John Dunning stopped writing his bestselling Cliff Janeway series decades ago. . . . The Forgers nicely satisfies our craving for an authentic, engaging biblio-mystery.” —Pradeep Sebastian, The Hindu
“The Forgers . . . stuns from its first line. . . . Morrow offers a suspenseful plot that coexists with gritty characters and ominous imagery.” —Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books Magazine
“The Forgers will have mass appeal to mystery fans, but it is with bibliophiles where its true stardom will generate. The descriptions of the old and highly valued novels are entrancing and decadent. . . . The Forgers will make a great book club selection as well as a wonderful way to enjoy a weekend.” —That’s What She Read
“One of my favorite authors. . . . The book moves at a jaunty pace, saving the reveal for the last few pages. It’s a fun romp into the world of lignin-scented backrooms and ink-dipped pens that scratch when writing.” —Meaghan Walsh Gerard (blog)
“Morrow lays out his story with a surgeon’s skill. . . . Morrow has rendered a highly atmospheric, tense thriller. . . . It was a privilege to witness these gifts on display, and to have the opportunity to deepen my acquaintance with this brilliant writer. Highly recommended!” —Basso Profundo
“With The Forgers, Bradford Morrow has masterfully combined an exquisitely thickening plot, an informed appreciation of the antiquarian book world, and a deep understanding of what makes the obsessive people who inhabit this quirky community do the sort of impassioned things they sometimes do, up to and including the commission of horrific crimes. Morrow has hit the ball out of the park—The Forgers is a grand slam, in the bottom of the ninth, to boot. This is a bibliomystery you will want to inhale in one sitting.” —Nicholas Basbanes, author of A Gentle Madness and On Paper
“So well written, The Forgers will take some time to finish as readers might want to reread every sentence.” —Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Indie Next selection
“A good book . . . I’ll recommend it without reservation.” —PhiloBiblos
“If the first five words of Bradford Morrow’s latest novel . . . don’t intrigue you, you might want to check to see if you have a pulse.” —Nancie Clare, Speaking of Mysteries
“A glimpse into the mind and the ‘art’ of the forger’s work, providing intriguing nuances of the trade. The lyrical prose and poetic writing distinguish this novel, and it is wonderfully entertaining . . . A definite change of pace from the usual fare, the novel is recommended.” —Crimespree Magazine
One of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of the YearAn Amazon Best Book of the Month (Mystery, Thriller & Suspense)
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Mystery & Thriller Pick for Fall 2014
An Indie Next Pick for November
LibraryReads #7 Pick for November
A Publishers Weekly Most Anticipated Book of Fall
A Library Journal Editors’ Pick for Fall
KAREN RUSSELL: I thought we should start with you having the opportunity to muse a little on how The Forgers began, its conception and its gestation process. In the past several years you have been unbelievably prolific, especially when you consider that you are also the editor of the weird, wonderful, and award-winning journal Conjunctions and a professor at Bard. You’ve written two tremendous books: The Diviner’s Tale, a novel that explores the quest for truth through the character of a female dowser, and a story collection, The Uninnocent, which gathers together an unholy chapel of innocents, including charismatic murderers and lost children. Now we’ve got The Forgers, a totally sui generis existential thriller that introduced me to the world of rare book collecting, a world where I know you have serious street cred. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about how the idea to write The Forgers came to you?
BRADFORD MORROW: Thanks for the kind words, Karen—they mean a lot to me coming from you. The Forgers began with a simple, disturbing, and to me compelling sentence, “They never found his hands.” My editor, Otto Penzler, had asked if I would write a story for a series of bibliomysteries he publishes, and once I settled on exploring the rarefied, high-stakes world of literary forgeries, I thought to myself, What would a ruthless forger most want to deprive a rival of having? Pens, nibs, inks, antique papers, subterranean connections in the rare book world? No, his hands, of course. So it began with that single image and all the narrative possibilities and challenges it offered. The rare book community, a collective of brilliant eccentrics among whom murderers don’t generally mingle, is one I have been a part of for my whole adult life—first as a dealer, later as a collector—so most of my research was already done by the time I wrote that sentence and those that came after.
That my characters Will, Meghan, Adam, and the rest quickly became too richly alive, too bursting with desires, far too complex as individuals to be housed in a short form seems, in hindsight, completely inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, I love gardening short stories, as it were, but this cast would have been sorely potbound had I not let them grow. I stewed for a number of months on how best to approach my subject, but when I sat down in earnest to begin, the thing was written in a white heat. My story very quickly matured into a novella, and the novella soon burst into a novel. The experience of writing The Forgers was one of extraordinary, unstoppable momentum, and, despite its occasional descents into existential lunacy and unrepentant violence, it was honestly a joy to get up every day and work on it, to live inside its world as fully as possible. And while, yes, it is a literary thriller, with some unusually audacious and illegal acts firing up its core, it is also a heartrending (at least to me) love story—love between two people, as well as a love of antiquarian books that for some crosses ethical borders into a place of bibliomania, of psychopathy.
KAREN RUSSELL: I love the book, and was struck by your ability to channel some of the deep metaphysical preoccupations from your earlier books into a heart-in-your-throat page-turner. How do you see The Forgers as connected to your other work?
BRADFORD MORROW: That’s an interesting question, a tougher one than it might seem. I can’t truthfully say that I have some overarching philosophical system that informs my novels and stories, at least not in the sense that I have specific tenets and theories my fiction is meant to flesh out and somehow prove. No Ayn Rand or Upton Sinclair I. That said, certain themes have seemed to crop up in all eight of my books, including The Forgers, and they’re also there in the novel I’m finishing now, The Prague Sonata. Searching for an impossible place to call home in this world is one. The subjective nature of history and malleability of what’s “real” is another. I am fascinated by treacherous people who see themselves as spotless innocents—in other words, the kaleidoscopic range of self-deception available privately to all of us who ever breathed. Those are a few, anyway. I’m sure there are many more abiding preoccupations that thread through my work, but I consider myself more an intuitive writer than anything, so I guess I rely on a hope that my fictive apples fall from branches that extend out quite a ways in their search for light but don’t, in the end, fall too far away from the Brad tree. Steven Millhauser recently wrote me that he’s not much of a Steven Millhauser scholar, and I feel much the same way. Others will be able, if they’re of a mind, to identify recurrent themes and ideas. My job is just to make each book as good as I can and hope it connects with sympathetic readers such as yourself.
KAREN RUSSELL: This novel is Morrow magic at its best—I’m thinking of the
awake-with-a-flashlight feeling I had reading The Diviner’s Tale, and the gothic spawn you’ve gathered in The Uninnocent, which, like The Forgers, is always honest about the best and worst parts of our natures. But The Forgers also feels like new ground to me. Was it fun to play with the constraints of genre here? Can you talk about your relationship to genre fiction, thrillers and mysteries? I confess that I’m never sure how those lines get drawn, and your book seems to me like a glorious hybrid creature, a genre pegasaurus, your own
Morrow-mutation. Were you consciously setting out to rattle the cage of genre? The lyricism of your prose, its humor and its unbelievably beautiful insights into human relationships and human nature, seem to me to challenge narrow definitions of what a “thriller” can do.
BRADFORD MORROW: I love great genre writing, but talking genre can sometimes be a tricky business, in part because certain tropes over literary generations have become codified, and wherever there’s a code, there are some out there who would enforce the code, others who are strict practitioners of the code, and so on. That said, many, many writers I admire, from the just-mentioned Millhauser to Jonathan Lethem to you yourself, Karen, have embraced the worlds of genre, imagining and inventing wonderful books that often push beyond traditional dictates. Even if we’re not certain how genre lines get drawn, what it always comes down to is this: Is this an enriching, literarily satisfying, insightful, memorable book or not? I may be wrong, but I feel a lot of readers of contemporary genre fiction, be it a mystery or horror or noir or fantasy or what have you, are open to seeing traditional narrative genres and their tropes refreshed, even reinvented. Now, while writing The Forgers I don’t remember setting myself the task of rattling the cage of genre. I didn’t need to, as the book grew organically from its own imperatives. As far as genre dictates go, writing a bibliomystery really only involves two essential elements. First, there must be a murder. Second, there must be books. Since I’m deeply interested in the latter and the former already figures into much of my work (even in a nongenre-inspired novel such as Trinity Fields or, say, Ariel’s Crossing people die at the hands of others) I was instantly drawn to the possibilities of this subgenre. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love working with genre, playing with expectations, so long as I can write the narratives I’m driven to write. If anything I do challenges narrow definitions, why then, that must be a good thing, I have to believe. Readers may be a shrinking population but they’re decidedly not a shrinking-violet population. They’re a far more resilient, edgy, engaged group of literary explorers than some give them credit for being.
KAREN RUSSELL: As far as love stories go, this is a terrifically original one—and I thought that as far as metaphors go, using the art of forgery as a lens to consider how we deceive others and ourselves in love was brilliant. I was riveted by the tension between the narrator’s private life as a forger and his public one with Meghan, the way his desires seem absolutely incompatible. “Do what you love,” as you tell us, is an adage that can underwrite all kinds of unspeakable activities; and loving someone might require a tremendous forfeiture of pleasure, of an activity that structures one’s identity. The novel explores the “kaleidoscopic range of self-deception” on so many levels. Without rambling on further and giving away more of the love story, I wonder if you might tell us how the “act of faith” of book-collecting relates to love, for this narrator? And about the ways in which his secret life as a forger impinges on his aboveground relationship?
BRADFORD MORROW: While our narrator operates in a world deeply cast in shadows and secrets—he only mentions his own name once, and grudgingly in passing at that—his love for Meghan is unquestionable. To my mind, his private identities as a literary forger and as a man who loves Meghan Diehl, incompatible as they may be, are equally powerful. That one of his identities must subvert the other for Will to survive is unavoidable in the end, literally toward the end of his narrative, but whether or not he will be able to stick by decisions that he makes (and are made for him to some degree by violent outside forces) isn’t clear. But yes, you’re right, those love stories are part of what drive The Forgers. Love and love’s diabolical next-door twin, hate. Thinking about a man whose technique and literary historical knowledge as a forger are so exceptional that on occasion he feels he’s created work that is, to borrow a line from U2, “even better than the real thing,” it is very telling that he never gives Meghan, who runs an East Village used bookshop and loves books too, any forgeries. She adores Yeats more than any other poet, so for her birthday he gives her signed Yeats first editions that are absolutely authentic. Indeed, when her brother Adam gives her a second-rate forgery, he is indignant, even offended, though he holds his tongue.
Regarding the “act of faith” of book-collecting and its relation to human love, that’s easier to unravel over the course of a novel than in a few sentences. Suffice it to say that the greatest book collectors I have known are less interested in rare books as investments, say, than in the preservation of culture. There’s a devotional element and historical imperative behind the impulse to gather, in obsessive depth and with bibliographic erudition, a collection of early arctic exploration, of Vladimir Nabokov, of Italian incunabula, of early comics, of antique cookbooks, you name it. As our narrator’s father, a great and scrupulous book collector himself, tells his young son about the passions behind collecting, “Books make us feel alive, and though we obviously won’t live forever, they make us feel as if we might. These walls of books in this room? They stand between us and the unknown. . . . We shore them against our ruins and they give us poor mortals comfort and joy like religion does.” Not dissimilarly, love makes us feel alive and, despite our mortality, prompts us tell the people we love, “I will love you forever.” Love is devotional, obsessive, protects us from the harshnesses of the world, affords us comfort and joy, and promises to shore us against our ruins, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. So definitely, in the context of this novel, human love and the totality of passion that informs the collector, not to mention the world-class forger, conflict with and yet weave in, around, and through each other.
KAREN RUSSELL: As the editor of the in-every-sense-fabulous journal Conjunctions, you’ve helped me and countless authors to firm up the “reality” of their imaginary worlds. What makes something feel “true” in fiction? From your books, I know you to be an expert deceiver, and one proof of this is that I feel so deeply for your characters, I feel like your books are a stranger’s memories that I am importing into my own body, and I have the sensation that I am traveling through your lushly foliated landscapes in my mind’s eye. When you are working on your own forgeries (stories and novels), how do you vet for yourself when something feels emotionally true, even in a superficially outlandish or wild tale? And how can it be that we can all sense truth in art, even as it everywhere announces itself as imaginary, false?
BRADFORD MORROW: Truth is a pretty holy tabernacle of a concept, but I think it’s safe to say that nobody has ever made me happier by calling me an expert deceiver! And while writing The Forgers, it was never too far from my consciousness that all art, no matter how original and even unprecedented it is, constitutes a kind of forgery in that “forgery” is tantamount to “making.” It’s a complex word with both positive and negative connotations. One forges ahead. One can just as easily form, shape, produce, forge something that’s a true contribution not just to the arts but the world of wrought iron, for instance. And the forgers in this novel aren’t mere copyists but actually conceive and create letters, manuscripts, and inscriptions that do a pretty capable job of hoodwinking experts into believing they are truly artifacts conceived and created by historical figures such as Conan Doyle and W. B. Yeats. Sometimes they are so deeply invested in their forgeries that they lose track of the fact that Doyle and Yeats are dead and had nothing to do with their handiwork. The fine line between appearance and reality, so-called, utterly vanishes.
As you well know, literary practitioners of the imaginary must create language that provides a gateway to a kind of separate reality, one that is both fictional and authentic at the same time, contradictory as that might seem. I used to worry about writing something emotionally true, but now I focus on language, trusting that the language I craft will articulate an experience of truth that my readers will share. So much of how this gets accomplished has to do with, on the one hand, technical chops, and on the other, pure instinct. The technical side has a lot to do with the ceaseless study of craft. You read writers whose work, word by word, line by line, story by story, you most deeply admire and embrace. And you study them, allow them to influence you to a certain degree, as you develop over time, if you are fortunate and stay with the practice, your own unique voice. It’s the intuitive side of the art of writing that’s harder to reduce to practical comment or explanation. Many years ago, I recognized that when I was reading certain books that weren’t flying for me, they had in common what I’ve always thought of as “the stench of fiction.” They smell perfumed or false or rotten. Not so much an olfactory experience, but a visceral one nonetheless. Ultimately, for me at least, it comes down to language. Is this language incandescent, be it quiet or edgy or dynamic, and is my imagination better for having journeyed through these words, images, ideas? I don’t have to suspend disbelief if I’m so immersed in a narrative that I forget to ask such exterior critical questions, and that’s the kind of writing I embrace. All-enveloping and spirit-refreshing no matter how dark or crazy the subject matter.
KAREN RUSSELL: How pervasive is forgery in the rare book world, do you think? Do you have a favorite anecdote from your time as a dealer or a collector?
BRADFORD MORROW: Every reputable rare book dealer who has been in business for any amount of time has encountered forgeries. Because reputation is paramount—these are smart, often scholarly people, some of them living encyclopedias, and proud of their legacies—most booksellers are intensely scrupulous about the manuscript materials and inscribed books they handle. This doesn’t mean that fakes don’t get into commerce. I can’t say I have a favorite anecdote, but earlier this year at a rare book fair in New York, I saw an autographed copy of the first American edition of a Virginia Woolf book in which the signature was wrong, embarrassingly wrong. From an oversized “V” on, the letters were inaccurately formed and far too large, the baseline was weirdly stepped up from her first name to the surname, the ink color was atypical, and so forth. This didn’t stop the seller, who I assume didn’t know better, from asking a very pretty penny for the piece. When I mentioned it to a dealer friend, an expert I trust who was also showing at the fair, he confirmed without having to look at it a second time that it was a forgery, and not a very sophisticated one at that. “Too bad,” we agreed. “It would have been a pretty nice book.” As for my own experiences, back when I was a rare book dealer in my twenties, I went out of my way to stay clear of any autograph material that seemed even slightly off, and as a collector I still do. Did any forgeries slip past me? Impossible to say impossible.
You know, there are forgers from earlier centuries who are actually collected, because they were so sophisticated or brazen or both? Thomas Chatterton and William Ireland come to mind, as does Thomas Wise. Even the infamous in the arcane world of literary forgers have their fanciers, their biographers, their colorful histories.
KAREN RUSSELL: The Forgers has epigraphs from Jorge Luis Borges and Arthur Conan Doyle—in terms of assembling a family tree for The Forgers, that sounds spot-on to me. What other influencers might you include, literary or otherwise, if you were tracing this novel’s lineage? Who are some of your favorite liars, er, authors?
BRADFORD MORROW: Friends who know my great admiration for William Gaddis may see The Recognitions impacting The Forgers, since the former engages art forgery and the latter literary forgery, but if there was any influence of the one book on the other, it is lost on me, as I never consciously looked to Gaddis for any inspiration for this novel. Come Sunday, my first novel, was written a bit under Gaddis’s spell, but not The Forgers. When traveling in Ireland while writing the book—it was written quickly, by the way, in a matter of months, after some serious time stewing over it—I had a drink with John Banville, and had long been a fan of The Book of Evidence, which I see as a distant cousin to this novel, not plot-wise but tonally somehow. I did go back and reread most all of the Sherlock Holmes adventures as research for some of my forger’s more inventive counterfeits, and have to feel that Doyle’s pacing infected me, quick movements whereas I often love to linger. Nabokov’s short novels I can cite as a direct influence. Orson Welles’s last major film, F for Fake, about the superlative art forger Elmyr de Hory, I watched at least three times. De Hory was in a league of his own—the shamelessness, the sheer genius, the scope of his ambition were altogether galvanizing to me as I plumbed this netherworld. Welles admired him too as a fellow “liar,” a fellow bodhisattva in search of the believable sham.
As for my favorite writers, they are many and various, and only some of them would cotton to the idea of being called liars or forgers. I’ll let you guess who would and wouldn’t. In no order other than their names come first to mind, I think of Beckett, Cather, Woolf, Angela Carter, Hardy, Nabokov, Gass, Thomas Bernhard. I’m purposely leaving out the living and the Homers, Shakespeares, Donnes, and Swifts. But these are some whose work I go to for solace the same way others go to their Bible or whatever holy book they hold in high esteem.