Friday, December 07, 2007

The Power of Experience is Jeremy Janes' lovely legacy

Books now read in ’07: 114
Title: Varieties of Disturbance
Author: Lydia Davis
Genre: Fiction
Date Completed: 12-6
Pages: 219

Books now read in ’07: 115
Title: The Power of Experience
Author: Jeremy Janes (ed..)
Genre: Fiction
Date Completed: 12-6
Pages: 221

Varieties of Disturbance was one of five books short-listed for the 2007 National Book Award for fiction. It is described, on the back cover, as “fifty-seven rule-breaking short stories.”

The count may be correct. Rules have been broken. But these are not short stories. I am not at all certain what they are. Some are amusing in a trifling way. Some cute in an annoying way. Most are boring.

I think it’s someone’s idea of joke.

Jeremy Janes, editor of The Power of Experience, was a co-worker and friend. Jeremy lived in Madison, Wisconsin. I lived in Topeka and later in Washington, D.C. He was a Brit and had that charming accent Brit’s have. He was also a kind and gentle man and something of a bibliophile.

Jeremy died in 2006 without ever having seen The Power of Experience. I remember his excitement that the Publications team at AARP (where we worked) had agreed to publish his book, subtitled “Great Writers Over 50 on the Quest for a Lifetime of Meaning.”

Jeremy did a terrific job with this anthology, tapping a variety of sources and writers. Anne Tyler is here. As is Amy Tan. Robert Stone. Elmore Leonard. Frederick Busch and Richard Russo.

It’s a good read and a terrific legacy of a life well-lived.

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