The author of “Identical” ranted about Patti Smith’s National Book Award. Then he read her book — “a perfectly wrought account of what it means to give your life to art and to another person.”
What book is on your night stand now?
I’m loving Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son,” set in North Korea. The novel won this year’s Pulitzer but, more important, comes with the enthralled recommendations of writer friends. Like most readers, I’m inclined to rely on the word of people in my life whose tastes I respect.
What was the last truly great book you read?
When I noticed that Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” had won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2010, I ranted about contemporary culture, so celebrity-besotted that we were now giving vaunted literary prizes to rock stars. Then I read the book. It is profound and unique, a perfectly wrought account of what it means to give your life to art and to another person. I expect it to be read with wonder for a long time.
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