The Paris Review Book for Planes, Trains, Elevators and Waiting Rooms

Last year the Paris Review literary magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gargantuan collection of its best writing (with the equally gargantuan title). The Paris Review showcased some of the greatest writers of the 20th century—Hemingway, Kerouac, Updike—many of whom (Kerouac, for one) were recognized there before their talents were appreciated elsewhere. This year brings a volume (and a title) more manageable. Munro, Roth, Carver, Burroughs, Pinksi and a few dozen more of the famous and the somewhat-famous are presented in snack-sized poems and short stories to take our brains for a walk while our bodies sit and wait. From “Greasy Lake” by T. Coraghessan Boyle: “We went up to the lake because everyone went there, because we wanted to snuff the rich scent of possibility on the breeze, watch a girl take off her clothes and plunge into the festering murk, drink beer, smoke pot, howl at the stars, savor the incongruous full-throated roar of rock and roll against the primeval susurrus of frogs and crickets. This was nature.”