Critical Mass

What I’ve Been Reading: Paula Fox

By Paula Fox

Each summer, we ask writers who have won or been finalists for NBCC awards what they're reading and what they look forward to reading in the months ahead. This year, Paula Fox kicks off the series by telling us about two books she read in the last year.

Last year I read a novel by the Norwegian writer Per Petterson with the title Out Stealing Horses. It was a real story, glowing with insight and observation of details that speak of that insight. The reader is not aware of the writer's effort but only of the strength of the story and its sense of inevitability. The book and its translator both won prizes.

Last year, too, I reread Tolstoy's War and Peace. I had read it when I was young and had skipped the war parts! The second time I didn't. When I finished it, I flung  the heavy book at the bookcase. It had so moved me! I didn't think. I didn't wonder. I hadn't questioned anything I read, nor had my consciousness stood apart every so often. I was rapt. The reader and novel became one. My flinging of the great book was a human response to its truth of life and death.

Paula Fox is the author of six novels, two memoirs, and many books for children. "Borrowed Finery" was a finalist for the NBCC Award for Autobiography in 2001. Her most recent book is "News from the World: Stories and Essays." photo: Victoria Will