“What's your favorite first book by an author ever?” That's the question that launches the seventh year of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of our members and honorees. Here's the third in this new series. It's not too late to send your critical essay on your own favorite to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a hard one. The Book of John? The Iliad?
Of books that have a known provenance (Sorry, whoever wrote The Two Gentlemen of Verona), it'd be difficult to top Dubliners.
Containing the consensus “Greatest Short Story in English” (“The Dead”); laying down the epiphanic model that has given workshop-know-it-alls workshop ammunition for generations; written when Joyce was 23 years old, this book is probably J.J.'s most beloved (if not best). If he never wrote another book, he'd be considered the greatest Irish fiction writer and the greatest practitioner of the English-language short story. Not bad for a kid out of school (with no MFA).