“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 fourth in this new series. It's not too late to send your critical essay on your own favorite to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wallace Stevens' Harmonium; Hart Crane's The White Buildings. Prose: Richard Hughes' High Wind in Jamaica; Hortense Calisher's In the Absence of Angels; Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man; Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road; Styron's The Long March. Later poets: Philip Schultz, Like Wings–“a new music, fresh and yet with an ancient resonance, plaintive and yet brightly lit;” Amy Clampitt, The Kingfisher; Alfred Corn, All Roads at Once; Yerra Sugarman's Forms of Gone. Marianne Moore's Observations (1924) was not her very first, but might count as that — her first, Poems, was gotten together by Bryher and H.D. and published in London in 1921, to her surprise.
I can't say why I've picked these books. I don't know if I could live without them, but I wouldn't want to try.