Pale Wire (Popscene)

Monday, May 23, 2005


I just reread Stuart Dybek's Coast of Chicago, where I first met one of my favorite writers.

When I first read it, years ago, Coast came as a revelation. Now, visiting it again, I still find a deep attraction, particularly to its bookend stories, "Chopin in Winter" and "Pet Milk." But, much to my surprise, the prose poem and flash fiction-ish stuff inbetween doesn't do much for me anymore. They feel a little purple.

While, "Milk" remains my favorite Dybek story ("We Didn't" a close second), I think I now would say I prefer the story cycle of I Sailed with Magellan to Coast's mixture of forms.

What have been your experiences rereading books you greatly enjoyed years ago? Does it ever feel like looking at embarrassing old photos from high school?

Oh, and if you don't know who Stuart Dybek is you need to get hip, especially if you're from Chicago. Don't just take my word for it. Here's Toni Morrison:

Every American writer knows who Stuart Dybek is, yet many nonwriters do not. If you have any interest in writing whatsoever, go out and buy his books.