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The Book You Have to Read

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Paula Fox recommends Shadows on the Rock and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (Vintage; $12, $10)

I’ve been reading novels by Willa Cather this last year. I especially love Shadows on the Rock and Death Comes for the Archbishop. At first I didn’t like either of them. That was years ago. I admired them but found I couldn’t be fond. Now I’m wild about them both. [She] never wrote anything she didn’t believe was truth, or as close to it as we humans can get. [My] experience with Cather is not dissimilar from my Faulkner experience. A friend who taught seniors in a private high school asked me to read Faulkner’s Light in August. I made a face thinking of those yards of sentences I’d have to labor over. Then I began to read it, fell for it, never stopped talking about it, and wrote an entry in an encyclopedia about William Faulkner for which I received $75. I noticed that a piece about Madonna, in the same encyclopedia, was worth $250.

Paula Fox is author of the novel Desperate Characters and the memoir Borrowed Finery.