The best year for me ran from July of 1999 to July of 2000. I’d been hit by a van and busted up. I was in a lot of pain, but never so glad to be alive. Books never meant more to me, nor did writing. The best books, mostly read in bed or after hobbling to the nearest chair on a pair of Canadian crutches, were the Harry Potter novels — I read the first three in 1999, and they just took me away (I remember wanting some of that miraculous Skele-Gro stuff that the Quidditch players got after midair collisions). That was also the year I read Hannibal, and was bowled over once again by the sinister clarity of Thomas Harris’ prose. It was the year I read Amsterdam by Ian McEwan and Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (the latter in galleys). The year of Close Range, Annie Proulx’s Wyoming stories. All of these seemed like miracles to me at the time.
It was also the year I wrote On Writing, the bulk of the work being done postaccident. That was a terrible, painful process, but the work itself seemed like salvation. Seeing that on Entertainment Weekly’s book list makes me happy.