Critical Library: George Scialabba

by Eric Banks | May-26-2009

image

In this series, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries. We recently heard from former Balakian winner George Scialabba, whose most recent book is the just published collection What Are Intellectuals Good For? Here is what he pointed out as worth keeping in your library at all times.

The Winners:
Marcus Aurelius, Mediations: In life’s stressful moments – you are expertly snarked; your piece is rejected; an enemy (or worse, a friend) wins a coveted award – open the Meditations and drink a long, calming draft. Better than Prozac.

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Red Bull for the thinking man or woman. Will make you much smarter.

D.H. Lawrence, Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers, vols 1 &2: Lawrence was either a dangerous madman (Bertrand Russell’s verdict) or an indispensable corrective for the ills of modernity. With all possible respect for Russell, I think Lawrence was the twentieth century’s greatest seer and sage.

George Orwell, The Complete Essays, Journalism, and Letters (4 vols): Says all the needful things and omits all the needless words.

Edmund Wilson, Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1930s and 40s (Library of America): How it’s done.

Honorable Mention:
Gore Vidal, United States

Lionel Trilling, The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent (ed. Leon Wieseltier)

Reference:

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (3rd edition, 1979):  A huge literary candy jar, which you will never get to the bottom of.

Fowler’s Guide to Modern English Usage (2nd – not the 3rd – edition): Still supremely authoritative, because he doesn’t merely prescribe, he also explains.




About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).

Subscribe

SIGN UP FOR CRITICAL NOTES





Categories & Archives

Become a Friend of the NBCC

Upcoming Events

NBCC at AWP18: March 09th, 2018

NBCC Finalists’ Reading: March 14th, 2018

NBCC Awards Ceremony and Reception: March 15th, 2018


NBCC Awards

Award Winners for 2016

See all award winners

Find out how to submit

Read how we select

Frequently Asked Questions


Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2016 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Finalists Reading

NBCC 2014 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Finalists Reading

Video: New Literary Journals

Video: The VIDA Count and Gender Bias in Book Reviewing

Podcast: What Is Criticism? NBCC Winners and Finalists at AWP

All videos and podcasts.