I love your magazine and look forward to reading it! Your "Coming of Age" feature was very interesting, and I agree with most of your choices. However, I was disappointed to see that Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson was not listed. In this gripping post-World War II novel, 15-yearold Trond faces life experiences that forever change him.
My BOOKSHELF seems to contain a disproportionate number of coming-of-age novels, perhaps because they retain a soft spot in my heart because of the tender age at which I read them. Don't we evaluate everything that we liked when we were young (the Rolling Stones, Cheryl Ladd, mom's cooking, and so forth) less rigorously than those things we experience after we have come of age and attained a critical mass of cynicism? In short, the questions running through my mind are these: Can a bunch of analogue books about young guys attending Exeter/Andover--and, let's face it, that's what many coming-of-age books, particularly the older ones, seem to involve--really be all that good? Or do we impose goodness on them because of our own feelings of nostalgia?
In any event, your list of coming-of-age novels was a solid one, I thought, containing both a number of obvious and not-so-obvious choices. Here are a few more, in no particular order. I'll let you be the judge as to whether these are truly great or only great when viewed through my rosecolored glasses.
EDISTO by Padgett Powell. There was a time when Powell actually wrote books with plots, instead of just stringing together a bunch of inane Andy Rooney-like questions and passing it off as literature.
THE TEMPLE OF GOLD by William Goldman. A rip-off of Catcher in the Rye--and as good as Catcher in the Rye. The two are not mutually exclusive. Arguably, Salinger was simply the better marketer; if Goldman, not Salinger, had done the recluse bit and gone into hiding for the rest of his career, this book would be more famous than Catcher.
THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD and the other two Morris Byrd books by Don Robertson. Robertson is one of those great, old-school storytellers that no one reads anymore. Unlike the Midwest Jonathan Franzen writes about, Robertson's Midwest is one I recognize.
MR. VERTIGO by Paul Auster. A young...