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The Majesty of Cold Mountain

Okay, the NY Times writer Ruth Graham recently tweeted this, and it’s so wonderful that I’m going to copy part of it word for word — the tweet is a photograph of the following letter to the editor of the New York Times Book Review section (not online):


Way back in 1997, when Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain” was released, I was given a copy as a present. When I flipped it over, I was struck by a blurb that seemed excessive, bordering on parody. One Rick Bass said of the novel that it “is so magnificent — in every conceivable aspect, and others perviously unimagined — that it has occurred to me that the shadow of this book, and the joy I received in reading it, will fall over every other book I ever read.” It felt so hyperbolic that it put me off trusting blurbs on dust jackets forever.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the Feb. 4 By the Book feature to see Rick Bass answer the question “What books are on your night stand?” And he replied, “‘Cold Mountain (‘re-re-re-read).”” He has restored my faith in the humble, oft-dismissed blurb in one fell swoop. It was that important to him! Lesson learned.

Christopher Vyce
Cambridge, Mass.

As Ruth put it: “Pure and total delight! A perfect letter!” Here’s Bass’s By the Book interview, by the way. I haven’t read Cold Mountain, but I’m not sure if this makes me want to or not. I’d almost rather leave it as this legendary.

Discussion  1 comment

Bill Amstutz

I remember when Cold Mountain first came out. It created a huge splash and everyone was reading it and loving it (me too). A friend at work asked me if I had a first edition, "because it's going to be worth something someday."

Lo and behold, on Book Bid Rare Books a first edition is on sale for $167.

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