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He might not have the high pop-culture profile of Michael Crichton, that other bestselling writer who attended Harvard Medical School, but 36-year-old Ethan Canin — author of The Palace Thief, a 1994 book of novellas — is among the country’s most acclaimed fiction writers. While at work on his second novel, Canin found time last year to edit a book of stories, with proceeds to benefit the national anti-hunger group Share Our Strength. The anthology, Writers Harvest 2 (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996), includes works by Julia Alvarez and Melanie Rae Thon. We asked Canin what’s caught his eye lately. Here’s what he said about the film Shine:

“It’s about a young, brilliant pianist with mental illness, and as I was watching it (and listening to it), I was overcome with the sense of the angel of music — this graceful thing that touches down now and then on earth and produces such a soul-cracking gift. That’s how I felt listening — that my soul had been cracked open.”

Also recommended by Canin:

Legends of the Fall (New York: Delta Trade Paperbacks, 1994) by Jim Harrison. “What I love about Harrison’s work is the absolutely arresting rhythm of the language, the long comma-less sentences that seem to speak themselves out loud as you read. He’s one of the writers I read when I want to be inspired to write.”

The Night in Question (New York: Knopf, 1996) by Tobias Wolff. “His books are very readable, which sounds like a pale compliment but in fact is a huge compliment. I like his stories about childhood particularly, the sense of a kid who is just a little desperate, just a little ragged, just a little bit outside the shining light.”

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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