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Big Books Intro

The City That Writes

Posted 9/15/2004

Hey, remember writers? The people who, like, create books? They’re still around in full effect, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that from what you see on the streets and in the papers these days. If Sunday book reviews and table displays at your local corporate bookstore are any indication, all people are interested in reading are biographies of presidents, memoirs of people who once worked under a president, or stem-winding screeds by people who want to be president. The rest is pretty much Harry Potter and Bridget Jones.

But you and I both know that’s not true. We know that there’s more to the craft than just mongering tales that play off recent headlines, or churning out fluff for people who want to escape the headlines. We know literature is still about writers—messy, complicated, shrewd, smart, inspired, talented, and sometimes more than a little obsessed—and nowhere is this more true than in Baltimore’s own writing scene. That’s why we devote this year’s Big Books Issue to the local writer’s life, as it plays out at many levels, and we do it with plenty of cause.

This fall marks the debut of the latest work of hardcore erotica from Maryland’s elusive Zane, who we profile in these pages. Coming soon, too, is The Stone That the Builder Refused, the third and final installment of the Haiti Trilogy to which Goucher College’s Madison Smartt Bell has devoted the past 15 years; here, he shares his thoughts with us about whether it was all worth it, and what might come next. Meanwhile, we talk to relative newcomer Maud Casey, of Eutaw Place by way of New York City, about her move to town and how she’s recently seen a tangle of ideas gel into her most ambitious novel yet. And just to show that there wouldn’t be any writers without readers, we buttonhole some Baltimoreans from all walks of life to ask them what they’re reading. We promise you, you won’t find a Harry Potter or Bridget Jones in the bunch.

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