Suspend Your Disbelief

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On author crushes

My Heart of Hearts

While talking with a fellow writer–call her A—I described a friend—call him B—as looking like “a young Charles Baxter.” A’s eyes lit up. “Really?” she said. “So he’s really hot?”

This was not precisely what I had meant, but the truth is that Charles Baxter is the kind of writer who inspires serious literary crushes—which I think might be the most powerful kind of crush in existence. Adoration of a story well told, and all the emotions that the best writing stirs up, combines with adoration of the prose itself—the signature stylistic quirks that are as idiosyncratic as a beloved voice. Throw in a black-and-white photo on the dust jacket, and you have the makings of a serious fascination.

On The Huffington Post, Stephanie Vanderslice (an FWR contributor)—who admits to having a bit of a thing for Charles Baxter herself—discusses author crushes in a recent essay: how they arise, what fans the flames, and where such infatuations might lead.

And author crushes need not be X-Y. The recently founded Girl Crush Zine, now forming its second issue, featured women writers on their favorite girl-crushes, including (for example) Emma Straub on “Reasons that Jennifer Egan is my Hero.”

As for me? I have author-crushes of my own, on writers of all types. (And, in one case, a group: writers of Mad Men, I love you all.) There’s Gish Jen, who had me at “Who’s Irish.” There’s Michael Ondaatje—where do I even begin? Not only is Ann Patchett‘s Bel Canto one of the most beautiful books I’ve read, she seems so down-to-earth and practical and funny (listen to this keynote address at the Muse and the Marketplace conference, for example) that I want her to be my friend. Plus, she opened a bookstore! And she out-bantered Stephen Colbert! Speaking of whom—


Your turn: who are your literary crushes? How did they begin?

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