Publishers report that the fall of 2001 has been a disaster for fiction -- saleswise, at least. We can certainly see why, since immediately after Sept. 11, we shared everyone else's burning desire for facts and more facts. Sure, we snarfed down a bit of escapist fluff now and then when the going got tough, but for quite a while there our fall was one long Osamathon.
Eventually, though, we found ourselves hankering for the more substantial satisfactions of literature, and so we looked back over the past three months of new books. Besides savoring "The Corrections" (along with everybody else), we found wonderful titles that have been both celebrated and relatively ignored. What follows is a selection of our favorites. We invite you to turn off CNN, toss out the newspaper and settle back in your chair for a long winter of unforgettable reading.
Our first fall pick: A man wanders into a deserted room and confronts the riddle of his youth.