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Phyllis Rose embarks on a grand literary experiment-- to read her way through a random rack of library books, LEQ-- LES
Can you have a Severe Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side providing library in an effort to do simply that. Hoping to check out the "real ground of literature," she reads her way through a somewhat arbitrarily selected rack of fiction, from LEQ to LES.
The rack has whatever Rose could long for-- a classic she has not read, an impressive range of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit next to those about noble Austrians. California investigator novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are a number of novels by a terrific, funny, modern novelist who has actually turned to raising pets since of the lukewarm reaction to her work.
In The Rack, Rose investigates the books on her rack with liveliness, sincerity, and wit while pondering the numerous questions her experiment raises and determining her discoveries versus her own inner rack-- those texts that accompany us through life. "Relatively sure that no one in the history of the world has actually read exactly this series of novels," she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary business.