Andrew Sean Greer Recommends

“I love basically anything published by The New York Review of Books, classics reprinted in beautiful covers, but this one was a particular find: The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott,” Greer says. “I’ve always been a fan of “tell not show” fiction, which is just to say careful storytelling like Ford Madox Ford, and here is perhaps the shortest, most subtle piece of observed life you can come across outside the works of William Maxwell. It is nothing more than an afternoon spent in the company of a wealthy Irish couple who happen to have, tethered to the wife’s arm, a peregrine falcon. Our narrator watches the next two or so hours with an intensity that lets nothing beautiful show without a shadow of ugliness, and nothing vulgar appear without an examination of its worth. In other words: it’s life. Barely anything happens, nothing is learned. And then it’s over. What is revealed is just complexity of a marriage, and the violence of our animal selves, and the ignorance of youth, and jealousy, and how to cook a pigeon. And somehow always the falcon sits trembling, hooded, on her arm.”

Andrew Sean Greer is the author of the collection How It Was for Me, and the novels The Path of Minor Planets and The Confessions of Max Tivoli. His work has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, and The New Yorker. He lives in San Francisco.