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THE BEST BOOKS OF 1996 | FICTION

December 29, 1996|MAXINE HONG KINGSTON | Maxine Hong Kingston is the author of several novels, including "China Men" (Alfred A. Knopf). She lives in Northern California

I read Henry James' "The Tragic Muse" (Penguin) at the Grand Canyon. It affirmed many things for me--how to live with artists and how to live the artist's life oneself. And it's all right to write out the infinite shades of feelings and states of mind and interactions between people. Use as many words and pages as you please. I'm sure James couldn't get published in today's market. I'm going to teach his work in my class at Berkeley, "Reading for Writers."

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