book beginnings on Friday: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Thanks to Katy at A Few More Pages for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.


I have Winesburg, Ohio on my shelf because Hemingway recommended it. It turned out to be one of the easier ones from his list of recommended reading for me to get: my mother read the list when I originally posted it, and passed on Winesburg along with another I can’t put my finger on at the moment… this paperback copy, “a Viking Compass book,” was the first reset and redesigned edition since the original typesetting of 1919. It was published in 1960 and has my father’s name in the front cover. I wonder when and how it came to him; he would have been young for it in 1960. I wonder if it was for school? Pops, can you help?

This is a collection of short stories, and the first, entitled The Book of the Grotesque (Anderson’s original title for the collection, in fact) begins…

The writer, an old man with a white mustache, had some difficulty in getting into bed. The windows of the house in which he lived were high and he wanted to look at the trees when he awoke in the morning. A carpenter came to fix the bed so that it would be on a level with the window.

I look forward to my first reading of Sherwood Anderson’s work. His name is less known than many of the writers he influenced, even helped shape, or helped establish their careers – Hemingway being one, along with Faulkner and Henry Miller. Have you read any Sherwood Anderson?

12 Responses

  1. What a lovely book! And the beginning tells us that the old man’s comfort is still important…I like that!

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  2. Sounds like he needs to use a step-stool to get into his bed. But it’s nice that he was able to have things fixed so he could look out the window.

    Here’s my Friday: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/10/friday-memes_28.html

  3. I wonder where the story is going?

  4. Hi Julia,

    I have never read any work by this author before, but we seem to be having a week for bringing out all of the classic authors, of which this is another fine example.

    Classics are books which are on my list as ‘would be nice to read’, but they never seem to get to the top of the list somehow.

    I love this particular beginning though and wonder whether the old man just likes looking at the trees, or if he sees something more sinister amongst or beyond them! It would be good if we get to hear some of the stories I am sure he could tell!

    Have a great weekend

  5. Good beginning. I know someone who had his bed built up like this, he loves the view from his bed.

  6. Perhaps he needs a ladder to make the climb to his bed. It would be worth it to look out the window in the mornings. This sounds like a lovely book.

  7. I haven’t read Anderson before – in fact, this is the first time I’ve heard of him. I like the way that begins, though.

    Thanks for participating in Book Beginnings!

  8. This is one of my favorite books. I read it for the first time in high school, and have reread it several times since then. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. […] sentences that say so much with so few words are recognizable in Anderson’s stories; see my book beginnings post, or: The Presbyterian Church held itself somewhat aloof from the other churches of Winesburg. It […]

  10. Ah! That edition you have their also has an excellent introduction by Malcolm Cowley. Enjoy!

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