Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!
Posted February 23, 2007on:
Which ones are you going to get? As for me…
The Child by Jules Vallès – Jules Vallès, an anarchist and a bohemian, dedicated his book “to all those who were bored stiff at school or reduced to tears at home, who in childhood were bullied by their teachers or thrashed by their parents,” and it tells the (autobiographical) tale of a young boy constantly scapegoated and abused, emotionally and physically, by his peasant mother and schoolteacher father, whose greatest concern is to improve their social status. But the young hero learns to stand up to his parents, even to love them, in time, and for all the intense pain the book registers it is anything but dreary.
The “Also see” book is Unknown Masterpieces by Balzac which had several transcendent moments.
Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick – Nobody writing prose now gives me as much pleasure as Elizabeth Hardwick. She honors our language and enlivens our woe. “Sleepless Nights” is elegant, wise, tasty–a truly wonderful book.
— Susan Sontag
I’ve stayed away from her fiction, ’till now, because I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good as non-fiction. I have her Seduction and Betrayal listed in Assortments because it was such a salient, inspiring, beautiful book. It’s the only collection of literary criticism that I own (so far). And NYRB has it and Sleepless Nights on a special offer! (No, I’m not on any payroll. Stop looking at me like that, I’m not.)
Varieties of Exile by Mavis Gallant – Russell Banks’s extensive new selection from Gallant’s work, demonstrates anew the remarkable reach of this writer’s singular art. Among its contents are three previously uncollected stories, as well as the celebrated semi-autobiographical sequence about Linnet Muir—stories that are wise, funny, and full of insight into the perils and promise of growing up and breaking loose.
The female writers in the NYRB classics back list are the ones whose works I’ve gotten on the best with. I expect this to continue. Or not. Who cares, the cover of this book is gorgeous.
And so these aren’t on sale but don’t they look irresistible?
Virgin Soil by Ivan Turgenev – Turgenev was the most liberal-spirited and unqualifiedly humane of all the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists, and in “Virgin Soil”, his biggest and most ambitious work, he sought to balance his deep affection for his country and his people with his growing apprehensions about what their future held in store.
I’ve been tentatively widening the range of my net to include Russian authors, none of which I’ve actually tried except Nabokov (he counts, right?).
The Pure and the Impure by Colette – Colette herself considered “The Pure and the Impure” her best book, “the nearest I shall ever come to writing an autobiography.” This guided tour of the erotic netherworld with which Colette was so intimately acquainted begins in the darkness and languor of a fashionable opium den. It continues as a series of unforgettable encounters with men and, especially, women whose lives have been improbably and yet permanently transfigured by the strange power of desire.
A few bloggers have been reading her novels so, by chance, I plugged her name into the site search and this is what popped up. It sounds enticing.