New books to meet, old books to revisit
Posted November 5, 2007on:
Dorothy W. posted an excerpt on the merits of rereading, from the introduction to Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature. (It’s a posthumous publication Sylvia, so he had nothing to do with the title. :)) I already mentioned that I wanted to keep rereads for Sunday Salon — a tactic that would, among other things, make it easier for me to come up with content. Creating a list isn’t as thrilling as I wanted it to be because I remembered there were authors I had already planned to reread: Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence. But I didn’t intend to get to those until next year. In the meantime…
An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
OK, ok, so this wouldn’t be a reread, but I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time now, and it would be a perfect Sunday Salon read. Don’t ask me on what I’m basing that conclusion. Is it my fault the cover looks so attractive? And Sundayish?
At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches -Susan Sontag
I’m not sure how an essay collection would work, but I do recall one of last week’s participants reading a non-fiction book on the Ottoman empire.
Desire and Its Shadow – Ana Clavel
It’s a LibraryThing review copy, not a reread, but I ought to get to it some time soon. It sounds pretty loopy and might be fun to blog about, in spurts.
Collected Fictions – Jorge Luis Borges
I was so excited when I bought this book, but the reviewer at Complete Review was right. This is an overwhelming collection, with everything just thrown together, so it’s hard to keep any kind of momentum. It would be nice to make some progress, so reserving it some Sundays might help.
Hippolyte’s Island – Barbara Hodgson
Woo! Finally an actual reread makes it on the list. I’d want to read this one again because it was so much fun the last time, the photographic illustrations were so beautiful, and made the book something very special. I’ve since read all of Hodgson’s illustrated novels and one of her non-fiction books.
Summer Lightning and Other Stories – Olive Senior
Another reread! This one is a collection I read in high school and would like to try again because Senior is such a respected Jamaican author and I remember nothing about this book.
Well readers, besides Dickens and Lawrence there doesn’t appear to many books I’d like to reread any time soon, while there are too many unread books on the shelves, crying out. So much for self-improvement.
Let’s move on to some of the books I’d like to add to full shelves.
Diary of a Bad Year – J.M. Coetzee
It’s odd how his Disgrace left such a deep impression, yet I’ve never read another one of his novels. (I own The Life and Times of Michael K.) If nothing else, the fact that some wacky Booker judge didn’t think it was a novel sealed its spot on my shopping list.
Samedi the Deafness – Jesse Ball
I passed it by on one of the display shelves: the flashy cover stopped me, but the tired author comparison on the cover (something about it being like Graham Greene) propelled me onwards. It took a Boldtype review to remind me that it was written by the same Jesse Ball whose poems I found so intriguing earlier this year.
Awake and Dreaming – Kit Pearson
I read about this one in the September Quill & Quire, which wasn’t awful this month, indeed it was rather good. My attitude to all sorts of things are changing and I feel much about the local public library. It’s not very noisy any more, due to the new arrangements they’ve made with the tables: there’s a huge space in the middle of the top floor with a long line of tables. With this and the wireless access it tends to be populated by industrious laptop owners rather than giggly students. Bless them.
Anyway, the book! The brief spot was for Pearson’s new book but Awake and Dreaming was her big success it seems and I’m always on the look out for good YA fantasy books. Although, now that I’ve actually read the jacket copy on Amazon, I don’t know if it is a fantasy, and I don’t read the teenage realism stuff. Hmmm.
Like You’d Understand Anyway – Jim Shepard
I noticed Shepard’s name being bandied around a lot recently, but I didn’t pay any attention. I already had one NBA fiction nominee and that was enough for me, thank you. Then during a tag surf I read a well-written review of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!. I visited the blog and scrolled until I found another review, which turned out to be of Shepard’s latest. Sarah’s description got me:
In these stories, Shepard does something that very, very few contemporary do these days: he uses his imagination and has fun. No, you won’t find stories here about a struggling writer in New York City wrestling with ennui or a writing professor who longs for his younger days in Europe. You’ll find adventure stories of failed expeditions in the Australian outback and totally awesome hunts by lacklustre Nazis for evidence of the yeti in Tibet during World War II.
Adventure stories! I haven’t read those in a while.
The Quiet Girl – Peter Høeg
I read about this one in the latest Harper’s Magazine, another one I actually spent some time with because of my short visits to the public library. (It’s on display.) John Leonard mentioned it in his New Books column. All he had to write was that the main character was a clown. I was in. If I like the magazine enough over the next few issues, I may just subscribe. It is dirt cheap compared to what the others offer.
Conversations with Professor Y – Louise Ferdinand Céline
I discovered at the public library a Canadian literary magazine that I’d never heard of before, on any site or in any print publication: Books in Canada: The Canadian Review of Books. As prints of its kind go up here it’s the best around simple because they do what they say: review books. There aren’t any photo essays, though they do cover photography books, and there aren’t any political editorials. In fact, it’s not at all overtly political, like the awful Literary Review of Canada or the NYRB; and it has no “industry news” like Quill & Quire They review non-fiction, a lot of Canadian fiction and make a point of reviewing first novels, as well as poetry and children’s literature. The October issue even had a glowing report on the Calabash Literary Festival that was held in Jamaica earlier this year.
Unfortunately I can’t link to any of this because the website is woefully out-of-date. I e-mailed the editor to find out what was going on and to her credit, Olga Stein, the editor replied in about 5 minutes. An update is imminent but, like similar outfits, the publication is working on a tight, tight budget, and in such situations the website is the first to suffer. Still, it seems like certain death to ignore one’s on-line presence, so I’m glad they plan to work on that.
Oh, the book? It’s published by Dalkey Archive and is written by a crazy French author. What more do you need to know?