Sunday Salon: Book lists
Posted December 2, 2007on:
I’m in the mood to do a list, not those end of the year kinds, more of a chatty, what’s been up with my reading lately and how about those latest purchases. I’ve spent some time in Spanish-speaking territory with The People of Paper by Plascencia and then the Mercé Rodoreda story collection. I’ll do my best but I don’t think the Hodgson book will last much longer. My next Salon read will likely be another translation, Desire and its Shadow by the Mexican author, Ana Clavel.
I’ve been in a translation mood so I dropped by Dalkey and Serpent’s Tail to see what they had to offer. Here’s some of what I left with:
- Embracing Family by Nobuo Kojima, translated by Yukiko Tanka – I had a yearning to own more Japanese literature. Verbivore is cooking up a challenge next year and I’d like to have a nice selection on tap from which to choose.
- The Planterium by Nathalie Sarraute, translated by Maria Jolas – (Why do I need to go to Amazon to find out who translated the books?) Besides the fact that it’s French lit. the plot sounded like a lot of fun.
- Zoo, or Letters Not about Love by Victor Shklovsky, translated by Richard Sheldon – I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this Forward article on the author, but I liked what Joshua Cohen had to say about Shklovsky, and I chose this book because it’s an epistolary, which I like now. The article may even have been responsible for putting me in the translation mood.
Serpent’s Tail has one of the most…eclectic does not seem the right word, but their roster of writers and backlist is pretty all over the place in the most positively odd way imaginable.
- A Brief Life by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Hortense Carpentier – When I read the book description I thought that a book couldn’t sound more wonderful. (Then I internally groaned at my hyperbole.) Still, such a first reaction guarantees acquisition. I’ve never read a Uruguayan author before (I think).
- Floria Tosca by Paola Capriolo, translated by Liz Heron – One of my friend’s professors has been nagging me to read this for what seems like ages but has only been two months. The back cover has a TLS quote that praises the book for its philosophical element; Goldberg: Variations by Josipovici had a similar TLS quote. I’m hoping it’s a good sign.
- Smile by Paul Smaïl, translated by a whole pot of people – I’m a bit concerned that less than 200 pages required 3 translators, but the book’s themes interest me and I liked the first page a lot.
- Voices by Dacia Maraini, translated by Dick Kitto and Elspeth Spottiwood – Beyond Hammett I rarely come across mysteries that merit more than a blink. But if any do catch my eyes, they tend to be by an Italian.
How about those NYRB classics? You haven’t heard me gush about those in a while. I haven’t read any lately but does that ever prevent me from buying more?
I got The Goshawk by T.H. White because a fantasy author that practised falconry is too good a thing to pass by. It’s almost too perfect. And now I may possibly get around to The Once and Future King since Steve Donoghue thinks it’s worth a shot.
I’ve never been disappointed by a NYRB C book (yet?) but ever so often I’m surprised at how well I get along with the works of their female authors. Their novels and short stories are always so persistently strange and weird, and they achieve that effect without the *pyrotechnics of their male brethren. (Not that I don’t like pyrotechnics. I do.) I have no idea if Rebecca West meets that description but I saw it on the store shelf and did not hesitate: woman writer? check. NYRB classic? Check. Now I own The Fountain Overflows. I also picked up the Edith Wharton short stories collection because she’s an author I plan to get around to. Eventually. I’ll probably start with the short stories first before I get to umm…House of Mirth. Sunflower by Gyula Krúdy translated by John Batki joined the stack because I figure I don’t read enough Hungarians.
Other notable purchases were Diary of a Bad Year by Coetzee because I wanted to; Italy Out of Hand: A Capricious History by Barbara Hodgson because Trading Memories convinced me that her travel writing is worth paying for (and it had one of one those pretty golden thread bookmarks and an illustration of Mary Shelley); Melusine by Sarah Monette which I meant to get pretty close to a year ago, somehow forgot, then spotted the hardcover on the bargain shelf for less than $5. But Virtu is in paperback (and mass market too, my precious) so I’ll get that full price.
At some point I’ll mention my Peepal Tree Press finds.
* I take that back. I think it’s down to that French/British thing. Richard Hughes’ brand of weirdness is more along the lines of Warner or Aussies like Stead rather than the crazy French. (But boy, do I love their craziness.)