Posted April 2, 2008on:
I won a free year subscription to Bookmarks Magazine! Like a true pooterish, basement dwelling blogger the best thing I like about engaging in the on-line literary world is all of the freebies. It is a print magazine but I learned about it through blogs so it’s all the same thing and….
ANYWAY. 🙂 They encourage readers to send in a recommendation list of your ten favourite books and if yours is selected to be printed in an issue you score the freebie. Here’s the unedited version of what will appear in the May/June 2008 issue. As I look through the list again I cringe at my grievous omission of translators — sorry Mildred Boyer, Harold Morland (Borges) and Alfred Birnbaum (who also “adapted with the participation of the author”? Yikes)! and, now that I know it’s actually going to be printed, Josipovici. Curses.
Oh, well. What do you think? In the next life I’ll be damned into the role of a copy writer?
- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – It took a war novel for Adichie to win the Orange prize but her first published novel will always rank first for me. It is, among other things, the story of 15 year old Kambili’s gradual discovery of herself in the privileged but oppressive household of her paper mogul father, who shows Christian charity by using fists at home and supporting schools and free speech in a politically turbulent Nigeria. Adichie’s prose and poignant character portrayals will make you catch your breath.
- Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway – Hemingway’s descriptions of Pamplona, Spain would tempt any reader to fall in love with the town and country, sight unseen. The characters and setting worked together at a level unsurpassed in his later novels.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – There are few better characters in English literature than Jane Eyre. Bronte created her with the divine fire that makes such literary figures unforgettable. The dramatic prose is a bonus.
- Dreamtigers by Jorge Luis Borges – Here is a universally respected writer who should be more widely read. His words take you on travels through art, history, literary, philosophy, mythology, the rise and fall of nations. This collection of short stories and poems that defy categorisation is a good as start as any.
- The Iliad by Homer, translated by Richmond Lattimore – Fagles’ translations are oft praised but Lattimore is the man I go to for the full, mythic grandeur of Ancient Greek myth. This epic poem is a favourite for its literary quality, violenct action and high drama: the perfect blockbuster.
- The Last Worthless Evening by Andre Dubus – I consider Dubus to be one of the greatest American 20th century writers. In a prose that at first sight seems so ordinary, he describes in emotionally captivating detail the lives of the ordinary — waitresses, soldiers, teenagers — and in them you recognise yourself.
- Poems of the Sea edited by J.D. McClatchy – Whatever form an ocean lover’s thoughts could take there is a poem in this collection that captures it. From anonymous sea shanties, to urban dwellers’ yearnings, to ship wrecks, poets like Sara Teasdale, Noel Coward and Constantine Cavafy explore the full scope of humanity’s relation to the sea.
- Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami – I’m a big Murakami fan and it’s my favourite novel. He takes you on crazy adventures underground and through the subconscious and never loses you. In fact, he makes it into a genuine suspenseful mystery.
- Selected Poems by Lorna Goodison – She is one of the best poets that Jamaica has to offer and in this collection one pretty much gets all her best stuff here. Her poetry explores all aspects of female experience with an intelligence, humour and creative power that makes it accessible to anyone, regardless of their gender or nationality.
- Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis – I haven’t finished all of the In Search of Lost Time novels but it’s not because I regret reading “Swann’s Way”. To the contrary I think it’s the kind of book that could, at the very least, have a significant impact on anyone’s philosophy. And reading Proust’s prose via Davis is an ecstatic experience.