1. Gabriel García Márquez, 1927 - 2014

    image

    The Colombian novelist Alvaro Mutis used to tell a story about his close friend and compatriot Gabriel García Márquez, who has died aged 87. In the mid-Sixties, when the latter was writing One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), they met every evening for a drink. García Márquez would tell Mutis about the scenes he’d written that day, and Mutis would listen, waiting avidly for the next installment. He started telling their friends that “Gabo” – as García Márquez was affectionately known – was writing a book in which a man called X did Y, and so on. When the novel was published, however, it bore no relation to the story García Márquez had told over tequila – not the characters or the plot or any aspect at all. Mutis was left with the feeling of having been brilliantly duped, and he mourned the unwritten novel of the bar, that ephemeral fiction no one else would ever hear.

    —  from The Telegraph obituary for Gabriel García Márquez, featuring Márquez’s longtime friend, Alvaro Mutis, who died last year.

    {Photo above, left to right: Gabriel García Márquez and Alvaro Mutis}

  2. “A kind of pagan Middle American chorale—a song of childhood, a song of innocence turned (very quickly) to experience…”

    That’s Meghan O’Rourke describing Joan Chase’s During the Reign of the Queen of Persia. Her introduction to the NYRB Classics edition of the book can be read in its entirety at The Toast.

  3. The Horror of the Watchmaker’s Shop

    image

     You might think that a watchmaker’s shop would be the most gleaming, precise, orderly, and agreeable shop in the world. Quite the reverse is true.
        You go in and not a single watch or clock marks the same beat or rhythm. Some maintain a stately, solemn pace. Others proceed at an anxious, agitated rate, as if they are in a hurry and want to catch up and pass all the rest. In a watchmaker’s shop the awful superimposed layers of tick-tocks, confused rhythms, stressing out-of-sync pulsations create a din that provokes an absurd sensation of anguish. This is no place for anyone with a nervous condition: it is not a good place at all. On the other hand, I can imagine a watchmaker’s shop where watches and clocks have all stopped and … have even been turned to face the wall, because nothing induces calm like a clock that has come to a halt—a watch that has fallen asleep.

    —from the April 12, 1918 entry of Josep Pla’s The Gray Notebook, which hit shelves last week. The stellar Peter Bush translated Pla’s edited diaries and Valentí Puig wrote the intro.

  4. Celebrate Kingsley Amis’s Birthday by Contemplating Your Own Death

    It’s what he would want.

    With reasonable care and a hell of a lot of luck you might last another ten years, or five years, or two years, or six months, but then of course again on the other hand as I’m sure you’ll appreciate trying to be completely objective about the matter you might not. So in future, if there is any, every birthday is going to have a lot of things about it that make it feel like your last one, and the same with every evening out, and after four of your five years or five of your six months the same with most things, up to and including getting into bed and waking up and the rest of it. So whichever way it turns out…it’s going to be difficult to feel you’ve won, and I don’t know which is worse, but I do know there’s enough about either of them to make you wish you could switch to the other for a bit. And it’s knowing that every day it’s more and more likely that one or the other of them will start tomorrow morning that makes the whole business so riveting.

    —Kingsley Amis, The Green Man

  5. ciudades-otras:

    "When I felt the wind on my face and saw that the tide was in it seemed all at once that I didn’t need answers to anything. The tide and the moon, the beacon on the headland and the wind were so here, so this, so now that nothing else was required. I felt free of myself, unlumbered. Where the moon ended and I began and which was which was of no consequence, Everything was what it was and the awareness of it was part of it.”

    —Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary

  6. Peter Brooks and Linda Asher read and discuss Balzac's shorter works at Labyrinth Princeton →

    Tonight, Labyrinth Books Princeton will host a celebration of Balzac, particularly his shorter fiction, and the publication of The Human Comedy: The Selected Stories with a reading and discussion by the book’s editor, esteemed scholar and writer Peter Brooks, and one of its (award-winning) translators, Linda Asher. The event starts at 6 pm at 122 Nassau St., Princeton

  7. Best Translated Book Awards finalists announced →

  8. Oh, Spring. Oh, daughters.

    image

    One early spring evening when Celia was fourteen and the rest of us girls thirteen or nearly so, Uncle Dan came home, carrying a sack of groceries Aunt Libby had ordered over the phone, and saw a troop of boys sprawled around on the porch or hanging from the railings and balustrades. He stopped and asked them if there was a problem, had their mothers forgotten something at the market. They slunk off sideways and kicked the porch steps. But when Celia walked through the front door they came alive and in a fevered sprint backed away, running and hollering, to the far road, their speeding eyes in retreat still fastened on Celia, who smiled vaguely with a certain regal privilege. For a moment Uncle Dan’s face was strange to us, unshielded by his bright mocking ironies. Then he recovered. Knew what was what. He appraised her long bare legs, asked if she had take to going about half naked because of internal or external heat. She huffed, “Oh, Daddy! Don’t be so old-fashioned,” her face golden-lighted in the sun’s reflection off her apricot hair, and she went inside tossing that mane, her legs slightly rigid at the knee, like a leggy colt. Uncle Dan flicked his gray, dust-colored eyes over the rest of us, who were dark-haired with sallow complexions, or altogether too high-colored; he smiled outright, also an expression rare for him, and he seemed newly primed for the changed direction life was taking.

    —from the first pages of Joan Chase’s novel, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, which hits shelves today. Bonus: Meghan O’Rourke provides the introduction.

  9. 
The noon meal for the prisoners without money was the big meal of the day, and was usually a bowl of vegetable stew with meat flavoring, or macaroni and cheese, tea, and two slices of bread. For dessert, there were prunes. The evening meal was bread and jam and tea. Everybody, even the prisoners with money, ate the bread and jam, because the jam was made and sold to the county by the wife of one of the deputies, and was considered excellent. Even the deputies on duty would have some.
—Don Carpenter, Hard Rain Falling

via 
Do you have a picture of an NYRB Classic with coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll post it here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

    The noon meal for the prisoners without money was the big meal of the day, and was usually a bowl of vegetable stew with meat flavoring, or macaroni and cheese, tea, and two slices of bread. For dessert, there were prunes. The evening meal was bread and jam and tea. Everybody, even the prisoners with money, ate the bread and jam, because the jam was made and sold to the county by the wife of one of the deputies, and was considered excellent. Even the deputies on duty would have some.

    —Don Carpenter, Hard Rain Falling

    via

    Do you have a picture of an NYRB Classic with coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll post it here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

  10. "Ayer me llegó una alegría en el correo."  →

    (Antonio Muñoz Molina on Josep Pla)

  11. “Came to sentence that was clear, made pencil mark in margin. Mark indicated understanding, indicated forward progress in book. Lifted eyes from Foucault, looked at other passengers. Took out notebook and pen to make note about passengers, made accidental mark with pencil in margin of Foucault, put down notebook, erased mark.”

    — 

    Lydia Davis, A Collection of Stories

    Lydia Davis is just one of many speakers at this years PEN America’s World Voices Festivals! You’re invited!

    (via penamerican)

  12. The Difficulties with Dirty Words →

  13. Advance copies of Last Words from Montmartre have arrived. Picture Young Werther as queer, Taiwanese, and living in Paris in the 1990s and you come close to getting a sense of what Qiu Miaojin’s heroine is like.

    Advance copies of Last Words from Montmartre have arrived. Picture Young Werther as queer, Taiwanese, and living in Paris in the 1990s and you come close to getting a sense of what Qiu Miaojin’s heroine is like.

  14. Dreaming of a Spring Sun with Louise Labé

    image

    —Louise Labé, “Sonnet 15”

    As the clouds clear on a drizzly, chilly day here in New York, let’s turn to Labé as a reminder that spring, despite all appearances, is nigh. The above poem is included in Love Sonnets and Elegies, which hits shelves today and is translated by Richard Sieburth, with a preface by Karin Lessing.

  15. pigeonbits:

My friend Dylan was telling me the other day about how woefully under-populated the Hot Gay Scientists tag is on tumblr, so here’s my humble contribution to that noble cause: Louise Pearce and S. Josephine Baker, who were both queer lady scientists and physicians working in the public health field in the early 20th century, and who lived together for over a decade (along with Baker’s other lady-partner, novelist Ida Alexa Ross Wylie.) 

For more on Louise Pearce read the rest of the blog post here.
For more S. Josephine Baker, see her memoir, Fighting for Life.

    pigeonbits:

    My friend Dylan was telling me the other day about how woefully under-populated the Hot Gay Scientists tag is on tumblr, so here’s my humble contribution to that noble cause: Louise Pearce and S. Josephine Baker, who were both queer lady scientists and physicians working in the public health field in the early 20th century, and who lived together for over a decade (along with Baker’s other lady-partner, novelist Ida Alexa Ross Wylie.) 

    For more on Louise Pearce read the rest of the blog post here.

    For more S. Josephine Baker, see her memoir, Fighting for Life.