Summer, Summer, Summer Sale, Summer Sale (ends... →
Jan Morris on Fact & Fiction, in The Paris Review
INTERVIEWER: You use anecdotes and stories in certain places to punctuate the narrative [of Sydney]. Do you consciously use the techniques of fiction to move a narrative along? MORRIS: I do believe in the techniques of fiction, so I’m very gratified you should ask this. I really don’t see that there’s much difference between writing a book of this kind and writing a novel. The situations...
Bruce Duffy, and facts in fiction
Bruce Duffy’s new book Disaster Was My God about Arthur Rimbaud has been getting a lot of attention recently. It was reviewed in The New York Times, an a new translation by John Ashbery of Rimbaud’s famous collection Illuminations was published this year (the poem ’After the Flood‘ was also published in our cousin publication The New York Review of Books). Duffy’s...
Borges in the Library on his Birthday
Google has celebrated Jorge Luis Borge’s birthday with one of their iconic homepage images. We’ll join in the party with a quotation from his prologue to The Invention of Morel, by his close friend and frequent collaborator Adolfo Bioy Casares (they wrote detective stories together under the name H. Bustos Domecq): Detective stories—another popular genre in this century that...
"Smells like an earthquake"
Margaret Fernandez, whose room Emily was sharing, slipped out of bed silently and stood beside her, wrinkling the short nose in her pallid face. “Good morning,” said Emily politely. “Smells like an earthquake,” said Margaret, and dressed. ….. Not a breath of breeze even yet ruffled the water: yet momentarily it trembled of its own accord, shattering the reﬂections: then was glassy...
Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury (sorry we're late)
Yes, we know Ray Bradbury’s birthday was yesterday. But still, he wrote one of the funniest introductions in the series, for John Collier’s Fancies and Goodnights: “I always wanted to dine with John Collier so I could ask him, ‘What is your secret, how do you do that?’ My great opportunity came when I was invited to a Christmas-week dinner over in the Hollywood hills. Ordinarily I...
He went to bed with a rich and glorious evening, and he awoke at seven to find...– Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky by Patrick Hamilton (NYRB), page 62. On the off chance you are going through a breakup, I recommend this book. (via bookavore)
Christopher Ricks on 'The Mangan Inheritance'
From Christopher Ricks’s introduction to The Mangan Inheritance: “The Mangan inheritance is a double one, as befits its involving a search for a double. The literal inheritance of money is what makes possible the search for the heritage of blood. But it is one of lacerations within the book that though ‘the Mangan inheritance’ is a straight description in that it is...
A Late-Summer Look at the Arab Spring (by Alistair...
“Now, six months on from the initial uprisings of the Arab Spring (which, understandably enough, no one expected), we seem to have got all our predictions wrong yet again. But why should we have thought the Arab world might introduce democracy? Against every expectation, out of all the nations in revolt, from Tunisia to Yemen, no leaders, not even a petty Nasser, have arisen,...
Bad Poetry Day
Today is the official Bad Poetry Day, and what better way to celebrate that with a poem from The Stuffed Verse: An Anthology of Bad Verse. There are plenty to choose from, but we thought we might share the title piece, written by one of favorites poets, William Wordsworth: The Stuffed Owl [This is taken from the account given by Miss Jewsbury of the pleasure she derived, when long confined to...
Gathering is peculiar, because you see nothing but what you’re looking for. If...– Tove Jansson (The Summer Book)
At Menzeldjemil, Tunisia, Mme Chassoux, an officer’s wife, would have been...– -Felix Feneon, Novels in Three Lines Translated and with an Introduction by Luc Sante, NYRB (via soczgowchz)
'The Radiance of the King'
The last of our re-jacketed and re-issued series is Camara Laye’s The Radiance of the King. Laye is most famous for his autobiographical work L’Enfant Noir, but Radiance is the Guinean’s only novel, and an important work in African literature. Toni Morrison has this to say in her introduction: “Camara Laye not only summoned a sophisticated, wholly African imagistic...
The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story
Yesterday we also released Glenway Wescott’s masterful novella The Pilgrim Hawk. Here’s Edmund White on Wescott and The Pilgrim Hawk: “When Wescott wrote his masterpiece, The Pilgrim Hawk, in 1940, [W. Somerset] Maugham (perhaps a bit envious) warned him, You haven’t any business writing things like ‘The Pilgrim Hawk’…. You’ve got to choose right now. You can...
'Mr. Fortune' by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Today we are proud to release Mr. Fortune by Sylvia Townsend Warner, a collection of the novel Mr. Fortune’s Maggot (a maggot is defined as “a whimsical or perverse fancy; a crotchet”), originally published in 1927, and the novella The Salutation, published in 1932 and following the character Mr. Fortune years later. It’s a funny, satirical, well-written book with much to...
Happy Birthday, E. Nesbit!
Today is E. (Edith) Nesbit’s birthday. Here’s how Gore Vidal described her in an article written in The New York Review of Books in 1965: “Born in 1858, Edith Nesbit was the daughter of the head of a British agricultural college. In 1880 she married Hubert Bland, a journalist. They had a good deal in common. Both were socialists, active in the Fabian Society. Yet the marriage was...
Brian Moore--an underappreciated author
This week we published The Mangan Inheritance by Brian Moore, who was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times but failed to gain a wide international reputation. We also published his first critically-acclaimed novels, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne last year. Below is some praise from his contemporary writer: “He is my favorite living novelist. Each new book of his is...
Simenon on the Novel
“‘The writer does not exist,’ he tells [his readers]. ‘Only the novel and the reader exist. The more the novel seems to have been written by the reader, the better it is. The novel must be short and it must be read at one sitting. It must not be a chronicle. It must not be picturesque. It must strike the reader a single terrible blow.’ Then, sure that he has...
The Mangan Inheritance by Brian Moore
To celebrate the release of Brian Moore’s The Mangan Inhertiance I wanted to share a review from the original publication in 1979 by Darcy O’Brien, also author of A Way of Life, Like Any Other: “Like many an Irish writer before him, Brian Moore seems to be at the height of his powers when attacking his native land. Although it will earn no commendations from the Irish...
‘There’s a strange thing about love,’ said Sophia. ‘The more...– Tove Jansson, The Summer Book (via iamingrid)
A video from Klovharu, Tove Jansson's home
Below is a video of Klovharu, the tiny and distant island where Tove Jansson and her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä, spent many years. And here’s Jansson describing the island in the summer: ‘Of course I know that the seabirds were here first! They have registered their claim to this territory for who knows how many generations and their hatred for us is obvious: they swoop at us with their...
Happy Birthday, Tove Jansson →
Tove Jansson was born today in 1914 in Helsinki, Finland, though her family were part of the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland. To celebrate, we wanted to share this very good website about her where you can see examples of her art, history of her family, and information about where she lived. If you are interested in the islands in the Gulf of Finland and how they influenced her, do have a...
The need to create other men, to draw out of oneself a crowd of different...– Georges Simenon, quoted in Simon Leys, “The Truth of Simenon,” in The Hall of Uselessness
Trewlany and the Shelleys
Our last post was of Edward John Trewlany’s first impression on meeting Shelley. Here I wanted to share the reverse, specifically Mary Shelley’s first impression of Trewlany, taken from Richard Holmes’s Shelley: The Pursuit, though the quotation is originally from Mary Shelley’s Journals: “Trewlaney [sic] is extravagant,—un giovane stravagante—partly...
Happy Birthday, Percy Bysshe Shelley
Today is Shelley’s birthday, and to celebrate I’ve delved into one of the two books on Shelley we’ve published. Here’s Edward John Trelawny, who also accompanied Byron to fight in the Greek War of Independence, on meeting Shelley for the first time from his famed biography, Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author: “Swiftly gliding in, blushing like a girl, a tall...