Jessica Mitford (whose superpower was muckraking) and Wonder Woman!
Thanks to Anna of dudguacamole.tumblr.com for sending in this fitting duo.
Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (and now that summer is on us, we’re allowing iced beverages as well)? Send them to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club.)
Hey @nyrbclassics - I was reading Turtle Diary in cafe in NYT building & stranger came up & said: “Ah, the NYRB book club!” Fans everywhere!— Levi Stahl (@levistahl) May 17, 2013
Proof that signing up for our subscription book club is an excellent way to meet like-minded strangers. If you sign up by June 15 (2013) you will get Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary (and a free copy of Manchette’s Fatale as a bonus).
“The grasshopper’s name was Hope, so Hickory called her Hop for short. Together they went exploring, and they discovered the sweetness of blackberries and the sharpness of sassafras twigs. They learned useful things—that chicory is bitter, but sorrel only sour. And they learned useless things too—that the track of a snail is silver winding through the grass, but the light of a firefly is green gold melting in the air.”
We’ve just republished Palmer Brown’s beautiful story about friendship, time, and wildflowers, Hickory.
I tried Ivy Compton-Burnett when I was 20, and it didn’t take. I thought, ‘She can’t actually write.’ I came back six years later, and couldn’t stop reading her; no 20th-century novelist is closer to my heart. — Hilary Mantel on Ivy Compton-Burnett and other writers she feels sympathetic or antipathetic to (Henry James is out, Alice and William in) in the New York Times’s “By the Book” column
Though it was originally published in the ‘50s (and this month, newly translated by New York Review Books Classics), the absurdity of Transit makes it feel timeless — like it exists outside of any real time or place. But that’s the haunting part: Transit is a very real story, based on Seghers’s own experience as a German Jew trying to flee France. The result is a darker Catch-22. There’s a sense of dread and hopelessness that pervades the novel. Marseilles becomes a state of existential limbo. The narrator is uncertain what to do while he waits. Should he keep chasing women? Have another drink? Does he even want to leave, if the destination might just mean more waiting?
—A review of Anna Seghers’s Transit in Grantland (a blog that means more to some than others) by Kevin Nguyen. Transit is also a literary thriller in the vein of Robbe-Grillet, and this new translation (we hope) brings it to the attention of all fans of twentieth century European literature.
Existentialism: A Clarification, from We Have Only This Life to Live.
“What’s it like in your country? We hear so many strange things of it which can’t be true. Not all of them.”
“It’s beautiful, Hubert, which nobody believes who hasn’t seen it. And various, because it’s so extensive. Seven hundred miles from north to south, four hundred miles across in places, three times France. In the north-east in winter, everything freezes solid for three months; in the south, there are palm trees and lions and swamps and alligators…”
Sound familiar? The place described is New England, but not the one you know. Ready for a world where the Reformation never happened, electricity is considered “appallingly dangerous” in 1976, and a young choir boy is facing a hair-raising surgery? Kingsley Amis’ alternate history The Alteration is out now, a vivid take on a repressive religious society that Phillip K. Dick called “ One of the best- possibly the best- alternate-worlds novels in existence.”
Kingsley Amis’s very funny and very scary ghost story, The Green Man, has just been released. The cover features an excellent depiction of the Green Man by Eric Hanson, following in the footsteps of many wild cover variations, including the above, and this one too.
Striking a different tone altogether is the soft-core 1970s Panther edition. Thanks to Ryan Britt’s Tor.com review (“like Fawlty Towers Plus Sex and Ghosts”) of the book for bringing this one to our attention.
We entered the pizzeria. I took a seat facing the open fire…. They brought the usual rosé. The first two glasses of rosé always go down like water. I like watching the open fire, you know, and the way the man hits the dough with his bent wrist. Yes, things like that are the only things in the world I really like. That is to say, I like things that have been and will always be there. You see, there’s always been an open fire here, and for centuries they’ve beaten the dough like that. And if you were to reproach me because I’m forever changing and going to different places, then I’d reply, that it’s only because I’m doing a thorough search for something that is going to last forever.
Anna Seghers wrote Transit while in exile in Mexico, having been one of those lucky enough to acquire the paperwork necessary to escape Nazi Germany. The narrator of Transit, though, is perhaps the only transient in the port city of Marseille who doesn’t want to leave Europe, who just wants experience what lasts. Nothing else matters to him—that is, until he meets a woman desperate to flee.
Transit by Anna Seghers, newly translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo, goes on sale today.
In keeping with our boozy Kingsley Amis theme (and in celebration of Friday), today’s Classics and Coffee Club eschews the soft stuff and goes hard. Would Kingsley Amis approve of the Red Hook ESB pictured here? The Red Hook website describes it as: “Brewed in the style of a traditional British ESB (Extra Special Bitter).” So let’s say yes. And, if you squint, the Seattle background of the photo might just be the Cambridge UK suburb of The Green Man.
Pictured: Reader Melanie and the “Miracles Denied: Comets, Oracles, and Sorcerers” chapter of Paul Hazard’s Crisis of the European Mind.
Submit pictures of your copies of NYRB Classics (or books from our Children’s Collection) with coffee or even tea and we’ll post them here.
On Monday, May 6th at 7 PM, writers Lev Grossman, Nathaniel Adams, and Jen Vafidis will discuss Kingsley Amis’ newly reissued novels, the alternate history The Alteration and the ghost story The Green Man at the Half King. Co-sponsored with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
Full details here.
Tonight! Martin Amis, Edwin Frank, Jochen Hellbeck, Agata Tuszynska discuss the legacy of Vasily Grossman, author of Life and Fate -
part of the 2013 Pen World Voices Festival
Did you know that Elaine Dundy’s sister, Shirley Clarke, was a pathbreaking filmmaker? (If not, you haven’t been paying attention!)
John Powers on Shirley Clarke’s seminal 1967 film Portrait of Jason that has been recently restored and re-released:
Clarke knew she had a mesmerizing subject in Jason, whose stories are punctuated by a laugh whose mercurial meaning — from delight to pain to impacted fury — could keep a psychology class busy for a semester. Still, she and her colleagues keep goading him to give more, to bare himself more deeply, until he eventually breaks down, offering us the naked truth of his soul — if, that is, you believe we all have a single, secret, unified self hidden by myriad social masks. But is the drunken, weeping Jason really a more authentic Jason than the laughing storyteller?