The Terrible Troll Bird makes a wonderful Troll dinner.
image via the the d’Aulaires’ Children’s Books Facebook Page
Notes from NYRB Classics
Sometimes, but especially in the fall, it seemed to Tommy that he came from a very bloody race: old ladies encased in dry skins and topped by stuffed birds, drawing their dusty, lifeless smell from ancient animal corpses; slaughtered creatures served at the table and glistening with pink juices; even their plates were garlanded with heaps of dead game, the tureen and serving dishes—relics of his mother’s mother’s family—with the heads of living animals whose mild eyes stared at him from beneath the glaze. Tommy imagined his father—he wasn’t old enough to go hunting from the camp so he could only imagine it—tracking the deer through the dark forest, following the spoor, finger loosely clasping the trigger of the rifle he had carefully cleaned and oiled until it gleamed, waiting to fell and gut the animal that this Thanksgiving Day was hanging by its heels, belly slit and ribs wrenched open, from a rafter in the garage behind the house, awaiting the knives of the butcher.
—from William McPherson’s novel, Testing the Current, which tells the story of Tommy MacAllister, coming of age in the U.S. Midwest. Despite Tommy’s seeming aversion to the bloody business of animal slaughter, however, he’s able to suppress his conviction when it comes to the Thanksgiving turkey: “the turkey came from the store so it was all right,” he notes pages later.
Here’s to the struggles of both the sublimating and conscientious eater on Thanksgiving! But really, here’s to taking time to reflect, with or without that store-bought turkey.
(Panting by Dutch artist Joachim von Sandrart.)
She always insisted that she could remember every detail of the very first evening we were together; how, for example, there was snow falling, and how the taxi meter, a little yellow glow above it, ticked, and how she felt, excited, in the interior of the heated cab, touching hands, but sad too, sad inside, the way you feel when you like a man, and when you know that with him it will happen, and you’ve made up your mind even before it happens so that he doesn’t really have to ask you, it’s something (she explained, explaining how a woman in so representative a circumstance feels) you feel and he feels, a pleasurable tension between you, a silken tightness, waiting to get to a place, his apartment or yours or a friend’s room or a hotel or even a deserted country road, so that you sink into a trance of waiting, a deliciousness that’s somehow sad, too, and you feel, because of the sadness, both there and not there, inside the cab and holding hands and not inside the cab at all and not holding hands at all….
She looked out of the window of the cab then at the falling and spinning snowflakes, and the dark store fronts, securely bolted against the night, and she said (it was the only phrase I, too, remembered, there were so many other things I had forgotten but the little truncated phrase I remembered) isn’t it beautiful sometimes, and I asked her what was beautiful sometimes, and she said: The snow, and everything.
—Alfred Hayes, In Love
(A melancholy snow scene in honor of the Nor’easter set to hit the East Coast tomorrow.)
Cover photograph on In Love by Saul Leiter.
Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (it doesn’t even have to be pumpkin spice)? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).
Thanksgiving Day. Joseph submits a written report on the group meeting.
Meeting began at 5:00 p.m., and ended at 5:45 p.m.
Discussion: On a poem by Edgar A. Guest, titled: A Thanksgiving Prayer! It is a prose poem however.
It is a thankfulness for the blessings one gets out of life! For one’s health; for one’s strength! for burdening the supportings of Day! for one’s prosperity, for glad experiences; for gratitudes from others; from services rendered; for endless others.
We’ve also discussed our Thanksgiving Day dinner! We’ve enjoyed our Turkey dinner: It consisted of Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, giblets-gravy—of bread, fritter, pumpkin pie, not to forget cranberries in the meat place rather plate and of course coffee—real coffee. There was also dressing. It was a very enjoyable dinner.
—Patient known as “Joseph” in The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach
Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (pumpkin spice or otherwise)? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).
The filmmakers used over 100 carnival and sideshow workers as extras (according to Wikipedia).
Tyrone Power’s makeup test shot from the movie.
If you’d like to see animated gifs of Power being rubbed down in the film, try this.
This confession—shall I call it?—is written to keep myself from brooding, to get down to what happened in the order in which it happened. I am not content with myself. With this pencil and exercise-book I hope to find some clarity. I create a second self, a man of the past by whom the man of the present may be measured.
—from Geoffrey Household’s thriller Rogue Male. These are all good reasons to write, whether or not you are on the run from a vicious dictator’s secret police.
The NYRB Classics Goodreads Book Club is currently reading Rogue Male (and developing a lot of tantalizing theories about the reliability of this self-proclaimed “confessor” in the discussion forum). Next month’s pick is Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Autobiography of a Corpse. This is super exciting. Don’t hesitate to join in the fun.
Lastly, please do watch all or part of this clip from the 1976 film adaptation of Rogue Male, starring Peter O’Toole:
“Morris … did not begin her transition until 1964. By then, treatments — and, some would argue, societal notions about womanhood — were more advanced. Perhaps even more importantly, she had already established herself as a historian and travel writer and had been married for 15 years when she began her transition. In fact, she went to Morocco for her surgery, which Dr. George Bourou performed, because in her native England she would not be allowed to have her surgery unless she divorced her wife, something she wasn’t prepared to do at the time. They eventually did divorce, but they remained in contact and reunited in a civil union in 2008.”
At the Huffington Post, Justine Valinotti reflects on two transgender pioneers: From Christine Jorgensen to Jan Morris
Jan Morris tells her own story in Conundrum.
November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Before William Stoner the future lay bright and certain and unchanging. He saw it, not as a flux of event and change and potentiality, but as a territory ahead that awaited his exploration. He saw it as the great University library, to which new wings might be built, to which new books might be added and from which old ones might be withdrawn, while its true nature remained essentially unchanged. He saw the future in the institution to which he had committed himself and which he so imperfectly understood; he conceived himself changing in that future, but he saw the future itself as the instrument of change rather than its object.
This photo of a well-read Stoner, along with its staff pick slip, was sent into us by a librarian, so in honor of that, here’s Stoner himself thinking about the future as a great university library.
Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (sometimes we’ll make an exception for a beer, even)? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).
The annual Holiday Sale is on!
Books by Robert Walser, Patrick Hamilton, Alfred Hayes
Picture books and chapter books for kids
World War II memoirs and biographies
The noted Italian translator William Weaver died last week. The list of Italian authors he, beautifully, translated into English is astonishing: Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Italo Svevo, Elsa Morante, Giorgio Bassani, Roberto Calasso, Primo Levi, Eugenio Montale and many others. NYRB Classics has published three of his translations: Boredom by Alberto Moravia, That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda, and The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello.
Hereis a paragraph of his translation from That Awful Mess, chosen completely at random:
A man’s gaze plunged the penumbra, then in the shadows: it wound, it climbed among the passes of hope, as an explorer of caves dives and climbs, or a chimney sweep. Not to mention carabinieri! Grumpy, as their duty bound them to be, their eyes never stopped searching. And the eyes that came back to them! Eyes? Furtive arrows! Shots, that make the heart die in the chest, of those standing carabinieri: while at the same time the seamstress spoke to them about Libya: the fourth shore: the dates that were ripening, exquisite, and the officers that she had know there and who had ‘courted’ her with success. This remembering courting captains and colonels for the benefit of plain privates was a stratagem of seduction. Her eyes began to sparkle again then, tiny, pointed, black, darting: under the multiple furrowing of her forehead, under the rumpled pergola of her hair, which was gray and hard, like the fur of a mandrill. Considerable saliva lubricated the outburst of her speech, evocative or oracular as it happened to be: the lips, thirsting, fevered like her gums, dry and viscid, which, deprived of the cutting edge of the former ivory, seemed today the entrance, the free antechamber of every amorous magic.
When I first came, Du côte de chez Swann had just been published, and he was writing A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, which was later to win him the Prix Goncourt.
The main aspect of his methods of organization was that he always kept all his work within reach as it grew, just as he kept all his working equipment ready at hand. I soon learned to distinguish between the five main categories of his work: the old exercise books, which dated from long before; the new exercise books, in which he was currently working; the exercise books with notes; the little notebooks; and what have been called (though he never used the word) his ‘paperoles,’ which were odd notes written down on scraps of paper or the backs of envelopes or even the covers of magazines.
—Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the publication of Marcel Proust’s Du côte de chez Swann, so we thought we’d share from Céleste Albaret’s Monsieur Proust, describing her experience working as his housekeeper and literary aide.
Not sure what gift to get that hard-to-please reader this holiday season? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for personalized book recommendations from our experts. We respond to each inquiry and publish suggestions on our blog.
Laura knew that the Russian witches live in small huts mounted upon three giant hens’ legs, all yellow and scaly. The legs can go; when the witch desires to move her dwelling the legs stalk through the forest, clattering against trees, and printing long scars upon the snow.
—Some little-known witch trivia from Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes, a novel about a spinster who makes a pact with the devil and becomes a witch. Why? Because she’s bored, of course.
In this book, Satan’s messenger to the spinster is an adorable, albeit somewhat bloodthirsty, kitten. You’ve never read of such a cuddly ball of evil in your whole life!
We appreciated the enthusiasm—and deft use of quotation marks—in R.H. Kanakia’s recent review of Lolly Willowes on Blotter Paper. Yes: “SATAN ACTUALLY APPEARS!!!!”
(Image credit: Angie H. Iver; Baba Yaga and Hut)