These two hardly need an introduction: Saki and Edward Gorey, published together in The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, released this past week as an NYRB Classic. It’s a delectably dark pairing.
Notes from NYRB Classics
“D. found a chauffeurs’ bar where he was served a good, unpretentious coffee and two hot croissants, reminding him of that young condemned man whose sole last request was for croissants, which he could not have, because it was too early. “Just my luck!” said the pale young man, and he was right, for in fact the only thing he ever succeeded in was his own death by decapitation…”
Life’s not Yeezy
What do you mean by “too literary”? What do you cut out, certain kinds of words?
Adjectives, adverbs, and every word which is there just to make an effect. Every sentence which is there just for the sentence. You know, you have a beautiful sentence—cut it. Every time I find such a thing in one of my novels it is to be cut.
From the Art of Fiction No. 9.
“ “In-between is really where I feel best. Neither here nor there.” “There isn’t any in-between,” I said. “Any place you pass through is this moment’s here. In-between is an illusion.” “Thanks very much,” he said. “You’ve just invalidated most of my life.”
“In-between is really where I feel best. Neither here nor there.”
“There isn’t any in-between,” I said. “Any place you pass through is this moment’s here. In-between is an illusion.”
“Thanks very much,” he said. “You’ve just invalidated most of my life.””
The latest entry to the Classics and Coffee Club comes with the note: “Greetings from OUP USA in Cary, North Carolina!” and features a familiar Oxford University Press mug (familiar because we have the very same one in our office kitchen).
The book on the right is, of course, Stoner. But the book on the left might look odd—The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard was one of the first 16 books in the series, and the cover of the initial printing had a different design. This is what it looks like now.
The forgotten saga of John Horne Burns and his intemperate World War II masterpiece.
Also read Margolick’s recent piece in Salon: "John Horne Burns: The writer Hemingway and Vidal envied"
Every season we like to give a preview of our upcoming books. We’re running a bit late this year, but here it is.
NEW YORK REVIEW BOOK
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper
In the NYRB Classics series we’ve published all of Leigh Fermor’s famed travel books—included the ones on his pre-WWII walk across Europe—and now we’re publishing his biography by Cooper, who had complete access to his archive and extensively interviewed Leigh Fermor before he died.
No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State by Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian in Germany during the rise of the Nazism. His resistance, and ultimate execution, is well known, but the story of how he and his brother-in-law von Dohnanyi secretly and internally opposed the Nazi party is told for the first time by Sifton and Stern.
1941: The Year That Keeps Returning by Slavko Goldstein
In 1941 Goldstein’s father was arrested by the Ustasha, the pro-fascist nationalist party in power in Yugoslavia, and never returned. In this book Goldstein, now a prominent journalist and politician in Croatia, looks back at the war and how it affected both his life and his country from then till the present.
A collection of essays on architects, buildings, and the way they shape the world by one of America’s most renowned architecture critics. Some of the buildings and people discussed are McKim, Mead & White, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Rem Koolhaas’s CCTV building in Beijing, Michael Arad’s National September 11 Memorial, and the High Line in New York City.
In Love by Alfred Hayes
In 1950s New York a relationship has been going on for some years, though the lovers remain emotionally distant from each other. Until the day the woman is offered a thousand dollars to go home with a strange businessman, and the relationship rapidly changes. Hayes is one of the secret masters of mid-twentieth-century fiction and wrote screenplays for films by Rossellini and de Sica and others.
My Face for the World to See by Alfred Hayes
A successful but unhappy screenwriter is at a Hollywood party when he sees a woman walking into the ocean. He saves her, and their lives become linked, more by their shared disillusion and cynicism towards love than the rescue itself.
The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart
A novel of three generations of Guadeloupean women and the struggles they face with love and loss in a country caught between the folklore and slavery of the past and an uncertain future. Littered throughout with brilliant descriptions of the flora, culture, and lives of the many characters on the island.
A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories by Robert Walser
A newly translated collection of short stories and vignettes by Walser. They range from some very early pieces, about the schoolboy Fritz Kocher no less, to later ones from the First World War. All told with the distinctive humor, wisdom, rebellion, and camaraderie that makes Walser’s prose so distinctive.
One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis
A very fat English professor comes to America to spend a term at Budweiser College in provincial Pennsylvania and has difficult dealings with many different types of Americans, all as he tries to seduce the ice queen Helen.
Girl, 20 by Kingsley Amis
Sir Roy Vandervane is a very successful English composer who has a penchant for the latest fads (i.e. the flower-power phase) and younger and younger girls. How he, his wife, his daughter, and his friend deal will all this vanity is a very funny look at the 60s as only Amis could do.
Fighting for Life by S. Josephine Baker
S. Josephine Baker (not the performer) worked for the NYC Health Department in the first quarter of the 20th century and was instrumental in improving children’s health in NYC’s slums and tenements. She also caught the notorious “Typhoid Mary” (twice), and since has become a feminist and lesbian hero for her work and sexuality. This is her autobiography.
The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf
A morality tale, a Christian tale, and a very creepy horror story from the middle of the 19th century. Caught between cruel feudal overlords and the devil the community of a small Swiss village have to deal with the brutal consequences of their choices. And lots of vicious spiders.
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
A collection of short stories that bends the limits of reality and fiction with some truly wild tales—like the man who commits suicide and gives up his Moscow flat in exchange for the publication of his manuscript, and the pianist’s hand that takes off on its own to wander the city streets.
The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla
Pla is widely considered one of the greatest writers in the Catalan language. Never before translated into English, The Gray Notebook is his journal kept after the First World War through the Franco era (when Catalan was officially suppressed), and takes places in both his hometown of Palafrugell, a small town on the coast, to the Catalan capital of Barcelona.
A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising by Miron Białoszewski
Białoszewski, the great avant-garde Polish poet, here memorializes the doomed uprising of the population of Warsaw against their Nazi rulers in the fall of 1944. It is also a book about the power of memory to keep alive ruined towns and lives, and the force of imagination as a means of resistance.
The Human Comedy: Selected Stories by Honoré de Balzac
Balzac’s astute psychological perception, grand narratives of trust, love, class, and betrayal are nowhere better served than in his short stories. And here is a collection of some of the best newly translated.
Pierre Reverdy edited by Mary Ann Caws
A collection of original translations by some of America’s best translators from the French—John Ashbery, Lydia Davis to name just a few—of one of the greatest modern French poets, and one of the most elusive.
The Interior Landscape: Classical Tamil Love Poems edited and translated by A. K. Ramanujan
A selection of Tamil love poetry from the Kukuntokai, a famous collection that dates back to the first three centuries AD and explores the Tamil tradition of Akam, a melding of the poetic form with explorations of love through the imagery of landscape.
NEW YORK REVIEW CHILDREN’S COLLECTION
The Little Woman Wanted Noise by Val Teal and illustrated by Robert Lawson
The Little Woman moves from the city to a country farm, but finds it is too quiet. Buying more and more loud animals doesn’t do it for her. What she needs is city kids, and lots of them to make a racket and make her feel at home.
Now Open the Box by Dorothy Kunhardt
Peewee is a teeny weeny dog who is very popular in the circus where he performs. When he starts to grow, and therefore lose his defining characteristic, everyone in the circus is very sad. But Peewee continues to grow, much to the delight of his friends in the circus.
Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket by Leon Garfield
Smith is a London pickpocket who, minutes after robbing an old gentleman, witnesses the gentleman’s murder. Smith realizes the murders were after a letter now in his pocket, but since he can’t read, he doesn’t know why, or how to stop the killers on his trail.
It’s hard to imagine a book as simultaneously erudite and irreverent as Paul Hazard’s The Crisis of the European Mind: 1680–1715 being written today. (Perhaps such books were never written in English.) French historian Paul Hazard narrates at fever pitch, in such a careening, ironic tone that the cultural confusions of 300 years ago seem like yesterday’s melodrama. Much of the book is written in a kind of nonfictional free indirect discourse, navigating through the minds of educated Europeans of various stripes as they come to doubt every tradition around them.
—from David Auerbach’s review of Paul Hazard’s The Crisis of the European Mind in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “Why should we care about an outdated Eurocentric book from 80 years ago?” You (and Auerbach ask). The answer: “because, for better and for worse, this is the tradition that birthed today’s American and European culture, one that we still struggle to view with detachment.”
Harriet took her last cup of coffee over to the fire, re-read her letters, lit her first cigarette. Beginning to recuperate after the ruffle of breakfast and other people setting out, she would usually feel at this time contentment at the morning ahead, loving the ordinary, the familiar, knowing that what she must do was well within her powers.
Elizabeth Taylor, A Game of Hide and Seek
The wonderful Maylin, who once read some 50 NYRB Classics in one year, sent in this dispatch from Liverpool, England.
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).
"Just this morning I got a letter with a turtle stamp on it! And the stamp wasn’t even canceled!"
…is an example of a not-very-good turtle story. But if you have a good story about a turtle, you could win a copy of Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary from I’ve Been Reading Lately. All you have to do is leave your good turtle story on that blog (don’t leave it here, because we’re not sending you nothin’—though we are offering the book at a discount at the moment).