1. "The funniest novel I have ever read"

    Are you a rereader? What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

    I don’t do much rereading anymore because I’ve been ill and feel that I’m running out of time. But recently I did reread all of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, and was pleased to find that he was almost as thoughtful as, say, Olivia Manning, although his snobbery sometimes grates. Also, I enjoyed Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis, all over again: the funniest novel I have ever read. Is there some Bulgarian equivalent, languishing untranslated? Probably not.

    —Clive James, novelist, critic, poet and recent translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy, was in the The New York Times Book Review answering questions in their "By the Book" column. We’re thrilled he enjoyed rereading Lucky Jim, and will make it easier to return to Olivia Manning as we are publishing the second trilogy in the Fortunes of War series, The Levant Trilogy, in Spring 2014 (we published The Balkan Trilogy in 2010).

    (illustration by Jillian Tamaki)

  2. thebooksmith:

OH YES OH YES

In honor of the release of Kingsley Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man and his alt-history, The Alteration, we have a slew of SF, fantasy, and horror books on sale (for a limited time).
SALE!
And, for Anglophile eyes only, a bonus sentence from The Green Man that uses the terms “birds” (to mean women) and “steak-and-kidney pie.”

    thebooksmith:

    OH YES OH YES

    In honor of the release of Kingsley Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man and his alt-history, The Alteration, we have a slew of SF, fantasy, and horror books on sale (for a limited time).

    SALE!

    And, for Anglophile eyes only, a bonus sentence from The Green Man that uses the terms “birds” (to mean women) and “steak-and-kidney pie.”

  3. Wouldn't you like to help kickstart an Uncle revival? Just 1 more day to go →

    We publish Uncle and Uncle Cleans Up in our Children’s Collection—but there’s more Uncle to be had.

  4. thedizzies:

Coming in June—NYRB Classics’ reissue of Russell Hoban’s TURTLE DIARY! Introduction by “Ed Park.”

    thedizzies:

    Coming in June—NYRB Classics’ reissue of Russell Hoban’s TURTLE DIARY! Introduction by “Ed Park.”

  5. Renata Adler/Issue Project Room/Greenpoint/tomorrow


    This gentleman was reading Renata Adler’s Speedboat on the Q train to work this morning. You can hear Renata live in the flesh tomorrow at 155 Freeman St., between Manhattan & Franklin Aves in Greenpoint, as part of the Issue Project Room “Littoral” event series, tomorrow at 8 p.m. She’ll be reading from her novels Speedboat and Pitch Dark, and talking with our editor Edwin Frank. If you’ve already read Renata’s books, you’ll know the talk could go something like this:

        ‘I shouldn’t have come,’ the Englishman said, waving his drink and breathing so heavily at me that I could feel my bangs shift. ‘I have a terrible cold.’
        ‘He would probably have married her,’ a voice across the room said, ‘with the exception that he died.’
        ‘Well, I am a personality that prefers not to be annoyed.’
        ‘We should all prepare ourselves for this eventuality.’
        A six-year-old was passing the hors d’oeuvres. The baby, not quite steady on his feet, was hurtling about the room.
        ‘He’s following me,’ the six-year-old said, in despair.
        ‘Then lock yourself in the bathroom, dear,’ Inez replied.
        ‘He always waits outside the door.’
        ‘He loves you, dear.’
        ‘Well, I don’t like it.’
        ‘How I envy you,’ the minister’s wife was saying to a courteous, bearded boy, ‘reading Magic Mountain for the first time.’

  6. “And an invented person makes the greatest impression, naturally, on the seemingly not-invented, real person who, upon finding his reflection in a book, feels replaced and redoubled. This person cannot forgive his feeling of double insult: here I, a real, not-invented person, shall go to my grave and nothingness in ten or twenty years, whereas this fabricated, not-real “almost I” shall go on living and living as though it were the most natural thing in the world; more unforgivable still is the awareness that someone, some author, made you up like an arithmetic problem, what’s more he figured you out, arrived at an answer over which you struggled your entire life in vain, he divined your existence without ever having met you, he penned his way into your innermost thoughts, which you tried so hard to hide from yourself. One must refute the author and vindicate oneself. At once!”

    — 

    From Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s short story “Someone Else’s Theme,” collected in Memories of the Future.

    Thanks to biblioklept.org for alerting us to this excellent excerpt.

  7. literalab:

Literary roundup: Polish writers, Thor Garcia and Erich Kästner
An interview with Prague expat writer Thor Garcia, a profile of German author Erich Kästner and a podcast on a wide range of 20th century Polish writers.
Continue Reading

    literalab:

    Literary roundup: Polish writers, Thor Garcia and Erich Kästner

    An interview with Prague expat writer Thor Garcia, a profile of German author Erich Kästner and a podcast on a wide range of 20th century Polish writers.

    Continue Reading

  8. "Blood and Tragedy: The Caucasus in the Literary Imagination"

    image

          Ironically, it was when Russia was ruled by a Georgian—Stalin—that cruelty toward people of the Caucasus was most vehemently recrudescent. In 1944, he simply deported about a half a million of them eastward from land on which they had lived for centuries. The only reason this mass displacement is little remembered is because there were so many other atrocities taking place.
          It is surprising, then, that one of the most sensitive portrayals of the region comes from that cruel age. “An Armenian Sketchbook” was published nearly a decade after Stalin’s death (and has recently been translated into English by the New York Review Classics), by Vasily Grossman, a writer who had suffered much during Stalin’s life, and was himself to shortly die from cancer. “Armenian Sketchbook” is a minor work—but that is only because Grossman’s major work, “Life and Fate,” is the twentieth-century equivalent of “War and Peace.”
          Indeed, much like Tolstoy, Grossman understands the Caucasus as more than just the plaything of empires. Grossman cannot help but be astounded by the landscape, writing that ‘The whole of Armenia is awash with light.’ And though the comity of the Soviet era was enforced by iron rule, he finds a hospitality that is absent in earlier narratives of the region: ‘What more do I need? On the street people greet me with a smile…. People share their stories with me; they tell me about their lives, about their sorrows…. It’s all right here. I’m accepted; I’m one of them.’

    —From the Alexander Nazaryan article “Blood and Imagination: The Caucasus in the Literary Imagination” published this weekend in The New Yorker's “Page-Turner” blog. The article is a look at the Russian literary representation of the Caucasus, with a focus on Chechnya, and though Tolstoy is the hero, and still admired in Chechnya for his sympathy towards the downtrodden people of Russia's late empire, Grossman's book about his travels in Armenia stands out as second, later example of an author who sees through the official sponsoring of ethnic hatred.

  9. slaughterhouse90210:

“He looked so—what was it that gave him his irresistible charm? He looked so accessible. That was it. A great simple truth struck me with surprise: charm is availability.”—Elaine Dundy, The Old Man and Me

    slaughterhouse90210:

    “He looked so—what was it that gave him his irresistible charm? He looked so accessible. That was it. A great simple truth struck me with surprise: charm is availability.”
    —Elaine Dundy, The Old Man and Me

  10. A conversation with the devil

    'Now then, I want you to stand up to Underhill and, uh…Put paid to him.'
    'How?'
    'I can't tell you that, I'm afraid. Sorry to be a bore, but I'll have to leave the whole thing to you. I hope you make it.'
    'Surely you know? Whether I will or not?'
    The young man sighed, swallowed audibly and smoothed his fair hair. ‘No. I don’t. I only wish I did. People think I have foreknowledge, which is a useful thing for them to think in a way, but the whole idea’s nonsense logically unless you rule out free will, and I can’t do that. They were just trying to make me out to be grander than I could possibly be, for very nice motives a lot of the time.’
    'No doubt. Anyway, I don't care for doing what you want. Your record doesn't impress me.'
    'I dare say it doesn't, in your sense of impress. But all sorts of chaps have noticed that I can be very hard on those who don't behave as I feel they should. That ought to weigh with you.'
    'It doesn't much, when I think of how hard you can be on people who couldn't possibly have done anything to offend you.'
    'I know, children and such. But do stop talking like a sort of anti-parson, old man. It's nothing to do with offending or punishing or any of that father-figure stuff; it's purely and simply the run of the play. No malice in the world. Well, I think you'll take notice of what I've said when you turn it over in your mind afterwards.'

    —A conversation between Maurice Allington, “drunk and seeing ghosts and half of my head”, and a young man, “about twenty-eight years old, with a squarish, clean-shaven, humorous, not very trustworthy face, unabundant eyebrows and eyelashes, and very good teeth,” aka the devil, from Kingsely Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man.

  11. 
It was a bourgeois scene, too, whose outline was framed in the window—a bourgeois interior rooted in nature and peopled, in the foreground, by young men who sat on the divan and on the easy chairs with their red satin covers, smoking American cigarettes and sipping small cups of coffee. They were talking of Marx, Gide, Éluard and Sartre.

—from Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin (his follow-up to his is-it-real-is-it-fiction? WWII memoir, Kaputt), out this September. Malaparte is not impressed with this group of coffee-sipping, twenty-something Marxists he drops in on.
“Malaparte and my 4pm double espresso.” Submitted by a reader.
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.

    It was a bourgeois scene, too, whose outline was framed in the window—a bourgeois interior rooted in nature and peopled, in the foreground, by young men who sat on the divan and on the easy chairs with their red satin covers, smoking American cigarettes and sipping small cups of coffee. They were talking of Marx, Gide, Éluard and Sartre.

    —from Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin (his follow-up to his is-it-real-is-it-fiction? WWII memoir, Kaputt), out this September. Malaparte is not impressed with this group of coffee-sipping, twenty-something Marxists he drops in on.

    “Malaparte and my 4pm double espresso.” Submitted by a reader.

    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.

  12. bookavore:


Chess Story by Stefan Zweig was the April pick for WORD’s Classics Book Group and it was probably the first one that has been well-liked by the whole group (aside from the introduction, which was not liked at all. If you read this book, skip the intro). It’s a stunningly compact book that skips neatly to the heart of the horrors of war, all the while disguised as a vacation story and spy thriller. It reminded me a lot of Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada, but has much more of a le Carre feel. If I were a high school teacher, I’d assign it to my students; it’s quick, engaging, and does an incredible job of humanizing history.
As an aside, this continues to be the best-attended year of Classics Book Group since it was founded, I would guess because we are reading nice short novellas all year. Usually we have a great turnout for the first one and then it trails off, but this year we’re staying robust. If you have guilt about not being able to keep up with a book group, this might be the one for you. For May, we are reading The Old Maid, by Edith Wharton.

    bookavore:

    Chess Story by Stefan Zweig was the April pick for WORD’s Classics Book Group and it was probably the first one that has been well-liked by the whole group (aside from the introduction, which was not liked at all. If you read this book, skip the intro). It’s a stunningly compact book that skips neatly to the heart of the horrors of war, all the while disguised as a vacation story and spy thriller. It reminded me a lot of Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada, but has much more of a le Carre feel. If I were a high school teacher, I’d assign it to my students; it’s quick, engaging, and does an incredible job of humanizing history.

    As an aside, this continues to be the best-attended year of Classics Book Group since it was founded, I would guess because we are reading nice short novellas all year. Usually we have a great turnout for the first one and then it trails off, but this year we’re staying robust. If you have guilt about not being able to keep up with a book group, this might be the one for you. For May, we are reading The Old Maid, by Edith Wharton.

  13. Renata Adler at the Center for Fiction

     

    “Well, you know. His wife was chased by an elephant.”
    “No.”
    “How extraordinary.”
    “Yes. it was too awful. They were watching the elephants, when she simply fell down. The elephant ran over and knelt on her. she was in the hospital for months.”
    “No.”
    “How extraordinary.”
    “Quite different from anything she ever got from Roger, I expect.”

    Renata Adler reading last night, perhaps from this, one of her favorite passages from Speedboat, at the Center for Fiction. Photograph via the twitter feed of the N+1 film supplement.

  14. In this interview with K. Jones, Wallace Shawn talks about his own fear in creating work, and Speedboat author Renata Adler's influence on him during his early years as a playwright and creating My Dinner with André

    (Thanks to The Improvised LIfe for linking to this interview!).

  15. When in Doubt—Wash

          ‘If you have committed any kind of error and anyone scolds you—wash,’ she was saying. ‘If you slip and fall off something and somebody laughs at you—wash. If you are getting the worst of an argument and want to break off hostilities until you have composed yourself, start washing. Remember, every cat respects another cat at her toilet. That’s our first rule of social deportment, and you must also observe it.
          ‘Whatever the situation, whatever difficulty you may be in, you can’t go wrong if you wash. If you come into a room full of people you do not know and who are confusing to you, sit right down in the midst of them and start washing. They’ll end up by quieting down and watching you. Some noise frightens you into a jump and somebody you know sees you are frightened—begin washing immediately.
          ‘If somebody calls you and you don’t care to come and still you don’t wish to make it a direct insult—wash. If you’ve started off to go somewhere and suddenly can’t remember where it was you wanted to go, sit right down and begin brushing up a little. It will come back to you. Something hurt you? Wash it. Tired of playing with someone who has been kind enough to take time and trouble and you want to break off without hurting his or her feelings—start washing.
          ‘Oh, there are dozens of things! Door closed and you’re burning up because no one will open it for you—have yourself a little wash and forget it. Somebody petting another cat or dog in the same room, and you are annoyed over that—be nonchalant; wash. Feel sad—wash away your blues. Been picked up by somebody you don’t particularly fancy and who didn’t smell good—wash him off immediately and pointedly where he can see you do it. Overcome by emotion—a wash will help you get a grip on yourself again. Any time, anyhow, in any manner, for whatever purpose, wherever you are, whenever and why ever you want to clear the air or get a moment’s respite or think things over—wash!
           ‘And—’ concluded Jennie, drawing a long breadth, ‘of course you also wash to get clean and to keep clean.’
          ‘Goodness!’ said Peter, quite worried, ‘I don’t see how I could possibly remember it all.’
          ‘You don’t have to remember any of it, actually,’ Jennie explained. ‘All that you have to remember is rule 1: ‘When in doubt—wash!’

    —Useful advice for both humans and cats. Given by street-smart stray Jennie to recently-transformed-from-boy-to-cat Peter. The first of many lessons he learns about cats and humans in Paul Gallico’s The Abandoned.