1. "Grades are a stupid invention."

    I don’t like math. I’m bad at it even though my grades are pretty good. I will never go into business, I can feel that. I only hope my parents don’t try to apprentice me to a businessman! I would run away, and then what would they have? But have I said enough here about Autumn? I went on a lot about snow. That’ll get me a good grade on my report card this quarter. Grades are a stupid invention. In singing I get an A and I don’t make a single sound. How does that happen? It would be better if they gave us apples instead of grades. But then it’s true they would have to hand out way too many apples. Oh!

    —from “Autumn,” one of a series of essays by fictional boy, Fritz Kocher, in Robert Walser’s A Schoolboy’s Diary. Schools are in session (or about to go in session) all over the country now and, well—we feel you, Fritz. We feel you. Apples all around!

    [The image was drawn by Robert Walser’s brother, Karl, and is also used as the cover art for the Walser favorite, Jakob von Gunten.]

  2. "My heart is my / pocket. It is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.” —Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems

    "My heart is my / pocket. It is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.” —Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems

  3. On Enviable Madness (and home safety)

    Each time my mother and I came away from Neville Court, my mother would say something like, “Poor Alicia. One can only humour her.”

    "Is she mad?" I once asked.

    "Good heavens, no. Or at least…"

    I waited.

    "Well, if she is," she went on, "she’s perfectly happy. There are many who’d even envy her that type of madness."

    —From Stephen Benatar’s Wish Her Safe At Home, in honor of National Safe at Home Week. Yes! That’s a thing. Lock your doors and windows, readers. Or not.

  4. INTERVIEWERYou’ve announced thirty-three forthcoming books. Why thirty-three?  
CENDRARSThe list of thirty-three books that I’ve been announcing for forty years is not exclusive, restrictive, or prohibitive; the number thirty-three is the key figure of activity, of life. So this is not at all in ink. If might be an index, but it is not The Index. It doesn’t include the titles of novels which I will never write—the other day I was surprised to discover that La Main coupée, which I published in 1946, had been on this list since 1919. I had completely forgotten that! On the list are books that I will take up again and that will appear in the future. Also listed are the ten volumes of Notre pain quotidien, which are written but that I left in various strongboxes in South American banks and which, God willing, will be found by chance some day—the papers aren’t signed, and are left under a false name. I’ve also listed a group of poems that I value more than my eyes but that I haven’t decided to publish—not by timidity or pride, but for love. And then, there are the books that were written, ready for publication, but which I burned to the great detriment of my publishers: for example, “La vie et la mort du soldat inconnu” (five volumes). Finally, there are the bastards, the larvae, and the abortions which I will probably never write. 
—from Blaise Cendrars’s 1966 Paris Review interview
The Other, Moravagine, black coffee, and a Stella d’Oro (?) cookie in our Classics and Coffee Club.
Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (hot or iced)? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

    INTERVIEWER
    You’ve announced thirty-three forthcoming books. Why thirty-three?  

    CENDRARS
    The list of thirty-three books that I’ve been announcing for forty years is not exclusive, restrictive, or prohibitive; the number thirty-three is the key figure of activity, of life. So this is not at all in ink. If might be an index, but it is not The Index. It doesn’t include the titles of novels which I will never write—the other day I was surprised to discover that La Main coupée, which I published in 1946, had been on this list since 1919. I had completely forgotten that! On the list are books that I will take up again and that will appear in the future. Also listed are the ten volumes of Notre pain quotidien, which are written but that I left in various strongboxes in South American banks and which, God willing, will be found by chance some day—the papers aren’t signed, and are left under a false name. I’ve also listed a group of poems that I value more than my eyes but that I haven’t decided to publish—not by timidity or pride, but for love. And then, there are the books that were written, ready for publication, but which I burned to the great detriment of my publishers: for example, “La vie et la mort du soldat inconnu” (five volumes). Finally, there are the bastards, the larvae, and the abortions which I will probably never write. 

    —from Blaise Cendrars’s 1966 Paris Review interview

    The Other, Moravagine, black coffee, and a Stella d’Oro (?) cookie in our Classics and Coffee Club.

    Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (hot or iced)? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

  5. Now Open the Box

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    Yestrerday, Dorothy Kunhardt’s Now Open the Box went on sale! Kunhardt, who wrote Pat the Bunny, and our very favorite NYRB book ever—Junket is Nice—tells us the story of Peewee, the teensy weensy dog that everyone loves. Even the clown riding a donkey with two heads, the fat lady, and the strong baby love him. And we do, too, of course.

  6. “It was a party that had lasted too long; and tired of the voices, a little too animated, and the liquor, a little too available, and thinking it would be nice to be alone, thinking I’d escape, for a brief interval, those smiles which pinned you against the piano or those questions which trapped you wriggling in a chair, I went out to look at the ocean.”

    — My Face for the World to See by Alfred Hayes (via 57thstreetbooks)

  7. wordsofmercury:

Latest book post via Strangeways Prison Library: THE UNKNOWN MASTERPIECE by Honoré de Balzac.

    wordsofmercury:

    Latest book post via Strangeways Prison Library: THE UNKNOWN MASTERPIECE by Honoré de Balzac.

  8. “Can it be done on friendship? I don’t think so. On intelligence? No. On hope, on love, on fame, on trust, on family, memory, convictions. I don’t know. But if, one day, old, and propped against the pillows, or rocking in chairs together, holding hands perhaps, by the fireside; if, looking back on our lives, older now, looking back on our lives we could say, It was all right, looking back, even the things that looked like mistakes, even the apparent misfortunes at the time, they were not mistakes, they were only part of our lives till now. We have been lucky together. We are drinking, by the fireside, and thinking, why did we worry, what was that remorse. We are here still, and what happened, what we did was right. Then we will have done it. Look here. But we can live this way.”

    — Renata Adler, Pitch Dark. (via burialintheeast)

  9. 
[Dixon] didn’t like having to breakfast so early. There was something about Miss Cutler’s cornflakes, her pallid fried eggs or bright red bacon, her explosive toast, her diuretic coffee which, much better than bearable at nine o’clock, his usual breakfast-time, seemed at eight-fifteen to summon from all the recesses of his frame every lingering vestige of crapulent headache, every relic of past nauseas, every echo of noises in the head.

—Kingsely Amis, Lucky Jim
A reader in Tuscon, Arizona, sent in this photo along with his favorite line from Lucky Jim:

He disliked this girl and her boy-friend so much that he couldn’t understand why they didn’t dislike each other.

Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

    [Dixon] didn’t like having to breakfast so early. There was something about Miss Cutler’s cornflakes, her pallid fried eggs or bright red bacon, her explosive toast, her diuretic coffee which, much better than bearable at nine o’clock, his usual breakfast-time, seemed at eight-fifteen to summon from all the recesses of his frame every lingering vestige of crapulent headache, every relic of past nauseas, every echo of noises in the head.

    —Kingsely Amis, Lucky Jim

    A reader in Tuscon, Arizona, sent in this photo along with his favorite line from Lucky Jim:

    He disliked this girl and her boy-friend so much that he couldn’t understand why they didn’t dislike each other.

    Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

  10. “I can’t help it, I admire you, your malicious idiocies really reach the point of genius!”

    — 

    The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge

    I need to say this to someone. Maybe a sex work abolitionist or a drug war hawk.

    (via marginalutilite)

  11. Happy 100th Birthday, Angus Wilson!

    This week would have marked the 100th birthday of the irrepressible Angus Wilson, author of Anglo-Saxon Attitudes. In honor of this anniversary, an excerpt from the novel—a testament to Wilson’s wit and to his ‘hero,’ Gerald Middleton, a comically intrepid, self-proclaimed ‘failure with a conscience’:

    He rose from the table in a bitter mood. Weighed down with doubts, struggling with his depression, he made his way to his study to telephone his wife. As he walked through the hall, he caught sight of his handsome, flushed features, his tall erect figure in the long gilt mirror and was disgusted. ‘Good God!’ he thought, ‘what a bloody, shameful waste!’

  12. 'Smith' is in!

    Copies of Leon Garfield’s novel Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket just arrived in the office! The book is about, well, Smith—a twelve year-old denizen of the mean streets of eighteenth century London.  Looking forward to its October release!

  13. "Do not set a place for me at the church supper."

    So what do I know for sure? Only that I’ll have my art, and so I should pay more attention to it. Do not set a place for me at the church supper. Do not expect to see me running with the others in the stretch simply because I started with them at the beginning. I am looking for another course.

    —J. F. Powers, in a letter to Father Harvey Egan who was, just maybe, the model for Powers’ struggling hero in Morte d’Urban.

    Jonathan Yardley shares this and other selections from Powers’ correspondence in his review of Suitable Accommodations, a collection of the author’s letters edited by his daughter, Katherine A. Powers which is releasing a week from today.

  14. The Best Part of Breaking Up: In 1953, Alfred Hayes Published One of the Greatest Books Ever About the End of a Relationship →

    "This is a nearly biblical novel, a parable of sorts, which moves along with such exigency that it seems as if the book’s lack of quotation marks is a result of the author simply not having time to scribble them in."

    — from Michael H. Miller’s review of Alfred Hayes’ In Love in The New York Observer last week.

    Here’s a particularly comic—yet, in context, oh so devastating—example of that quotation-mark-less dialogue, also referenced by Miller in the review:

    She sat now, silently, in her fur coat, in a corner of the car, looking out at the view.

       It’s a nice view, I said.

       Yes.

       Know what?

       She turned slightly.

       What?

       I love view, I said.

    As previously mentioned on this blog, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be playing two of the films Hayes wrote scripts for–Paisan on 9/18 and Human Desire on 9/19. Mark your calendars!

  15. Cine-Simenon at Anthology Film Archives ; Three Bedrooms in Manhattan TONIGHT!

    This week marked the beginning of Cine-Simenon at Anthology Film Archives in NYC, and tonight at 7PM they are playing Three Bedrooms in Manhattan! If you are in or around the East Village, considering seeing the film. It promises to be deliciously moody.


    Also, read a great write-up by The Village Voice on the Anthology series devoted to the incredibly prolific French-language author here.