1. Damion Searls and Mina Pam Dick at 192 Books TONIGHT

    Tonight, 7PM at 192 Books: To celebrate the publication of Robert Walser’s A Schoolboy’s Diary, translator Damion Searls and poet Mina Pam Dick (whose ‘I Am The Robert Walser’ was excerpted in The Brooklyn Rail last year) will read their favorite stories from the collection and discuss the unusual but influential life of Walser.

    This is going to be great. Come on by.


    Learn more and RSVP at the event Facebook page here.

  2. Jonathan Lethem’s NYRB Classics Addiction

    So what are you reading right now?

    I just finished Renata Adler’s Speedboat. I’m completely addicted to the New York Review of Books Classics’ reissues.

    They’re very handsome.

    They’re beautiful and I’m a sucker for that.

    And one after the next they seem to be exciting for me to read. One thing I like about them is that they’re surprising. When you read new books, so often you’ve heard too much. You’ve been reading reviews because you can’t really stop yourself and someone else is reading it and you’re talking about it. Or you hear something like this [interview] when you go on Amazon. And you absorb a lot of information: it’s like seeing the trailer to the movie or something.

    As a reader, I’m really addicted to being surprised. It’s a great method for me to read these reissued books that I don’t learn a lot about.


    —Jonathan Lethem in conversation with Kevin Nguyen on Omnivoracious. Read the transcript of the entire interview here.

  3. Moravia, Godard, Film Forum (oh, and Brigitte Bardot)

    Starting today, the West Village’s Film Forum will be screening Contempt, the Jean-Luc Godard movie based on Alberto Moravia’s novel of the same name. It stars Brigitte Bardot (and how!). To celebrate, Phillip Lopate will be introducing the film tonight at 7:45PM, so if you are in the neighborhood, you might not want to miss this. Books will be on sale, and free copies of the most recent issue of The New York Review of Books will be available.

    Film Forum will be showing Contempt through September 19th. For more information on the screenings, the FF’s website here.

    P.S. The trailer for this movie (above) is incredible, as the YouTube subject line insists. Absolutely hit that play button.

  4. E. Nesbit Doodle!

    How did we miss this?! On August 15th of this year, Google UK honored E. Nesbit, author of The House of Arden, with her very own Google Doodle, and it’s adorable! The occasion was what would have been Nesbit’s 155th birthday and the doodle honors her beloved book, The Railway Children.

    J. K. Rowling has consistently cited Nesbit as one of her favorite authors and a major inspiration for the Harry Potter series. Could that little train be the Hogwart’s Express prototype?

  5. Ben Lerner on Robert Walser at the New Yorker’s Page-Turner Blog

    The force of Walser’s writing derives from this simultaneous valorization of irreducible individuality and of sameness, smallness, interchangeability. In the most various terms, Walser praises monotony; it makes it wonderfully difficult to read his tone. When is he serious? When is he mocking the will to conform? Susan Sontag wrote that “the moral core of Walser’s art is the refusal of power; of domination.” And yet, paradoxically, part of the power of Walser’s art lies in how that refusal of domination interacts with his narrators’ demands to be dominated. Walser’s voice is a strange mix of exuberance and submission, lyrical abandon and self-abnegation. His refusals are anti-heroic, wavering; they reveal—sometimes comically, sometimes tragically—how the desire to be ruled enters the subject, the son, the servant, the pupil.

    Read the rest of Ben Lerner’s essay, which also appears, in slightly edited form, as an introduction to the just published, newly-translated edition of Robert Walser’s  Schoolboy’s Diary. 

    (Source: newyorker.com)

  6. "Dry wit with all the wet squeezed out."

    Simpson was still hoping to fill the gap, still looking around for common ground, and, not finding any, he created some by visiting the zoo (one of the pastor’s few outside interests, according to John, the janitor) and came to the table that evening full of it.

                “Father, I didn’t know they let those big turtles run around loose.”

                “Tortoises, Father. Harmless.”

                “Tortoises. But people shouldn’t write stuff on their shells.”

                “Do it here, in the pews.”

                That had been it for the zoo.

                On his next afternoon off, Simpson visited the Museum of Natural History (one of the pastor’s few outside interests, according to John) and came to the table that evening full of it.

                “Father, how about that big moose by the front door!”

                “Elk, Father. Megaceros Hibernicus.”

                “Elk. Those crazy antlers! Wouldn’t want to run into him!”

                “Extinct.”

                That had been it for the Museum of Natural History.

    —from “One of Them,” which can be found in The Stories of J. F. Powers. We think this might be what William H. Pritchard means in his review of Suitable Accommodations when he calls Powers’ humor “dry wit with all the wet squeezed out of it.”

    On a totally unrelated note: what if, in an alternate literary universe, Powers’ eager-to-please Simpson went to the turtle tank, not the tortoise exhibit, and schemed to free the turtles a lá William and Neaera from Turtle Diary and forgot his petty parish house social angst entirely? NYRB fan fiction writers,* go!

    *NYRB fan fiction writers may or may not exist…yet.

  7. theparisreview:

“Here’s Bertrand Russell with his bad breath, phlegmatic G. E. Moore, and Wittgenstein—saintly, sympathetic, an angel of intellectual destruction—a hero so well written I kept forgetting he was real.”
Read more of this week’s staff picks, including Bruce Duffy’s The World As I Found It, Whitney’s exhibition of Edward Hopper drawings, and Eugene Lim’s The Strangers.

    theparisreview:

    “Here’s Bertrand Russell with his bad breath, phlegmatic G. E. Moore, and Wittgenstein—saintly, sympathetic, an angel of intellectual destruction—a hero so well written I kept forgetting he was real.”

    Read more of this week’s staff picks, including Bruce Duffy’s The World As I Found It, Whitney’s exhibition of Edward Hopper drawings, and Eugene Lim’s The Strangers.

  8. "If men have invented love they’ll end up one day inventing life."

    A man’s country may be cramped or vast according to the size of his heart. I’ve never found my country too small, though that isn’t to say my heart is great. And if I could choose it’s here in Guadeloupe that I’d be born again, suffer and die. Yet not long back my ancestors were slaves on this volcanic, hurricane-swept, mosquito-ridden, nasty-minded island. But I didn’t come into the world to weigh the world’s woe. I prefer to dream, on and on, standing in my garden, just like any other old woman of my age, till death comes and takes me as I dream, me and all my joy.

    —the first paragraph of Simone Schwarz-Bart’s The Bridge of Beyond, translated by Barbara Bray.

  9. mcnallyjackson:

Just because summer (reading) is coming to an end doesn’t mean the world is too. Or does it?

We sure hope not, but in any case we spy three—count ‘em, THREE—NYRB Classics that will help anyone survive the imminent post-summer/apocalypse season: Tatyana Tolstaya’s The Slynx, John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, and Kingsley Amis’ The Alteration. 

[P. S. Thanks for displaying, MJ!]

    mcnallyjackson:

    Just because summer (reading) is coming to an end doesn’t mean the world is too. Or does it?

    We sure hope not, but in any case we spy three—count ‘em, THREE—NYRB Classics that will help anyone survive the imminent post-summer/apocalypse season: Tatyana Tolstaya’s The Slynx, John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, and Kingsley Amis’ The Alteration.


    [P. S. Thanks for displaying, MJ!]

  10. "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.]

  11. "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

  12. 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.

  13. 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).

  14. 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.