1. She called her daughters. I would rather have left. This was my whole past, insupportable yet so different now, so dead. I had told myself so many times in those years—and later too, as a matter of fact—that my purpose in life was to make good, to become somebody, in order to come back some day to those alleys where I had been a girl and enjoy the warmth, the amazement, the admiration of those familiar faces, of those little people. And I had done it, I came back; and the faces, the little people had all gone. Carlotta had gone, and Slim, Giulio, Pia, the old women. Guido too, had gone. Neither we nor those times mattered any more to the people left, like Gisella. Maurizio always says that you get the things you want, but when they are no more use.

    —From Cesare Pavese’s Among Women Only (Tra Donne Sola), which is the basis for Michalangelo Antonioni’s Le Amiche, playing at Film Forum tonight at 7 pm and introduced by Luc Sante. Among Women Only is included in our edition of The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese, translated by R. W. Flint.

  2. You Must Read This: Susan Choi on Stifter’s Rock Crystal

    Although the action takes place on Christmas Eve … and although the Christ-child and his kindness to children are duly mentioned, what really interests Stifter, and us, in this story is not divinity but humanity at its humblest and most resilient: the attentiveness of a big brother, who makes a little roof out of the shawl that his sister is wearing, to keep the snow off her face; or the loyalty of a sister, who maintains her brother’s courage simply by how much she trusts him.
     
    Susan Choi recommends Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal at NPR.
     
    It’s hot hot hot out and we maintain that this is the best time of year to read a book that takes place on a glacier, in a blizzard.
     
    Not convinced? Maybe you just like good prose? Well, it’s translated by Elizabeth Mayer and Marianne Moore and the language is stunning.

    Look at this cover, don’t you feel cooler already?

  3. 
Half a dozen dogs lay panting in the doorway. The old man’s oakapple-jointed fingers kept pushing a minute saucepan into the embers; and we hissed and gulped in turn over a single cup refilled with scalding and bubbling coffee. A shepherd sliced handfuls of tobacco leaves on a log with a long knife, then rolled them and genteelly offered the rough cylinders for the smoker to lick shut and light with a twig.
—Patrick Leigh Fermor, Roumeli

This entry into the Classics and Coffee Club comes from its photographer with the caption, “summer travel and summer western musts!”
Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor is out this fall.
Do you have a picture of one (or even two) of our books with coffee or tea (hot or iced)? Send them to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

    Half a dozen dogs lay panting in the doorway. The old man’s oakapple-jointed fingers kept pushing a minute saucepan into the embers; and we hissed and gulped in turn over a single cup refilled with scalding and bubbling coffee. A shepherd sliced handfuls of tobacco leaves on a log with a long knife, then rolled them and genteelly offered the rough cylinders for the smoker to lick shut and light with a twig.

    —Patrick Leigh Fermor, Roumeli

    This entry into the Classics and Coffee Club comes from its photographer with the caption, “summer travel and summer western musts!”

    Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor is out this fall.

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

  4. Karl Pohrt, of Shaman Drum Bookstore, has died →

    Karl was a champion of international literature and independent book-selling for decades. The book world is a poorer place without him.

    The above links to Chad Post’s tribute to his friend and collaborator.

  5. "What an odd force to unite so many varied personalities!"

    Don’t be dull, Esther. They’re all looking for perfection…and perfection is the love of death, if you face the issue squarely. That’s the reason why these people live so hysterically. Since the desire to live, in its truest sense of reproducing, isn’t in them, they live for the moment more passionately than most. That makes them brazen and shortsighted…. In this life, Esther, when you find perfection, you either die on the spot in orgasm, or else you don’t know what to do with it…. These people are the embodiment of the tragic principle of life. They contain tragedy as surely as a taut string contains a musical note. They’re the race’s own question mark on its value to survive.

    —From John Horne Burns’s The Gallery, which has received a lot of attention recently after the publication of David Margolick’s Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns. We love this book so much there may be more quotations from it in the coming days.

  6. “Too-lateness, I realized, has nothing to do with age. It’s a relation of self to the moment. Or not, depending on the person and the moment. Perhaps there even comes a time when it’s no longer too late for anything. Perhaps, even, most times are too early for most things, and most of life has to go by before it’s time for almost anything and too late for almost nothing. Nothing to lose, the present moment to gain, the integration with long-delayed Now.”

    — Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary. (via twistednuns)

  7. "There’s a bit of Angel in every writer, I fear."

    Hilary Mantel on Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel, in The Telegraph to celebrate 40 years of Virago (the UK publisher of Elizabeth Taylor):

    At the end of Victoria’s reign Angel is 15, plain and peevish, the daughter of a provincial shopkeeper, a girl with no prospects. But she has secret assets: devouring ambition and a reckless way with words. When Angel begins to write scandalous novels about high society – of which she is totally ignorant – an adoring public laps them up. Elizabeth Taylor’s tender, funny, exquisitely stylish novel keeps us on Angel’s side, even though we are appalled by her narcissism and shocked into laughter by her self-delusion. She is a monster, but a delicious monster, and the novel poses, for writers, questions that don’t date. That’s why I’m so drawn to the book and have loved it for years; there’s a bit of Angel in every writer, I fear.

  8. Happy Birthday J.F. Powers

    image

    "Assuming you read this on July 8, it might interest you to know that I was born on that day, 1917, around five o’clock in the afternoon—in time for cocktails."
    (J. F. Powers to Harvey Egan, July, 1959)

    Yesterday was the birthday of one of the most talented letter-writers out there, the wise and witty J.F. Powers.

    Read how Powers celebrated the publication day of Morte-D’Urban, which would go on to win a Book Award (it involves “the author napping on the floor in the middle of the afternoon”).

    Enliven your Facebook stream by “liking” the page for the forthcoming edition of Powers’s letters, Suitable Accommodations.

  9. Ian McEwan Thinks You Should Take Stoner to the Beach

    In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4, Ian McEwan insists that John Williams’ Stoner is the perfect summer read:

    "I can’t convey well enough, this is the book to take, it will thrive in the hotel room and on the beach. It is a marvelous discovery for everyone who loves literature … A minor masterpiece." 

    Listen to the interview, “Novelist McEwan Praises Stoner,” here.

  10. Nancy Mitford on Kafka Hype

    When Nancy Mitford made a trip to Prague in November 1968 to do research for Frederick the Great, she found that the locals didn’t share her enthusiasm for “Fred.” She wrote in a letter,

    Nobody in the least bit interested in any historical figures exc: Kafka. I never got to the battlefield of Kollin but you can be sure if Kafka had fought there I wld have been taken the first day!

    So, you see, Joseph Epstein, this has been going on for some time now.

  11. Happy 4th of July!

    image

    The Hutchins and a lot of other people were there the night of the Fourth of July when everyone gathered on the Sedgwicks’ shrinking but still spacious front lawn and waved sparklers and watched the fireworks that the Indians set off. It was his mother’s birthday party, too. She was forty-six. Her birthday was really on the third, but they always celebrated it on the fourth, with fireworks—’the way a birthday ought to be celebrated,’ his father said: ‘with a bang.’ It wasn’t a big fireworks show—there were only a few of them—but it was very pretty, and it was fun to see the explosions bursting in the sky, the showers of colored sparks, the faces of the people in the dark suddenly illumined with a kind of pale flickering glow, like fireflies.

    —From William McPherson’s Testing the Current, a bildungsroman told by the ten-year-old protagonist Tommy MacAllister, about growing up by the Great Lakes in the 1930s.

  12. This is what books get up to in the stock room when we’re not looking.

    This is what books get up to in the stock room when we’re not looking.

  13. By complete coincidence, the last two Coffee Club entries have been photos of books by Olivia Manning (this one is School for Love and the last was The Balkan Trilogy) accompanied by a nice cup of tea. Writes the photographer, Dorian, “Just finished the book this morning. It’s brilliant.”
Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea (hot or iced)? Send them to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

    By complete coincidence, the last two Coffee Club entries have been photos of books by Olivia Manning (this one is School for Love and the last was The Balkan Trilogy) accompanied by a nice cup of tea. Writes the photographer, Dorian, “Just finished the book this morning. It’s brilliant.”

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

  14. If you need something literary after all the beer, BBQ, and fireworks of July 4th weekend, come to McNally Jackson on Monday, July 8th at 7 pm to celebrate the life and work of the great Russell Hoban. We’ve just published Turtle Diary, but the event is a tribute to all his books, adult and children’s, and the participants are truly stellar: Ed Park, Damion Searls, Brigid Hughes, John Wray, and Phoebe Hoban. 
We’re really excited to be able to team with McNally Jackson to put on this event. And if you want to RSVP via Facebook go here.

    If you need something literary after all the beer, BBQ, and fireworks of July 4th weekend, come to McNally Jackson on Monday, July 8th at 7 pm to celebrate the life and work of the great Russell Hoban. We’ve just published Turtle Diary, but the event is a tribute to all his books, adult and children’s, and the participants are truly stellar: Ed Park, Damion Searls, Brigid Hughes, John Wray, and Phoebe Hoban. 

    We’re really excited to be able to team with McNally Jackson to put on this event. And if you want to RSVP via Facebook go here.

  15. millionsmillions:

"The final act of [Vasily] Grossman’s life began in 1961, when Life and Fate was ‘arrested’ by the K.G.B., who said that it could not be published for two hundred and fifty years.”

    millionsmillions:

    "The final act of [Vasily] Grossman’s life began in 1961, when Life and Fate was ‘arrested’ by the K.G.B., who said that it could not be published for two hundred and fifty years.”