1. New York Review Books Spring 2014 Preview, Part II

    The second half of our Spring 2014 list, including books from NYRB Poets, The New York Review Children’s Collection, and The Little Bookroom.

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    The Professor and the Siren by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

    In the last two years of his life, the Sicilian aristocrat Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, in addition to his internationally celebrated novel, The Leopard, also composed three shorter pieces of fiction that confirm and expand our picture of his brilliant late-blooming talent. “Lampedusa has made me realize how many ways there are of being alive.”—E. M. Forster

    You’ll Enjoy It When You Get There: The Selected Stories of Elizabeth Taylor

    In A Game of Hide and Seek and Angel, Elizabeth Taylor calmly noted the motivations, rash decisions, illusions, desires and unwilling actions of her characters. She continues her work mapping out the minds of her characters here in a format well-suited for literary psychological excavation, the short story.

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    The Captain’s Daughter by Alexander Pushkin

    A classic historical and military novel from the progenitor of the Russian novel, Alexander Pushkin, and translated by one of the best Russian translators today, Robert Chandler. The Captain’s Daughter is set during the Pugachev Rebellion, when the Cossacks came close to toppling Catherine the Great, and like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, it is through explorations of individuals, communities, and love that the author contrasts a human being’s internal world with the movements of history.

    NYRB Poets

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    Nothing More to Lose by Najwan Darwish

    Hailed across the Arab world and beyond as a singular expression of the Palestinian struggle, Darwish’s poetry walks the razor’s edge between despair and resistance, between dark humor and harsh reality. “While his poetry is at times political, it embodies a universal message, reminiscent of the great mystical poets like Rumi.”—Poetry International

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    Love Sonnets and Elegies by Louis Labé

    Now hailed as the French Renaissance answer to Sappho, Labé was little known until Rilke’s celebrated translations of her poems in 1918. “Light-years ahead of her time, Louise Labé jumped the gender divide, charted her own amorous destiny, wrote dazzling poetry, and became ‘one of the most celebrated women of her time.’”—Betsy Proileau

    NEW YORK REVIEW CHILDREN’S COLLECTION

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    The Glassblower’s Children by Maria Gripe

    Maria Gripe’s books are treasures of international children’s literature. In The Glassblower’s Children she draws on old traditions of fairy tale and Norse myth to tell an exciting story with a very modern sensibility. “Maria Gripe combines simplicity with poetic intensity, and she has the ability to capture the poignancy of emotional experience familiar from memories of childhood.”—TLS

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    Alfred Ollivant’s Bob, Son of Battle adapted by Lydia Davis

    International Booker-Prize winner Lydia Davis reinterprets this classic adventure of Scottish sheepdogs and sheep, fathers and sons, for the 21st century. “Probably the greatest dog story ever written, and one you will love as long as you live.”—Life

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    Loretta Mason Potts by Mary Chase

    Imagine how shocked you would be, if like ten-year-old Colin Mason, you were the oldest (smartest, best) kid in a family of four, and then you found out that all the time you had a secret older sister. But this is only the first of many surprises that lie in store for Colin, as things get curiouser and curiouser very fast.

    THE LITTLE BOOKROOM

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    The Little Bookroom Guide to New York City with Children by Angela Hederman and Michael Berman

    There are a lot of things to do and see in New York City, for both young and old. In fact, often the difficulty is there is too much to do, and that’s where The Little Bookroom Guide to New York City with Children comes in handy. A straight forward, practical guide to seeing New York with a family, this book tells how to do the shopping, eating, sightseeing and cultural events in the city that kids will love and remember.

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    Verdure: Vegetable Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome by Christopher Boswell

    From the Rome Sustainable Food Project and The American Academy in Rome, Verdure brings irresistable and simple vegetable dishes from all seasons and all regions of Italy. Mangiare bene!

  2. "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.

  3. 
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).

    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).

  4. Off On a Tangent: Favorite Books Published Earlier Than 2012 →

    offonatangent:

    I’m a little alarmed that I’ve signed up for at least three different “Best of” Lists for various places that pay me. They’ll be fun to compile but I admit this list, of books I adored that were published in years past (recent or not-so-recent) will be my sentimental favorite of the bunch.

    - The entire backlist of Dorothy B. Hughes, but in particular, THE EXPENDABLE MAN (1963), reissued by NYRB Classics this summer; RIDE THE PINK HORSE (1946); and DREAD JOURNEY (1945), ostensibly about a cross-country train trip where someone will die before the last stop but really a lacerating examination of Hollywood mores of the time. Way more on Hughes in the essay I wrote for the LA Review of Books in August.

    - Thomas Tryon, THE OTHER (1970). Before he turned to novels, Tryon was a promising actor whose career was essentially derailed by noted asshole Otto Preminger’s relentless abuse on set. Tryon quit Hollywood and found his real voice with this, his first novel, about 13-year-old twin boys who are polar opposites: Niles the eager-to-please one, Holland the simmering, surly one. The great thing about THE OTHER is that you’re free to interpret events any way you like, and it’s totally okay. Tryon leaves things that open.

    Raymond Kennedy, RIDE A COCKHORSE (1991) — Another NYRB Classics reissue. My god, what a monster Frankie is! Her transformation sudden, unexplained, but then she takes what she wants (like the high school bandmember in the opening chapter, then leadership of the bank where before she was a mere mousy teller) and it seems great until it isn’t. But what a ride. Shocked glee is the best way to describe reading this book.

    Elizabeth Taylor, ANGEL and A GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK — based on these two books, the first about a young woman determined to be a successful writer (and though she achieves this, it’s also her undoing), the other about the way a brief, aborted love affair hangs over lives for decades afterwards, I clearly need to read more of her books.

    Okay, so we modify the post a bit. But out of the ten “Favorite Book Published Earlier Than 2012” chosen by Sarah Weinman on her blog Off On a Tangent, four of them were our titles. And that’s as it should be.

  5. “If a petal fell from a flower, he was startled, as if he had seen something which, like the progress of the clock’s hands, should be accomplished when no one is looking.”

    — Elizabeth Taylor, A Game of Hide and Seek (via nimblit)

  6. wordbrooklyn:

WORD weekend warrior Angie highly recommends Angel, by Elizabeth Taylor (author not to be confused with the actress): “Angel Deverell is the most inscrutable and acerbic authoress of women’s fiction you’ll ever encounter. Need I say more?”

    wordbrooklyn:

    WORD weekend warrior Angie highly recommends Angel, by Elizabeth Taylor (author not to be confused with the actress): “Angel Deverell is the most inscrutable and acerbic authoress of women’s fiction you’ll ever encounter. Need I say more?”

  7. Elizabeth Taylor Centenary  →

    Over at LibraryThing, the Virago group have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of Elizabeth Taylor’s birth (the English novelist, not the actress) by reading one of her books each month. This month they are reading A Game of Hide and Seek, lead by the blog Buried in Print, who put up this introductory post for the discussion.

  8. Yesterday we had several posts about François Ozon’s film adaption of Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel, mostly inspired by the casting of Romola Garai as Angel Deverell and Michael Fassbender as her husband, Esmé Howe-Nevinson. Also inspired was our production manager, who created this fine alternate cover for the book. And yes, that is Michael Fassbender as Esmé. Would you buy it?

    Yesterday we had several posts about François Ozon’s film adaption of Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel, mostly inspired by the casting of Romola Garai as Angel Deverell and Michael Fassbender as her husband, Esmé Howe-Nevinson. Also inspired was our production manager, who created this fine alternate cover for the book. And yes, that is Michael Fassbender as Esmé. Would you buy it?

  9. Michael Fassbender in 'Angel' →

    Earlier today we shared some images from François Ozon’s adaptation of Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel. Here we share some more photos of Michael Fassbender in the role of Esmé Newe-Howinson, husband of Angel Deverell, played by Romola Garai. We didn’t want to show these images at first because we didn’t want to distract you. We’ve changed our mind, get distracted.

  10.      — François Ozon directed an adaptation of Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel in 2007 staring Romola Garai as Angel Deverell and Michael Fassbender as Esmé Howe-Nevinson. Esme is a failed painter and playboy who the successful novelist Angel asks to paint her (image 1), and of course, things progress (image 2). Here’s the scene of their meeting:

        ’It was Miss Deverell, you know, Esmé, said Lord Norely, ‘who gave us the Watts.’
        ’Most generous,’ his nephew murmured.
        ’Presented a very fine Watts to the Norely Art Gallery,’ Lord Norely explained to Theo [Angel’s publisher]. ‘You ought to make a point of seeing it. One of the Town’s treasures. Miss Deverell herself is another.’
         Angel was dreamy with so much adulation. It was a perfect afternoon that could offer such riches and offer them in front of Theo and Hermione [his wife]. Hermione thought that she looked indecently sated: as if her self-infatuation demanded no more for a while: she was exquisitely at peace.
        Then—so very soon—she was jolted from her trance. Esmé Howe-Nevinson handed round sandwiches, put a whole one in his mouth and settled down to a long study of Angel: he seemed to be regarding her with fascinated curiousity, with a lively, dancing look, unlike his sister’s spaniel gaze. Angel was conscious of it and felt uneasy. As she poured out a cup of tea, her hands were clumsy; the smallest action she was obliged to make became an ordeal.
        ’Why Watts?’ Esmé suddenly asked, still looking intently at her.
        ’I don’t understand,’ she said suspiciously.
        ’I meant, why did you choose Watts, of all painters? Or didn’t you choose? Perhaps it was the Town Council or some such set of ignorant old duffers.’
        ’I won’t allow that,’ said Lord Norely. ‘They’re a fine body of men and not one of them a ha’p’orth better off for all their trouble.’
        ’You don’t approve of Watts?’ Angel asked Esmé. ‘I will take full responsibility. My choice, my money, my ignorance.’
        ’And I asked why?’ 
        ’Watts is too famous a painter to need an ignorant writer to justify him.’
        ’I consider you rather discourteous, Esmé,’ said Lord Norely.
        ’And so do I,’ said Nora [his sister] passionately.
        ’I don’t mean to be. I had often wondered how those appalling pictures get into the provincial art galleries and here was my chance to find out. Forgive me, Miss Deverell, if I seemed to you to be rude. It must have been such a very expensive painting and so soon will be worth nothing. I regretted the waste of money.’ 

  11. Elizabeth Taylor, the novelist, in The New Republic

    Kingsley Amis, who did more than anyone to undo her wallpapered-parlor image through a series of powerfully worded, almost angry reviews during her lifetime, still wrote defensively after her death in 1975 that Taylor’s ‘deeply unsensational style and subject-matter saw to it that, in life, she never received her due as one of the best English novelists born in this century. I hope she will in the future.’ By 1986, Anita Brookner was noting: ‘it is time that justice was done to Elizabeth Taylor, the Jane Austen of the 1950s and 1960s, a writer so beautifully modest that few have taken up the cudgels on her behalf.’

       - from a review of Elizabeth Taylor’s A Game of Hide and Seek and Angel in The New Republic, which just announced that it was under new ownership. As long our books continue getting such positive reviews we don’t care who’s the owner.

  12. The Other Elizabeth Taylor →

    More than one critic has suggested that this name, shared with the century’s most famous movie star, accounts in part for the obscurity suffered by such a consistently delightful writer. If true, it’s the kind of sad irony that would have been appreciated by Taylor, who over the course of 12 novels and dozens of short stories written between 1943 and her death in 1975 returned repeatedly to the subject of women forced to be wives and mothers first and only then, if at all, writers, artists or simply human beings.

    — from The New York Times review of the recently released Elizabeth Taylor novels, Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek

  13. A Game of Hide and Seek

    When she looked at him, he could see the mark of the carved wood dented quite deeply across her brow: at first it was white, then slowly reddened. he gathered her up close to him and kissed her. He felt her warm hands in his hair and saw himself very tiny in her eyes. This time, she returned his kiss. Their hearts knocked and raced. Rigidly together, flesh against bone, they stood without moving, undergoing a sense of being not in their right element

      - Elizabeth Taylor (the English author), from her novel A Game of Hide and Seekwhich goes on sale today. In the above scene the teenage Harriet and Vesey kiss for the first time. Things get worse for them unfortunately.

  14. A Very Angel New Year

    "After Christmas, the days were of an enervating neutrality. The watery light stayed later each day, hung colourless above the railway-bridge and behind the gray and yellow brick terraces. The deep darkness of winter was over, the muffled cosiness of the foggy afternoons, and now there would be two months or more of biting winds raking the bare branches and this pale light stretching out a minute or two longer each tea-time—as if it were welcome, thought Angel. ‘Saving the gas,’ her mother said.

    "In the shop trade fell off, and during the long evenings the door-bell scarcely rang. Mrs Deverell removed the cotton-wool snowflakes from the window, wondering why she had bothered with them. Her spirits had risen before Christmas, with so much bonhomie about: now they sank rapidly. There were wholesalers’ bills to be paid: left-over Christmas cakes, reduced in price, were stacked out the counter, but no one bought them."

    —from Angel, by Elizabeth Taylor, on sale February 14, 2012

    Image shows Romola Garai as Angel Deverell in the 2007 film adaptation of Angel, directed by François Ozon.