What NYRB are you reading? Part 3
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I've finished and reviewed Happy Moscow, a challenging and puzzling collection by Andrey Platonov. I really admired his two previous NYRB works, Soul and Other Stories and The Foundation Pit, but I found the pieces in this book even more enigmatic than than the others!
While a period piece in some ways, the book shows admirably that nearly 100 years on, America is still very much in the grip of these strains of mystical, spiritual, fundamentalist, evangelical, revivalistic eccentricity, and that somehow we're a country made up of a substantial group of people who can be made, easily, to believe ANY DAMN THING.
One of those books that gets under your skin and into your soul - still thinking about it!
Speedboat came in the mail today, so I guess I'll tackle that soon, though I also just bought Hadrian the Seventh. And those are only the NYRBs on the now-reading pile. I like to keep the literary merry-go-round spinning.
It is a great story, written in a very "cinematic" style with lots of dialogue, and quick cuts in location between the different chapters. Apparently many of the authors books have been turned into movies which makes sense after reading this one.
42: So glad you're enjoying this - I thought it was great!
It was! People like Coetzee (or Woolf, to take a Krzhizhanofsky contemporary) all write as though literature is such Serious Business (and there's a time and a place for books like that), and this guy was clearly writing because he enjoyed playing around with ideas and characters. It felt... refreshing. Upbeat. Conspiratorial.
I notice that Sub Rosa by Robert Aickman, mentioned in the introduction as the greatest single collection of the finest writer of "strange stories" in the second half of the twentieth century, seems to be out of print.
I'm so glad I picked it up, it's brilliant. Sometimes I would forget I was reading a true-life account rather than a novel. I can't wait for the second one (although, I will wait because I don't do "binge" reading).
Next up, Summer Will Show.
I also recently read Fear: A Novel of World War I by Gabriel Chevalier, a good book about the horrors of trench warfare by someone who served there in the French Army.
I love Manchette - this will probably be my next NYRB. Hope they translate more by him....
Yes, I was very impressed by Transit - although I thought it could have been a little shorter. It was put to me recently that Seghers makes the reader participate in the frustrations of the narrator, and that's certainly true.
I'm a fan of noir, and Manchette does interesting things with it.
Both Burning of the World and Fear are on my wishlist...
Edit: I see you've just read The Sleepwalkers - I finished that last week as well. Very impressive book.
I am slowly reading Ocampo's Thus Were Their Faces (in and around other books).
Have read two back-to-back in recent weeks: The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes, and Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze. Both excellent, in very different ways.
- The bridge of beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart, oral-like narrative about the lives of five generations of Guadeloupan women;
- Zama, by Antonio di Benedetto, which read like historical fiction Michelle Houellebecq, but actually good;
- Speedboat by Renata Adler, a dense collection of anecdotes and semi-autobiographical events that slowly added up to a more-or-less coherent narrative;
- The pumpkin eater by Penelope Mortimer, again semi-autobiographical, about the inner life of a 20thC upper-middle class childbearer.
The good news is that River Boat Books re-issued the Lindstrom translation last year along with the first translation of The Flamethrowers--translated by the very fellow who posted #202, Larry Riley. It's an amazing story and deserves far more play than it has gotten. Larry's translation should be next to one of those of THe Seven Madman in every university library in the country. And anyone who loves Latin American literature should go straight to River boat books and buy the book (they don't go through Amazon, as Amazon eats small presses). This is not meant to be a sales pitch, rather an appreciation of Arlt and notification that Mr. Riley made literary history very quietly last year.
I sure am glad that NYRB is putting out Manchette's books--and there are other great writers and books from them too so....
Miss rebeccanyc. She was especially kind to me a few times.