Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas: Literature for the Adventurous



Malpertuis, Jean Ray (A Shop Favorite Restocked! )

Paperback, $24.95



"A manuscript stolen from a monastery; the ancient stone house of a sea-trading dynasty, which may be haunted. These are familiar ingredients for a Gothic novel. But something far more strange and disconcerting is taking place within the walls of Malpertuis as the relatives gather for the impending death of Uncle Cassave. The techniques of H.P. Lovecraft, when transplanted into the suffocating Catholic context of a Belgium scarred by the inquisition, produce in Jean Ray’s masterpiece a story of monumental intensity from which events of brilliant ferocity break the surface without ever lessening the suspense as we are carried towards the tale’s apocalyptic denouement. Terrifying, all-absorbing; this novel is one of the most celebrated examples of the modern gothic genre in Europe and should have been available in English years ago." -Atlas Press






The Book Of Masks: French Symbolist & Decadent Writings

Paperback, $24.95


"The selection is based on a series of essays on contemporary writers published as The Book Of Masks by the foremost critic and author of the period: Remy de Gourmont. (The “masks” are remarkable portrait drawings by Felix Vollotton.) De Gourmont’s essays brilliantly evoke the pre-occupations of each author, their genius and shortcomings, while simultaneously decribing, and contributing to, the literary theories of the movement. His introduction provides one of the most important overviews of Symbolism and decribes its gradual subsidence into its “dark side”: decadence. De Gourmont’s book consisted solely of essays, but the editor of this anthology has added characteristic texts from each writer to accompany them. Nearly fifty are included, ranging from the extraordinarily obscure and unjustly forgotten to the literary giants of the day. Here are the works by Gide, Mallarmé and Verlaine which have never before appeared in English." -Atlas Press



Foam of the Daze, Boris Vian

Paperback, $18.00

L'Ecume des jours (Foam of the Daze) is a jazz fueled Science Fiction story that is both romantic and nihilistic! Vian's novel is an assortment of bittersweet romance, absurdity and the frailty of life. Foam of the Daze is a nimble-fingered masterpiece that is both witty and incredibly moving. It is a story of a wealthy young man Colin and the love of his life Chloe, who develops a water lily in her lung.
The supporting cast includes Chick, an obsessive collector of noted philosopher Jean-Sol Partre's books and stained pants, and Nicolas who is a combination of P.G. Wodehouse's fictional butler Jeeves and the Green Hornet's Kato. The soul of the book is about the nature of life disappearing and loving things intensely as if one was making love on a live grenade!




I Spit On Your Grave, Boris Vian

Paperback, $17.00

Boris Vian was a novelist, jazz musician, jazz critic, poet, playwright, a friend of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Raymond Queneau, Jean Cocteau, Louis Malle, Jean Paul Sartre, and numerous others of forties and fifties Parisian cultural society. He was also a French translator of American hard-boiled crime novels. One of his discoveries was an African-American writer by the name of Vernon Sullivan. Vian translated Sullivan's I Spit on Your Graves. The book is about a 'white Negro' who acts out an act of revenge against a small Southern town, in repayment for the death of his brother, who was lynched by an all white mob. Upon its release, I Spit on Your Graves became a bestseller in France, as well as a instruction manual for a copycat killer whose copy of I Spit on Your Graves was found by the murdered body of a prostitute with certain violent passages underlined. A censorship trail also came up where Sullivan as the author was held responsible for the material. It was later disclosed that Vian himself wrote the book and made up the identity of Vernon Sullivan!
This edition is a translation by Vian, that was never published in America. I Spit on Your Graves is an extremely violent sexy hard-boiled novel about racial and class prejudice, revenge, justice, and is itself a literary oddity due to the fact that it was written by a jazz-loving white Frenchman, who had never been to America.




The Castle Of Communion, Bernard Noel

Paperback, $16.95

When Le Château de Cène (here translated as The Castle of Communion) first appeared in France in 1969, under the sonorous pseudonym of Urbain d’Orlhac, it created a sensation. Immediately recognised as being among the finest works of French literary eroticism (along with, say, Bataille’s Story of the Eye, or Reage’s Story of O), its author was soon identified: the poet and essayist Bernard Noël, born in 1930.
The author recounts an intense initiatory sexual quest which occurs on a mysterious remote island. Chosen as the moon’s lover the hero undertakes a Dantesque voyage through sucessive levels of pain and ecstasy. The book’s climax is a beatific rite of sexual purification in the Castle of Communion, which is described in a poetic language at once incantatory, crude and almost mystical. The intensity of the book matches its method of composition: dictated into a tape recorder and finished in only 3 weeks, and written as a partial response to the atrocities of the French authorities in Algeria.
This edition is postfaced by Noël’s essay The Outrage Against Words, his thoughts on the government’s unsuccessful attempts through the courts to supress the novel for “outraging public morals.” He illuminates the intimate connection between writing and censorship in general.






Pirouettes On A Postage Stamp, Bohumil Hrabal

Hardcover, $20.00

Novelist Bohumil Hrabal (1914–97) was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia and spent decades working at a variety of laboring jobs before turning to writing in his late forties. From that point, he quickly made his mark on the Czech literary scene; by his death he was ranked with Jaroslav Hašek, Karel Capek, and Milan Kundera as among the nation’s greatest twentieth-century writers. Known for writing about political questions with humor and vivid expressiveness, Hrabal also was given to experimentation—his early novel Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, for example, consists of a single extended sentence.
Pirouettes on a Postage Stamp carried Hrabal’s experimentation to the field of autobiography. On its surface a verbatim record of an oral interview conducted by Hungarian journalist László Szigeti, the book confuses and confounds with false starts, digressions, and philosophical asides. Yet despite all the games and distractions, Hrabal’s personality shines through, compelling and unforgettable, making Pirouette on a Postage Stamp an unexpected treat for any lover of Czech literature.



The Keeper Of Sheep, Fernando Pessoa

Paperback, $12.95

Fernando Pessoa is one of the great poets of the 20th Century, and is still something of a mystery to readers outside Portugal and Brazil, where his work has been elevated to classic status. Most puzzling for his readers, perhaps, is the fact that Pessoa wrote under a series of of other names—heteronyms, as he called them—and confusingly also under the 'orthonym' Fernando Pessoa, who is not the same person as the man born with that name. The major poetic heteronyms are Caeiro, Campos and Ricardo Reis, but Pessoa had a whole range of others: journalists, prose-writers, essayists, as well as two English poets in the form of Charles Robert Anon and Alexander Search, heteronyms used by Pessoa before the break-through year of 1914, when Reis, Caeiro and Campos all came into existence. Little of his work was published in book form during his lifetime: two slim volumes of English verse and the mature collection Mensagem (Message), but he left a trunk full of manuscripts and fragments—some 25,000 all told—and these have been mined by scholars ever since.




Concordance, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge & Kiki Smith SOLD OUT!

Paperback, $29.95

Poetry infused with striking drawings and paintings, CONCORDANCE is a beautiful collaboration of the visual and literal forms of art. Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's written word is at once completely independent yet cohesive with Kiki Smith's simplistic and minimal illustrations. In this collection, Bressenbrugge describes her lyrical poetry in verse "My words unroll a plane of/ consistence they do not pre-exist--/ particles, fluxes the colors of spring./ Desire individuates through affects/ and powers I place on a page or plane/ of light vibrations like a flowering/ field"--




These books, and many others, can be purchased from:

Brickbat Books
709 South Fourth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

215 592 1207

Open every day, 11am to 7pm.

We accept Visa, MC, Amex, Paypal and cash.

We ship anywhere.

2 comments:

Tosh said...

Great list and thank you for recommending the Boris Vian titles.

ciao,
tosh

Brickbat said...

Tam Tam publishes amazing stuff. Thanks for making it available!