Wednesday, June 16, 2010
NEW ARRIVALS: Fiction
The Invention Of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares, $12.95
Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of The Screw and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Set on a mysterious island, Bioy’s novella is a story of suspense and exploration, as well as a wonderfully unlikely romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.
"Inspired by Bioy Casares’s fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel has gone on to live a secret life of its own. Greatly admired by Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz, the novella helped to usher in Latin American fiction’s now famous postwar boom. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year in Marienbad, it also changed the history of film."
"A masterfully paced and intellectually daring plot. Like the best science fiction, of which this is an exemplar, Bioy’s themes have become ever more relevant to a society beholden to image. It is this keenness of thought and expression that buttresses Borges’s claim of the novella’s perfection."
— The Times
Antwerp, Roberto Bolano, (Hardcover) $15.95
"Antwerp’s signature elements—crimes and campgrounds, drifters and poetry, sex and love, corrupt cops and misfits—mark this, his first novel, as pure Bolaño. As Bolaño’s friend and literary executor, Ignacio Echevarría, once suggested, Antwerp can be viewed as the Big Bang of Roberto Bolaño’s fictional universe. Reading this novel, the reader is present at the birth of Bolaño’s enterprise in prose: all the elements are here, highly compressed, at the moment when his talent explodes. From this springboard—which Bolaño chose to publish in 2002, twenty years after he’d written it (“and even that I can’t be certain of”)—as if testing out a high dive, he would plunge into the unexplored depths of the modern novel."
An elegantly produced, small collectible stamped cover-on-cloth edition.
Exercises In Style, Raymond Queneau, $11.95
"The plot of Exercises in Style is simple: a man gets into an argument with another passenger on a bus. However, this anecdote is told 99 more times, each in a radically different style, as a sonnet, an opera, in slang, and with many more permutations. This virtuoso set of variations is a linguistic rust-remover, and a guide to literary forms."
“A work of genius in a brilliant translation by Barbara Wright….Endlessly fascinating and very funny.” —Philip Pullman
Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges (Hardcover) $15.95
The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the gargantuan powers of imagination, intelligence, and style of one of the greatest writers of this or any other century. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal’s abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. More playful and approachable than the fictions themselves are Borges’s Prologues, brief elucidations that offer the uninitiated a passageway into the whirlwind of Borges’s genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his skepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami, $10.95
"I was thirty-seven then, strapped in my seat as the huge 747 plunged through dense cloud cover on approach to the Hamburg airport. Cold November rains drenched the earth and lent everything the gloomy air of a Flemish landscape: the ground crew in rain gear, a flag atop a squat airport building, a BMW billboard. So-Germany again.
Once the plane was on the ground, soft music began to flow from the ceiling speakers: a sweet orchestral cover version of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood." The melody never failed to send a shudder through me, but this time it hit me harder than ever.
I bent forward in my seat, face in hands to keep my skull from splitting open. Before long one of the German stewardesses approached and asked in English if I were sick."
CivilWarLand In Bad Decline, George Saunders, $9.95
"This book is a rare event: a brilliant new satirist bursting out of the gate in full stride, wildly funny, pure, generous—all that a great humorist should be."
"An astoundingly tuned voice—graceful, dark, authentic, and funny—telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times."
"Scary, hilarious, and unforgettable . . . George Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality."
"A cool satirist and a wicked stylist. The quirkiest and most accomplished short-story debut since Barry Hannah's Airships."
—Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review
"Ingenious . . . full of savage humor and originality [and] scorching brilliance . . . the author creates a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world that might have been envisioned by Walt Disney on acid."
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The debut of an exciting new voice in fiction. Mr. Saunders writes like the illegitimate offspring of [Nathaniel] West and Kurt Vonnegut, perhaps a distant relative of Mark Leyner and Steven Wright. He's a savage satirist with a sentimental streak who delineates, in these pages, the dark underbelly of the American dream: the losses, delusions, and terrors suffered by the lonely, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden and the plain unlucky. . . . Bizarre events pop up regularly in CivilWarLand like road signs on a highway, directing the reader toward the dark heart of Mr. Saunders's America. What powers the stories along is Mr. Saunders's wonderfully demented language, his ear for absurdity and slang, his own patented blend of psychobabble, techno-talk and existential angst. Mr. Saunders's satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it is also ferocious and very funny."
—The New York Times
The Third Policeman, Flann O'Brien $11.95
The Third Policeman is Flann O'Brien's brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station (???) where, through the theories of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to "Atomic Theory" and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby's view that the earth is not round but "sausage-shaped." With the help of his newly found soul named "Joe," he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policeman present to him.
The last of O'Brien's novels to be published, The Third Policeman joins O'Brien's other fiction (At Swim-Two-Birds, The Poor Mouth, The Hard Life, The Best of Myles, and The Dalkey Archive) to ensure his place, along with James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, as one of Ireland's great comic geniuses.
Possibly the greatest bicycle novel ever written.
The Recognitions, William Gaddis, $18.00
First published in 1955 and considered one of the most profound works of fiction of this century, The Recognitions tells the story of a painter-counterfeiter who forges out of love, not larceny, in an age when the fakes have become indistinguishable from the real.
Vertigo, W.G. Sebald, $10.95
Vertigo, W.G. Sebald's first novel, never before translated into English, is perhaps his most amazing and certainly his most alarming. Sebald -- the acknowledged master of memory's uncanniness -- takes the painful pleasures of unknowability to new intensities in Vertigo. Here in their first flowering are the signature elements of Sebald's hugely acclaimed novels The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn. An unnamed narrator, beset by nervous ailments, is again our guide on a hair-raising journey through the past and across Europe, amid restless literary ghosts -- Kafka, Stendhal, Casanova. In four dizzying sections, the narrator plunges the reader into vertigo, into that "swimming of the head," as Webster's defines it: in other words, into that state so unsettling, so fascinating, and so "stunning and strange," as The New York Times Book Review declared about The Emigrants, that it is "like a dream you want to last forever."
"Sebald is a thrilling, original writer. He makes narration a state of investigative bliss."
- W.S. Di Piero, The New York Times Book Review
"For all its dark contents and burden of undeclared grief, Vertigo is dizzyingly light and transparent."
- Benjamin Kunkel, Village Voice Literary Supplement
"[A] third haunting masterpiece from W.G. Sebald."
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
"[Sebald's writing] is very beautiful, and its strangeness is what is beautiful. This German who has lived in England for 30 years is one of the most exciting, and most mysteriously sublime, of contemporary European writers."
- James Wood, The New Republic
Book Of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa, $18.00
Fernando Pessoa was many writers in one. He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology. and horoscope. When he died in 935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, an astonishing work that, in George Steiner's words, "gives to Lisbon the haunting spell of Joyce's Dublin or Kafka's Prague."
Published for the first time some fifty years after his death, this unique collection of short, aphoristic paragraphs comprises the "autobiography" of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa's alternate selves. Part intimate diary, part prose poetry, part descriptive narrative, captivatingly translated by Richard Zenith, The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie, $10.95
“Extraordinary . . . one of the most important [novels] to come out of the English-speaking world in this generation.”
–The New York Review of Books
“The literary map of India is about to be redrawn. . . . Midnight’s Children sounds like a continent finding its voice.” –The New York Times
“In Salman Rushdie, India has produced a glittering novelist– one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling.”
–The New Yorker
“A marvelous epic . . . Rushdie’s prose snaps into playback and flash-forward . . . stopping on images, vistas, and characters of unforgettable presence. Their range is as rich as India herself.” –Newsweek
“Burgeons with life, with exuberance and fantasy . . . Rushdie is a writer of courage, impressive strength, and sheer stylistic brilliance.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“Pure story–an ebullient, wildly clowning, satirical, descriptively witty charge of energy.”
Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, $15.95
Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.
Four Novels Of The 1960s, Philip K. Dick, $29.95
Known in his lifetime primarily to readers of science fiction, Philip K. Dick (1928–1982) is now seen as a uniquely visionary figure, a writer who, in editor Jonathan Lethem's words, "wielded a sardonic yet heartbroken acuity about the plight of being alive in the twentieth century, one that makes him a lonely hero to the readers who cherish him."
This Library of America volume brings together four of Dick's most original novels. The Man in the High Castle (1962), which won the Hugo Award, describes an alternate world in which Japan and Germany have won World War II and America is divided into separate occupation zones. The dizzying The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) posits a future in which competing hallucinogens proffer different brands of virtual reality, and an interplanetary drug tycoon can transform himself into a godlike figure transcending even physical death.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), about a bounty hunter in search of escaped androids in a postapocalyptic society where status is measured by the possession of live animals and religious life is focused on a television personality, was the basis for the movie Blade Runner. Ubik (1969), with its future world of psychic espionage agents and cryonically frozen patients inhabiting an illusory "half-life," pursues Dick's theme of simulated realities and false perceptions to ever more disturbing conclusions, as time collapses on itself and characters stranded in past eras search desperately for the elusive, constantly shape-shifting panacea Ubik. As with most of Dick's novels, no plot summary can suggest the mesmerizing and constantly surprising texture of these astonishing books
Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner, $9.95
"In Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner tells of an aging spinster’s struggle to break way from her controlling family—a classic story that she treats with cool feminist intelligence, while adding a dimension of the supernatural and strange. Warner is one of the outstanding and indispensable mavericks of twentieth-century literature, a writer to set beside Djuna Barnes and Jane Bowles, with a subversive genius that anticipates the fantastic flights of such contemporaries as Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson."
"Sylvia Townsend Warner’s brilliantly varied and self-possessed literary production never quite won her the flaming place in the heavens of repute that she deserved. In Lolly Willowes, her first novel, she moves with somber confidence into the realm of the supernatural, and her prose, in its simple, abrupt evocations, has something preternatural about it. This is the witty, eerie, tender but firm life history of a middle-class Englishwoman who politely declines to make the expected connection with the opposite sex and becomes a witch instead."
— John Updike
Aiding And Abetting, Muriel Spark, $9.95
"In Aiding and Abetting, the doyenne of literary satire has written a wickedly amusing and subversive novel around the true-crime case of one of England’s most notorious uppercrust scoundrels and the “aiders and abetters” who kept him on the loose.
When Lord Lucan walks into psychiatrist Hildegard Wolf’s Paris office, there is one problem: she already has a patient who says he’s Lucan, the fugitive murderer who bludgeoned his children’s nanny in a botched attempt to kill his wife. As Dr. Wolf sets about deciding which of her patients, if either, is the real Lucan, she finds herself in a fierce battle of wills and an exciting chase across Europe. For someone is deceiving someone, and it may be the good doctor, who, despite her unorthodox therapeutic method (she talks mainly about her own life), has a sinister past, too."
"Strangely gripping and gnomically illuminating...Spark has produced one of the best of her sui-generis novels" -John Updike (again)
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