Monday, June 08, 2009
Library Loot 7: Still Under the Influence
This week's haul has me once again following up on recommendations from fellow bloggers as well as pals from goodreads and Maud-L.
Lenz by Georg Büchner (translated by Richard Sieburth): Litlove wrote an eloquent post about this one recently that sparked my interest. Here's a bit of the cover copy description: "Lenz, Georg Büchner's visionary exploration of an 18th-century playwright's descent into madness, has been called the inception of European modernist prose. Elias Canetti considered this short novella to be one of the seminal reading experiences of his entire life, and writers as various as Paul Celan, Christa Wolff and Peter Schneider have paid homage to it in their works. Published posthumously in 1839, Lenz is a taut case study of three weeks in the life of a schizophrenic, perhaps the first third-person text ever to be written from the 'inside' of insanity." And the lovely archipelago books edition that I've borrowed has the German text on one side and the English translation on the facing page in the style of some poetry translations, and it includes some of the source material from which Büchner worked. I fully expect that I'll soon be buying myself a copy to keep.
Tell Me: 30 Stories by Mary Robinson: A guest post at Maud Newton by Carrie Spell prompted me to seek out some of Robinson's work. I put three of her books on hold, and this collection of her short stories was the first to arrive. From the back cover: "These stories—sharp, cool, and astringently funny—confirm Mary Robinson's place as one of our most original writers and led Richard Yates to comment, 'Robinson writes like an avenging angel, and I think she may be a genius.'"
Havana Red by Leonardo Padura (translated by Peter Bush): You may have noticed that my crime fiction reading has had a decidedly Scandinavian flavour of late. When I came across a mention of Padura's Havana quartet on PBS's Spotlight on World Mysteries, I thought perhaps it was time for a change of climate. From the back cover: "The first of the Havana quartet featuring Lieutenant Mario Conde, a tropical Marlowe. A body is found in a Havana park. A young transvestite dressed in a beautiful red evening dress, strangled. The victim had fled his family, finding refuge with Marqués, a forgotten man in his own country, an author and theatre director once condemned by his government for being a 'heretical homosexual,' living alone surrounded only by books, his house in ruins. In the baking heat of the Havana summer Conde moves through a Cuban reality where nothing is what it seems, a dark, fascinating world of men and women born in the Revolution who live without dreaming of exile and seek their identity in the midst of disaster."
The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert (translated by Clara and Richard Winston): This is a YA novel that tells the tale of a family struggling to get by in post-WWII Germany. My friend Melody recommended it highly on goodreads, particularly to fans of the Betsy-Tacy series.
The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane by William Holtz: This one came to my attention via goodreads as well, this time courtesy of Melissa, another Maud-L pal. Rose Wilder Lane was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder and, according to this biography, had a fraught relationship with her mother, and also a substantial role in the shaping of her mother’s books. I've been curious about Lane ever since reading somewhere that the character Mrs. Main-Whittaker in Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy and the Great World is based on her, and now seems like a fine time to learn more about her.
Exchange by Paul Magrs: I spotted this one on Melanie's latest library loot list. After clicking through to the publisher's description, I felt that I must read the book immediately: "Following the death of his parents, 16-year-old Simon moves into his grandparents' claustrophobic bungalow, which quickly becomes a refuge from his bullying peers. United by their voracious appetite for books, Simon and his grandmother stumble across the Great Big Book Exchange—a bookshop with a difference. There they meet impulsive, gothic Kelly and her boss, Terrance—and the friendships forged in the Great Big Book Exchange result in startling and unsettling consequences for all of them."
I seem to be doing awfully well here with recommendations from friends whose names begin with "M." Dial "M" for books?