Favorite NYRB?

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Favorite NYRB?

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Juin 11, 2008, 9:33pm

Which book was so good that you'd recommend it to everyone, suggest that they buy it instead of get it from the library and also suggest that they should run out and get it right now?

Juin 11, 2008, 10:23pm

That's tough. If I disqualify the two favorites that are also Virago Modern Classics (The Towers of Trebizond and Rebecca West's The Fountain Overflows), I probably would have to say J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country.

But I do know someone who actually did buy copies of The Towers of Trebizond for all of his closest friends!

Juin 11, 2008, 11:06pm

I'd choose The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton in a heartbeat. But since that book is about 1400 pages of 17th century ambling prose, it's not the most realistic choice to recommend. Accordingly, I'd revert to Mawrdew Cgowchwz by James McCourt: a brilliantly-imagined fantasy about mid-century New York opera life.

Juin 12, 2008, 10:38am

Way too many.

A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Varieties of Exile and Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
The Case of Comrade Tulayev and Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
A Month in the Country, as mentioned above
Troubles and the other books in the Empire trilogy (The Siege of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip) by J.G. Farrell -- The Siege of Krishnapur won the Booker but Troubles is, in my opinion, the best.
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

And I could probably come up with more.

Juin 12, 2008, 12:09pm

Oh there are many good titles. I'll echo any praise for Patrick Leigh Fermor and Elizabeth Von Arnim as well as A Month in the Country The Fountain Overflows and The Towers of Trebizond.

However the two NYRB volumes I find myself forcing on others the most are:

An African in Greenland by Tete-Michel Kpomassie who fled Africa to avoid an arranged marriage and made his way through France and Denmark to Greenland on the basis of what he had read in a book. His is just an amazing story and he has an incredibly open but honest perspective which I enjoyed.

The other is the children's volume The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon. It has absolutely magical stories but possible magical stories for adults and children.

Now that I know they have published Tove Jansson and others will not have to send away to England to get her books as I did I will push those as well.

Juin 12, 2008, 12:25pm

Another title, strange but compelling: Sunflower by Gyula Krudy

Modifié : Juin 12, 2008, 1:03pm

Oh rebeccanyc, I read Sunflower earlier this year. It was wonderful but it is one of those books that has its own time and place and sensibility that is difficult to describe once you leave the book. Strange and compelling is right!

Juin 12, 2008, 1:12pm

Rebecca and Maren, Sunflower has been on my list of books to buy for quite a while. After what you have saidy, Maren, I feel compelled to buy it....what a sacrifice!

Juin 12, 2008, 1:25pm

Without doubt, The Fountain Overflows is my favorite NYRB. I ran across an old copy of it, almost 30 years ago in a quietly eccentric antiquarian bookstore in Chapel Hill. I was a freshman at the time. I read this book and was instantly captivated. West's descriptions of the interior minds of children so closely matched my own experiences and ran so counter to what Piaget and others said about children's capabilities to reason abstractly. I also love The New York Stories of Edith Wharton. She's the mistress of the short story form.

Juin 12, 2008, 2:01pm

Maybe I'll move my copy of The Fountain Overflows up on my TBR pile -- oh, I mean piles.

Juin 12, 2008, 2:39pm

Please do, rebeccanyc, you will not regret it!
And so, beside Sunflower, I now will have to get the Edith Wharton too.....sigh.....;-)

Juin 12, 2008, 2:49pm

My copy of The Fountain Overflows is an old hardcover, but if I did have a NYRB copy it would be my favorite NYRB!

>11 rebeccanyc: Move it to the top!

Juin 20, 2008, 11:49am

This is a great thread. I suspect NYRB is about to get a bunch of orders for Trebizond, Sunflower and Fountain. I can't wait to see what else gets recommended!

Juin 20, 2008, 12:56pm

>14 slickdpdx: I already owned Trebizond and The Fountain Overflows, but this thread did make me order Sunflower from Amazon. . .

Modifié : Juin 20, 2008, 1:35pm

#14 slickdpdx,

If you want to order more than one NYRB at a time, don't go to the NYRB site. Go to abe.books.com and limit your search to NYRB and Symposium Books in Providence R.I. (I think). You can get new NYRBs (they may have remainder marks) for as little as a dollar and not more than 5 or 6 dollars. I went on a buying spree there recently and got eight books for $41.00 (this price included shipping). All were new NYRB remainders. That works out to just over $5.00 per book. You can't beat that. Sunflower was one of the books I ordered. Note, Symposium discounts the shipping when you order more than one.

Juin 20, 2008, 7:34pm

#14 - slickdpdx - since joining the thread I have ordered -:

Towers of Trebizond, The Furies, The Seige of Krishnapur and Chess Story.

I am patiently waiting for them to arrive.

I am also very keen to obtain Edith Wharton's Short Stories of New York.

#urania1 - re price - I bought from the nyrb site but it is still cheaper (including postage) to buy them that way then to order from my local bookseller and pay our prices which are very high in comparison.

Juin 20, 2008, 7:47pm


You must not be in the US. Some place are much more expensive than others. For example, books from Germany seem to be inordinately expensive (to me) at least. I have yet to figure out the vagaries of mail and shipping. Perhaps Oepida Mass in Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 is correct, and a Tristero conspiracy dominates our mail services ;-)

Modifié : Juin 20, 2008, 8:45pm

>18 urania1: Perhaps Oepida Mass in Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 is correct, and a Tristero conspiracy dominates our mail services ;-)

*Loud applause* I think that's my Favorite. Conspiracy. Theory. Evah!

Juin 20, 2008, 10:42pm

urania1 - I am in Australia - and this only works to my advantage while the Aus and US $'s are of similar value - although last year I visited one of our leading book chains and found a recent history on Ireland which was selling for $60.00 (Aus). I was so tempted to buy it but didn't. I purchased it later the same day from Blackwell's online and the cost of the book + air postage was still $5.00 less than the price in the local bookstore. Book prices here are outrageous and we have also had a Tax on them for the last 7 years. In most instances it is cheaper to buy online than in the local store which is sad, isnt it?

Our postal prices are reasonable.

Juin 21, 2008, 3:07pm

#19 marietherese, so glad you got a laugh. I have always loved The Crying of Lot 49.

#20 I agree about unreasonable book prices mrspenny. Books should be within everyone's price range. As for taxing books - I say let's start a revolution! If the Americans could start one over tea, then we can start one over books. We just need a slogan.

Juin 21, 2008, 3:09pm

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Modifié : Juin 27, 2008, 12:59pm

Thanks for the Abe/Symposium recommendation, urania. That's heartening.

I agree on The Anatomy of Melancholy (my first NYRB, bought greedily and happily five years ago, I think), as well as A High Wind in Jamaica, and The Fountain Overflows. Kenneth Fearing's The Big Clock is one of the crime/suspense reprints, I notice, and within its niche recommend it. Sunflower was bought for my brother's birthday a year or two ago, with every wish I could buy for myself. Wharton's short stories, so far as I read them, I remember loving; but it's been a long time.

The Towers of Trebizond has been on my wishlist, A Month in the Country now is, and Sunflower and The Little Bookroom revived as desires. Rebeccanyc, a little more time and I'll enjoy exploring your list thoroughly. Thanks to Maren for mentioning The Little Bookroom. It appealed very much, and in a lapse had been forgotten.

Juin 27, 2008, 2:22pm

I will now have to read A High Wind in Jamaica after reading this, in Diary of a Provincial Lady:

"(Mem.: Would it not be possible to write more domesticated and less foreign version of High Wind in Jamaica, featuring extraordinary callousness of infancy?) Can distinctly recollect heated correspondence in Time and Tide regarding vraisemblance or otherwise of Jamaica children, and now range myself, decidedly and forever, on the side of the author. Can quite believe that dear Vicky would murder any number of sailors, if necessary."

Juin 27, 2008, 2:47pm

Ah, yes, I remember that! Read two years before its source, and still effective.

Juin 27, 2008, 3:19pm

I sometimes allow the book I'm currently reading to choose my next book for me. For example, I read Sinclair Lewis's Main Street, in which Carol Kennicott reads Harold Frederic's The Damnation of Theron Ware. So next I read Frederic's novel, in which the main character reads Ernest Renan's Recollections of My Youth. So I read that next... It's quite illuminating!

Juin 27, 2008, 4:23pm

I imagine so! Yes, I ought to follow that method now and then.

Mai 6, 2009, 11:30am


If you haven't read it yet, go out and get it today. Love, love, love it.

Mai 27, 2009, 12:04pm

No doubt: HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA. The depiction of the inner lives of children and the thrilling storytelling make a unique novel. In fact, I bought the novel for our community-college leisure-reading collection, and it has been in constant circulation without any "hand selling" by me!

Susan Thomas, Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY.

Mai 29, 2009, 10:49pm

>28 alphaorder: - Done. Now I just have to read it.

Mai 29, 2009, 11:03pm

I liked The Troubles by JG Farrell. It's creepy, it's funny, it's over the top and it's all about the troubles in Ireland between the wars.

Juin 3, 2009, 10:35am

My favorite NYRB classic is Walter Benjamin: Story of a Friendship by Gershom Sholem.

Benjamin and the German Jewish intellectual milieu between the wars are ongoing fascinations/fixations of mine, and this book is my favorite account of both. There are also small gems hidden throughout - like Scholem's reading of Kafka - that are potential points of departure for deeper reading.

Oct 20, 2009, 12:52pm

I've pushed this elsewhere, but The Stray Dog Cabaret takes the cake.

Great collection of Russian poems from the first half of the twentieth century, marvelously translated. It should be read for the conversing "suicide poems" alone.

Oct 21, 2009, 1:36pm

I recently read this A_musing and the conversing suicide poems were what stuck with me as well. Just to explain a series of Russian poets killed themselves but a poet would address a poem to a dead fellow poet and then later kill him or herself. Given how influencial these poets are in Russia it was nice to get a sense of a few of them since their popularity seems to have failed to cross over to a wider American audience.