If you like NYRBs, other books you might want to check oout

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If you like NYRBs, other books you might want to check oout

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Modifié : Oct 6, 2008, 6:50pm

Sarajill's kind link to the Los Angeles Times article on NYRBs and the kinds of people who read them, led me to think that here would be a good place to post non-NYRB titles of books (in or out of print) that readers in this forum might enjoy.

I have just finished Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell. Written in the 1950s, the book offers a satirical and deliciously wicked chronicle of academic life at a small liberal arts college. If you're one of those who enjoys this particular subgenre, you'll love the book. If you've ever taught at a college or university, you'll know Jarell was writing about your institution. I've got a first edition, but I think the University of Chicago has a reprint out right now.

P.S. Sorry about the typo in the topic line. Ouch! does anyone know of a way to edit topic line typos?

Oct 7, 2008, 2:36pm

urania thanks for the tip. It is fascinating. I only knew Jarrell from his poetry in illustrated children's book form. (I am assuming that is the same person). That sounds like some good satire.

About the topic line I think you are stuck, but I have put typos in topic lines as well so you have company.

Modifié : Oct 10, 2008, 12:24pm

I've had Pictures from an Institution on my list of books to read for many years. So thanks for reminding me about it.

And since that was such a good recommendation, I'm going to throw out a book that I'm a complete evangelist for, not published by NYRB, but one of the best books I've read in the last several years: Nada by Carmen Laforet. A modern Gothic coming-of-age story set in post–Civil War Spain. I couldn't put it down.

Nov 10, 2008, 11:32am

I just want to second sarajill's high recommendation of Carmen Laforet's Nada. It is excellent.

Nov 11, 2008, 11:15am

I would like to add another non-NYRB title for NYRB lovers: As I Crossed the Bridge of Dreams, an 11th-century Japanese memoir (sort of) by a woman known (sort of) as Lady Sarashina. And please, if anyone has other absolutely astounding titles of the sort likely to appeal to NYRB readers post PLEASE!!!

Nov 11, 2008, 12:46pm

A title I just found is The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan. The following is a description of the book.

Written in the tenth century, The Kagero Nikki, translated as The Gossamer Years, belongs to the same period as The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. Like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, The Gossamer Years is a journal kept by a noblewoman. This frank autobiographical diary reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses. Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, she protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy. Very little is known of the author outside of what is related in her diary. Her name is unknown -- but she was related to the Lady Murasaki, author of The Tale of Genji, and to Sei Shonagon, author of The Pillow Book.

Nov 11, 2008, 4:52pm

5 & 6 - thanks for the recommendations, I loved The Tale of Genji and have The Pillow Book on the to-buy list, guess I'll have to add those two.

One book that I think should be better known is Garden, Ashes by Danilo Kis. It's a short book, but not a quick read - the writing style demands concentration. I thought that the author's prose was amazing, it reminded me a bit of Proust, especially in the descriptions of the narrator's sleeping/dreaming habits. The main plot follows the narrator's childhood during WWI, as his family struggles to survive amidst poverty and persecution. However the focus is not so much on prejudice and war, but his difficult, obsessive, passionate father, whose simple task of updating the Bus, Ship, Rail and Air Travel guide has instead turned into the creation of an all-encompassing, unpublishable guide to history, life and everything.

Nov 11, 2008, 4:56pm

Thanks DieFledermaus. Danilo Ki is one of those authors who has been on my to read list for a long time, but somehow I never quite get around to him. I suppose I must now shuttle over to abe's and press the fatal keys.

Nov 11, 2008, 5:46pm

There was a sale on Dalkey Archive books a couple months back, which is where I picked up Garden, Ashes. Powell's still has some copies on sale, and there might be other places like Symposium Books where you can get it cheap, if Abe doesn't have a better deal.

Juin 17, 2009, 8:32pm

I recently finished Ana Maria Matute's School of the Sun (Primera Memoria) and enjoyed it immensely. It's a coming-of-age story set during the Spanish Civil War, told in lush, descriptive prose. The story seems straightforward, but is actually a broken, ambiguous narrative due to the limitations of the narrator at the time (though she's 14, she is regularly treated as younger than her age) and also the effect of memory - the narrator tells her story from a distance, when she's older, and is constantly questioning her recollection. The main tension arises from conflict between childhood and adulthood, with both given negative aspects (her conniving cousin Borja and his not-so-innocent games on one side, the adult world of betrayal and confusion on the other side).

Juin 25, 2009, 11:32am

Years ago Philip Roth edited the Writers From the Other Europe series for Penguin, which includes Danilo Kis' A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, among other fantastic books by Kundera, Gombrowicz etc..
A full list can be found here
I stumbled across this series in highschool in the 80's and felt as if I had hit some sort of jackpot, which is exactly how I feel about nyrb.
Also- a great book which I'm surprised isn't put out by nyrb is Selma Lagerlof's The Ring of the Löwenskölds. Lagerlof won the nobel prize, first woman to do so- but you don't exactly hear her name tossed about much these days.

Juin 26, 2009, 7:44am

There was a brief discussion of the Writers from the Other Europe series in the Reading Globally thread on Poland, starting with message 23.

Juil 9, 2009, 9:26pm

Courtesy of an LT friend, I just finished Sheila Watson's The Double Hook. I highly recommend it.

Août 7, 2009, 11:00am

Another book for NYRB lovers, Slouching Towards Kalamazoo by Peter De Vries. I think only one other book of his is currently in print. De Vries is (was) irreverent, funny, and humane. Perhaps NYRB would like to take a look at some of the out-of-print work. U of Chicago has the rights to the two books currently in print. Hint, hint to any NRYB editors who might be hanging about on the eaves of this forum ;-)

Modifié : Oct 19, 2009, 1:16pm

Here's a link to a Crockett Johnson book someone has put up on the internet:


Oct 19, 2009, 12:30pm

The BBC Radio 4 program Open Book has gathered writers to nominate a forgotten book to be serialized on the program next year. Among the nominees is The Quest for Corvo. Beryl Baindbrige will be discussing it on the program next week. If anyone is fond of it, please vote for it once the polls are open!

Here's a link to the BBC page: http://bit.ly/3OUi91

Oct 19, 2009, 10:04pm

A charming book is Messer Marco Polo by Donn Byrne, first published in 1921. Do not expect historical accuracy. There is none. This book reads more like a fairy tale. I have never met anyone who has actually read this book, but it is a treat.

Modifié : Nov 23, 2009, 8:53pm

Aleck Maury, Sportsman by Caroline Gordon is a great, forgotten book. Thomas Mcguane mentioned it in an interview as one of his favorite books so I picked it up and really enjoyed it. Gordon's short stories are worth reading as well.

Nov 23, 2009, 1:45pm

Aleck Maury, Sportsman was, until recently, in print from University of Georgia Press. But they appear to have let it go out of print again. It's an excellent, fascinating book.

Jan 29, 2010, 2:04am

>17 urania1: I read Messer Marco Polo based on your recommendation. A fairy tale like you said. Very nice.

Fév 2, 2010, 11:07am

I push this book all the time, but I push once again: Jean Stafford's Boston Adventure. Warning - it is dark.

Fév 2, 2010, 5:32pm

Boston Adventure is not available from BN.COM.


Fév 6, 2010, 9:38pm

I recently got an old beat-up book of poetry by Randall Jarrell published by Sunburst Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. In the 1960's they published The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese (later reprinted by NYRB), as well as Colette's autobiography and other books along those lines.

Modifié : Avr 28, 2010, 10:54pm

I came across the Modern Greek Writers series from Kedros Books, who appear to be a major publisher in Greece. Their catalogue is pretty weird and vast, including translations into Greek of everything from Stephen King to Foucault and James Joyce.

They do have some English editions, including all three volumes of Iconostasis of Anonymous Saints by Yannis Ritsos and works by a bunch of Greek writers I've never heard of. Definitely a part of the world I want to read more from.

The covers of a lot of the Modern Greek Writers series reminds me a bit of NYRB covers.

Avr 19, 2010, 12:27am

Skylark fans might want to check out Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by the Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic, a humorous and sharp collection of short stories about aging women. I heard about it via Jessa Crispin's recent essay in The Smart Set, on recent books about ugly women.

I also read and liked the other book she discusses in there - Virginie Despentes King Kong Theory. However, there was a statement in the book that I disagree with - "We (the unattractive ones) are just never featured in novels written by men, who only create women they want to have sex with." I need to send her a reading list, I suppose.

Avr 20, 2010, 3:51pm

>24 inaudible: Thanks for the information about Kedros Books. I have always found it a bit strange that so little modern Greek literature is available in translation. I wonder why that is?

Avr 22, 2010, 10:36am

What I found is that there is a fair bit in translation, but it is published in Greece and not distributed well (or distributed expensively).

Try this: http://www.greeceinprint.com/GipProducts.nsf/Home?openform

Mai 5, 2010, 11:30am

I'm reading Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone. I can't begin to say how good it is. Everyone should read it.

Mai 5, 2010, 2:25pm

That was one of my best books of last year; glad to see someone else reading and liking it.

Modifié : Mai 7, 2010, 5:55pm

I am reading Michal Ajvaz The Golden Age from Dalkey Archive which it feels like some here might enjoy.

It is reminding me of Calvino at the moment. It is an early reviewer copy so the touchstone doesn't seem to be working.

Mai 8, 2010, 11:25pm

holy crap, i didn't know Dalkey Archive did early reviewer books...maybe i should actually start paying attention...it's not something i would normally do, but i would for Dalkey Arhive books...

Mai 10, 2010, 4:45pm

Wonderful! Another Dalkey Archive lover. The Golden Age sounds interesting. Anything reminiscent of Calvino . . . well, I must keep an eye on it.

>28 rbhardy3rd: Bless you rob . . . how Have I managed to go my entire life without hearing of Hans Fallada. I just purchased Every Man Dies Alone for me sainted Kindle.

Juin 10, 2010, 11:52am

I just finished Julien Gracq's A Dark Stranger. If you like NYRB books, check this one out.

Juil 1, 2010, 12:39am

Another author for NYRB lovers: François Mauriac, winner of the 1952 Nobel Prize for Literature. I have just finished two books by Mauriac: Viper's Tangle and The Woman of the Pharisees. I am getting ready to start my third and plan to order several others.

Juil 10, 2010, 7:13am

A couple months ago on the NYRB blog, sarajill posted a letter from a concerned reader noting the number of books about depressing subjects such as
"madness, isolation, troubled minds, dark companions, the dead of winter, and brutal Soviet camps"

If you enjoy those kinds of books, I would recommend This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun which is a very beautifully written book about an extremely depressing subject - people stuck for years in an underground prison.

Juil 10, 2010, 4:52pm

One of my local Barny Noble's stores was supposed to have This Blinding Absence of Light, but when I got there they told me I was foolish for believing the computer. So the book languishes on my wishlist. An order is coming up, however, so it may be coming closer.


Modifié : Juil 11, 2010, 9:52am

#35 madness, isolation, troubled minds, dark companions, the dead of winter, and brutal Soviet camps

That must be why I like NYRB books so much!

But to be fair, I've read some very funny ones and pleasant ones too, including The Dud Avocado, Lolly Willowes, Enchanted April, What's for Dinner?, and the books by Patrick Lee Fermor.

Edited to fix italics.

Juil 11, 2010, 10:33am

#37: I agree with Rebecca; I've read plenty of books that don't fit with that concerned reader's characterization of NYRBs. Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur, The Invention of Morel, and The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian are great reads that are not grim or morose, and I have several other NYRBs yet to read that are comedic novels, especially All About H. Hatterr and English, August: An Indian Story.

Juil 11, 2010, 12:54pm

37> I loved The Dud Avocado, but I think it is a very dark book.

Juil 11, 2010, 3:00pm

It is, but it's a lot of fun along the way. I read a lot of dark books that are nothing but dark, so something like The Dud Avocado seems lighter to me, even though it's dark, if that makes any sense.

Juil 12, 2010, 5:09pm

Recollections of Things to Come by Elena Garro, Mexican writer (and wife of Octavio Paz). It depicts life in the small Mexican town of Ixtepec during the grim days of the Revolution, where the town itself is the narrator. It's one of my favorite reads this year, and I don't know anybody else who's read it except César Aira (I found out about this book by reading an interview he did where he said this was the greatest novel he's read or something to that effect, and he was right on the mark). If you buy it from the University of Texas Press page, you get a 33% discount.

Juil 12, 2010, 9:55pm

Thanks Jimmy. It's going on my wishlist immediately.

Juil 16, 2010, 7:13pm

Indeed, that sounds amazing Jimmy.

Juin 9, 2011, 11:11am

Couching at the Door by D. K. Broster An interesting collection of supernatural and psychological stories written by Dorothy Kathleen Broster who was primarily known for her historical fiction. The original edition of this book was put out during a paper shortage in 1942 so copies have been scarce.

D. K. Broster biography: http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/broster.html

Modifié : Juin 17, 2011, 10:26am

A non-NYRB Tove Jansson: Travelling Light. A brilliant collection of short stories without a single weak story in the lot.

Juin 16, 2011, 10:34am

>45 urania1: Thanks, urania; I'll add Travelling Light to my wish list.

Modifié : Juin 5, 2012, 2:35am

On the dark side of being a science fiction author: The Engines of the Night by Barry N. Malzberg.

Juin 5, 2012, 8:41pm

It's always fun to find original editions of books republished by NYRB, and, conversely, to find obscure treasures and imagine NYRB bringing them out in new editions. I can't put my finger on just what the threshold for "deserving" the NYRB treatment is, but you know it when you see it.

Modifié : Mar 13, 2014, 9:04pm

Be Not Content: A Subterranean Journal by William J. Craddock--An autobiographical coming-of-age novel of an acid head in early Sixties California. Really seems to capture the spirit of the place and time. Hard to believe the author was only 21 when he wrote this book.