Tag Archives: The NYRB Classics Project

Meaning is relative

I spent a couple of calm-before-the-storm days with Lowell Lake, the martyr of his own hapless (even bewildered) making and the contra-hero of A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis. In neat encapsulation: “There was a sense of dwindling, like a slow leak in a balloon, as if all the vigor was slowly going out of their existence, all the light from the sky, all the color from the world, all the good thoughts from Lowell’s head.” And lest you think there’s something spectacular in this disintegration, Davis is quick to repeatedly disabuse you of that notion; for example: “His life wasn’t breaking up. On the contrary, it failed to show the smallest fissure in its bland and seamless surface.” [Continue reading.]

The Oxgodby Christ

This was what pushed me through the book, a glimpse of the Oxgodby Christ, his attendants, all his minions that cowered before him. I wanted more of those colors reinvigorated with Birkin’s brush. This novel, for me, mattered so long as I saw this painting. I cared not for the people that pursued their mundane desires about it; I don’t even remember what happened to Tom Birkin and his merry gang. This was the painting that beckoned, and how furious it was. This was why I read on. [Continue reading.]

sunday salon || On to the canon, and other follies

And so I plod on with my own little ambitions—to amass as much of the Classics that I want to read, which involves reading a lot of the Oxford World’s Classics [oh, that unrelenting white spine] and amassing more of NYRB Classics, too [I’ve been shy-stalking the NYRB Classics group on Goodreads, and it’s a treat]. I’ve also just recently bought Proust’s Swann’s Way—partly because of the heathenhood factor, partly because I trust Lydia Davis’ translating prowess. I’ve bought this beautiful annotated and unexpurgated edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as yet another edition of Jane Eyre. I want to read Frankenstein, too, and Dracula, and Moby-Dick. I’ve bought Anna Karenina, and one of these days, I am taking a deep breath. I want more of Sherlock Holmes. And then there’s Raymond Carver and Richard Yates—we need reunions, we do—them, and Wilfrido Nolledo and Kerima Polotan. I want more of the books people have forgotten over time but are recently rediscovering—it’s not unlike being privy to a great secret, not unlike being part of a movement. I want more dead writers in my shelves, more people-characters that have grown timeless right in my head, were they justly belong. I just want more. [Continue reading.]

“From your window, can you see the moon?”

One of the first NYRB Classics I heard of—in tandem with John Williams’ Stoner—was Eileen Chang’s collection of novellas Love in a Fallen City. My bibliophilic enabler Aunt Anne sent me this book late last year, and it’s taken me this long to settle down and read it. And, you know, it was awesome. For […]

“Stories can wait.”

In his introduction to Mavis Gallant’s short story collection, Varieties of Exile, Russell Banks offers us a quote from the other herself— Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. […]

Exuberance is beauty

#128 of 2011 • Sunflower by Gyula Krúdy, translated from the Hungarian by John Bátki, with an introduction by John Lukacs. Published by NYRB Classics. “Let’s wait for winter. The first, the second, the third winter… Let’s wait for monotonous evenings of this place, the courses of the moon, the howling-wolf nights. We’ll just have […]


#139 of 2011 • Victorine, by Maude Hutchins. Our Victorine is a strange one. She’s a bright-eyed adolescent, rapt and giddy with the secrets her body has just begun to disclose. And everything is hyper-eroticized, every brush with the world summons an arousal—it’s nearly ridiculous. Everything is sex! And not even necessarily a prelude to intercourse, […]

Brief thoughts on Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon

My first Georges Simenon [or, as the coolest kids refer to him, just Simenon (like Madonna?)], and I liked it immensely: Monsieur Monde Vanishes, about Monsieur Monde who walks out of his life seemingly the very moment he wakes up from his droning existence, and what he did while he disappeared. What compels people to […]

Not exactly disappointments

In this post: Thoughts on My Reckless Surrender by Anna Campbell [jump to A], and on Fair Play by Tove Jansson [jump to B]—two books I very much expected I would like—hell, I wanted to like them—but, well, just couldn’t. [A] • I like Anna Campbell, I really do. She was one of my great […]

Make way for the falco peregrinus

Some notes / questions-to-self made while reading The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story, a novella by Glenway Wescott. This edition, published by NYRB Classics, includes an introduction by Michael Cunningham. • Is it possible for a really short book to transcend the usual burdens of symbol? See, the eponymous pilgrim hawk is, as Michael Cunningham points […]