Wednesday, May 31, 2006


POETRY nowadays is more frequently written than read. However, for those who enjoy poetry, the way words intermingle with one another in infinite permutations and in the process create the happy and sad colours of life, the following are excellent contemporary collections published between 2000 and 2006):

American Sublime (2005) / Elizabeth Alexander
Where Shall I Wander: New Poems (2005) / John Ashbery
Star Dust (2005) / Frank Bidart
Selected Poems (2006) / John Burnside
The Good Neighbour (2005) / John Burnside
Natural History (2005) / Dan Chiasson
Newborn (2004) / Kate Clanchy
Middle Earth (2003) / Henri Cole
Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001) / Billy Collins
Safest (2005) / Michael Donaghy

Rapture (2005) / Carol Ann Duffy
Intimates (2005)/ Helen Farish
Tramp in Flames (2006) / Paul Farley
These Days (2004) / Leontia Flynn
Dear Ghosts, (2006) / Tess Gallagher
Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2005 (2005) / Brendan Galvin
Refusing Heaven (2005) / Jack Gilbert
Averno (2006) / Louise Glück
White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems, 1946-2006 (2006) / Donald Hall
Legion (2005) / David Harsent

District and Circle (2006) / Seamus Heaney
Without Title (2006) / Geoffrey Hill
Scenes from Comus (2005) / Geoffrey Hill
The Orchards of Syon (2002) / Geoffrey Hill
After (2006) / Jane Hirschfield
Ground Water (2004) / Michael Hollis
Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963-2003 (2004) / Richard Howard
Collected Poems (2003) / Ted Hughes (ed. Paul Keegan)
The Tree House (2004) / Kathleen Jamie
A Shorter Life (2005) / Alan Jenkins

Collected Poems (2004) / Donald Justice
Collected Poems (2005) / Jane Kenyon
The Strange Hours Travelers Keep (2003) / August Kleinzahler
Delights & Shadows (2004) / Ted Kooser
The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz (2000) / Stanley Kunitz
To a Fault (2005) / Nick Laird
Curves and Angles (2006) / Brad Leithauser
Snow Water (2004) / Michael Longley
Collected Poems (2003) / Robert Lowell (eds. Frank Bidart & David Gewanter)
The Sugar Mile (2005) / Glyn Maxwell

The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown (2005) / George Mackay Brown (eds. Archie Bevan and Brian Murray)
Gethsemane (2006) / Dorothy Molloy
Hare Soup (2004) / Dorothy Molloy
Waiting for the Night-Rowers (2006) / Roger Moulson
Horse Lattitudes (2006) / Paul Muldoon
Moy Sand and Gravel (2002) / Paul Muldoon
New and Selected Poems: Volume 2 (2005) / Mary Oliver
Dart / Alice Oswald
The Rest of Love (2004) / Carl Phillips
The Brink (2003) / Jacob Polley

Corpus (2004) / Michael Symmons Roberts
Swithering (2006) / Robin Robertson
Skirrid Hill (2005) / Owen Sheers
My Noiseless Entourage (2006) / Charles Simic
The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems (2003) / Charles Simic
Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems (2006) / W.D. Snodgrass
Man and Camel (2006) / Mark Strand
Cracks in the Universe (2006) / Charles Tomlinson
The Prodigal (2004) / Derek Walcott
Collected Poems 1943-2004 (2004) / Richard Wilbur

God’s Silence (2006) / Franz Wright
Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (2003) / Franz Wright

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Andreï MAKINE ... The Woman Who Waited (2006)

MAKINE Andreï [1958-] Novelist. Born in Siberia, Soviet Union. Novels The Woman Who Waited [trans. from the French, La femme qui attendait (2004)] by Geoffrey Strachan] (2006); The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme [trans. from the French (2003) by Geoffrey Strachan) (2005); The Hero’s Daughter [trans. from the French (1990) by Geoffrey Strachan) (2003); A Life’s Music (pub. in the U.S. as Music of a Life) (trans. from the French, La musique d’une Vie (2001), by Geoffrey Strachan) (2002); Requiem for the East [trans. from the French, Requiem pour l’est (2000), by Geoffrey Strachan] (2001); Confessions of a Lapsed Standard-Bearer (trans. from the French by Geoffrey Strachan) (2000); Once Upon the River Love [trans. from the French, Au temps du fleuve amour (1994), by Geoffrey Strachan] (1998); The Crime of Olga Arbyelina (trans. from the French by Geoffrey Strachan) (1999); Dreams of My Russian Summers [trans. from the French, Le testament français (1995) by Geoffrey Strachan] (1997: winner of the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis; shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction)

The Woman Who Waited (2006)
A Life’s Music (2002)
Dreams of My Russian Summers (1997)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bernard MacLAVERTY ... Matters of Life & Death (2006)

ONE of the finest writers to emerge from Belfast in the past half-century, Bernard MacLaverty unplumbs the depths of life and death and in between in his new collection of short stories, Matters of Life & Death (2006).

MacLAVERTY Bernard [1942-] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Novels The Anatomy School (2001: shortlisted for the 2001 Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award); Grace Notes (1997: winner of the 1997 Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award; shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction and the 1997 Whitbread Novel Award); Cal (1983); Lamb (1980) Stories Matters of Life & Death (2006); Walking the Dog and Other Stories (1994: shortlisted for the 1994 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award); The Great Profundo and Other Stories (1987); A Time to Dance and Other Stories (1982); Secrets and Other Stories (1977) Children’s Andrew McAndrew (1988); A Man in Search of a Pet (1978) Nonfiction Colomba: Iona and the Spread of Christianity (1997)

Novels Grace Notes (1997)
Stories Matters of Life & Death (2006)

Sunday, May 28, 2006


THREE books about death, dying, grief and the celebration of life.

Matters of Life & Death (2006) / Bernard MacLaverty
Everyman (2006) / Philip Roth

Dear Ghosts, (2006) / Tess Gallagher

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ali SMITH ... The Accidental (2005)

SMITH Ali [1962-] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Inverness, Scotland. Novels The Accidental (2005: winner of the 2005 Whitbread Award for Best Novel; shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize for Fiction and the 2005 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction); Hotel World (2001: winner of the 2002 Encore Prize, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award; shortlisted for the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction and the 2001 Booker Prize for Fiction); Like (1997) Stories The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003); Other Stories and Other Stories (1999); Free Love and Other Stories (1995: winner of the Saltire First Book Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award) Edited New Writing: No. 13 (with Toby Litt) (2005); Brilliant Careers: The Virago Book of 20th Century Fiction (with Kasia Boddy and Sarah Wood) (2000); Shorts: The Macallan Scotland on Sunday Short Story Collection (2002); Pretext Vol. 5: Fiction; Criticism; Poetry: Blow Up Your TV (with Julia Bell) (2002)

Novels The Accidental (2005); Hotel World (2001)
Stories Free Love and Other Stories (1995)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Benjamin MARKOVITS ... Either Side of Winter (2005)

MARKOVITS Benjamin [1973-] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Palo Alto, Texas, U.S. Novel The Syme Papers (2004) Stories Either Side of Winter (published as Fathers and Daughters in the U.S. in 2005) (2005)

Either Side of Winter (published as Fathers and Daughters in the U.S. in 2005) (2005)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Colm TÓIBÍN ... Mothers and Sons (2006)

TÓIBÍN Colm [1955-] Novelist, journalist. Born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland. Novels The Master (2004: winner of the 2004 Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction; shortlisted for the 2004 Booker Prize for Fiction and the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award); The Blackwater Lightship (1999: shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize for Fiction and the 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award); The Story of the Night (1996: 1998 Ferro-Grumley Award); The Heather Blazing (1992: winner of the Encore Award for Best Second Novel); The South (1990: 1991 Irish Times/Aer Lingus First Novel Prize; shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award) Stories Mothers and Sons (2006) Nonfiction Lady Gregory's Toothbrush (2002); Love in a Dark Time (2001); The Irish Famine (with Diarmaid Ferriter) (1999); The Trial of the Generals: Selected Journalism, 1980-1990 (1990); Walking Along the Border (1987: republished in 1994 as Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border); Martyrs and Metaphors (1987) Travel The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994); Homage to Barcelona (1990) Edited The New York Stories of Henry James (2005); Synge: A Celebration (2005); The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (1999)

Novels The Master (2004); The Blackwater Lightship (1999); The Story of the Night (1996)
Stories Mothers and Sons (2006)
Travel The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994); Homage to Barcelona (1990)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Waterstone's 30 Gems to be Rediscovered

BOOKSTORES are only now realising that there’s money to be made from old titles as long as they are promoted properly. The fact is, there’s always money to be made from the backlist. It’s time to bring out those great books languishing on the shelves at the back of the store and put them where they belong.

Revenge of the Lawn: Stories, 1962-1970 / Richard Brautigan
Dry Bones / Richard Beard
Wooden Sea / Jonathan Carroll
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love / Raymond Carver
Trip to the Stars / Nicholas Christopher
The Dark Is Rising Sequence / Susan Cooper
The Deptford Trilogy / Robertson Davies
Ella Minnow Pea / Mark Dunn
Don’t Look Back / Karin Fossum
Mirror Lake / Thomas Christopher Greene

Hunger / Knut Hamsun
Ridley Walker / Russell Hoban
Blackbird House / Alice Hoffman
Too Loud a Solitude / Bohumil Hrabal
Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry / B.S. Johnson
Death and the Penguin / Andrey Kurkov
The Pursuit of Alice Thrift / Elinor Lipman
Daughter of the Forest / Juliet Marillier
Perdido Street Station / China Mieville
Drama City / George Pelecanos

Woman on the Edge of Time / Marge Piercy
The Radetzky March / Joseph Roth
Empire Falls / Richard Russo
Double / José Saramago
Journey By Moonlight / Antal Szerb
The Stone Carvers / Jane Urquhart
Slaughterhouse 5 / Kurt Vonnegut
Revolutionary Road / Richard Yates
Mists of Avalon / Marion Zimmer Bradley

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

100 Best First Lines from Novels ... American Book Review

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. —Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

12. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. —James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. —Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)

24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)

25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

26. 124 was spiteful. —Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

28. Mother died today. —Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942; trans. Stuart Gilbert)

29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. —Ha Jin, Waiting (1999)

30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground (1864; trans. Michael R. Katz)

32. Where now? Who now? When now? —Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (1953; trans. Patrick Bowles)

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree." —Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. —John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)

35. It was like so, but wasn't. —Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)

36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled. —William Gaddis, J.R. (1975)

37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

38. All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

39. They shoot the white girl first. —Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)

40. For a long time, I went to bed early. —Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (1913; trans. Lydia Davis)

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in. —Felipe Alfau, Chromos (1990)

42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature. —Anita Brookner, The Début (1981)

43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane; —Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

44. Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation. —Walter Abish, Alphabetical Africa (1974)

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. —C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded. —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. —Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

51. Elmer Gantry was drunk. —Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)

52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall. —Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988)

53. It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. —Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)

55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. —Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me. —Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street. —David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988)

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
—George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)

59. It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings? —Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things (1971)

61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. —W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge (1944)

62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. —G. K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

65. You better not never tell nobody but God. —Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

66. "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. —David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System (1987)

69. If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. —Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964)

70. Francis Marion Tarwater's uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up. —Flannery O'Connor, The Violent Bear it Away (1960)

71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. —Günter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim)

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson. —Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show (1971)

73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World. —Robert Coover, The Origin of the Brunists (1966)

74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. —Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (1902)

75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. —Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

76. "Take my camel, dear," said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. —Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)

77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. —Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900)

78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. —L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. —Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

80. Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. —William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own (1994)

81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. —J.G. Ballard, Crash (1973)

82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

83. "When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing." —Katherine Dunn, Geek Love (1983)

84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point. —John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor (1960)

85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. —James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss (1978)

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man. —William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (1948)

87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot," or "That Claudius," or "Claudius the Stammerer," or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius," am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled. —Robert Graves, I, Claudius (1934)

88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women. —Charles Johnson, Middle Passage (1990)

89. I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. —Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March (1953)

90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods. —Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922)

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl's underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self. —John Hawkes, Second Skin (1964)

92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. —Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

93. Psychics can see the color of time it's blue. —Ronald Sukenick, Blown Away (1986)

94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. —Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen. —Raymond Federman, Double or Nothing (1971)

96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. —Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (1988)

97. He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. —Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. —David Lodge, Changing Places (1975)

99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. —Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. —Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Neglected Gems ... Elizabeth BOWEN

BOWEN Elizabeth [1899-1973] Novelist, short-story writer. Born Elizabeth Dorothea Cole in Dublin, Ireland. Novels Encounters (1923); The Hotel (1927); The Last September (1929); Friends and Relations (1931); To the North (1932); The House in Paris (1935); The Death of the Heart (1936); The Heat of the Day (1949); A World of Love (1955); The Little Girls (1964); The Good Tiger (1965); Eva Trout (1968: shortlisted for the 1970 Booker Prize for Fiction) Stories Ann Lee’s and Other Stories (1926); Joining Charles and Other Stories (1929); The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (1934); The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945); Stories by Elizabeth Bowen (1959); A Day in the Dark and Other Stories (1965) Nonfiction Look At All Those Roses (1941); Bowen’s Court (1942); Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood (1942); Anthony Trollope: A New Judgement (1946); Why Do I Write: An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene and V.S. Pritchett (1948); Collected Impressions (1950); The Shelbourne: A Centre in Dublin Life for More Than A Century (1951); A Time in Rome (1960); Afterthought: Pieces About Writing (1962); The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen (ed. Hermione Lee) (1987)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jan MORRIS ... Travel-Writer Extraordinaire

DESPITE constant talk predicting the demise of the travel-writing genre, travel writers like Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin, Redmond O’Hanlon, Colin Thubron and Jan Morris still manage to convey the joy and wonder of travel and are always a delight to read and reread. The milieu and the sense of place and time they conjure in their writings are rendered with such exactitude, detail and insight. For those of us who believe there are no more places left to explore or discover on earth in these jaded times, read these great travel writers and they will change your mind about the world we live in. Bryson, for instance, has an eye for the lively anecdote and beautiful turns of phrases sprinkled with humour and irony, while Morris has a great sense of history and language.

MORRIS Jan [1926-] Travel writer, journalist, historian, essayist, novelist. Born James Humphrey Morris in Clevedon, Somerset, England. Novels Hav (2006); Last Letters from Hav (1985: shortlisted for the 1985 Booker Prize for Fiction) Stories The Upstairs Donkey, and Other Stolen Stories (1961) Biography Fisher’s Face: Or, Getting to Know the Admiral (1995) History The Pax Britannica Trilogy [comprising Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat (1978); Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire (1968) and Heavens Command: An Imperial Progress (1973)]; Coronation Everest (1958) Memoir Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001); Pleasures of a Tangled Life (1989); Conundrum (1974) Travel Europe: An Intimate Journey (2006); A Writer’s World: Travels 1950-2000 (2003); Sydney (1992); Hong Kong (1988); The Matter of Wales (1984); The Venetian Empire (1980); Oxford (1965); The Presence of Spain (1964); Venice (1960: winner of the 1961 Heinemann Award); The Hashemite Kings (1959); South African Winter (1958); The Market in Seleukia (1957); Sultan in Oman (1957); Coast to Coast (published in the U.S. as As I Saw the U.S.A) (1956: winner of the 1957 Cafe Royal Prize) Essays O Canada! (1992); Locations (1992); Among the Cities (1985); Journeys (1984); Destinations (1980); Travels (1976); Places (1972); Cities (1963); The Road to Hudersfield: A Journey to Five Continents (1963); The Outriders: A Liberal View of Britain (1963)

Novels Hav (2006); Last Letters from Hav (1985)
History The Pax Britannica Trilogy [comprising Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat (1978); Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire (1968) and Heavens Command: An Imperial Progress (1973)]; Coronation Everest (1958)
Memoir Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001)
Travel A Writer’s World: Travels 1950-2000 (2003); The Venetian Empire (1980)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Louis AUCHINCLOSS ... The Young Apollo and Other Stories (2006)

AUCHINCLOSS Louis [1917-] Novelist, short-story writer. Born Louis Stanton Auchincloss in Lawrence, New York, U.S. Novels The Headmaster’s Dilemma (2007); East Side Story (2004); The Scarlet Letters (2003); Her Infinite Variety (2000); Love Without Wings (1991); Fellow Passengers (1989); The Golden Calves (1988); Diary of a Yuppie (1987); The Book Class (1984); Watchfires (1982); The House of the Prophet (1980); The Dark Lady (1977); The Partners (1974); A World of Profit (1968); The Embezzler (1965); The Rector of Justin (1964); Portrait in Brownstone (1962); The House of Five Talents (1960); The Pursuit of the Prodigal (1959); Venus in Sparta (1958); The Great World and Timothy Colt (1956); A Law for the Lion (1953); Sybil (1952); The Indifferent Children (1947) Stories The Friend of Women and Other Stories (2007); The Young Apollo and Other Stories (2006); Manhattan Monologues (2003); The Anniversary and Other Stories (1999); The Atonement and Other Stories (1997); The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss (1994); Tales of Yesteryear (1994); False Gods (1992); Narcissa and Other Fables (1983); Skinny Island (1981); Tales of Manhattan (1967); The Romantic Egoists (1970); Powers of Attorney (1963); The Injustice Collectors (1950) Social History Reflections of a Jacobite (1961) Literary Criticism Edith Wharton: A Woman in Her Time (1971); Pioneers and Caretakers (1965) Biography Theodore Roosevelt (2001); Woodrow Wilson (2000); Richelieu (1972); Edith Wharton: A Biography (1971); Queen Victoria Autobiography A Writer's Capital (1974)

Novels East Side Story (2004); A World of Profit (1968); The Rector of Justin (1964)
Stories The Young Apollo and Other Stories (2006); The Atonement and Other Stories (1997)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Neglected Gems ... Grace PALEY

GRACE PALEY is one of America’s most accomplished writers of short stories. Her eccentric, noisy characters and rich use of language leave you astounded. Paley once tried writing a novel but failed to write one. She found the novel pedestrian. She finds the idea of plot difficult. But she excelled at the short story. In her story, “A Conversation with My Father” (1974), the narrator argues against “plot, the absolute line between two points which I’ve always despised. Not for literary reasons, but because it takes all hope away. Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.”

PALEY Grace [1922-] Short-story writer, poet. Born Grace Gutzeit (Goodside) in the Bronx, New York, New York, U.S. Stories The Collected Stories (1994: shortlisted for the 1994 National Book Award for Fiction and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction); Long Walks and Intimate Talks (with illustrations by Vera B. Williams) (1991); Later the Same Day (1985); Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974: winner of the National Book Award for Fiction); The Little Disturbances of Man: Stories of Women and Men at Love (1959) Poetry Begin Again: Collected Poems (2000); New and Collected Poems (1992); Leaning Forward (1985); Goldenrod (1982); 16 Broadsides (1980) Nonfiction 365 Reasons Not to Have Another War (1989) Essays Just As I Thought (1998)

Stories The Collected Stories (1994); Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Elinor LIPMAN ... My Latest Grievance (2006)

LIPMAN Elinor [1950-] Novelist. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S. Novels My Latest Grievance (2006); The Pursuit of Alice Thrift (2003); The Dearly Departed (2001); The Ladies’ Man (1999); The Inn at Lake Devine (1998); Isabel’s Bed (1997); The Way Men Act (1992); Then She Found Me (1990) Stories Into Love and Out Again (1987)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

David MEANS ... The Secret Goldfish (2004)

AN EXCEPTIONAL WRITER of short stories, David Means writes depressing slices and slivers of life that are penetrating and “achingly intelligent,” written in a spare, elegiac tone.

MEANS David [1962-] Short-story writer. Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S. Stories The Secret Goldfish (2004: shortlisted for the 2005 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize); Assorted Fire Events (2000: winner of the 2001 Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction; a finalist for the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction); A Quick Kiss of Redemption and Other Stories (1991)

The Secret Goldfish (2004)
Assorted Fire Events (2000)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Clare BOYLAN ... Emma Brown (2003)

ACCLAIMED Irish novelist and short-story writer Clare Boylan has died of cancer in Dublin, Ireland. Boylan is best known for her completion of Charlotte Brontë’s unfinished novel, Emma, which she began in the 1850s.

BOYLAN Clare [1948-2006] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Dublin, Ireland. Novels Emma Brown: A Novel from the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Brontë (with Charlotte Brontë) (2003); Beloved Stranger (1999); Room for a Single Lady (1997); Home Rule (1992); Black Baby (1988); Last Resorts (1984); Holy Pictures (1983) Stories The Collected Stories (2000); Another Family Christmas: A Collection of Short Stories (1997); That Bad Woman (1995); Concerning Virgins (1989); A Nail on the Head (1983) Edited The Literary Companion to Cats: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry (1994); The Agony and the Ego: The Art and Strategy of Fiction Writing Explored (1993)

Novel Emma Brown: A Novel from the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Brontë (with Charlotte Brontë) (2003)
Stories The Collected Stories (2000)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pages & Boston Review ... More interesting magazines on books and things literary

FOR people who love books, here’s another literary magazine you might like to check out. It’s called Pages and tags itself as the magazine for people who love books. The other is Boston Review.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Three Day Road (2005) / Joseph Boyden
The Impressionist (2002) / Hari Kunzru
Transmission (2004) / Hari Kunzru
Breaking the Tongue (2004) / Vyvyane Loh
The Woman Who Waited [trans. from the French, La femme qui attendait (2004)] by Geoffrey Strachan] (2006) / Andreï Makine
A Factory of Cunning (2005) / Philippa Stockley

The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah (2006) / Karen Armstrong
Incendiary Circumstances: A Chronicle of the Turmoil of Our Times (2006) / Amitav Ghosh
The Glass Castle (2005) / Jeannette Walls

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Michelle DE KRETSER ... The Hamilton Case (2002)

DE KRETSER Michelle [1958-] Novelist. Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Novels The Hamilton Case (2002: winner of the 2004 Encore Award and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, Southeast Asia and South Pacific); The Rose Grower (1999) Edited Brief Encounters: Stories of Love, Sex & Travel (1998)

The Hamilton Case (2002)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Your Next Good Read ... Jim LYNCH's The Highest Tide (2005)

One of the wonderful fiction débuts of 2005!

JIM LYNCH’s début novel, The Highest Tide (Bloomsbury, 2005), is one of my favourite novels of 2005. Set against the tidal flats of Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington, I love it especially for its taut, lyrical prose and gripping narrative power, spirituality and the wonderful character of Miles O’Malley, the introverted 13-year-old narrator, protagonist and voice of this sad yet hauntingly funny story of growing up. Lynch has an excellent feel for landscape and in his hands, the beauty and grandeur of the Pacific Northwest come alive with a power that is simultaneously raw and wondrous.

Check out Jim Lynch’s website at

LYNCH Jim [1961-] Novelist. Born James Lynch in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Novel The Highest Tide (2005: winner of a 2006 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Book Award)

Other novels set in the Pacific Northwest
Waxwings (2003) / Jonathan Raban
Snow Falling on Cedars (1994) / David Guterson

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What is the best work of American fiction of the last 25 years?

TONI MORRISON’s Beloved (1987) was voted the best American work of fiction of the last 25 years (1980-2005), beating out such competition as Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike and Philip Roth. The New York Times Book Review asked hundreds of prominent writers, literary critics and editors from leading publishing houses in the U.S. to name the single best work of American fiction published in the last quarter-century, since 1980, and these are the results of their findings. There is somehow a proliferation of novels by the usual suspects comprising Roth (6), Updike (4), DeLillo (4) and McCarthy (4).

The winner
Beloved / Toni Morrison (1987)

The runners-up
Underworld / Don DeLillo (1997)
Blood Meridian or, The Evening Redness in the West / Cormac McCarthy (1985)
Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels: [Rabbit at Rest (1990); Rabbit Is Rich (1981); Rabbit Redux (1971); Rabbit, Run (1960)] / John Updike (1995)
American Pastoral / Philip Roth (1997)

And the rest
A Confederacy of Dunces / John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Housekeeping / Marilynne Robinson (1980)
Winter’s Tale / Mark Helprin (1983)
White Noise / Don DeLillo (1985)
The Counterlife / Philip Roth (1986)
Libra / Don DeLillo (1988)
Where I’m Calling From / Raymond Carver (1988)
The Things They Carried / Tim O'Brien (1990)
Mating / Norman Rush (1991)
Jesus’ Son / Denis Johnson (1992)
Operation Shylock / Philip Roth (1993)
Independence Day / Richard Ford (1995)
Sabbath’s Theater / Philip Roth (1995)
Border Trilogy [Cities of the Plain (1998); The Crossing (1994); All the Pretty Horses (1992)] / Cormac McCarthy (1999)
The Human Stain / Philip Roth (2000)
The Known World / Edward P. Jones (2003)
The Plot Against America / Philip Roth (2004)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hari KUNZRU at Kinokuniya

LITERATURE-starved Kuala Lumpur was treated to a generous helping of Hari Kunzru when he made an appearance at Kinokuniya KLCC on Wednesday, May 10, 2006. A great time was had by all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Paperback of the Week ... Three Day Road (2005)

BOYDEN Joseph [1967-] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Willowdale, Ontario, Canada. Novels She Take You Down (2006); Three Day Road (2005: shortlisted for the 2005 Governor General’s Award for Fiction) Stories Born with a Tooth (2001)

Three Day Road (2005)