December 25, 2010


Auster, Paul, Sunset Park: A Novel (New York: Henry Holt, 2010) ("Bit by bit, he has pared down his desires to what is now approaching a bare minimum. He has cut out smoking and drinking, he no longer eats in restaurants, he does not own a television, a radio, or a computer. He would like to trade in his car for a bicycle, but he can't get rid of the car, since the distances he must travel for work are too great. The same applies to the cellphone he carries around in his pocket, which he would dearly love to toss in the garbage, but he needs it for work as well and therefore can't do without it. . . . His rent is low, since he lives in a small apartment in a poor neighborhood, and beyond spending money on bedrock necessities, the only luxury he allows himself is buying books, paperback books, mostly novels, American, novels, British novels, foreign novels in translation, but in the end books are not luxuries so much as necessities, and reading is an addiction he has no wish to be cured of." Id. at 6-7. See Joyce Carol Oates, "My Son, My Son!", NYRB, December 23, 2010, at 49.).

Booth, Martin, A Very Private Gentleman: A Novel (New York: Picador, 2004) ("Along one wall is a row of windows: like the fireplace, they are a modern addition. Opposite them are the bookshelves." "I enjoy books. No room is fit for occupation without a lining of books. They contain the condensed experiences of humanity. To live fully, one has to read widely. I do not intend to face a man-eating lion in the African veldt, fall from an aircraft into the Arabian Sea, soar through outer space or march with the legions of Rome against Gaul or Carthage, yet books can take me to these places, to these predicaments. In a book, Salome can seduce me, I can fall in love with Marie Dupleissis, have my own Lady of the Camellias, a private Monroe or exclusive Cleopatra. In a book I can rob a bank, spy on the enemy, kill a man. Kill any number of men. No, not that. One man at a time is enough for me. It aways was. And I do not always seek experience second-hand." Id. at 20-21.).

Byatt, A. S., The Children's Book: A Novel (New York: Knopf, 2009) (See Jennifer Schuessler, "Dangerous Fancies," NYT, 10/11/2009.).

Citkowitz, Evgenia, Ether: Seven Stories and a Novella (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) (See Ligaya Mishan, "Fumblers and Dreamers, NYT Book Review, Sunday, 5/30/2010.).

Donoghue, Emma, Room: A Novel (New York & Boston: Little, Brown, 2010) (See Aimee Bender, Separation Anxiety," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 9/19/2010).

Eisenberg, Deborah, The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) (See Jean Thompson, "Don't Have a Nice Day," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 4/18/2010.).

Goldberg, Myla, The False Friend: A Novel (New York: Doubleday, 2010) (See Marilyn Stasio, "Childhood Attachments," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/24/2010.).

Gombrowicz, Witold, Pornografia: A Novel translated from the Polish by Danuta Borchardt, with a foreword by Sam Lipsyte (New York: Grove Press, 2009) .

Goncharov, Ivan, Oblomov: A Novel translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz, with an afterword by Mikhail Shishkin (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008) (From the book jacket: "In this first translation taken from the definitive L. S. Geiro edition, translator Marian Schwartz captures the wry humor and all-embracing humanity of Ivan Goncharov's classic nineteenth-century satire of quiet resistance to bourgeois life. Ilya Ilich Oblomov is a young, serf-owning nobleman largely incapable of overcoming his apathy. 'Forced to choose between an unworthy life and sleeping,' writes Mikhail Shishkin in the afterword, 'Oblomov chooses sleep. Suicide by sofa.' ".

Goodman, Allegra, The Cookbook Collector: A Novel (New York: The Dial Press, 2010) ( "'You should have warned me earlier, ' Orion said. 'I would have lowered my expectations.' Lou grinned. 'True story. A woman and her lovely young daughter are sitting on the beach. An enormous wave comes crashing down and sweeps the daughter away. 'The mother is hysterical. Weeping, she stands at the water's edge. If there's a God in heaven, she screams, please bring back my child! 'Lo and behold the wave returns and washes up the lovely daughter, alive and well. 'Thank you, merciful God! the mother cries. Then she looks around her. She looks all around, and at last she calls up to heaven once more. She cries out, There was also a hat?'" Id. at 346-347. See Dominique Browning, "The Insatiable Years," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 7/25/2010.).

Grass, Gunter, The Box: Tales from the Darkroom translated from the German by Krishna Winston (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) (See Tim Mohr, "Cat and Mouse," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/14/2010.).

Grossman, David, To the End of the Land: A Novel translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (New York: Knopf, 2010) ("'One thing I know, which I never imagined,' he said during one of those hours, with her head resting on his chest.' [] 'You can live an entire life without purpose.' [] 'Once, when I was still the dearly departed me, if you'd told me this was what I could expect, a whole life of this, I'd have dome myself in on the sport. Today I know it's not that terrible. That you certainly can. I'm living proof.' 'But what does that mean? Explain it to me. What do mean, a life without purpose?' He pondered. 'I mean that nothing really hurts you and nothing really makes you happy. You live because you live. Because you happen not to be dead'" Id. at 559. See Colm Toibin, "Losing Battles," NYT Book Review, Sunday 9/26/2010; and "Petals of Blood," The Economist, September 18th 2010, at 103).

Hamilton, Patrick, Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl’s Court (New York: Europa Edition, 2006).

Jacobson, Howard, The Act of Love: A Novel (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).

Jacobson, Howard, The Finkler Question (New York: Bloomsbury, 2010) (See Janet Maslin, "Jewish Funhouse Mirror Is Alive and Not So Well," NYT, Thursday, 10/21/10.).

Jen, Gish, World and Town: A Novel (New York: Knopf, 2010) (See Donna Rifkind, "Neighborhood Watch," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/7/2010).

Jose, F. Sionil, Don Vicente: Two Novels: Tree and My Brother (New York: Modern Library, 1999) ("A man's suicide is the ultimate violence he can fling against the granite circumstances he could not vanquish. It is a lonely and desperate act of supreme courage, not weakness. But it is also an admission of total failure; the destruction of the self is the end of one person's struggle, an end wherefrom there will be no rebirth or resurrection--nothing but the blackness, the impenetrable muck that hides everything, sometimes even the reason for death itself." Id. at 89. "He dug out his gold watch from his waist pocket. 'You have plenty of time,' he said. 'Now listen. You are young and you don't know many things, but do remember this: you are alone on this earth. Alone. You must act for yourself and no other. Kindness is not appreciated anymore, nor is friendship. Think of yourself before you think of others. It's a cruel world, and you have to be hard and cruel, too. They will strangle you if you don't strangle them first. Trust no one but your judgment--and even then don't trust too much.' " Id. at 154-155. "When he sank into his bed a thought coursed through him like ice: all these years he had always felt himself superior to his brother, maybe because he had more education and had seen more of that broader landscape extending beyond Sipnget, and what he had seen and experienced had imbued him with more knowledge, more sensibility. He was, after all, a poet, and he could be really capable of love that was not love of self but love of life--and therefore of death--so that he should be able to give himself to death's embrace and mock that which is also the end. Hew knew now, however, that this was not so, that this was self-deception instead, and that, as his brother had said, he was incapable of sacrifice. And the poetry that he had written--which could hardy be understood even by those with facility in English--of what use was it? Of what use was life? He believed that he had simplicity, but now he knew that he was obscure instead, not because he did not know what he was saying but because his own feelings were inchoate and therefore devoid of real passion. What, then, was in his arteries?" Id. at 390-391.).

Jose, F. Sionil, Dusk: A Novel (New York: Modern Library, 1992) ("There were always excuses, there was no escaping them, for the power to disagree was not with the Indios, just as it would never be with him. So the Church, then, was Castilian. The Church was not interested in justice, or in the abolition of inequality. The temple, then, was just another pit, and the rosary he held offered no salvation. No God can haul men like him up from the abyss of perdition." Id. at 142. " 'Don't ever be a patriot, Eustaquio. Those who think they are or will be delude themselves. Patriotism is selfless. And it is not the generals who are the bravest--they usually have the means to stay away from the battle and thereby lengthen their lives. The bravest are usually those whom we do not know or hear about, those anonymous men who dig trenches, who produce the food. They are the corpus--you understand that word--the body and also the soul of a nation. Eustaquio, my words are just words, but all through history--and you have studied it--it has always been the many faceless men, those foot soldiers, who have suffered most, who have died, It is they who make a nation.' " Id. at 236. "The Cripple was right; the Americans were no different from the Spaniards--they were here to humiliate, to deny life. The three insurrectos who hanged in the plaza in Bauang--they had been dead for ore than a day and still were not cut down and buried decently, The people must see the fearsome handiwork and be coerced into betraying Aguinaldo." Id. at 284.).

Jose, F. Sionil, The Samsons: Two Novels in the Rosales Saga: The Pretenders and Mass (New York: Modern Library, 2000) (I always remember what Mother told me when I was about nine or ten: all those we love we will eventually lose, all those we hate we will eventually face. This is the inevitable sequence, the deafening roll that follows the lightning flash, the drab brown of the fields after the living green of the rainy season." Id. at 332. "Chicken looked at me, his small sad eyes crinkling in a smile. 'Who is innocent and who is guilty?' He shook his head. 'The poor are always guilty and the rich are always innocent. Get some lawyer to stand for you. But while you are here, you must follow the rules--theirs and ours.' 'But the law---' 'The police, what do you think they care for? Their pay, first of all--and the more they can get, through foul means if necessary, the more they will get it. They are not here to help us; they are here to maintain order so that we will continue being what we are--poor.' '" Id. at 488-489.).

Krauss, Nicole, Great House: A Novel (New York: Norton: 2010) (See Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, "Hearts Full of Sorrow," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/17/2010.).

Levin, Adam, The Instructions (San Francisco: McSweeney's Rectangulars, 2010) ("'Here's another idea that I'm sure you're familiar with: The world at large is like a gage. The world is bounded and governed, and those who violate its boundaries or defy its governance meet with negative consequences. And, yes, even those who stay within their cage's boundaries and allow themselves to be governed meet with negative consequences, and indeed that happens far more often than should be the case, you'll hear no argument from me on that--I do not deny the world contains its share of injustice, but . . . Most people, Gurion--most people do not violate boundaries, do not defy governance, and most of them come out intact, whereas very few of those who act lawlessly do. And that is why school is so much about following rules. You are here, above all else, to learn to live lawfully for the rest of your life. You are here to learn how to exist in cages without acting as if they are cages, to live like mensches despite being locked in cages. You are here to learn to survive in the world. That is the most basic purpose of our educational system, and it is a high purpose. It is good. I stand behind it. I want you and your fellow students to leave Aptakisic more capable of survival than you were when you entered.'" Id. at 803-804. See Joshua Cohen, "Holy Warrior," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/7/2010).

Levy, Andrea, The Long Song: A Novel (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) (See Fernanda Eberstadt, "When Jamaica Lost Its Chains," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 5/9.2919.).

Machart, Bruce, The Wake of Forgiveness: A Novel (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) (See Philip Caputo, "Tough Love," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/31/2010.).

Mankell, Henning, Daniel: A Novel translated from the Swedish by Steven T. Murray (New York: The New Press, 2010).

Mankell, Henning, Italian Shoes: A Novel translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson (New York: Vintage Books, 2009, 2010) (" 'We're always being made promises,' she said. 'You make them yourself and you listen to others giving theirs. Politicians are always going on about providing a better quality of life for people as they get older, and a health service in which nobody ever gets bedsores. Banks promise you high interest rates, some food promises to make you lose weight if you eat it, and body creams guarantee old age with fewer wrinkles. Life is quite simply a matter of cruising along in your own little boat through a constantly changing but never-ending stream of promises, And how many do we remember? We forget the one we would like to remember, and we remember the ones we'd prefer to forget. Broken promises are like shadows dancing around in the twilight. The older I become, the more clearly I see them. . . .' " Id. at 33.).

Mitchell, David, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel (New York: Random House, 2010) (" 'Stop deserters,' answers another, and Wren calls out: 'Hear the Chaplain!' But Wily closes his Bible. 'Aye, with the tempest howling, with death a near certainty, Paul says, 'Abandon ship and you'll drown; stay aboard with me and you'll survive.' Would you believe him? Would I?' The chaplain shrugs and puffs. 'This was a prisoner in chains, a heretic from a backward ditch of Rome's empire. Yet he persuaded the guards to cut away the boats, and the Book of Acts tells that two hundred and seventy-six were saved by God's mercy. Why did that raggle-taggle crew of Cypriots, Lebanese, and Palestinians heed Paul? Was it his voice, or his face, or . . . something else? Ah, with that secret, I'd be Archbishop Wily by now! Instead, I'm stuck here, with you.' Some of the men laugh. 'I shan't claim, men, that faith always saves a man from drowning--enough devout Christians have died at sea to make a lair of me. But this I do swear: faith shall save your soul from death, Without faith, death is a drowning, the end of ends, and what sane man wouldn't fear that? But with faith, death is nothing worse than the end of this voyage we all life, and the beginning of an eternal voyage in a company of our loved ones, with griefs and woes smoothed out and under the captaincy of our Creator . . .'" Id. at 392-393,).

Moore, Lisa, February (New York: Black Cats. 2009) (See Sylvia Brownrigg, "The Widow in Winter," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 2/21/2010.).

Murray, Paul, Skippy Dies: A Novel (New York: Faber and Faber, 2010) (" 'I suppose we can't really conceive of our way of life ever changing,' she says, ignoring his clunky flattery. 'Let alone coming to an end. It's just like the boys here doing stupid things--you know, climbing electricity pylons, jumping their skateboard off ten-foot walls--because they can't imagine getting hurt, They think they'll go on for ever, So do we. But nothing goes on for ever. Civilizations ends, everything ends, that's what you teach them in History class, isn't it?' " Id. at 206. " 'A life, you see--a life, [Robert] Frost is saying, is something that must be chosen, just like a path through the wood. The tricky thing for us is that we live in an age that seems to present us with a whole raft of choices, a maze of ready-made paths. But if you look more closely, many of them turn out to be simply different versions of the same thing, to buy products, for example, or to believe whatever fabricated narrative we are offered to believe in, a religion, a country, a football team, a war. The idea of making one's own choices, of for example not not believing, not consuming, remain as less travelled as ever . . .' " Id. at 349-350. " 'See, that's exactly the kind of thing I mean,' Farley ripostes, the whole room looking at him now, 'we spend all our time congratulating ourselves on what a great school we are, we go into class every day and fill the kids' heads up with crap, but you try to say anything about what the world's actually genuinely like and someone'll tell you to keep your mouth shut and show some respect --' " Id. at 472. " 'It's a good example of how history works,' Howard says. 'We tend to think of it as something solid and unchanging, appearing out of nowhere etched in stone like the Ten Commandments. But history in the end, is only another kind of story, and stories are different from the truth. The truth is messy and chaotic and all over the place. Often it just doesn't make sense. Stories make things make sense, but the way they do that is to leave out anything that doesn't fit. And often that is quite a lot.' " Id. at 556. See Dan Kois, "Ghost, Come Back Again," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 9/5/2010.).

Naslund, Sena Jeter, Adam and Eve: A Novel (New York: Morrow, 2010) ("For an instant the intruders appeared only as impressions or shapes--one, a long dark rabbinical shape with a beard; two, a business suit with a face like an eagle; three, a tweedy British form. . . . 'The demons of literalism,' I murmured so that Arielle would have some notion of what was at stake." Id. at 309. See Louise Thomas, "In the Beginning," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/31/2010.).

Ogawa, Yoko, The Diving Pool: Three Novellas translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (New York” Picador, 2008).

Ozick, Cynthia, Foreign Bodies: A Novel (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) (See Thomas Mallon, "Cynthia Ozick's Homage to Henry James," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/21/2010.).

Paine, Tom, Scar Vegas and Other Stories (New York: Harcourt, 2000) (From the story, "A Predictable Nightmare on the Eve of the Stock Market First Breaking 6,000": "She stood in the empty lot, swaying slightly, and smoothed her skirt over and over, Melanie Applebee walked in the pink glow of the late afternoon, repeating Stanford Business School Professor Steven Galamudi's axiom: every macroproblem is solvable by a multitude of microdecisions. Bats flitted past her face. A black child biked past her and spit a wad of bubblegum at her." Id. at 171, 181.).

Roth, Philip, Nemesis (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) (See Leah Hager Cohen, "Summer of '44," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/10/2010.).

Rushdie, Salman, Luka and the Fire of Life: A Novel (New York: Random House, 2010) (See Mark Athitakis, "Spellbound," NYT Book Review, Children Books, Sunday, 11/7/2010.).

Schlink, Bernhard, The Weekend translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010) (" 'Enough of your cheap sarcasm. You have no idea what Jorg's talking about. Have the cops ever beaten you up? Have they shackled you by your hands and feet in a jail cell and left you lying in your shit and piss for two days? Have they forced food down your throat, down your windpipes and your bronchial tubes until your lung collapsed? Have they deprived you of sleep night after night for years? And then left you for years without a sound?' Marko bent over the table and yelled at Ulrich. 'It really was war--Jorg hasn't worked that out. Back then you knew it too--everyone knew. How many leftists have I met who have told me they neatly ended up in the armed struggle back then! They didn't, they preferred to have other people fighting and failing for them--vicariously. I understand that people are afraid of the struggle and stay out if it. The fact that you act as if there hadn't been a war leaves me speechless.' " Id. at 95.) Also, see Ian Buruma, "Living Down the Past," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/17/2010)..

Spencer, Scott, Man in the Woods: A Novel (New York: Ecco, 2010) (See Ron Carlson, "What the Dog Saw," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/10/2010).

Spencer, Scott, A Ship Made of Paper: A Novel (New York; Ecco, 2003).

Tremain, Rose, Trespass: A Novel (New York: Norton, 2010) (See David Leavitt, "Place of Last Resort," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/24/2010.).

Turow, Scott, Innocent (New York & Boston: Grand Central, 2010) (see Michiko Kakutani, "A Man With a Dead Wife on His Hands," NYT, Friday, 4/30/2010; and Terrence Rafferty, "Twice Accused," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 5/16/2010.).

Vasquez, Juan Gabriel, The Informers: A Novel translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean (New York: Riverhead Books, , 2004, 2008) (See Larry Rohter, "In 1940s Colombia Blacklists and 'Enemy Aliens'," NYT, Monday, 8/3/2009: “'The system of blacklists gave power to the weak, and the weak are the majority,' one character in The Informer muses bitterly. 'That was life during those years: a dictatorship of weakness. The dictatorship of resentment,' in which there were thousands 'who accused, who denounced, who informed'." "Nearly 7,000 Axis nationals even ended up in internment camps in the United States, held in escrow for bargaining purposes and in some cases detained well after the end of the war. Mr. Vásquez, however, focuses on a much smaller group and topic: German immigrants to Colombia and the corrosive effect their plight had on their native-born children." Id.).

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Pamuk, Orhan, The Naïve and the Sentimental Novelist (The Charles Eliot Nortn Lestures, 2009) translated from the Turkish by Nazim Dikbas (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("Novels are second lives. Like dreams . . . , novels reveal the colors and complexities of our lives and are full of people, faces, and objects we feel we recognize. Just as in dreams, when we read novels we are sometimes so powerfully struck by the extraordinary nature of the things we encounter that we forget where we are and envision ourselves in the midst of the imaginary events and people we are witnessing, At such times, we feel that the fictional world we encounter and enjoy is more real than the real world itself. That these second lives can appear more real to us than reality often means that we substitute novels for reality, or at least that we confuse them with real life. But re ever complain of this illusion, this naivete. On the contrary, just as in some dreams, we want the novel we are reading to continue and hope that this second life will keep evoking in us a consistent sense of reality and authenticity. In spite of what we know about fiction, we are annoyed and bothered if a novel fails to sustain the illusion that it is actually real life." Id. at 3.).