For ordinary books are like meteors. Each of them has only one moment, a moment when it soars screaming like the phoenix, all its pages aflame. For that single moment we love them ever after, although they soon turn to ashes. With bitter resignation we sometimes wander late at night through the extinct pages that tell their stone dead messages like wooden rosary beads.Bruno Schulz on The Book (via)
“I enjoy facilitating discovery. I like that selling books still has an aura of something hopelessly noble about it. (Let’s call it quixotic.) Since a book is not just a book—not in the way something utilitarian like a dishwasher is, I mean—I like to think that I’m really trafficking in dreams and solitude. I’m not selling someone the time to read, of course, but a book represents our desire (our need, really) to turn inward. To be a part of the ritual of reading—that going out into the world, exploring, flipping pages, talking to others, and then returning to a place where a reader can be alone with a book, a possible treasure!—is very gratifying.”
I rarely pass up a chance to talk about books. To be asked to do just that with City Lights as part of their Talking (Book)shop series was for that reason very exciting.
Diane Victor (2011) (via mythologyofblue)
We might say that books are like bones.Andrew Piper, Book Was There
Adolf Von Menzel, Man Holding a Book (1864)
It used to be said that the world itself was a great book: that didn’t mean that its destiny was sealed in some kabbalistic scrawl; on the contrary, it showed that one had always, again and again, to manipulate its code, recombine its letters, and finally rewrite it.Jean-Luc Nancy, On the Commerce of Thinking: of Books & Bookstores (trans. David Wills)
Each new book is a journey. But a journey with eyes covered thro’ seas never before discovered…Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life (trans. Johnny Lorenz)
Jan Davidsz de Heem Still Life with Books (1628) (via gravellyrun)
At Writers No One Reads, we’ve put together a preview of some of the books we’re excited to see published during the first half of 2013.
Some of the books I read this year
I’ve always wished I was a more systematic reader, one who could trace the connections from one book to the next. Instead, my reading is often based on whim. When one accumulates as many books as I do, sometimes the next book is simply the closest.
January found me heading north, as I embarked in a more systematic way on an ongoing project to examine what it is about the desolate ends of the earth that attracts me. Peter Davidson’s The Idea of North, which traces the history of what “north” has meant across time and in various places, comes closest to sharing an affinity with my vague project, but inspired rather than dispirited me. Alec Wilkinson’s The Ice Balloon tells the story of doomed explorer S.A. Andree, whose determination to cross the Pole by balloon ended, predictably, in disaster. After having read chapters of it several years ago, I finally read the entirety of Barry Lopez’s rightly acclaimed Arctic Dreams and a bibliography led me to Jeanette Mirsky’s classic account of polar exploration, To the Arctic!
I read Edouard Leve’s declarative Autoportrait, which influenced my thinking to a possibly unhealthy degree and led to an attempt to write a series of posts in the same style. I read the first of Andres Neuman’s novels to be translated into English, Traveler of the Century, and Alejandro Zambra’s third, Ways of Going Home.
I read poet Laurie Sheck’s heartbreaking and difficult novel/poem/assemblage, A Monster’s Notes, which stitches together from several other texts a book worthy of its inspiration, Frankenstein. I’ve kept the book on my desk in order to return to it often.
Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies is a book I’d intended to read for years and finally got around to, as were Andre Gide’s Lafcadio’s Adventures, Saul Bellow’s Adventures of Augie March, Three Novellas by Thomas Bernhard, Luigi Pirandello’s One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand, and British artist Andrew Lanyon’s collection, Circular Walks Around Rowley Hall, which chronicles the exploits of the Rowley family, who seem to be a mutual hallucination of Wes Anderson and Edward Gorey.
I read Henry de Montherlant for the first time and wrote about him for Writers No One Reads; I read more of Emmanuel Bove’s work and also wrote about him; I read Jean-Pierre Martinet’s black little gem, The High Life, and wrote about it as well.
In order to prolong the pleasure of discovering his work, I read just one novel by Juan Jose Saer, The Event. I read Samuel Beckett’s Watt with a similar motive. While everyone else was talking about How Should A Person Be?, I read Sheila Heti’s Ticknor, which convincingly channels Thomas Bernhard. I read Sergio Chejfec’s The Planets and interviewed its translator, the wonderful Heather Cleary, thanks to whom I owe the introduction to Chico Buarque, whose novels Budapest and Spilt Milk I read in succession.
Mary Ruefle’s collected lectures, Madness, Rack, and Honey, is one of the best books I read this year: inspiring, honest, and irreverent without being cheeky. I would recommend it to anyone who writes.
I went into the forest: I read the first section of Simon Schama’s monumental Landscape and Memory, Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests, and Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways—a book so perfect it led me to quickly find and read his two previous works, The Wild Places and Mountains of the Mind. All three are full of sharply precise, lyrical evocations of landscape. I read Michael Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid while camping in a remote corner of Yosemite.
I read Kit Schluter’s beautiful translation of the great forgotten Marcel Schwob’s strange and anguished Book of Monelle. I read Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s Satantango. I read Ivan Vladislavic’s chronicles of failure, The Loss Library. I read Eric Chevillard’s hilariously droll Prehistoric Times. I read Nescio’s Amsterdam Stories. I read the first volume in Karl Knausgaard’s My Struggle opus. I found it wanting.
I read Yves Bonnefoy’s account of his struggle with the dream of an elsewhere that’s more alluring than the here-and-now, The Arriere-pays, and found myself reflected back, luminously, in its pages. Of all that I read this year, I suspect this will be the work that leaves the most lasting impression.
People hold books in a special way – like they hold nothing else. They hold them not like inanimate things but like ones that have gone to sleep.John Berger, Bento’s Sketchbook (via mythologyofblue)