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(11/13/2008) Selected Poems by Derek Walcott. New York. 2007. Farrar Straus Giroux. Edited By Edward Baugh. keywords: Poetry Literature Caribbean St.Lucia Black. 307 pages. Front jacket art by Derek Walcott. 0374260664.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Drawing from every stage of his career, Derek Walcott's Selected Poems brings together famous pieces from his early volumes, including 'A Far Cry from Africa' and 'A City's Death by Fire,' with passages from the celebrated Omeros and selections from his latest major works, which extend his contributions to reenergizing the contemporary long poem. Here we find all of Walcott's essential themes, from grappling with the Caribbean's colonial legacy to his conflicted love of home and of Western literary tradition; from the wisdom-making pain of time and mortality to the strange wonder of love, the natural world, and what it means to be human. We see his lifelong labor at poetic crafts, his broadening of the possibilities of rhyme and meter, stanza forms, language, and metaphor. Edited and with an introduction by the Jamaican poet and critic Edward Baugh, this volume is a perfect representation of Walcott's breadth of work, spanning almost half a century.

 

 

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(11/12/2008) A Town Called Malgudi by R. K. Narayan. New Delhi. 1999. Viking Press/Penguin Books India. Edited by S. Krishnan. keywords: Literature India. 642 pages. Cover illustration by R. K. Laxman Cover design by Apurba Choudhury. 0670889512.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In the last-year of this millennium, R. K. Narayan, the grand old man of Indian literature, turns ninety-three. In a writing career spanning seven decades, he has enthralled and entertained generations of readers with his deftly etched characters, his uniquely stylized language and his wry sense of humour. A storyteller par excellence, Narayan's greatest achievement perhaps lies in creating and peopling the imagined landscapes of a town called Malgudi, located somewhere in south India, which has come alive in story after story in such a way that it has now become a part of modern Indian folklore. This collection brings between two covers some of the most memorable fiction that has emerged from R. K. Narayan's pen. It contains THE MAN-EATER OF MALGUDI, arguably the greatest novel Narayan has ever written, which tells the story of Nataraj, owner of a small printing press, and his house guest Vasu, a taxidermist, who moves into Nataraj's attic with a menagerie of dead animals. There is also TALKATIVE MAN, a novella that starts off with the arrival on the Delhi train of a stranger in a blue suit who takes up residence in the station waiting-room and refuses to budge. Also included here are some of the most popular and striking short stories Narayan has written: from the celebrated `A Horse and Two Goats' and `Salt and Sawdust', the tale of a wife who cannot distinguish between salt and sawdust for seasoning and thus leaves her husband with no option but to cook himself, to gems like `An Astrologer's Day', 'The Shelter' and `Under the Banyan Tree', which is about a man called Nambi who has the uncanny ability to mesmerize his audience with his stories, but eventually lapses into silence. Encapsulating the very best of R. K. Narayan's remarkable output, this is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest living writers in the English language.

R. K. Narayan was born in Madras and educated there and at Maharajah's College in Mysore. His first novel, SWAMI AND FRIENDS and its successor THE BACHELOR OF ARTS are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi. Other `Malgudi novels are: THE DARK ROOM, THE ENGLISH TEACHER, MR SAMPATH, THE FINANCIAL EXPERT, THE MAN-EATER OF MALGUDI, THE VENDOR OF SWEETS, THE PAINTER OF SIGNS, A TIGER FOR MALGUDI, TALKATIVE MAN, and his most recent, THE WORLD OF NAGARAJ. Other novels include WAITING FOR THE MAHATMA and THE GUIDE - which won the Sahitya Akademi Award. In 1980 R. K. Narayan was awarded the A. C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature and was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1989 he was made a member of the Rajya Sabha. As well as six collections of short stories, he has published two travel books, five collections of essays, translations of Indian epics and myths and a memoir MALGUDI LANDSCAPES, a selection from Narayan's best writings, is also available in Penguin Books.

S. Krishnan taught English literature at the Madras Christian College and at Annamalai University. He later spent many years with the United States Information Agency in their educational and cultural programme. He is an editor and freelance writer and lives in Chennai.

 

 

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(11/11/2008) Now & Then: The Poet's Choice Columns 1997-2000 by Robert Hass. Emeryville. 2007. Shoemaker Hoard. keywords: Poetry Literary Criticism Literature. 301 pages. Cover design by Patrick Van Roy. 9781593761462.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   During his tenure as U. S. Poet Laureate, Robert Hass's 'Poet's Choice' column revived the popular nineteenth-century tradition of including poetry in our newspapers. Spanning from 1997 to the start of the millennium, Hass's musings offer a remembrance and reminder of a period in our history, as well as a celebration of the poets--well-known and obscure--whose work transcends time.

 

 

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(11/10/2008) A History Of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances & Inquiries From Herodotus & Thucydides To The Twentieth Century by John Burrow. New York. 2008. Knopf. keywords: History Historiography. 521 pages. Jacket design by Jason Booher. 9780375413117. April 2008.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This unprecedented book by one of Britain's most admired historians describes the intellectual impact that the study and consideration of history has had in the Western world over the past 2,500 years. Treating the practice of history not as an isolated pursuit but as an aspect of human society and an essential part of the culture of Europe and America, John Burrow magnificently brings to life and explains the distinctive qualities found in the work of historians from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks to the present, including Livy, Tacitus, Bede, Froissart, Clarendon, Gibbon, Macaulay, Michelet, Prescott and Parkman. The author sets out not to give us the history of academic discipline but a history of choices: the choice of pasts and the ways they have been demarcated, investigated, presented and even sometimes learned from as they have changed according to political, religious, cultural, and partisan and patriotic circumstances. Burrow aims, as well, to change our perceptions of the crucial turning points in the history of history, allowing the ideas that historians have had about both their own times and their founding civilizations to emerge with unexpected freshness. Burrow argues that looking at the history of history is one of the most interesting ways we have to understand the past. Certainly, this volume stands alone in its ambition, scale and fascination.

JOHN BURROW was Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex before becoming Professor of European Thought at Oxford. His earlier books include EVOLUTION AND SOCIETY: A STUDY IN VICTORIAN SOCIAL THEORY; A LIBERAL DESCENT: VICTORIAN HISTORIANS AND THE ENGLISH PAST, which won the Wolfson Prize for History; Gibbon; and THE CRISIS OF REASON: EUROPEAN THOUGHT, 1848-1914. He is a Fellow of the British Academy; an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford; and in 2008 will be Distinguished Visiting Professor at Williams College in Massachusetts.

 

 

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(11/08/2008) Short Sentimental Journey & Other Stories by Italo Svevo. Berkeley. 1967. University Of California Press. Translated From The Italian by Beryl de Zoete, L. Collison-Morley, & Ben Jonson. keywords: Literature Translated Italy. 319 pages. Jacket design by David Stanfield.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This selection of Italo Svevo's shorter fiction shows the same qualities of wry humour combined with profound psychological insight that are found in CONFESSIONS OF ZENO and his other novels. The ironically named title story shows an elderly man setting out in high spirits on a journey without his wife - and revealing at every turn the need for her watchful eye. Old age with its self-deceptions, a theme which Svevo has made unique by his own, is also the subject of several other stories; thus in 'The Story of the Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl' the hero quietens his conscience by combining each visit from his mistress with an improving lecture, and deluding himself that the affair is good for his health, The remaining stories range from an unkind hoax played on the credulous vanity of an unsuccessful writer to the gay yet pointed fable 'Argo and his Master' in which a man fails to teach his dog Italian, but succeeds in learning dog. language and in recording some unconsciously devastating comments on man by his 'best friend'.

Italo Svevo was born in Trieste in 1861, Educated primarily in Bavaria, he wrote in Italian, but had to work as a young man as a French and German correspondence clerk in a Trieste bank. He was not happy in the business world and at the age of thirty-one he wrote and had published at his own expense A LIFE, It was followed four years later by AS A MAN GROWS OLDER. But both books were such failures that Svevo gave up writing for the next twenty years. During this time he became a good friend of James Joyce who was so impressed with Svevo's work that when CONFESSIONS OF ZENO was published several years later, Joyce was able to use his influence to make Svevo known in Europe. Svevo was just beginning to become recognized in Italy when he was killed in 1928 in a car accident.

 

 

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(11/07/2008) Duino Elegies & The Sonnets To Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke. Boston. 1977. Houghton Mifflin. Translated From The German by A. Poulin, Jr. keywords: Literature Poetry Germany Translated. 205 pages. 0395250153. January 1977.

A great translation of Rilke's DUINO ELEGIES.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   No modern poet has had a more profound and lasting effect upon the literature of this century than Rainer Maria Rilke, who died in Switzerland in 1926 at the age of fifty-one. It was at the castle of Muzot in Valais, in February 1922, that Rilke finished the DUINO ELEGIES and the SONNETS TO ORPHEUS, the two masterworks which crowned his career, and which stand among the very greatest achievements of modern poetry. The ELEGIES were begun in the winter of 1912, at the castle of Duino near Trieste; but it was only ten years later that they reached fruition, along with their 'natural overflow' the SONNETS, in a prodigious outpouring of creative energy described by Rilke as 'the most magnificent dictation I have ever held through and achieved.' Together, the ELEGIES and SONNETS constitute an ecstatic and visionary affirmation of human life whose sublime power has remained unmatched. A. Poulin, Jr. 's translations of these two fundamentally united works are the first to take their interdependence fully into consideration, and the first in English to appear together in one volume. His versions remain faithful to the spirit and letter of Rilke's German, but they speak in a full-fledged contemporary American idiom. The result is a translation of rare authority and beauty, itself living poetry, which has already won singular praise from poets and critics alike. Here is Rilke for our time, in a translation whose immediacy and sympathy with its original will bring this superlative poet to a whole new generation of readers. The translation is accompanied by the German original on the facing page, and by explanatory notes. These translations have received an award from the Translation Center at Columbia University, made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for Arts.

A. Poulin, Jr. , was born in Lisbon, Maine in 1938, and graduated from Francis College, Loyola University, and the University of Iowa. He is the author of IN ADVENT: POEMS and editor of the highly regarded anthology CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY, published by Houghton Mifflin Company. A contributing editor of the AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW, he was from 1972 to 1975 director of the Writers' Forum at the State University College at Brockport, New York, where he is an Associate Professor of English. Mr. Poulin lives in Brockport with his family.

 

 

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(11/06/2008) Selected Poems: Vasko Popa by Vasko Popa. Middlesex. 1969. Penguin Books. Translated From The Serbo-Croatian By Anne Pennington. Introduction By Ted Hughes. Penguin Modern European Poets Series. keywords: Penguin Modern Poetry Yugoslavia Serbia Coatia Translated. D114. 124 pages. The cover shows a drawing of Vasko Popa by Mario Mascarelli, Belgrade.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is the first collection of poems by Vasko Popa, a leading Yugoslav poet, to appear in English translation. His arrangement of poems in cycles, together with his rich poetic imagination and an extreme concentration of language give a special character to Popa's work. His international standing was recently confirmed by the award of the Austrian Lenau prize for literature. Penguin Modern European Poets is designed to present, in verse translations, the work of significant poets of this century for readers unfamiliar with the original languages. The series already includes Yevtushenko, Rilke, Apollinaire, Prevert, Quasimodo, a volume of Greek poets, Miroslav Holub, Zbigniew Herbert, and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Gunter Grass.

 

 

 

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(11/04/2008) A Fix Like This by K. C. Constantine. New York. 1975. Saturday Review/Dutton. keywords: Mystery America Pennsylvania. 185 pages. Jacket design by Roy Kuhlman. 0841503761.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Rocksburg, Pennsylvania’s police chief, Mario Balzic, was in a fix. He and Dom Muscotti had made their rules sixteen years before. Mario would turn a blind eye to the sources of some of Dom’s income and would require none of it for himself or for his force. The conditions were ‘no whores, no dope, no muscle.’ But now, Fat Manny, one of Dom’s runners, is in the Conemaugh General Hospital with multiple stab wounds that would have killed anyone a hundred pounds lighter claims he fired Manny for booking on his own. But Mario does not like the smell of the situation. And Mario’s instincts are working well. Within twenty-four hours a brutally beaten man is in the hospital because Fat Manny’s brother, Tullio, attacked him with a baseball bat wrapped in a towel. Before the night is out, the victim is dead. It is Mario’s mother who finally ties the pieces together, but not in time to save the second victim of the muffled bat. Not until he has caught Tullio does Mario realize exactly what is behind all the brutality. And then serving the cause of justice becomes a very complicated and unpleasant problem. In this latest work, Constantine brings his incredible sensitivity to the western Pennsylvania scene in an intricate and masterful plot.   

 

 

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(11/03/2008) The Blank Page by K. C. Constantine. New York. 1974. Saturday Review Press/Dutton. keywords: Mystery America. 150 pages. Jacket design by Roy Kuhlman. 0841503354.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   It was hot. The temperature on Memorial Day had tied the record set in 1910. In the five days since, the weather report was notable for its sameness. When Miss Cynthia Summer called to say that she hadn't seen one of her student roomers, Police Chief Mario Balzic was glad to stop working on the budget report. But then he saw Janet Pisula's body on the floor of her room. She had been strangled with her brassiere about a week before and lay next to the bed dressed only in her underpants. There was a blank sheet of typing paper lying on her stomach. As the investigation begins the facts seem almost nonexistent. The faculty of the Rocksburg junior college are not much help-particularly when Mario interrupts their end-of-the-year bash. He does learn from Janet's uncle that she had suffered brain damage in a car accident that killed her parents eleven years ago, and after that became painfully shy. Her uncle thought that she had become more outgoing at the junior college, but as Balzic tries to question her friends, he finds that she has made none, that Janet has talked to almost no one. The sheet of paper left on the girl's stomach remains an enigma. Balzic spends late hours at Muscotti's bar with Father Marazo and Mo Valcanas trying to figure out a motive. It isn't until the next day that Balzic gets even a glimmer of why Janet Pisula is dead. THE BLANK PAGE is the third mystery novel American writer K. C. Constantine has written about the Rocksburg, Pennsylvania police chief. Both of his earlier books, THE ROCKSBURG RAILROAD MURDERS and THE MAN WHO LIKED TO LOOK AT HIMSELF, were well received by those who like good crime novels.

 

 

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(11/02/2008) The Man Who Liked To Look At Himself by K. C. Constantine. New York. 1973. Saturday Review Press/Dutton. keywords: Mystery America Pennsylvania. 156 pages. 0841502668.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -
   Police Chief Mario Balzic returns in his second exciting mystery. This time he must not only find the murderer, he must also identify the victim. It all starts when the new commander of the state troopers, Lieutenant Minyon, insists that Mario accompany him on the first day of the hunting season. It's bad enough that Minyon's prize Weimaraner bites Mario, but then she goes and digs up a human thigh bone. Minyon immediately calls for more dogs to search for the rest of the body. Mario, meanwhile, checks out the local citizenry to see if anyone is unaccounted for. There is one missing person, Frank Gallic, the partner of Mario's classmate, Mickey Sammara. Sammara and his sister Tina, Gallic's fiancee, have been running the meat discount house, waiting for almost a year for Gallic to return. When Minyon arrests Mickey, Mario gets Mo Valcanas, a crusty local lawyer who has never liked state troopers, to defend him. Finally, the last two hunting companions to see Gallic alive provide a tiny scrap of evidence that becomes Balzic's key to who murdered Gallic and why. A welcome addition to the mystery scene, the enormously likable Mario Balzic was greeted enthusiastically by critics when he made his first appearance in THE ROCKSBURG RAILROAD MURDERS.

 

 

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(11/01/2008) The Rockburg Railroad Murders by K. C. Constantine. New York. 1972. Saturday Review Press. keywords: Mystery America Pennsylvania. 188 pages. Jacket design by Mike Melver. 0841501807.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This fast-rate mystery introduces an enormously likable chief of police, Mario Balzic, a tough but noncompulsive cop who hates pompous district attorneys, overly inquisitive reporters, and police with loaded guns. Here he is up against a murderer whose highly rationalized madness endangers Balzic's own teen-age daughter as well as several leading citizens. His small-town police department may lack the computers and sophisticated equipment of the big cities, but in this case, Mario has something else going for him - a few people he can count on to help. His elderly mother, who possesses an encyclopedic memory of the town's people and events, provides clues to be found nowhere else. Mo Valcanas, a Greek patriot, has to be sobered up to perform his duties as a lawyer, but does so in exemplary fashion when Mario needs him. And Father Marazzo, who can be found late at night playing cards in the back room of Muscotti's Bar, serves as a valuable sounding board. When a quiet and altogether respectable man is found bludgeoned to death with a Coke bottle on the platform of the Rocksburg railroad station, Balzic has an intuitive but improvable conviction that the man's stepson is responsible. It is not until a second murder occurs that the pieces fall into place, and Balzic is as concerned about this hopelessly insane young man as he is about the possible repercussions of his latest crime-for the victim is no ordinary citizen this time, but a top Mafia bagman who was going about his business for the local numbers racket. This is the first mystery in a new series by K. C. Constantine featuring Chief Balzic, a hokey, untypical detective who works from a bedrock of compassion and shrewd common sense.

 

 

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(10/31/2008) A Life by Italo Svevo. New York. 1963. Knopf. Translated From The Italian By Archibald Colquhoun. keywords: Literature Translated Italy Trieste. 398 pages. Cover art: Milton Glaser.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Originally published in 1892, A LIFE was the first novel by Italo Svevo, who is now ranked by Italian critics as one of their greatest novelists. As admirers of THE CONFESSIONS OF ZENO and AS A MAN GROWS OLDER know, Svevo was a writer outside and ahead of his age, and they will be fascinated to encounter here the first incarnation of the Svevo anti- hero in Alfonso Nitti, a vulnerable young man from the provinces struggling to make his way as a correspondence clerk in a Trieste bank. As was Zeno, Alfonso is like a mouse forever running inside a wheel, forever failing to get out; and it is Svevo's ability to write from within that makes Alfonso's involvement with his employer's daughter, and the ceaseless tug-of-war between his imagined world and that of external realities, so engrossing. Svevo's conception of life as an irony and his artistic use of psychology make him a novelist not only absorbing and disturbing, but one who is - in a very special way contemporary.

 

 

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(10/30/2008) Four Corners Of Night by Craig Holden. New York. 1999. Delacorte Press. keywords: Literature Mystery America. 369 pages. Cover: Craig Holden/Phil Rose. 0385316259.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A twelve-year-old girl is snatched from the street where she lives. And for two cops, the girl's disappearance will hurtle them back through layers of friendship, memory, and loss.

 

 

 

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(10/29/2008) The Last Sanctuary by Craig Holden. New York. 1996. Delacorte Press. keywords: Literature America. 372 pages. Cover design by Susan Koski Zucker. 0385312091. March 1976.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   At once a heart-pounding, chillingly realistic thriller and a dark plunge into the human psyche, THE LAST SANCTUARY is the tale of an innocent man accused of murder. When a killing is falsely blamed on Joe Curtis, a Gulf War veteran living on the edge of society, he hides in a dark underworld of armed militias and terrorist cults, running from the cops, federal agents, and from his own tortured soul. In a cat-and-mouse chase across soaring mountains and vast glaciers of Alaska, the complex relationship between the fugitive and his nemesis, a female Native American ATF agent, is rendered unpredictably and superbly.

 

 

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(10/28/2008) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. New York. 1961. Simon & Schuster. keywords: Literature America. 416 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century. The novel follows Yossarian, a U. S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier, and a number of other characters. Most events occur while the airmen of the fictional Fighting 256th Squadron are based on a fictional version of the island of Pianosa, west of Italy. Many events in the book are repeatedly described from differing points of view, so the reader learns more about the event from each iteration, with the new information often completing a joke, or setup, the punchline of which was told several chapters previous. The narrative often describes these events out of sequence, and are referred to as if the reader already knows about them. Arguably the best novel to come out of World War II, in which Heller strips away the veneer of martial glory to expose its insanity, and gives our language a new paradoxical phrase to describe mankind at the mercy of its own institutions. The title is a reference to a bureaucratic catch, which embodies multiple forms of illogical and immoral reasoning seen throughout the book; and which itself is an absurd joke: namely, that bureaucratic nonsense has gotten to such a high level that even the catches are codified with numbers. A magazine excerpt from the novel was originally published as Catch-18, but Heller's agent, Candida Donadio, requested that it change the title of the novel so it would not be confused with another recently published World War II novel, Leon Uris's Mila 18. The number 18 has special meaning in Judaism and was relevant to early drafts of the novel which had a somewhat greater Jewish emphasis. The title Catch-11 was suggested, with the duplicated 1 paralleling the repetition found in a number of character exchanges in the novel, but due to the release of the 1960 movie Ocean's Eleven this was also rejected. Catch-17 was also rejected, so as not to be confused with the World War II film Stalag 17, as well as Catch-14, apparently because the publisher did not feel that 14 was a 'funny number'. Eventually the title came to be CATCH-22, which, like 11, has a duplicated digit, with the 2 also referring to a number of d?j? vu-like events common in the novel. Among other things, CATCH-22 is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning. Resulting from its specific use in the book, the phrase 'Catch-22' is common idiomatic usage meaning 'a no-win situation' or 'a double bind' of any type. Within the book, 'Catch-22' is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular logic that, for example, prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions. In Heller's own words: 'There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. '. 'That's some catch, that Catch-22,' Yossarian observed. 'It's the best there is,' Doc Daneeka agreed. ' Much of Heller's prose in CATCH-22 is circular and repetitive, exemplifying in its form the structure of a Catch-22. Heller revels in paradox, for example: The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him, and The case against Clevinger was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with. This atmosphere of apparent logical irrationality pervades the whole book. Other forms of Catch-22 are invoked throughout the novel to justify various bureaucratic actions. At one point, victims of harassment by military police quote the MPs as having explained one of Catch-22's provisions so: Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating. An old woman explains: Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing. This nightmare of a bureaucracy crushing the individual with absurdity is similar to the world of Kafka's 'Trial', and Orwell's '1984', the concept of 'doublethink' having definite echoes in Heller's work. Yossarian comes to realize that Catch-22 does not actually exist, but because the powers that be claim it does, and the world believes it does, it nevertheless has potent effects. Indeed, because it does not exist there is no way it can be repealed, undone, overthrown, or denounced. The combination of brute force with specious legalistic justification is one of the book's primary motifs. The motif of bureaucratic absurdity is further explored in 1994's CLOSING TIME, Heller's sequel to CATCH-22. This darker, slower-paced, apocalyptic novel explores the pre- and post-war lives of some of the major characters in CATCH-22, with particular emphasis on the relationship between Yossarian and tailgunner Sammy Singer.

 

 

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(10/27/2008) Spytrap by William Crisp. New York. 1983. Pantheon Books. keywords: Mystery America Espionage. 192 pages. Jacket illustration by Vivienne Flesher. 0394529715. March 1983.

An imaginative spy thriller.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   For one young intelligence officer stationed in Vienna, the assumptions and realities of life-both professional and private-seem utterly clear. Confident and cosmopolitan, he is rapidly advancing in his country's service. Combining an ambitious self-assurance with a detached thoroughness, he is, seemingly, well prepared for his latest and most dangerous assignment: the compromising of a well-placed enemy agent. But, as he proceeds with his carefully conceived plan, he discovers that the challenge before him is far more complex and hazardous than he had ever imagined. The jealous head of embassy security is determined to trip him up; his prey, it becomes clear, is far too cunning to be taken lightly; and, finally, a Bulgarian ambassador's beautiful daughter unleashes in him a totally unexpected passion. When all these forces collide, events accelerate beyond his control as he forgets the most fundamental credo of his profession-that, sometimes, things are not quite what they seem. Writing with skill and a winning intelligence, William Crisp plunges his all-too-human spy into a deadly world of superpower intrigue, a perilous arena where the crucial jockeying for power and profit can extend from the posh boardrooms of multinationals down to the dark and forgotten side streets of cosmopolitan Vienna. In the end, SPYTRAP is a thoroughly entertaining, and surprisingly moving, story of a dedicated man suddenly engulfed in the most dangerous currents of international espionage, and swept along toward a trap that few will see coming.

William Crisp, a native of Suffolk, Virginia, worked in Vienna as the East European specialist for business International. SPYTRAP is his first novel.

 

 

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(10/26/2008) Selected Poems by Fernando Pessoa. Middlesex. 1974. Penguin Books. Translated From The Portuguese By Jonathan Griffin. keywords: Poetry Translated Portugal Literature. 128 pages. Cover design by Sylvia Clench. 0140421610.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This volumes in a sense the work of four poets, for Fernando Pessoa adopted in his writing four separate personas. Though he led an uneventful life, his poetry reveals a mind shaken by intensive inner suffering. Alberto Caeiro, Alvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis helped to set him free by hiving off three great swarms of thought and feeling': each a separate poet, they convey a sense of ambivalence and consolidate a striving for completeness. Dramatic, lyrical, Christian, pagan, old and modern, Pessoa's poets and poetry all contribute to the 'mysterious importance of existence'.

 

 

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(10/25/2008) Ark Of Bones & Other Stories by Henry Dumas. Carbondale. 1970. Southern Illinois University Press. Edited By Hale Chatfield & Eugene Redmond. keywords: Literature America Black. 119 pages. 0809304422.

As moving a piece of fiction as you will find anywhere that had me imagining not only the numerous floods of the Mississippi over the years, but the more recent devastation in New Orleans, and the resulting human pain and loss.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Blackness and youth are the preoccupations of these moving stories, and Henry Dumas approaches both themes with sensitivity and skill. Besides being a man and being a writer, Henry Dumas had two chief preoccupations: the mythos of black Americans and the mysteries of boyhood. This compelling collection of nine stories by Dumas, published and unpublished at the time of his death, combines both concerns, and the arrangement of the stories demonstrates simultaneously the growth of black consciousness in America and the ever-increasing sophistication of youth. The author operates from a recognition that the white proprietors of the North American continent cynically, inexorably strove to justify the enslavement of the black people by rupturing their families, dispersing their tribes, superseding their religions, and, at last, repudiating their humanity. Hence, to Dumas two of the great questions of our time are what does it mean to be black and in what manner and in what degree does American 'blackness' derive from African precedents? To seek an answer, Dumas recurred to his southern childhood and gathered up with care and affection the tales, the songs, the sayings, the bits of magic he felt, as a black man, to be specifically his - to contain hints and tracings of a greener place, a happier time. It is more than nostalgia, more than reminiscence that motivates Dumas in these stories: it is a search for a means of articulating an unacknowledged identity. It is characteristic of our age that poor, formerly rural families have moved in great numbers into the cities. The city makes the need for identity inevitably more urgent. In the last stories in this collection, Dumas seems to have made the city a symbol for the age itself--its tempo, its indifference, its violence. Men who must reach maturity in all that heat and pressure, Dumas seems to suggest, come out diamonds - or don't come out at all.

Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, on July 29, 1934, and was killed in Harlem on May 23, 1968. He studied at the City College of New York and at Rutgers University and spent three years in the U. S. Air Force. At the time of his death he was working as a free-lance writer and as a member of the teaching staff of the Experiment in Higher Education at Southern Illinois University in East St. Louis. Dumas was active in the area of 'little magazine' writing and publishing, and he was a member of the editorial staff of the Hiram Poetry Review. He leaves behind a wife and two sons. This volume, ARK OF BONES AND OTHER STORIES, and a companion volume, POETRY FOR MY PEOPLE, also published by the Southern Illinois University Press, comprise most of the finished work, published and unpublished, Mr. Dumas had accomplished at the time of his death.

Hale Chatfield, coeditor of this volume, is a member of the English faculty at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, and founder and editor of the Hiram Poetry Review. He has published two volumes of his own poetry, THE YOUNG COUNTRY AND OTHER POEMS and TEETH ; Chatfield received a B. A. degree from Wesleyan University in 1957 and an M. A. degree from Rutgers University in 1963. In July 1968 he was named chairman of the Poetry Advisory Panel to the Ohio Arts Council.

Eugene Redmond, the other coeditor of this volume, is currently writer-in-residence at Oberlin College. He has won several prizes for poetry. He holds the B. A. degree in English Literature from Southern Illinois University and the M. A. degree from Washington University. Many of Redmond's feature and news stories have been used by newspapers and radio stations across the country. He has read his poetry on television and on college campuses, and he appears regularly as a reader and actor with Southern Illinois University's Performing Arts Training Center, where he is Senior Consultant to director Katherine Dunham. This year October House will publish Redmond's first book-length collection of poems, THE EYE IN THE CEILING.

 

 

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(10/24/2008) The River Sorrow by Craig Holden. New York. 1994. Delacorte Press. keywords: Literature America Mystery. 387 pages. Cover photograph by S. Sakakibara. 0385312075.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In one of the most unique and powerfully realized debut novels of the decade, Craig Holden creates a page-turning drama that is both emotionally shattering and harrowingly plausible. When a fatally burned victim is brought into the Morgantown General Hospital emergency room, a young doctor's life is changed irrevocably. For Dr. Adrian Lancaster, the arrival of 'John Doe' is only the first of a bizarre and bloody series of events that will force him to relive his violent past and put him on the run. On the road and underground, accused and accuser, Lancaster's only hope for survival lies in facing the terrifying truth.

 

 

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(10/23/2008) My Dark Places by James Ellroy. New York. 1996. Knopf. keywords: Mystery Autobiography Crime. 355 pages. Cover: Chip Kidd. 0679441859.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   James Ellroy investigates the unsolved murder of his own mother in Los Angeles 36 years earlier. Compelling as always Mr. Ellroy. In 1958 Jean Ellroy was murdered, her body dumped on a roadway in a seedy L. A. suburb. Her killer was never found, and the police dismissed her as a casualty of a cheap Saturday night. James Ellroy was ten when his mother died, and he spent the next thirty-six years running from her ghost and attempting to exorcize it through crime fiction. In 1994, Ellroy quit running. He went back to L. A. , to find out the truth about his mother - and himself. In MY DARK PLACES, our most uncompromising crime writer - author of AMERICAN TABLOID and WHITE JAZZ - tells what happened when he teamed up with a brilliant homicide cop to investigate a murder that everyone else had forgotten - and to reclaim the mother he had despised, desired, but never dared to love. What ensues is an epic of loss, fixation, and redemption, a memoir that is also a history of the American way of violence.

 

 

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(10/22/2008) Moog-Moog, Space Barber by Mark Teague. New York. 1990. Scholastic. Illustrated by Mark Teague. keywords: Children's. unpaginated. Cover art by Mark Teague. 0590433326. November 1990.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Elmo Freem has just gotten the worst haircut of his life. Not even a baseball cap can hide the mess on his head,and, worst of all, school starts tomorrow! Help arrives in the form of two space monsters, who suggest a visit to Moog-Moog, an amazing intergalactic barber. Elmo and his cat, Leon, travel through the galaxy for their appointment with the Great Moog-Moog, whose own changes color with every move he makes. But will Moog-Moog's scissors, clippers, X-ray blowgun, and outer space magic be enough to fix Elmo's hair disaster in time? Read this wacky romp to find out!

 

 

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(10/20/2008) Selected Poems by C. P. Cavafy. New York. 2008. Penguin Books. Translated From The Greek & With An Introduction and Notes By Avi Sharon. keywords: Literature Poetry Greece Translated. 220 pages. Cover - 'Man's Head' by Fred Holland Day. 9781041185613.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The spellbinding verse of one of the most distinctive poetic voices of the twentieth century. Although the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy died in obscurity, today he is regarded as one of the most original of twentieth-century poets. Whether conjuring moments from Alexandria's ancient past, lyrically evoking homosexual trysts, or painting exquisite miniatures of everyday life, his poems exude a striking inventiveness and staggering beauty, qualities that are preserved here in Avi Sharon's sensitive translations. Constantine Cavafy was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents. He worked as a journalist and civil servant and only late in life began to find a receptive readership for his poems. A volume of his collected poetry was not published until after his death.

Avi Sharon has taught classics and the humanities in New York, Boston, and Athens and has published translations in such journals as Partisan Review, Arion, and Dialogos.

 

 

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(10/19/2008) Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes. London. 1984. Jonathan Cape. keywords: Literature England Flaubert. 190 pages. Cover art - David Hockney, 'Felicite Sleeping with Parrot'. 0224022229.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Julian Barnes's first novel, METROLAND, won 1981 Somerset Maugham Award. His second novel, BEFORE SHE MET ME, was chosen by Philip Larkin as one of his Books of the Year. His third book, FLAUBERT'S PARROT, is his most extraordinary so far. It deals with Flaubert, parrots, bears and railways; with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad; with France and England, life and art, sex and death, George Sand and Louise Colet, aesthetics and redcurrant jam; and with its enigmatic narrator, a retired English doctor, whose life and secrets are slowly revealed by turns moving and entertaining, witty and scholarly, FLAUBERT'S PARROT is a work of technical audacity, a compelling weave of fiction and imaginatively ordered fact. The result is a tour de force of seductive originality. FROM THE AMERICAN EDITION - FLAUBERT'S PARROT - a novel in disguise - is part literary criticism, part ironic fantasy, part biographical essay, part Pure Story, part scholarly sleuthing, part imaginary travelogue, and part Flaubert! It is a novel that constantly surprises. A novel whose inspiration, whose animating spirit, whose very raison d'etre is Flaubert himself - the man, the writer, his works of fiction and his entire aesthetic legacy, his passions, his prejudices, and, of course, his parrot: the stuffed bird he borrowed from a local museum and kept on his desk as he was writing 'A Simple Heart,' in which a parrot looms symbolically large. A novel peppered with clues to the truth about its enigmatic narrator: Geoffrey Braithwaite, a retired English physician and obsessive amateur Flaubert scholar, an intensely private man whose own moving story emerges through his highly idiosyncratic ordering and presentation of certain things he knows about Flaubert. A novel whose true protagonists - invisible but omnipresent -- are Life and Art, in constant collision, strange. bedfellows on every page: as Flaubert's life is revealed to be mirrored in his art, as Braithwaite's art borrows from Flaubert's, as Flaubert's art encroaches on Braithwaite's life, and so on in ever more remarkable permutations. A novel that astonishes and entertains as it playfully dons a variety of masks, becoming for a while a dictionary, an interrogation, a story, a bestiary, an essay, a chronology, an exam. A novel that speaks to us about matters of love and infidelity, language and hubris, pedantry and progress, about the difficulty of ever really knowing another person, about the possible importance of books that remain forever unwritten, about the limits to our knowledge and understanding of the past, and about the extent to which all of us inherit our own identity. A dazzling act of literary legerdemain. A brilliantly original and imaginative work of fiction.

 

 

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(10/18/2008) The Penguin Book Of Victorian Women In Crime: Forgotten Cops & Private Eyes From The Time Of Sherlock Holmes edited by Michael Sims. New York. 2010. Penguin Books. Edited by Michael Sims. keywords: Mystery Victorian Women Anthology. 321 pages. Cover illustration - Jaya Micelli. 9780143106210.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A wonderfully wicked new anthology from the editor of The PENGUIN BOOK OF GASLIGHT CRIME. It is the Victorian era and society is both entranced by and fearful of that suspicious character known as the New Woman. She rides those new- fangled bicycles and doesn't like to be told what to do. And, in crime fiction, such female detectives as Loveday Brooke, Dorcas Dene, and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard are out there shadowing suspects, crawling through secret passages, fingerprinting corpses, and sometimes committing a lesser crime in order to solve a murder. In THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VICTORIAN WOMEN IN CRIME, Michael Sims has brought together all of the era's great crime-fighting females- plus a few choice crooks, including Four Square Jane and the Sorceress of the Strand.

 

 

 

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(10/16/2008) White Jazz by James Ellroy. New York. 1992. Knopf. keywords: Mystery Los Angeles Cops. 349 pages. Front-of-jacket photograph by Robert Morrow. Jacket design by Chip Kidd. 0679414495. September 1992.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Los Angeles, 1958. Killings, beatings, bribes, shakedowns--it's standard procedure for Lieutenant Dave Klein, LAPD. He's a slumlord, a bagman, an enforcer--a power in his own small corner of hell. Then the Feds announce a full-out investigation into local police corruption, and everything goes haywire. Klein's been hung out as bait, 'a bad cop to draw the heat,' and the heat's coming from all sides: from local politicians, from LAPD brass, from racketeers and drug kingpins--all of them hell-bent on keeping their own secrets hidden. For Klein, 'forty-two and going on dead,' it's dues time. Klein tells his own story--his voice clipped, sharp, often as brutal as the events he's describing--taking us with him on a journey through a world shaped by monstrous ambition, avarice, and perversion. It's a world he created, but now he'll do anything to get out of it alive. Fierce, riveting, and honed to a razor edge, WHITE JAZZ is crime fiction at its most shattering.

 

 

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(10/15/2008) The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy. New York. 1988. Mysterious Press. keywords: Mystery Los Angeles Pulp. 406 pages. Jacket illustration by Stephen Peringer. 0892962836. September 1988.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Los Angeles, 1950. Red crosscurrents and a string of brutal killings. Three men caught up in a massive web of ambition, perversion and deceit. The characters: Danny Upshaw--a sheriff's deputy stuck with a bunch of snuffs that nobody cares about. Mal Considine--DA's office brass, climbing on the Red scare bandwagon to advance his own career. Buzz Meeks-- bagman, ex-goon and pimp for Howard Hughes, a man who fights communism for the money. All three have purchased tickets to a nightmare worse than their darkest dreams.

 

 

 

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(10/14/2008) L. A. Confidential by James Ellroy. New York. 1990. Mysterious Press. keywords: Mystery Los Angeles Pulp. 496 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   L. A. CONFIDENTIAL is an epic crime novel that stands as a steel-edged time capsule--Los Angeles in the 1950s, a remarkable era defined in dark shadings. A horrific mass murder invades the lives of victims and victimizers on both sides of the law--three cops treading quicksand in the middle. Detective Ed Exley wants glory. Haunted by his father's success as a policeman, he will pay any price, break any law to eclipse him. Detective Bud White watched his own father murder his mother--he is now bent on random vengeance, a time bomb with a badge. Celebrity cop Jack Vincennes shakes down movie stars for a scandal magazine. An old secret possesses him--he'll do anything to keep it buried. Three cops in a spiral, a nightmare that tests loyalty and courage, a nightmare that offers no mercy, allows for no survivors. Here is James Ellroy's masterpiece. darkness to haunt you in shades of red, gray, and black.

 

 

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(10/13/2008) The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy. New York. 1987. Mysterious Press. keywords: Mystery Los Angeles. 325 pages. 0892962062. September 1987.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard. Both are obsessed with the Dahlia-driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches-into a region of total madness. This fictionalized version of Hollywood's most notorious murder case takes readers on a hellish journey through the movie capital and into a region of total madness.

 

 

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(10/11/2008) The Life & Opinions Of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. New York. 1985. Penguin Books. Edited By Graham Petrie With An Introduction By Christopher Ricks. keywords: Literature England Penguin 18th Century. 659 pages. The cover shows Caricature of Laurence Sterne and Death by Thomas Patch, by kind permission of Jesus College, Cambridge. 0140430199.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   'Nothing odd will do long,' said Dr Johnson; 'Tristram Shandy did not last.' But Tristram Shandy has lasted, to be cherished in the century of Joyce and Pirandello perhaps even more than in the eighteenth. No one description will fit this strange, eccentric, endlessly complex masterpiece. It is a novel about writing a novel in which the invented world is as much infused with wit and genius as the theme of inventing it. It is a joyful celebration of the infinite possibilities of the art of fiction, and a wry demonstration of its limitations. It is also, in Christopher Ricks's words, 'the greatest shaggy dog story in the language.' 

LAURENCE STERNE was born in 1713 at Clonmel in Ireland, the son of an army ensign. From 1723 until his father's death in 1731 he was sent to school in Halifax, Yorkshire, and in 1733 he entered as a sizar at Jesus College, Cambridge, receiving his BA in 1737. With the help of his uncle Jacques, precentor and canon of York, Sterne earned his livings. He took holy orders and in 1738 obtained the living of Sutton-in-the-Forest, near York, and a prebend in the cathedral. In 1741 he married and through his wife's influence received the neighbouring benefice of Stillington. Their marriage was generally unhappy. Sterne's literary career began late; his first publication, a pamphlet called A POLITICAL ROMANCE, appeared in 1759. In the same year he began his masterpiece THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY. The first two volumes made him a celebrity and he visited London where he was lavishly feted. Between 1761 and 5767 he brought out a further seven volumes. Sterne was dogged by ill-health for much of his life and during his latter years he alternated bouts of being lionized in London with recuperative continental travels. A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, published in 1768, was created from a seven-month trip through France and Italy. Laurence Sterne died in London in 1768.

GRAHAM PETRIE studied at St Andrews University and Brasenose College, Oxford. He teaches English and Film Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. He has published several books of film criticism, on Francois Truffaut, Hungarian cinema and American silent cinema, as well as a novel SEAHORSE and numerous short stories.

 

 

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(10/09/2008) This Boy's Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff. New York. 1989. Atlantic Monthly Press. keywords: Literature America Autobiography. 288 pages. Jacket illustration by Jose Ortega. 0871132486.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Tobias Wolff has been praised as 'a captivating, brilliant writer-one of the best we've got' and 'a master storyteller, a natural raconteur' The winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, he has now written his first work of nonfiction, a memoir that is sure to become a classic. THIS BOY'S LIFE is Wolff's re-creation of youth, so true in its every particular that whatever our own experience, we cannot help but recognize ourselves in this wily, peculiar, and ultimately winning boy. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby - or 'Jack,' as he preferred to call himself, after Jack London - and his mother are constantly on the move. Between themselves they develop an almost telepathic trust that sees them through their wanderings from Florida to Utah and finally to a small town in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, where remarriage brings to an end the sequence of new schools and jobs and friends and suitors. Here his fresh start becomes a fight for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a nearly Dickensian stepfather, and the boy begins the difficult, comical, dangerous process of growing up. Tobias Wolff brings to life the stuff of boyhood - paper routes and whiskey, scouting and fist-fights, friendship and betrayal--and captures as well America in the fifties, the time of the Mickey Mouse Club, the 'Lawrence Welk Show,' and the first Thunderbirds off the assembly lines. But his main achievement is the portrayal of the boy as he was: by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, recognizing no obstacle to miraculous change but the incredulity of others. His various schemes - running away to Alaska, forging checks and stealing cars - lead eventually to an act of outrageous self-invention that releases him to a new world of possibility. With great humor, force, and feeling, Tobias Wolff has given us an indelible picture of childhood.

 

 

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