Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day

Though it may be all candies and diamonds these days, we at Godine & Black Sparrow plan on celebrating this Valentine's Day the old-fashioned way, with a good book and some Girl Scout cookies. In that spirit, here are my top five Godine and Black Sparrow V-Day titles:

The Prettiest Love Letters in the World — our modern-day greeting cards are a sad substitute for the candle-lit calligraphic love letters of the past, and this sixteen-year correspondence between the infamous Lucrezia Borgia and typographer Cardinal Bembo prove exactly how thrilling a forbidden Renaissance love affair could be.

Lancelot and the Lord of the Distant Isles — in every romantic there is the seed of a dream of the middle ages; of knights, kings, and magical intrusion, of romance in the purest sense. But those who think they know that old story of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot are sure to be pleasantly surprised by this little-known version of the myth, translated, edited, and adapted by Patricia Terry & Samuel N. Rosenberg.

Jamie is My Heart's Desire — odd would be putting it mildly; this is a love-affair for the blindly impassioned and strong of stomach. We would be amiss to believe that love is just in the virtuous, blushing maiden saved by her horse-ensconced hero: Alfred Chester provides this surrealist novel of cold-blooded love between the undertaker Harry and his perhaps-delusion, the deceased Jamie.

Bear — in this final novel by Mirian Engel, the renowned author stretches both social norms and the imagination with her intimate fable of love between a timid librarian and a kept bear. Margaret Atwood wrote, "Bear is a strange and wonderful book, plausible as kitchens, but shapely as a folktale, and with the same disturbing resonance."

Adultery and Other Choices — we know. It's so often a broken heart with whiskey in place of love and marriage, and we dialecticians can not help but feel sympathy to those suffering on the dark side of love. Andre Dubus, with all his trademark compassion, portrays in this novella "a stunning vision of loss, domination, and redemption."

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