Friday, October 29, 2010

First Person Rural

Thank you to Rick Roche, a reference librarian at Thomas Ford Memorial Library in IL, for the very nice, thoughtful review of Godine's First Person Rural:

"First Person Rural has been in the Thomas Ford Memorial Library book collection for 32 years. I have passed it over in weeding several times, keeping it because it is a nonfiction classic and because it has gone out just enough. Forgotten by most, a few people remember it along with other back-to-the-farm books popular in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing and The Firefox Book and its sequels. These books explained how to build houses and barns, sow crops, harvest, raise livestock, and lead sane earth-friendly lives. By republishing articles that Perrin wrote for Vermont Life, Country Journal, and The New Yorker, First Person Rural added to this literature. Perrin told from experience how to build fences, buy a pickup truck, and make sugar from lower grades of maple syrup. In a lightly self-effacing manner, he often started by revealling all his mistakes and what he had to do to correct them. Then he told how to do it right.

While few of his urban and suburban readers would ever farm, they joyfully read Perrin's accounts. Why? I think he charmed them with his self-confidence. He was sure they would be interested - and they were. He also wrote clearly and personally. Nonfiction writers could learn much by examining his simple style.

It is over thirty or forty years since Perrin wrote these essays and some things have obviously changed about pickup trucks, taking firewood across state lines, the market prices for maple syrup, and the tenor of life in Vermont. I found some of these obvious changes added to my interest in his experiences. First Person Rural is old enough to now be history but still relevant as a handbook for living."

Please look for the upcoming paperback reprint release of First Person Rural in November 2010; the title is now in its third printing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teleportal Book Readings?


"Literary readings are fleeting things. Ten, fifteen, twenty people gather, they hear someone read too-fast or too-softly from a book, and then everyone disperses. In New York there are too many readings and we are always missing something interesting; in other parts of the country, the opportunities to see an author read are few and far between. It takes a great deal of time, money, and resources to arrange for a literary event, and typically they draw an audience numbered in the tens. In order to reach larger audiences (and create a literary record) some bookstores, like San Francisco’s Booksmith, have begun to livestream and archive their readings. Likewise, Google’s “author@Google” series offers some interesting author readings to an internet audience. Still, while it’s nice to have these readings saved from their ephemeral fate, these video readings tend to be rather dull…

Mallory Rice
, the new books editor at NYLON, recently introduced us to Teleportal Readings, a new virtual reading series that is seeking to make an internet-based reading something you actually enjoy sitting through."

What are your thoughts on literary readings and their possible digital evolution?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Woman in Black - A Top Ghost Story

Kate Mosse, writing for The Guardian (UK), has selected Susan Hill's The Woman in Black as one of her top ten ghost stories:

"For my money, the greatest of the contemporary ghost writers. Hill creates believable period characters, she creates a hermetic world that yet speaks of wider superstitions and histories, and creates plots with tension, pace and jeopardy without ever becoming heavy-handed. This is a story of vengeance, of an old curse from an embittered woman, all centred on the brooding Eel Marsh House, gloomy and isolated and cut off from the mainland at high tide. As the tension of premonition and disaster builds and builds, the ghostly screams of an accident long ago will haunt the reader's imagination long after the last page has been turned. Perfect."

Godine is proud to publish the US edition.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Christa Wolf Wins Thomas Mann Literature Prize

Christa Wolf, author of Godine's In the Flesh, and "one of the former East Germany's most famous authors, won the prestigious Thomas Mann Prize for literature honoring her life's work.

The 81-year-old received the prize worth 25,000 euros ($35,090) for her work, 'which investigates the struggles, hopes and mistakes of her time in a critical and self-critical way, with deep moral seriousness and powerful narratives,' the jury said in a statement.

Peter Guelke, an author and musicologist who spoke at the award ceremony, said Wolf was 'an author whose words meant -- and continue to mean -- a lot in both East and West Germany.'

Wolf shot to fame with the publication of 'Der geteilte Himmel' ('Divided Heaven') in 1963 -- a novel which investigates the issues and problems faced by the Germans living under Communist rule on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain."

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Necromorphous a. Feigning death to deter an aggressor. This would explain a lot about the behavior of counter staff in government departments.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Necromorphous appears in the Second.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The US and Literature in Translation

IKE writes:

"The US has never been a hotbed for literature in translation. Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, the organization that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, created a bit of a brouhaha in 2008 when he said, Europe is still the center of the literary world, and he suggested that American writers were too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture. He added: The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining.

There are some small signs that things are beginning to change. Open Letter—the University of Rochester’s publishing house—runs a website called Three Percent that is devoted to books in translation. In May, announced AmazonCrossing as a means of bringing more World Literature to America’s bookshelves. They also just announced that they would underwrite the Best Translated Book Award 2011. [. . .] If we want U.S. publishers to translate foreign works, we need to support their efforts by buying their books. Next time you’re in the mood for something from across the pond, take a look at the offerings from Archipelago Books, Dalkey Archive Press, Other Press, New Directions, David Godine or take a peek at Three Percent to see what they recommend. They all do a good job of making the effort to bring foreign works to our attention."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Interview with Richard Howard

A great interview with Richard Howard, translator of Godine's Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, has been posted on FSG's Work in Progress:

"I met with Richard Howard on a bright October morning in his apartment near Washington Square Park. He welcomed me as he always does, standing on the threshold, one foot in, one foot out, watching me walk down the corridor with a smile on his face. We kissed hello à la française. On that Saturday morning, he wore a striped shirt of subtle shades of blue and elegant black trousers. His round glasses, of which he owns an astonishing collection (same model, in a Pantone-like array of colors) were deep blue, matching the darkest of his shirt’s stripes. His socks, light blue, matched the other shade. The walls in Richard Howard’s home are lined with books, from floor to ceiling, dimming the place with an opaque silence. Behind me, as I sat on the sofa, battered editions of Cioran, Gide, Baudelaire in the original—authors whose works Richard Howard translated or taught."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Superior Person's Tuesday

Mattoid a. Mentally unbalanced with regard solely to a specific subject. "Wayne and Clark are so sensible in every way; but get them talking about Judy Garland . . . "

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Mattoid appears in the Third.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Boston Book Festival - Sat, October 16th

Tomorrow's second annual Boston Book Festival is bound to be bigger and better than ever (and is still FREE). Of course, David R. Godine, Publisher will have a table right on Dartmouth St in Copley Square. Please do stop by to say hello and also browse our titles which will be available for sale, along with fantastic The Lonely Phone Booth stickers.

A truly exciting schedule is planned for the day, including a keynote at Trinity Sanctuary with Joyce Carol Oates. We'll see you there!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Superior Person's Tuesday

Varlet n. Low, menial scoundrel. One of a number of words of medieval origin, all indicative of unsavory status. Presumably the relatively large number of such words in existence is a reflection of the relatively high incidence of unsavoriness during the Middle Ages. Others that spring to mind are lackey (obsequious and servile hanger-on); knave (low-class rogue); and caitiff (base, despicable person). Note that knaves are always scurvy, i.e., thoroughly nasty, as is the appearance of one suffering from scurvy, one of the symptoms of which is scurf, or flaking skin, one of the instances of which is dandruff. Scurvy is a good descriptive for varlets, too, but not for lackeys. Vassals are also lowly creatures, but not as necessarily disreputable as varlets, lackeys, knaves, and caitiffs.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Varlet appears in the Third.

Desert @ Bookslut

from a letter exchange at Bookslut on the Nobel Prize:

“So, Ben, it’s beautiful. The book. The desert roars at the center of it; the desert, itself seems to have a pulpy heartbeat, a scorching cold presence in the text. I could feel the desert in the substance of the book that I was carrying around. I stopped many times to reread a sentence, a punishing sentence — where some element of human brutality or stark nature was displayed, flayed, for me, the reader. [. . .]  the translation of Desert strikes me as spectacular. I could piece the French sentences back together from the English sentences, and I could hear the music of Le Clézio's prose. It made me ache for the North African desert, which I’ve only seen one time, ache for its vacant, open, barren spaces.”