Making It

Making It Author Norman Podhoretz
ISBN-10 9781681370811
Year 2017-04-11
Pages 280
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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A controversial memoir about American intellectual life and academia and the relationship between politics, money, and education. Norman Podhoretz, the son of Jewish immigrants, grew up in the tough Brownsville section of Brooklyn, attended Columbia University on a scholarship, and later received degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Cambridge University. Making It is his blistering account of fighting his way out of Brooklyn and into, then out of, the Ivory Tower, of his military service, and finally of his induction into the ranks of what he calls “the Family,” the small group of left-wing and largely Jewish critics and writers whose opinions came to dominate and increasingly politicize the American literary scene in the fifties and sixties. It is a Balzacian story of raw talent and relentless and ruthless ambition. It is also a closely observed and in many ways still-pertinent analysis of the tense and more than a little duplicitous relationship that exists in America between intellect and imagination, money, social status, and power. The Family responded to the book with outrage, and Podhoretz soon turned no less angrily on them, becoming the fierce neoconservative he remains to this day. Fifty years after its first publication, this controversial and legendary book remains a riveting autobiography, a book that can be painfully revealing about the complex convictions and needs of a complicated man as well as a fascinating and essential document of mid-century American cultural life.

Notes on the Cinematograph

Notes on the Cinematograph Author Robert Bresson
ISBN-10 9781681370255
Year 2016-11-15
Pages 112
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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The French film director Robert Bresson was one of the great artists of the twentieth century and among the most radical, original, and radiant stylists of any time. He worked with nonprofessional actors—models, as he called them—and deployed a starkly limited but hypnotic array of sounds and images to produce such classic works as A Man Escaped, Pickpocket, Diary of a Country Priest, and Lancelot of the Lake. From the beginning to the end of his career, Bresson dedicated himself to making movies in which nothing is superfluous and everything is always at stake. Notes on the Cinematograph distills the essence of Bresson’s theory and practice as a filmmaker and artist. He discusses the fundamental differences between theater and film; parses the deep grammar of silence, music, and noise; and affirms the mysterious power of the image to unlock the human soul. This book, indispensable for admirers of this great director and for ­students of the cinema, will also prove an inspiration, much like Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, for anyone who responds to the claims of the imagination at its most searching and rigorous.

Poets in a Landscape

Poets in a Landscape Author Gilbert Highet
ISBN-10 1590173384
Year 2010
Pages 276
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Gilbert Highet was a legendary teacher at Columbia University, admired both for his scholarship and his charisma as a lecturer. Poets in a Landscape is his delightful exploration of Latin literature and the Italian landscape. As Highet writes in his introduction, “I have endeavored to recall some of the greatest Roman poets by describing the places were they lived, recreating their characters and evoking the essence of their work.” The poets are Catullus, Vergil, Propertius, Horace, Tibullus, Ovid, and Juvenal. Highet brings them life, setting them in their historical context and locating them in the physical world, while also offering crisp modern translations of the poets’ finest work. The result is an entirely sui generis amalgam of travel writing, biography, criticism, and pure poetry—altogether an unexcelled introduction to the world of the classics.

The Invisibility Cloak

The Invisibility Cloak Author Ge Fei
ISBN-10 9781681370217
Year 2016-10-11
Pages 120
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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An NYRB Classics Original The hero of The Invisibility Cloak lives in contemporary Beijing—where everyone is doing their best to hustle up the ladder of success while shouldering an ever-growing burden of consumer goods—and he’s a loser. Well into his forties, he’s divorced (and still doting on his ex), childless, and living with his sister (her husband wants him out) in an apartment at the edge of town with a crack in the wall the wind from the north blows through while he gets by, just, by making customized old-fashioned amplifiers for the occasional rich audio-obsessive. He has contempt for his clients and contempt for himself. The only things he really likes are Beethoven and vintage speakers. Then an old friend tips him off about a special job—a little risky but just don’t ask too many questions—and can it really be that this hopeless loser wins? This provocative and seriously funny exercise in the social fantastic by the brilliantly original Ge Fei, one of China’s finest living writers, is among the most original works of fiction to come out of China in recent years. It is sure to appeal to readers of Haruki Murakami and other fabulists of contemporary irreality.

Zama

Zama Author Antonio Di Benedetto
ISBN-10 9781590177358
Year 2016-08-23
Pages 224
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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An NYRB Classics Original First published in 1956, Zama is now universally recognized as one of the masterpieces of modern Argentine and Spanish-language literature. Written in a style that is both precise and sumptuous, weirdly archaic and powerfully novel, Zama takes place in the last decade of the eighteenth century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. There, eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, he does as little as he possibly can while plotting his eventual transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed and made good. Don Diego’s slow, nightmarish slide into the abyss is not just a tale of one man’s perdition but an exploration of existential, and very American, loneliness. Zama, with its stark dreamlike prose and spare imagery, is at once dense and unforeseen, terse and fateful, marked throughout by a haunting movement between sentences, paragraphs, and sections, so that every word seems to emerge from an ocean of things left unsaid. The philosophical depths of this great book spring directly from its dazzling prose.

Warlock

Warlock Author Oakley Hall
ISBN-10 9781590178232
Year 2014-08-05
Pages 488
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Oakley Hall's legendary Warlock revisits and reworks the traditional conventions of the Western to present a raw, funny, hypnotic, ultimately devastating picture of American unreality. First published in the 1950s, at the height of the McCarthy era, Warlock is not only one of the most original and entertaining of modern American novels but a lasting contribution to American fiction. "Tombstone, Arizona, during the 1880's is, in ways, our national Camelot: a never-never land where American virtues are embodied in the Earps, and the opposite evils in the Clanton gang; where the confrontation at the OK Corral takes on some of the dry purity of the Arthurian joust. Oakley Hall, in his very fine novel Warlock has restored to the myth of Tombstone its full, mortal, blooded humanity. Wyatt Earp is transmogrified into a gunfighter named Blaisdell who . . . is summoned to the embattled town of Warlock by a committee of nervous citizens expressly to be a hero, but finds that he cannot, at last, live up to his image; that there is a flaw not only in him, but also, we feel, in the entire set of assumptions that have allowed the image to exist. . . . Before the agonized epic of Warlock is over with—the rebellion of the proto-Wobblies working in the mines, the struggling for political control of the area, the gunfighting, mob violence, the personal crises of those in power—the collective awareness that is Warlock must face its own inescapable Horror: that what is called society, with its law and order, is as frail, as precarious, as flesh and can be snuffed out and assimilated back into the desert as easily as a corpse can. It is the deep sensitivity to abysses that makes Warlock one of our best American novels. For we are a nation that can, many of us, toss with all aplomb our candy wrapper into the Grand Canyon itself, snap a color shot and drive away; and we need voices like Oakley Hall's to remind us how far that piece of paper, still fluttering brightly behind us, has to fall." —Thomas Pynchon

Really The Blues

Really The Blues Author Mezz Mezzrow
ISBN-10 9780285640900
Year 2009-04-07
Pages 412
Language en
Publisher Souvenir Press
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Mezz Mezzrow was a white Jewish boy who learnt how to play saxophone while he was in reformatory school. He was one of the first white musicians to dedicate himself to jazz (as a saxophonist, a manager for Louis Armstrong, owning his own record label and he was also one of jazz's most famous drug dealers) and crossed the racial divide in 1920's America to make himself part of black culture. In Really the Blues he describes the underworld of 1920's and 30's America, from New York to Chicago and New Orleans. Mezzrow captures the atmosphere of the brothels, bars and honky-tonks, as well as the oversized personalities of those musicians he played with; from Bessie Smith and Sidney Bechet to Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. Written in the slang of the jazz underground, Mezzrow introduced the world to words such as 'hipster", "groovy" and "high". It is one of the great music autobiographies (and its influence has been felt for decades, Tom Waits still credits it as a major influence on his own life and work). Mezz Mezzrow was the literary pioneer for the Beats, hippies and every writer since who has written about the music that has moved their generation to rebellion or joy.

The Door

The Door Author Magda Szabo
ISBN-10 9781590178010
Year 2015-01-27
Pages 288
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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One of The New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2015" An NYRB Classics Original The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary’s Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda’s housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda’s household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love—at least until Magda’s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation. Len Rix’s prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer.

My Father and Myself

My Father and Myself Author J. R. Ackerley
ISBN-10 9781590175262
Year 2012-10-31
Pages 280
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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When his father died, J. R. Ackerley was shocked to discover that he had led a secret life. And after Ackerley himself died, he left a surprise of his own—this coolly considered, unsparingly honest account of his quest to find out the whole truth about the man who had always eluded him in life. But Ackerley’s pursuit of his father is also an exploration of the self, making My Father and Myself a pioneering record, at once sexually explicit and emotionally charged, of life as a gay man. This witty, sorrowful, and beautiful book is a classic of twentieth-century memoir.

The Glory of the Empire

The Glory of the Empire Author Jean D'Ormesson
ISBN-10 9781590179666
Year 2016-05-03
Pages 432
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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The Glory of the Empire is the rich and absorbing history of an extraordinary empire, at one point a rival to Rome. Rulers such as Basil the Great of Onessa, who founded the Empire but whose treacherous ways made him a byword for infamy, and the romantic Alexis the bastard, who dallied in the fleshpots of Egypt, studied Taoism and Buddhism, returned to save the Empire from civil war, and then retired “to learn to die,” come alive in The Glory of the Empire, along with generals, politicians, prophets, scoundrels, and others. Jean d’Ormesson also goes into the daily life of the Empire, its popular customs, and its contribution to the arts and the sciences, which, as he demonstrates, exercised an influence on the world as a whole, from the East to the West, and whose repercussions are still felt today. But it is all fiction, a thought experiment worthy of Jorge Luis Borges, and in the end The Glory of the Empire emerges as a great shimmering mirage, filling us with wonder even as it makes us wonder at the fugitive nature of power and the meaning of history itself.

Letters Summer 1926

Letters  Summer 1926 Author Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
ISBN-10 0940322714
Year 2001
Pages 378
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Edited by Yevgeny Pasternak, Yelena Pasternak, and Konstantin M. Azadovsky The summer of 1926 was a time of trouble and uncertainty for each of the three poets whose correspondence is collected in this moving volume. Marina Tsvetayeva was living in exile in France and struggling to get by. Boris Pasternak was in Moscow, trying to come to terms with the new Bolshevik regime. Rainer Maria Rilke, in Switzerland, was dying. Though hardly known to each other, they began to correspond, exchanging a series of searching letters in which every aspect of life and work is discussed with extraordinary intensity and passion. Letters: Summer 1926 takes the reader into the hearts and minds of three of the twentieth century's greatest poets at a moment of maximum emotional and creative pressure.

Speedboat

Speedboat Author Renata Adler
ISBN-10 9781590176337
Year 2013-03-19
Pages 192
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. When Speedboat burst on the scene in the late ’70s it was like nothing readers had encountered before. It seemed to disregard the rules of the novel, but it wore its unconventionality with ease. Reading it was a pleasure of a new, unexpected kind. Above all, there was its voice, ambivalent, curious, wry, the voice of Jen Fain, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America. Party guests, taxi drivers, brownstone dwellers, professors, journalists, presidents, and debutantes fill these dispatches from the world as Jen finds it. A touchstone over the years for writers as different as David Foster Wallace and Elizabeth Hardwick, Speedboat returns to enthrall a new generation of readers.

The Land Breakers

The Land Breakers Author John Ehle
ISBN-10 9781590177945
Year 2014-11-25
Pages 368
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Set deep in the Appalachian wilderness between the years of 1779 and 1784, The Land Breakers is a saga like the Norse sagas or the book of Genesis, a story of first and last things, of the violence of birth and death, of inescapable sacrifice and the faltering emergence of community. Mooney and Imy Wright, twenty-one, former indentured servants, long habituated to backbreaking work but not long married, are traveling west. They arrive in a no-account settlement in North Carolina and, on impulse, part with all their savings to acquire a patch of land high in the mountains. With a little livestock and a handful of crude tools, they enter the mountain world—one of transcendent beauty and cruel necessity—and begin to make a world of their own. Mooney and Imy are the first to confront an unsettled country that is sometimes paradise and sometimes hell. They will soon be followed by others. John Ehle is a master of the American language. He has an ear for dialogue and an eye for nature and a grasp of character that have established The Land Breakers as one of the great fictional reckonings with the making of America.

A Meaningful Life

A Meaningful Life Author Lawrence J. Davis
ISBN-10 9781590173008
Year 1971
Pages 214
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Lowell Lake, a technical editor who wants to make it big as a writer, buys a beautiful crumbling masion in a crime-ridden section of Brooklyn. He quits his job and devotes all his time on demolition and construction to restore the house to its past grandeur. He will make good on everything that's gone wrong with his life, and he will even murder to do it.

The Waste Books

The Waste Books Author Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
ISBN-10 0940322501
Year 1990
Pages 235
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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German scientist and man of letters Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was an 18th-century polymath: an experimental physicist, an astronomer, a mathematician, a practicing critic both of art and literature. He is most celebrated, however, for the casual notes and aphorisms that he collected in what he called his Waste Books. With unflagging intelligence and encyclopedic curiosity, Lichtenberg wittily deflates the pretensions of learning and society, examines a range of philosophical questions, and tracks his own thoughts down hidden pathways to disconcerting and sometimes hilarious conclusions. Lichtenberg's Waste Books have been greatly admired by writers as very different as Tolstoy, Einstein, and Andre Breton, while Nietzsche and Wittgenstein acknowledged them as a significant inspiration for their own radical work in philosophy. The record of a brilliant and subtle mind in action, The Waste Books are above all a powerful testament to the necessity, and pleasure, of unfettered thought.