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April is poetry month. In celebration we're featuring Bollingen Prize winner, Nathaniel Mackey.
I love her, I am crazy about her, she is innocent and smashing like a Blake only new, and a lot of pathos under the deadpan sad funny stuff, a lot of true religion.—Thomas Merton on Stevie Smith's All the Poems
Fiction by José Maria de Eça de Queirós
José Maria Eça de Queirós, the first great modern Portuguese novelist, wrote The Yellow Sofa with, as he said, "no digressions, no rhetoric," where "everything is interesting and dramatic and quickly narrated." The story, a terse and seamless spoof of Victorian bourgeois morals, concerns Godofredo Alves, a successful, buoyant businessman who returns home to find his wife "on the yellow damask sofa... leaning in abandon on the shoulder of a man..." The man is none other than Machado, his best friend and business partner. Godofredo struggles with the public need to defend his honor, and a stronger inner desire for forgiveness and domestic tranquillity. The Babel Guide to Portuguese Fiction notes, "The genius of this book is how Eça captures all the emotional fluctuations... and with such accuracy. The result is an enjoyable humorous novella that is simultaneously breathtakingly ironic." The Yellow Sofa firmly establishes Eça de Queirós in the literary pantheon that includes Dickens, Flaubert, Balzac and Tolstoy.
Fiction by Henri Michaux
translated by Sylvia Beach
Henri Michaux (1889-1984), the great French poet and painter, set out as a young man to see the Far East. Traveling from India to the Himalayas, and on to China and Japan, Michaux voices his vivid impressions, cutting opinions, and curious insights: he has no trouble speaking his mind. Part fanciful travelogue and part exploration of culture, A Barbarian in Asia is presented here in its original translation by Sylvia Beach, the famous American-born bookseller in Paris.
Available: May 31 2016
Fiction by John Hawkes
Travesty is John Hawkes’s most extreme vision of eroticism and comic terror. In the south of France, an elegant sportscar is speeding through the night, bearing a man, his daughter, and his best friend toward a fatal crash. As he drives, the "privileged man" justifies, in sustained monologue, his firm persuasion that willed destruction is the ultimate act of the poetic imagination. "What I have in mind is an ’accident’ so perfectly contrived that it will be unique, spectacular and instantaneous, a physical counterpart to that vision in which it was in fact conceived." This is the final work in a triad of novels concerned with sex, myth, the imagination, and the absurd. The Blood Oranges (1971) is the acting out of a lyric dream; Death, Sleep & The Traveler (1974) a descent into the depths of psychic darkness to the edge of death; and Travesty (1976) an icily comic portrait of the poet as suicide and murderer. It is one of the most cruelly and brilliantly ironic works to be found in contemporary literature.
Nonfiction by Xavier de Maistre
In 1790, while serving in the Piedmontese army, the French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852) was punished for dueling and placed under house arrest for forty-two days. The result was a discursive, mischievous memoir, his classic Voyage Around My Room and its sequel, Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room. Admired by Nietzsche and Machado de Assis, Ossian and Susan Sontag, this classic book proves that sitting on the living-room sofa can be as fascinating as crossing the Alps or paddling up the Amazon.
In addition to the Voyage and Expedition, this edition also includes the dialogue "The Leper of the City of Aosta," a preface by Xavier's better-known older brother (the royalist philosopher Joseph de Maistre), and an introduction by Richard Howard.
Poetry by Alejandra Pizarnik
translated by Yvette Siegert
Revered by Octavio Paz and Roberto Bolaño, Alejandra Pizarnik is still a hidden treasure in the U.S. Extracting the Stone of Madness comprises all of her middle to late work, as well as a selection of posthumously published verse. Obsessed with themes of solitude, childhood, madness, and death, Pizarnik explored the shifting valences of the self and the border between speech and silence. In her own words, she was drawn to “the suffering of Baudelaire, the suicide of Nerval, the premature silence of Rimbaud, the mysterious and fleet- ing presence of Lautréamont,” and to the “unparalleled intensity” of Artaud’s “physical and moral suffering.”