In December 2015, six months before his death at the age of 93, Yves Bonnefoy concluded what was to be his last major text in prose, L’Echarpe rouge, translated here as The Red Scarf. In this unique book, described by the poet as ‘an anamnesis’—a formal act of commemoration—Bonnefoy undertakes, at the end of his life, a profoundly moving exegesis of some fragments written in 1964. These fragments lead him back to an unspoken, lifelong anxiety: “My most troubling memory, when I was between ten and twelve years old, concerns my father, and my anxiety about his silence.” Bonnefoy offers an anatomy of his father’s silence, and the melancholy that seemed to take hold some years into his marriage to the poet’s mother.
At the heart of this book is the ballad of Elie and Hélène, the poet’s parents. It is the story of their lives together in the Auvergne, and later in Tours, seen through the eyes of their son—the solitary boy’s intense but inchoate experience, reviewed through memories of the now elderly man. What makes The Red Scarf unique and indispensable is the intensely personal nature of the material, casting its slant light, a setting sun, on all that has gone before.
The Red Sofa
Michèle Lesbre Seagull Books, 2017 Library of Congress PQ2672.E7356C3613 2016
In The Red Sofa, we meet Anne, a young woman setting off on the Trans-Siberian Railway in order to find her former lover, Gyl, who left twenty years before. As the train moves across post-Soviet Russia and its devastated landscapes, Anne reflects on her past with Gyl and their patriotic struggles, as well as on the neighbor she has just left behind, Clémence Barrot.
Rocked by the train’s movements Anne is moved by her memory of Clémence, who is old and whose memory is failing, but who has not lost her taste for life and adventure. Ensconced on her red sofa at home, Clémence loves to tell Anne her life story, mourning lost loved ones and celebrating the lives of brave, rebellious women who went before her. Eventually, Anne’s train trip returns her home having not found Gyl, but having found something much more meaningful—herself.
“A luminous novel about desire, a clear text about the joy of living.”—Prix Pierre Mac Orlan 2007
Janet McAdams University of Arizona Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3563.C263R43 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
This trip wasn’t about her, her need to escape. She had been too young when it happened. Too young to understand what could be worth risking everything for. Even now they seemed naïve, foolish in their belief that anything could change. They had tried to save a generation. If she couldn’t save them, she might find a way to finish their story.
Neva Greene is seeking answers.
The daughter of American Indian activists, Neva hasn’t seen or heard from her parents since they vanished a decade earlier, after planning an act of resistance that went terribly wrong. Discovering a long-overlooked clue to their disappearance, Neva follows their trail to Central America, leaving behind an uncaring husband, an estranged brother, and a life of lukewarm commitments.
Determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ disappearance, Neva finds work teaching English in the capital city of tiny Coatepeque, a country torn by its government’s escalating war on its Indigenous population. As the violence and political unrest grow around her, Neva meets a man whose tenderness toward her seems to contradict his shadowy political connections.
Against the backdrop of Central American politics, this suspenseful first novel from award-winning poet Janet McAdams explores an important chapter in American Indian history. Through finely drawn, compelling characters and lucidly beautiful prose, Red Weather explores the journey from loss to possibility, from the secrets of the past to the longings of the present.
Winner of the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize
A darkly comical horror lurks beneath the surface of everyday events in Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman, a seductively poetic story collection of unusual brilliance and rare humor.?
In Aimee Parkison’s Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman, lovers find unexpected romance in cramped spaces, fast food addicts struggle through cheeseburger addiction, and the splendor of nature competes with the violence of television. All the while, a complicated and precarious present dawns onto a new world where wealthy women wear children’s eyes as jewelry and those in need of money hawk their faces only to forever mourn what parts of themselves they have sold to survive.
Open the refrigerator door. Inside are antique jars. Open them to hear the music: Beethoven playing piano; slaves singing for freedom in plantation fields; mothers humming lullabies through the night to smallpox babies, knowing this song is the last sound their children will ever hear.
As Stephen Graham Jones notes in his foreword to this prize-winning collection, “The best books . . . fold you into a darkness sparkling with life. They lock you in the refrigerator but they also pipe in some music that never repeats, and when the door starts to open, you cling tight to it, so you can have just a few minutes more. This book, it’ll be over far too fast for you, yes. But even were it five times as thick as it is now, it would still be too short. Remember, though, the best books, they’re loops. They never stop. This one still hasn’t, for me.”
The Reprisal: A Novel
Laudomia Bonanni University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress PQ4807.O555R3713 2013 | Dewey Decimal 853.914
In the bitterly cold winter of 1943, the Italian countryside is torn apart by violence as partisans wage a guerilla war against the occupying German army and their local fascist allies. In the midst of this conflict, a ragtag group of fascist supporters captures a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Suspecting her of being in league with the partisans, they hastily put her on “trial” by improvising a war tribunal one night in the choir stalls of the abandoned monastery that serves as their hide-out. This sham court convicts the woman and sentences her to die—but not until her child has been born. When a young seminarian visits the monastery and tries to dissuade the fascist band from executing their sentence, the absurd tragedy of the woman’s fate is cast in stark relief. The child’s birth approaches, an unnerving anticipation unfolds, and tension mounts ominously among the characters and within their individual psyches.
Based on a number of incidents that took place in Abruzzo during the war, Laudomia Bonanni’s compact and tragic novel explores the overwhelming conflicts between ideology and community, justice and vengeance. The story is embedded in the cruel reality of Italian fascism, but its themes of revenge, sacrifice, and violence emerge as universal, delivered in prose that is at once lyrical and brutal.
In her native Italy, Bonanni, a writer of journalism and critical prose as well as fiction, is hailed as one of the strongest proponents of post-war realism, and this is the first of her novels to be made available to Anglophone readers. Translators Susan Stewart and Sara Teardo render Bonanni’s singular style—both sparse and emotive, frank and poetic—into readable, evocative English.
When you step inside Patrick Lawler’s Rescuers of Skydivers Search Among the Clouds, you will find yourself hovering in the clouds, among a family and a town, and in the world of one of fiction’s most inventive writers.
Patrick Lawler’s novel is about resonance, echoes, and naming; about hiding inside of names; about standing completely still; and about the fractalization of family. Connect the dots. Connect the secrets. Mother. Father. Sisters. Brother. Every character wears a variety of masks, and every place is also someplace else.
Rescuers of Skydivers Search Among the Clouds is a reconfiguring of narrative—how stories exist inside stories, how place exists inside self, how self exists inside others, and how parachutists exist inside clouds.
Reuben, Reuben: A Novel
Peter De Vries University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3507.E8673R48 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Harking from the golden age of fiction set in American suburbia—the school of John Updike and Cheever—this work from the great American humorist Peter De Vries looks with laughter upon its lawns, its cocktails, and its slightly unreal feeling of comfort. A manic epic, Reuben, Reuben is really three books in one, tied together by a 1950s suburban Connecticut setting and hyper-literate cast of characters. A corruptible chicken farmer fearful for the fate of his beloved town, a womanizing poet from Wales (Dylan Thomas in disguise), and a hapless British poet-cum-actor-and-agent all take turns as narrator, revealing different, even conflicting views. But alcoholism, sexism, small-mindedness, and calamity challenge the high spirits of De Vries’s well-read suburbanites. Noted as much for his verbal fluidity and wordplay as for his ability to see humor through pain, De Vries will delight both new readers and old in this uproarious modern masterpiece.
When Norman Maclean sent the manuscript of A River Runs through It and Other Stories to New York publishers, he received a slew of rejections. One editor, so the story goes, replied, “it has trees in it.” Forty years later, the title novella is recognized as one of the great American tales of the twentieth century, and Maclean as one of the most beloved writers of our time. The finely distilled product of a long life of often surprising rapture—for fly-fishing, for the woods, for the interlocked beauty of life and art—A River Runs through It has established itself as a classic of the American West. This new edition will introduce a fresh audience to Maclean’s beautiful prose and understated emotional insights.
Elegantly redesigned, A River Runs through It includes a new foreword by Robert Redford, director of the Academy Award-winning 1992 film adaptation of River. Based on Maclean’s own experiences as a young man, the book’s two novellas and short story are set in the small towns and mountains of western Montana. It is a world populated with drunks, loggers, card sharks, and whores, but also one rich in the pleasures of fly-fishing, logging, cribbage, and family. By turns raunchy and elegiac, these superb tales express, in Maclean’s own words, “a little of the love I have for the earth as it goes by.”
Just as Norman Maclean writes at the end of "A River Runs through It" that he is "haunted by waters," so have readers been haunted by his novella. A retired English professor who began writing fiction at the age of 70, Maclean produced what is now recognized as one of the classic American stories of the twentieth century. Originally published in 1976, A River Runs through It and Other Stories now celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, marked by this new edition that includes a foreword by Annie Proulx.
Maclean grew up in the western Rocky Mountains in the first decades of the twentieth century. As a young man he worked many summers in logging camps and for the United States Forest Service. The two novellas and short story in this collection are based on his own experiences—the experiences of a young man who found that life was only a step from art in its structures and beauty. The beauty he found was in reality, and so he leaves a careful record of what it was like to work in the woods when it was still a world of horse and hand and foot, without power saws, "cats," or four-wheel drives. Populated with drunks, loggers, card sharks, and whores, and set in the small towns and surrounding trout streams and mountains of western Montana, the stories concern themselves with the complexities of fly fishing, logging, fighting forest fires, playing cribbage, and being a husband, a son, and a father.
By turns raunchy, poignant, caustic, and elegiac, these are superb tales which express, in Maclean's own words, "a little of the love I have for the earth as it goes by." A first offering from a 70-year-old writer, the basis of a top-grossing movie, and the first original fiction published by the University of Chicago Press, A River Runs through It and Other Stories has sold more than a million copies. As Proulx writes in her foreword to this new edition, "In 1990 Norman Maclean died in body, but for hundreds of thousands of readers he will live as long as fish swim and books are made."
The Road to the Open
Arthur Schnitzler Northwestern University Press, 1991 Library of Congress PT2638.N5W413 1991 | Dewey Decimal 833.8
Turn-of-the-century Vienna was the scene of tremendous social and artistic upheaval. Arthur Schnitzler's novel The Road to the Open brilliantly captures the complex world of Freud, Mahler, Strauss, and Klimt, dealing masterfully with the basic issues of Austian anti-Semitism, the Viennese intellectual community, post-Wagnerian music, and the psychology of Vienna's middle class.
In this highly anticipated sequel to her acclaimed first novel, Where I Must Go, Angela Jackson continues the remarkable story of Magdalena Grace. As a black student at the predominantly white Eden University, Maggie found herself deeply involved in conflict. Now, out in the wider world, she and her beloved Treemont Stone evolve into agents of change as they become immersed in the historical events unfolding around them—the movements advocating for civil rights, black consciousness, black feminism, the rights of the poor, and an end to the war in Vietnam. Rendered in prose so lyrical and luminous as to suggest a dream, Roads, Where There Are No Roads is a love story in the greatest sense, celebrating love between a man and a woman, between family members, and among the members of a community whose pride pushes them to rise up and resist. This gorgeously written novel will resonate with readers today as incredibly relevant, uplifting hearts and causing eyes to water with sorrow and delight.
Edna Ferber, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Show Boat and Giant, achieved her first great success with a series of stories she published in American Magazine between 1911 and 1913. The stories featured Emma McChesney: smart, savvy, stylish, divorced mother, and Midwest traveling sales representative for T. A. Buck's Featherloom skirts and petticoats. With one hand on her sample case and the other fending off advances from salesmen, hotel clerks, and other predators, Emma holds on tightly to her reputation: honest, hardworking, and able to outsell the slickest salesman.
Like her compact bag of traveling necessities, Emma has her life boiled down to essentials: her work and her seventeen-year-old son, Jock. Her experience has taught her that it's best to stick to roast beef, medium--avoiding both physical and moral indigestion--rather than experiment with fancy sauces and exotic dishes. Yet she never shies away from a challenge, and her sharp instincts and common sense serve her well in dealing with the likes of Ed Meyer, a smooth-talking, piano-playing salesman; Blanche LeHay, prima donna of the Sam Levin Crackerjack Belles; and T. A. Buck Jr., the wet-behind-the-ears son of the founder of Featherloom.
Roast Beef, Medium is the first of three volumes chronicling the travels and trials of Emma McChesney. The illustrations by James Montgomery Flagg, one of the most highly regarded book illustrators of the period, enhance both the humor and the vivid characterization in this wise and high-spirited tale.
It is 2009: writer Clara Burger arrives in Rome to sort out the affairs and clear the flat of her school friend Ines, prematurely dead from cancer. Sorting through Ines's belongings, Clara finds a manuscript containing not only an autobiographical account of Ines's strange experiences while working as a chambermaid in Rome in the summer of 1978, but also the life story of her former employer, the hotelier Emma Manente. Originally from Italy's German-speaking enclave South Tyrol (like Clara and Ines), Emma first comes to Rome in the late 1930s and becomes an eyewitness to the capital's turbulent past and present: Mussolini's fascist regime, the Nazi occupation and an uneasy postwar democracy threatened by corruption and extremism. In a sweeping tale of remembrance and reconciliation, of lives unfulfilled and loves unrequited, Roman Elegy interweaves the personal stories of three resilient women with a fascinating historical narrative of the Eternal City, in all its contrasting squalor and beauty, compassion and savagery.
Marian Pankowski Northwestern University Press, 1996 Library of Congress PG7158.P2R84 1996 | Dewey Decimal 891.8537
This novel, set in the 1970s, tells the story of the "author," a middle-aged Polish professor who lives abroad but who earlier survived the Nazi concentration camps, and Rudolf, an old man. Told in stream of consciousness as well as through a triangular correspondence among Rudolf, the author, and the author's mother, the story emerges as a tale of subversion and liberation that echoes Gombrowicz in its exploration of transgressive desire. It will be of great interest to those interested in Polish literature and to readers of gay and lesbian literature.
Beppe Fenoglio Northwestern University Press, 1992 Library of Congress PQ4815.E63M313 1992 | Dewey Decimal 853.914
Ruin is an acclaimed 1954 novel by Italian Beppe Fenoglio. It's the story of Augustine Braida, a boy who serves the Rabino family, whose first-person account of life in Langhe paints a vivid portrait of early twentieth-century Italian peasant life. Told with terrible humility and great force, it is a compassionate and harrowing narrative of peasant endurance in the face of overwhelming hardship.
Born into a working-class family in the town of Alba lying in that part of the Piedmont called LeLanghe, Beppe Fenoglio (1922-1963) belonged to the generation of young Italian writers whose works were molded by their World War II experience and the anti-Fascist Resistance many took part in. Fenoglio fought as a partisan against the German troops occupying Italy, and the major part of his literature is connected with the events of the time.
Russian Absurd: Selected Writings
Daniil Kharms; Translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale Northwestern University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PG3476.K472A2 2017 | Dewey Decimal 891.784209
A writer who defies categorization, Daniil Kharms has come to be regarded as an essential artist of the modernist avant-garde. His writing, which partakes of performance, narrative, poetry, and visual elements, was largely suppressed during his lifetime, which ended in a psychiatric ward where he starved to death during the siege of Leningrad. His work, which survived mostly in notebooks, can now be seen as one of the pillars of absurdist literature, most explicitly manifested in the 1920s and ’30s Soviet Union by the OBERIU group, which inherited the mantle of Russian futurism from such poets as Vladimir Mayakovsky and Velimir Khlebnikov. This selection of prose and poetry provides the most comprehensive portrait of the writer in English translation to date, revealing the arc of his career and including a particularly generous selection of his later work.
Vladimir Fedorovich Odoevsky Northwestern University Press, 1997 Library of Congress PG3337.O3R813 1997 | Dewey Decimal 891.733
This captivating novel is the summation of Odoevsky's views and interests in many fields: Gothic literature, romanticism, mysticism, the occult, social responsibility, Westernization, utopia and anti-utopia. Compared to The Decameron, to Hoffman's Serapion Brethren, and to the Platonic dialogues, Russian Nights is a unique mixture of romantic and society tales framed by Odoevsky's musings on strands of Russian thought and his own obsessions.