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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lev Grossman on Ernest Hemingway, verbal membrane, and The Sun Also Rises

The Magician King
by Lev Grossman
(Viking, 2011)
Author of the just-published The Magician King, Lev Grossman joins our continuing series of guest blog posts by writers of fiction, history, essays, and poetry with this appreciation of what Ernest Hemingway accomplished in his first novel—and never quite did as well again:
I’m going to try to do something that is becoming increasingly difficult, which is to praise Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway has already been thoroughly praised, of course, but that's only part of the difficulty. After he was praised he was encrusted with a layer of bad Hemingway imitations, some of which he wrote himself, and then the whole package was thoroughly tarnished by damning allegations against his politics, his attitudes toward women, and his personality, a good many of which are probably quite true. So you can see the problem. 
But if I were to pick a single American author who has influenced me, it would be silly to skip Hemingway, and if I were to pick a single book it would be ridiculous to skip The Sun Also Rises. The discipline of the writing alone is astounding—that’s the kind of thing Hemingway would have said, but it’s absolutely true. Nobody working in English, or at least in American, had seriously attempted to put the lessons of Flaubert into practice before Hemingway. His prose is so unadorned and unshowy it’s practically ego-less—not a thing one usually hears said about Hemingway, but it's true. He’s absolutely determined to get out of the way of what’s going on, to make the verbal membrane between you and the action so thin you can almost touch it, and he does. 
(And yes, I suppose Hemingway's obsessive un-showiness is its own kind of showiness. But nobody’s going to solve that conundrum. Not you, not me, not Flaubert, definitely not Hemingway.) 
This makes The Sun Also Rises sound like some kind of technical exercise. But what I really like about it is that nobody else describes the kinds of moments Hemingway does in that book: the interstitial, throwaway moments that are what life is mostly made of. You could redact all the stuff about bullfighting, and Jake Barnes’s missing penis—which let’s face it is all fine as far as it goes but it gets a little ridiculous—and you'd still be left with one of the most overwhelmingly human books ever written. You’d be left with the pretty prostitute who smiles, showing her unexpectedly bad teeth; and the Spanish peasant who takes a little more than his fair share of the wine; and Mike, husband of the faithless Brett, losing at poker dice and having to admit he can’t pay up; and the fat count twirling the bottles of champagne in the bucket of salted ice, and yanking up his shirt to show off his arrow scars; and Jake promising to be there at five in the morning for the start of a bicycle race, then waking up the next morning after the cyclists have already been on the road for three hours. The heart of the book isn’t bullfighting. It’s people doing their human best to have a decent time of it even as the abyss of sadness and death yawns beneath them, preparing to swallow them. 
Hemingway’s entire oeuvre is veined and marbled with magnificent stuff like this, but I don’t think he ever wrote another book as good as The Sun Also Rises. He never worked that hard or made himself that vulnerable again. But a book like that, any writer would be proud to retire on. Here's one final perfect touch: Wilson-Harris, the Englishman whom Barnes meets on a fishing trip in Spain. He’s an extra, a disposable character who won’t reappear in the book. (If it were me I would have had Jake run into him at the hotel at the end, and they’d have a nice closing moment of bromance, but that’s because I’m not as disciplined a writer as Hemingway.) There aren’t many things harder to express in a novel than pure happiness, but Hemingway shows it to us when Wilson-Harris (the other characters get his name wrong) tries to explain what a splendid time he’s had on his fishing holiday. He can’t do it—he keeps trying and then collapsing into inarticulate babbling. "You don't know what this all means to me," he keeps repeating. And the funny thing is that in spite of everything, we do know. Hemingway knew we would.
Writing in The New York Times, Polly Shulman decided that Grossman’s second novel Codex (2004) belonged “on the shelf of self-referential, bibliophilic page turners like The Name of the Rose, Possession, and A Case of Curiosities, and it’s as entertaining as any of them.” Other readers agreed; it became an international bestseller. Cory Doctorow marveled that The Magicians (2009), the first of a trilogy, “may just be the most subversive, gripping and enchanting fantasy novel I’ve read this century.” Judged a best book of 2009 by The New Yorker, it became a New York Times bestseller. Its sequel, The Magician King, has just been published and Alexander Chee has already hailed it on NPR as a “bravura performance . . . a triumphant sequel, surpassing the original. . . I can’t wait for the next one.” Lev Grossman is a senior writer and book critic for Time magazine. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

Also of interest:
Related LOA works: Into the Blue: American Writers on Aviation and Spaceflight (includes Hemingway’s “A Paris-to-Strasburg Flight Shows Living Cubist Picture”); Reporting World War II: Part Two: American Journalism 1944-1946 (includes Hemingway’s dispatch “How We Came to Paris: August 1944”)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rafia Zafar on Harlem Renaissance novelists Arna Bontemps, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Langston Hughes, and Nella Larsen

In September The Library of America celebrates one of the most remarkable eras in American literature with its publication of a two-volume collection of nine novels of the Harlem Renaissance. As editor Rafia Zafar notes in her exclusive LOA interview (PDF) about Harlem Renaissance Novels:
In literary terms what happened during this period was epochal. David Levering Lewis has pointed out that in the nineteen years after Charles W. Chesnutt published The Colonel’s Dream in 1905, only five African Americans published significant books. By contrast, between 1922 and 1937 the sixteen best-known black authors of the Harlem Renaissance published more than fifty books.
Zafar goes on to describe the challenging task of selecting what to include:
LOA: While best known for his poetry, Langston Hughes re-created the experience of growing up black in Kansas in his semi-autobiographical character-rich novel Not Without Laughter (1930). Does Hughes get at something through his Midwestern lens that the Harlem settings of the other novels are not able to? 
Zafar: Yes, one of the reasons I included Not Without Laughter was to break down ideas about the “Harlem Renaissance” only being about New York City—or for that matter, about rural folks in the deep south, à la Jean Toomer. Although there is another American classic that begins with a tornado in Kansas, there are few other similarities between this one and the L. Frank Baum novel (how can I resist pointing out this congruence?). Hughes’s boy’s-eye view of growing up poor but aspirational I find simply beautiful—just as some of his reflections on the bedrock nature of racism hit me equally hard. Few have painted as astutely the roller coaster of emotions that illuminate the life of a poor black child. 
LOA: You chose to include Nella Larsen’s questing identity novel Quicksand instead of Passing, her intriguing novel of racial and sexual ambiguity. It had to be a difficult choice. Why Quicksand? Was it because you favor Jessie Redmon Fauset’s treatment of “passing” in Plum Bun
Zafar: It was difficult! With Plum Bun, one has the passing theme, as of course does Larsen’s second novel. Yet I chose to include Plum Bun not only for its handling of those who cross the color line but also for its depiction of a wellbrought-up black woman’s decision to live la vie bohème. For Fauset’s Angela Murray to have sex outside of marriage—and not be punished for that decision—challenges ideas about a tightly laced brown bourgeoisie. Fauset’s casting her character’s narrative as a modern fairy tale, as Deborah McDowell has shown in “The Changing Same”: Black Women’s Literature, Criticism, and Theory, gives us an interesting take on a familiar genre. 
As for my choice of Larsen’s first novel rather than her second—Quicksand adds to the LOA set a psychologically astute treatment of the (supposedly) tragic mulatto. In the nineteenth century, characters “caught” between the white world and the black generally ended up dead; Quicksand’s Helga Crane does not die by her own hand, but her inability to choose one category over another, and her imprisonment within the heterosexual female gender role, lead to a different kind of troubled ending. 
In other words, I asked myself how could I get the most extensive representation of writing styles, themes, generic experiments, and so on within a limited number of pages? I would have loved to put in every Renaissance novel published! 
*             *             *
LOA: Black Thunder (1936) by Arna Bontemps is the only novel in the collection that recreates a historical event, in this case Gabriel Prosser’s slave revolt in Richmond, Virginia in 1800. Charles W. Chesnutt attempted a similar reclamation of a historical event in The Marrow of Tradition (1901). How does Bontemps’s effort compare with Chesnutt’s?
Zafar: What’s particularly notable about Black Thunder is that Bontemps reaches back so far—Chesnutt’s novel imaginatively recreated a relatively recent event, the horrific anti-black Wilmington, North Carolina riots of 1898 (Marrow was published three years later). Bontemps reconstructs a historical figure, Gabriel Prosser, who already had passed emphatically into folk tradition. So in some ways it’s fair to say that the two authors, although crafting historical fiction, had different contemporary agendas. Bontemps, who would later become Fisk University’s archivist, understood that heroic black figures like Prosser need sympathetic authors to script their nearly mythic lives; black narratives of progress become potent when historical actors stand at the center.
Read the entire interview (PDF)

Previous Reader’s Almanac posts of interest:
Related LOA works: Harlem Renaissance Novels (boxed set); 20th-Century African American Authors Set (6 volumes plus a free book); Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories, Novels, and Essays

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Samuel Menashe (1925–2011)

In this well-known photograph by Martin Duffy,
Samuel writes one of his poems on the beach:
"Pity us / by the sea / on the sands / so briefly"
The staff and trustees of The Library of America are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Samuel Menashe, who died yesterday evening, peacefully, in his sleep.

A veteran of the 87th Infantry Division in World War II who went on to study at the Sorbonne before returning to his native New York, Samuel was the first recipient of the Neglected Masters Award from the Poetry Foundation, bestowed in 2004. The following year The Library of America published his New and Selected Poems in the American Poets Project series.

For the past six years Samuel had been been a frequent and beloved presence at the LOA offices in New York—at one point spending several days autographing 1,200 copies of his book for subscribers to the series. Last year, in a blog post written on the occasion of his 85th birthday, we noted just a few of the many recent notices and interviews that followed nearly five decades of near-neglect by American critics and publishers. (His poetry was greeted with far more enthusiasm in England, where he published his first book in 1961, and in Ireland.)

In 2008, after the first printing of 7,000 copies of New and Selected Poems had sold out, we asked Samuel to add a few more recent poems to the second printing. Among the nine new poems he added at the end of the book was the following:
There is never an end to loss, or hope
I give up the ghost for which I grope
Over and over again saying Amen
To all that does or does not happen—
The eternal event is now, not when

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rodney Welch on the many contradictory lessons in At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing

Which is more important in boxing: muscle or skill? Do the most successful fighters crave violence—or transcend it? In his incisive review for The Millions of At the Fights: American Writings on Boxing, Rodney Welch tears into the many opposing forces on display in the book’s fifty pieces—but he begins with a scene from Faulkner:
In William Faulkner’s masterpiece Absalom, Absalom!, landowner Thomas Sutpen’s idea of a rousing good time is to stage fights between his slaves. It’s his way of reminding himself of his own station in life, his triumph over his white trash past, to watch the lower orders go after each other tooth and nail, “fighting not like white men fight, with rules and weapons, but like negroes fight to hurt one another quick and bad.” Occasionally, he even likes to participate, “as a grand finale or perhaps as a matter of sheer deadly forethought toward the retention of supremacy, domination, he would enter the ring with one of the negroes himself.” 
Money, power, race, and violence – they’ve all been a part of boxing from the beginning and they’re on full display in At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing from The Library of America.
Welch then uncorks a barrage of combinations about good versus evil, muscle versus skill, white power, exploitation, money, and how boxing “turns writers into pugilists of prose”—and “makes them reach for odd literary references,” as in the following:
His fighting style is as formless as the prose of Gertrude Stein.
Heywood Broun
So he perished there in that Homeric stewpan, a brave man but an unwise one.
H. L. Mencken 
Since the rise of [Rocky] Marciano, [Archie] Moore, a cerebral and hyper-experienced and light-colored pugilist who has been active since 1936, has suffered the pangs of a supreme example of bel canto who sees himself crowded out of the opera house by a guy who can only shout.
A. J. Liebling
Or as John Schulian, one of the book’s co-editors, described the sport in an interview with The Library of America (PDF): “Primitive. Savage. And yet beautiful and ennobling and capable of inspiring a kind of sweat-stained poetry.”

Also of interest:
Related LOA works: At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing; William Faulkner: Complete Novels

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jim Moore on how reading Kenneth Rexroth changed his life

Invisible Strings
by Jim Moore
(Graywolf Press, 2011)
Jim Moore, whose seventh book of poems, Invisible Strings, was recently published, joins our continuing series of guest blog posts by writers of fiction, history, essays, and poetry. He writes on how discovering the right poet at a critical time can be a life-changing experience.
People sometimes ask, especially parents of aspiring writers, “What does it take to become a poet?” From my own experience I would say four things matter most:
1)A broken heart.
2)A sudden dislocation which results in you living in a new place, not really knowing why you are there.
3)A welcoming bookstore floor.
4)The luck of stumbling across a poet whose work seems written as if just for you; whose poems feel as if they are saving your life, stanza by blessed stanza.

Everything else takes care of itself.

A broken heart at nineteen is not hard to come by. But if you need a suggestion on how to go about it, try falling in love with your roommate's girlfriend. It's a surefire method. Then in desperation—it is winter, it is Minnesota, you are majoring in philosophy at Carleton College and the philosophers have no useful answers—you flee to Norman, Oklahoma. An old friend takes you in, you get a job selling hot pies door-to-door at the university's fraternities and sororities (should you need a refresher course in the permeable boundary between humility and humiliation this is particularly recommended), and—most important of all—you go to a bookstore with an upstairs attic-like room. For some reason you stumble into the poetry section, sit on the floor (this is a store where you are welcome to stay as long as you want if it is books you care about: it is not a coffee shop, a music store, a place to buy anything but books).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The 50 Funniest American Writers: Who made the list?

Earlier this year, we posted Andy Borowitz’s marketing copy for the forthcoming LOA anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to The Onion (*According to Andy Borowitz). His hilarious stab at writing catalog copy has since become our most-read blog post ever.

Yesterday USA Today broke the news of the writers who made the cut for the anthology, and last night we posted the full table of contents on the LOA website. The list includes several heavyweights who have their own Library of America volumes (James Thurber, H. L. Mencken, Philip Roth), other well-known standards (Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, Roy Blount Jr.), several neglected rediscoveries (George Ade, Anita Loos, Peter De Vries), and today’s newest stars in humor writing (David Sedaris, George Saunders, Wanda Sykes).

As Andy told USA Today’s Bob Minzesheimer, “Anytime you do a best-of list, people get mad, except for the people on the list. Lists are lightning rods. That's the fun of it. And the most personal thing of all is deciding what’s funny. . . . Someone else could do it and come up with another list: Mark Twain and 49 others. You've got to include Twain, no one stands up better over time.” (Who would be on your list?)

We didn’t plan it this way (honest!) but the finished books arrived in the LOA warehouse yesterday, too. They will be on sale in bookstores in mid-October—but you don’t have to wait! For a limited time, you can order copies directly from The Library of America for immediate delivery at 30% off, with free shipping anywhere in the U.S.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Peter Israel on how The Godfather came to Putnam

Guest blogpost by Peter Israel, writer, editor, and former president and chairman of G. P. Putnam’s Sons

The late William Targ, who joined Putnam in 1964 as a senior editor and who, a year later, became interim Editor-in-Chief, took credit forever after for having “discovered” Mario Puzo and brought him and The Godfather to Putnam.


The late Mario Puzo—quietly, as was his wont—gave yours truly credit for having brought him and The Godfather to Putnam.

Wrong again, in very large part.

This is what I remember.

Around 1962–1963, on an otherwise humdrum day, Walter Minton, the president of Putnam and scion of the family that owned most of the company, decided that we should start a contest: “The best unpublished novel in the English language” by any writer. Why not?

Ever resourceful, yet ever cautious with a buck, Minton went in search of partners. By the time he was done, he had enlisted McCall’s magazine, a Hollywood studio, an American paperback publisher, a book club, and an English publisher to join the fun. The winner’s prize was announced—an advance against earnings of $225,000—and the only stipulation was that the author couldn’t have been previously published by any of the participants. The contest was to run for one year, renewable by agreement of the principals, and—thank the Good Lord—provision was made that if the principals couldn’t agree on a winner, the prize need not be awarded.

The contest was advertised widely and the initial result was entirely predictable: every fiction manuscript on every dusty shelf in the English-speaking world was sent to 210 Madison Avenue, New York, NY and ended up in the floor-to-ceiling piles that adorned our corridors and offices. We hired readers. They read. They read, and they rejected. The few that they didn’t outright reject, we editors did. The better part of a year went by and the magical manuscript failed to surface.

Drastic measures were called for. They took the form of one Saul Braun, an enterprising young writer-editor whom we hired to find The Book. To find The Book at all costs. We even gave Saul carte blanche to spread some “seed money” around in case he found any promising novelists with promising works-in-progress. Said novelists would be signed to normal Putnam contracts, given modest advances, and their works, upon completion, would become prime candidates for the prize.

And Saul spread it around most willingly, putting to work a number of his indigent buddies who happened to be scribes. Several such contracts were issued. As the company’s Editor-in-Chief I signed them all, and met and shook hands with the authors along the way and hoped we’d catch lightning in a bottle.

We didn’t. Despite Saul’s efforts, and even after we extended the contest for a second year, The Book failed to surface. Finally, bloodied and bowed, we declared the contest over, without a winner. Saul Braun left the company and joined a commune in New England, while I, in 1965, took an alleged one-year leave to write my own first chef d’oeuvre, which grew into a twelve-year absence from Putnam and New York.

The rest?

Haven’t you guessed?

One of Saul Braun’s “seed-money” buddies, to whom we’d given a modest contract, was a talented but struggling (and ever impecunious) young writer named Mario Puzo. By the time he finally delivered his manuscript, the contest had long since ended, but deliver he did! Putnam published The Godfather in 1969. It made a fortune for both author and publisher, far, far more than the $225,000 Mario might have won earlier. Bill Targ took the editor’s credit—by that time he’d formally replaced me—and there was no one to challenge him.

Bill was still at Putnam when I returned in 1978—I subsequently became President—and Mario was still there too. On my copy of Fools Die, which we published that same year, he wrote a message of thanks for my having been there for him in the beginning, when he’d needed me. I was duly appreciative, but as I tried to remind him at the time, I was only the guy who’d signed his contract. The real “villain of the piece” had been Saul Braun.

Does it matter? I suppose not. Bill Targ and Mario Puzo are both dead now. The Godfather lives on. I’m still around, but long gone from publishing and from the desire to take credit for anything.

But the true godfather of the story, at least as far as Putnam was concerned, was the unsung Mr. Braun. Hats off, Saul Braun, wherever you are!

Also of interest:
Related LOA works: Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (includes an excerpt from Mario Puzo’s second novel The Fortunate Pilgrim (1965))

Friday, August 5, 2011

Silence as a weapon: the two most embarrassing speeches Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce ever gave

Within a year of settling his family in London in 1872, Ambrose Bierce published two collections of his San Francisco writings, dozens of his stories and sketches were featured in Tom Hood’s famous Victorian comic paper Fun, two columns (“The Town Crier” and “The Passing Show”) appeared regularly in the British magazine Figaro, and he sent a series (“Letter on England”) back home to the Alta California newspaper. He had become such a sensation that when Mark Twain, Joaquin Miller, and Bierce were honored at a dinner at the White Friars Club in Mitre Court, Fleet Street, in the winter of ’73, it was Bierce who got top billing, hailed as “one of the most original and daring humorists this age has produced.”

This clearly nettled Twain. Seven years Twain’s junior, Bierce had begun his writing career in California just as Twain was leaving; now it was Bierce, not Twain, who was being asked to speak. To acknowledge their connection, Bierce launched into his often-told account of their first meeting five years earlier in the offices of the News-Letter in San Francisco, just a few months after Bierce joined the staff. Richard O’Connor recounts the meeting in his biography of Bierce:
The lank, red-headed Twain strolled in and looked around the outer office with disdain.

“Young man,” Twain drawled, himself in his early thirties, “this room is so nude I should think you and the owner would be ashamed of yourselves.”

Bierce kept on working.

“Young man,” Twain said, “where is the owner?”

“Somewhere around town,“ Bierce replied. “He’ll be back shortly.”

“Young man,” said Twain, glowering at Bierce, “are you sure he is not in that next room drunk?”

Bierce insisted that he wasn’t covering up for his employer , that publisher Frederick A. Marriott would return soon, and asked if there was anything he could do for the caller.

“I’ve come to repay Marriott a loan,” Twain explained.

“You could leave the money with me.”

“Young man,” Twain demanded, staring intently at Bierce. “look me in the eye and speak as if you were talking to your God. If I gave you that money, are you sure your employer would ever see it?”

That broke the ice, and Twain chatted amiably until Marriott returned.
However, as Bierce retold the story of the meeting, the audience looked to Twain for his reaction—and saw him sitting stone-faced, looking off into the distance, presumably bored. Twain’s response was not lost on Bierce, who faltered in his delivery and sat down to funereal silence. According to biographer Carey McWilliams, Bierce never spoke in public again.

But he had his revenge. Almost exactly four years later, it was Twain’s turn to suffer a similar fate. The occasion was the seventieth birthday dinner for John Greenleaf Whittier at the Hotel Brunswick in Boston. Among the sixty attendees were such literary legends as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Always trying a new twist, Twain had created for his toast what his biographer Ron Powers calls “the first celebrity roast.”

In a “frame-tale” Twain had himself knocking on a miner’s door in Nevada and finding that he was the fourth “littery man” to call in twenty-four hours, the previous ones being Emerson, Longfellow, and Holmes, only in the miner’s description: “Mr. Emerson was a seedy little bit of a chap,” “Mr. Holmes was as fat as a balloon,” “Mr. Longfellow was built like a prize-fighter. . . They had been drinking.” Twain had grossly misjudged his audience. He recalls in his Autobiography how “the audience turned to stone with horror” and that he sat down to “an awful silence, a desolating silence. . . Even the Boston Massacre did not produce a like effect.”

Bierce couldn’t resist joining the barrage of outrage, writing from San Francisco a “Comment on a Famous Faux Pas” in The Argonaut of January 5, 1878:
Mark Twain’s Boston speech, in which the great humorist’s coltish imagination represented Longfellow, Emerson, and Whittier [sic] engaged at a game of cards in the cabin of a California miner, is said to have so wrought upon the feelings of “the best literary society” in that city that the daring joker is in danger of lynching. I hope they won’t lynch him; it would be irregular and illegal, however roughly just and publicly beneficial. Besides, it would rob many a worldly sheriff of an honorable ambition by dispelling the most bright and beautiful hope of his life.
Previous Reader’s Almanac posts of interest:
Related LOA works: Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs; Mark Twain: Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1852–1890 (includes the Whittier Birthday Speech)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deborah Baker on Lafcadio Hearn and “the Orient at home”

The Convert: A Tale of
Exile and Extremism

by Deborah Baker
(Graywolf Press, 2011)
As part of our continuing series of guest blog posts by writers of fiction, history, essays, and poetry, Deborah Baker, whose fourth book The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism, was recently published, writes about Lafcadio Hearn’s lifelong engagement with capturing the experience of near-at-hand but exotic cultures:
“I would give anything to be a literary Columbus,” Lafcadio Hearn once wrote. By this he meant he wanted to be the first to travel to and describe a world unknown to Western eyes. It is a familiar traveler’s fantasy, best elaborated by Walt Whitman in his poem “Passage to India” (“Doubts to be solv’d, the map incognita, blanks to be fill’d”). For Hearn, the goal was not India but the “Orient” and if the Orient proved too far afield, he allowed, something African or West Indian would do. He settled, initially at least, for “the Orient at home.”

But where was home? Mostly in books, it seems, the refuge of misfits and wanderers. The son of an illiterate Greek islander and an Irish officer in the British army, Lafcadio Hearn was raised in Dublin before landing in decidedly un-Oriental Cincinnati, Ohio. With neither funds nor connections, he scraped a living in the newspaper trade while he began making a name for himself as a writer. During this period of apprenticeship, he developed a literary style all his own and an admitted taste for all things monstrous, profane, savage and supernatural. If no place is home, then soon the entire world looks foreign.

As someone who spends as much time outside America as in it, I found this aspect of Hearn’s work familiar and alluring. In his early writing, he does not have the imperial eye of a white man. Instead, blind in one, pop-eyed in the other, he yet saw clearly those aspects of American life that passed unseen by Gilded Age literary sensibilities, eager for London’s attention. The Library of America’s edition of Hearn’s early writings tracks him from lurid crime scene reportage in Cincinnati, to his decade “inventing New Orleans” and the rich variety of its Creole world, to his travels in the French West Indies. It stops short of following him to Japan where he would end his improbable life at age 54, as Koizumi Yakumo.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Forthcoming from The Library of America (Winter–Spring 2012)

We’re in the midst of the dog days of summer and titles for the Fall 2011 season have begun to arrive from the printer, but we’re already thinking about spring here at the LOA editorial offices. Below are the titles scheduled for release during the early months of 2012.

The Civil War: The Second Year Told by Those Who Lived It
Stephen W. Sears, editor
February / Library of America #221 / ISBN 978-1-59853-144-2

David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s
Robert Polito, editor
April / Library of America #225 / ISBN 978-1-59853-148-0
  • Dark Passage
  • Nightfall
  • The Moon in the Gutter
  • The Burglar
  • Street of No Return

Arthur Miller: Collected Plays 1964–1982
Tony Kushner, editor
February / Library of America #223 / ISBN 978-1-59853-147-3
  • After the Fall
  • Incident at Vichy
  • The Price
  • The Creation of the World and Other Business
  • Up from Paradise
  • The American Clock
  • The Archbishop’s Ceiling
  • one-act plays and other works

Barbara W. Tuchman: The Guns of August & The Proud Tower
Margaret MacMillan, editor
March / Library of America #222 / ISBN 978-1-59853-145-9

Thornton Wilder: The Eighth Day, Theophilus North, Autobiographical Writings
J. D. McClatchy, editor
February / Library of America #224 / ISBN 978-1-59853-146-6

The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard
Ron Padgett, editor; introduction by Paul Auster
April / ISBN 978-1-59853-149-7

Library of America Paperback Classics
  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers, with an introduction by Alan Taylor / ISBN 978-1-59853-155-8
  • William Dean Howells, Indian Summer, with an introduction by John Updike / ISBN 978-1-59853-156-5
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: The Arthur Goldhammer Translation, edited and with introductions by Oliver Zunz (two volumes) / ISBN 978-1-59853-151-0 and 978-1-59853-152-7

Library of America Boxed Sets
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