Friday, November 17, 2006

More gifts from America and a good way to kill a few hours

The new Dave Eggers, What Is The What, the story of the Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng. Very handsome edition and some very fulsome praise on the jacket - not just rent-a-quotes but proper critical paragraphs. Might be taking this one home myself.

Some more from the seemingly excellent Archipelago Press. A book on Auguste Rodin by Rainer Maria Rilke who was his secretary for a while! Some amazing complementary photographs and an introduction by William Gass. Wow. And The Novices of Sais by Novalis, a german writer who died in 1801 at the age of 29. Here's what the blurb said:

'Novalis is one of the towering figures of German Romanticism. The Novices of Sais, translated from the German into French in 1925, received enthusiastic recognition by artists and poets alike and is often quoted by the surrealists. The text is a lyrical meld of Romantic emotion combined with a profound fascination with nature. In 1949, the novel was translated into English by Ralph Manheim and accompanied by 60 original drawings by Paul Klee. Novalis and Klee create a harmonious universe of their own. As Stephen Spender puts it in his introduction: "a world of pure art and pure contemplation, of imagist poems, and an intense, glowing yet humorous and meticulous imagination."'

The Klee drawings are indeed beautiful. Both Matthew and I had our eyes on this before it got bought! From box to sale in 45 minutes. Very satisfying. Probably means we should have got more than one in.

And if you get tired of reading go to and watch the interviews. They are half an hour each and uniformly excellent. Howard Jacobson was brilliant, P J O'Rourke bullish, Jonathan Miller lecturing and Martin Amis quietly funny though slightly overshadowed by James' intellectual ego. This is what tv used to be like, fascinating talking heads with no bells and whistles just articulate intelligent people.


  1. I don't suppose you could get hold of another copy of the Novalis for me? I'm reading Penelope Fitzgerald's 'The Blue Flower' at the moment (a novelisation of his career as a poet) and would like to sample his work. Also, no harm in supporting my favourite book-shop blog. :-)

    (E-mail me if you can:

  2. On the way Victoria - thanks...