Friday, June 4, 2010

Robert Wasler — Microscripts

New Directions has been putting out some really classy, good-looking books this year. I've mentioned Roberto BolaƱo's Antwerp quite a couple of times, and last week I talked about Anne Carson's Nox; well here is another exciting and beautiful addition for your bookshelves...

The long awaited translations of Robert Walser's (The Assistant & The Tanners) Microscripts!

When Walser passed away in 1956 the executor of his estate, Carl Seelig, assumed that the small strips of paper were covered with markings around a millimeter or two high. Seelig figured that Walser had been writing in an undecipherable code while being hospitalized for schizophrenia in the Waldau Sanitarium.

What have now been termed Walser's Microscripts, turned out to be a miniaturized form of the Kurrent script, a kind of shorthand for German-speaking countries that was used until the mid-twentieth century. These Microscripts turned out to be early versions of Walser's novels and countless stories. New Directions has collected some of these stories, along with full-color plates of the original Microscripts.

These short stories are wonderful, masterful examples of the great storyteller Walser was. Susan Bernofsky has done an excellent job translating and Walter Benjamin's afterword is captivating.

Any fan of Walser (or literature) will get endless pleasure from this book.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Metaphysical Misadventures of Dr. David Throckmartin (and Other Tales)

I began Richard Hughes' A High Wind in Jamaica a couple of days ago, drawn to one of our remaindered copies due to the Henry Darger illustration NYRB had decided to slap on the cover of their edition. Not only did Hughes' 1929 masterpiece (#71 on The Modern Library's list: The 100 Best English Language Novels of the 20th Century, FYI) draw me in immediately, but it has also inspired multiple themes that I'm looking forward to applying in my summer reading list. Most importantly, tropical adventure. Last summer my reading, for whatever reason, revolved around major bummers. Example: In 2009 suddenly saw myself outside of my own body, lounging in the grass of one of San Francisco's many beautiful public parks, toggling between Suicide and Nausea. Though proud to have tackled an existentialist classic and a staunch psychological text back to back, still I asked, "What the hell is wrong with me?" and vowed that the next summer I would get it right. So, tropical reading '10 it is.

What's exciting about this is to me about this idea is the inherent insanity of the tropical setting. It, in theory, gives a book a strong backbone to begin with. Along with the fun of attempting to visualize what is to most an intriguing, foreign setting, the questionable moral state we call human nature seems to easily compose its dramas on remote islands or wayward vessels- human isolation and the dynamic will of the world (extreme weather conditions) ultimately must to come in to play. Man versus nature versus man versus man themes are practically unavoidable.

Here's a brief list of a few I'm excited to start. The what I've got so far and the little I know of them:

-Peter Mattheissen's Far Tortuga
What Mattheissen originally intended as a short article became a novel, a meditation on the sea itself.

-Stephen Marche's Shining at the Bottom of the Sea
A documentation of an island that never actually existed. This one comes with a high recommendation from my colleague, NPB.

-Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor
Short non-fiction surrounding the life of a sailor who survived some dubious set of circumstances at sea, eventually found washed up on a Colombian beach.

-A. Merritt's The Moon Pool
A 1919 tale of some sort of a man named Dr. Throckmartin and his metaphysical misadventures in The South Pacific. This book has chapter titles like Larry and the Frog-Men and looks to me like it will be the most sci-fi novel I have ever even expressed an interest in reading.

So far any other ideas that I've had fall under the categories of ALREADY READ (Island) and DON'T PARTICULARLY CARE TO READ (The Beach), so if you have any suggestions I'd be obliged to listen. Four books is not gonna' cover the next three months, y'know?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book of the Month: The Invisible Bridge

Each month, Green Apple selects a brand-new book that we love and recommend unconditionally. In fact, we guarantee you'll love the book--if not, we'll refund your money.

Since we know you like to laugh, we have produced an amusing video to accompany this month's selection. If you like it, pass it on.

This month's book is a first novel by an ex-SF writer. Her earlier collection of short stories (How to Breathe Underwater) was highly lauded, and her debut novel, The Invisible Bridge is also receiving wonderful reviews like this and this.

Here's Samantha's "shelf-talker:"

It is hard to list all the ways in which this ambitious novel (set in Paris & Hungary before & during WWII) succeeds. It is a sweeping historical account (I swear I kept thinking of Anna Karenina as I read) grounded in what is, at its core, a love story.

To try to do justice to its long and looping plot would be to sell it short, so suffice to say that it's the best book I've read in at least a year (and I read a lot of books) and that it manages to be both thoroughly engaging and important, with a capital I. I'm in awe of Orringer's talents as a story teller. And now I'm just gushing. You will, too.

Convinced yet? Buy the book by clicking here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Poem of the Week by Leslie Scalapino

Leslie Scalapino

what it





she doesn't

[doesn't want it]

[is no ascendancy]

from The Animal is in the World like Water in Water, a collaboration between Leslie Scalapino and Kiki Smith (Granary Books, 2009), excerpted in War and Peace #4: Vision and Text (O Books, 2009).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Highlights From BookExpo America 2010...

This year BookExpo America was busy, a good time, and a lot of work. Everywhere we went people were spotting Pete from the Green Apple Book vs. the Kindle Videos, commenting on how much they like the store, or ignoring us to stand in very long lines to get some random author to sign some random book that may or may not be worth the time.

As for myself I was trying to find the few small press booths around to see what the Fall will bring. Some of what I saw just came out, some is set for the Summer. Here are the books that look like great reads to me...

Anne Carson's
Nox hit our display table just as I was getting ready to leave for B.E.A. and it is beautiful. I haven't had time to dissect and enjoy this book yet, but what I have read is amazing. New Directions was prominently displaying this and Antwerp, which I previously wrote about here.
New Directions says of
Nox, "Anne Carson’s haunting and beautiful Nox is her first book of poetry in five years — a unique, illustrated, accordion-fold-out 'book in a box.'
Nox is an epitaph in the form of a book, a facsimile of a handmade book Anne Carson wrote and created after the death of her brother. The poem describes coming to terms with his loss through the lens of her translation of Poem 101 by Catullus 'for his brother who died in the Troad.' Nox
is a work of poetry, but arrives as a fascinating and unique physical object. Carson pasted old letters, family photos, collages and sketches on pages. The poems, typed on a computer, were added to this illustrated 'book,' creating a visual and reading experience so amazing as to open up our concept of poetry."

Along with the new release of Joshua Cohen's book Witz, Dalkey Archive is getting ready for the release of Best European Fiction 2011, in their annual Best European Fiction series. I, for one, cannot wait for this collection, as 2010 was amazing.

Green Apple also got a big thank you for our Running Away video!

(Also check out Self-Portrait Abroad: A Novel Toussaint's newest release from Dalkey)

One of my new friends in the publishing world is Graywolf Press. They have been putting out quality books since the mid-seventies, but have really come into their own. What were they touting for the Summer/Fall? Well it shouldn't be too hard to guess since I put a picture of the cover just to the left of this...

That's right a new Per Petterson novel, I Curse the River of Time. It's short but this galley has already been making the rounds and looks to be just what it is...another fantastic book from Per Petterson!

I also got to meet Jessica Francis Kane, who's first novel,
The Report, will be released in September.

And lastly (though there were a lot of great books to be seen this year I will update you on more later) The good people of Coffee House Press are very excited by Andrew Ervin's Extraordinary Renditions.

So stay tuned to thegreenapplecore and always check out our display shelves for the best in small press new releases.