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  • Puerto Rico’s DIY Disaster Relief
    Two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, aid remained a bureaucratic quagmire, mismanaged by FEMA, the FBI, the US military, the laughably corrupt local government. The island looked like it was stuck somewhere between the nineteenth century and the...
  • What’s in a T-Shirt?
    MoMA's “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” refers less to a period of time than to a way of relating to time itself—of dealing with and mingling the past, present, and future. The show features items that have been invented anew, used for present needs, or...
  • Norwegian Woods
    Edvard Munch was never simply a Norwegian artist. His appeal, like his own life, has always been both local and cosmopolitan at the same time. He may be best known internationally for his anguished paintings of the 1890s, especially for the group...
  • Russia’s Gay Demons
    Early in Vladimir Putin’s first presidency I spoke to a Moscow banker, with reason to care on this point, who said he detected no trace of anti-Semitism in Putin personally, but that Putin would encourage popular anti-Semitism in a second if he...
  • Year One: Trump’s Foreign Affairs
    Until a year ago, the US was setting a lead of a very different sort. America’s first black president seemed about to make way for the first woman president. Once again, the US was offering an example to the world, affording a glimpse of what...
  • Marseus in the Land of Snakes
    No one quite knows what led Otto Marseus van Schrieck to the invention of the sottobosco, but it was certainly in the spirit of the times. Born around 1620, Marseus grew up amid the great scientific flourishing of the seventeenth century. This...
  • Year One: Stress Testing the Constitution
    Trump’s lawyers deny that the president’s continued receipt of business from foreign, federal, and state governments violates the Constitution. They may be right. And it may be difficult to persuade a court that anyone has standing—the appropriate...
  • Year One: Rhetoric & Responsibility
    The Trump problem is probably somewhat self-limiting, he and his ilk being so very strange. But there are older, deeper problems. A substantial part of the American public seems to have lost interest in ideas, therefore in substantive controversy....
  • Tove Jansson: Beyond the Moomins?
    For anyone familiar with Tove Jansson from the Moomins alone, the most surprising works in the exhibition—which aims to rectify the fact that less attention has generally been paid to her range as a visual artist—will be her early self-portraits...

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  • Rope Dancer, by M. J. Fitzgerald (1986)

    Many of the stories in M. J. Fitzgerald’s collection, Rope Dancer, read like unsettling dreams: vivid enough to provoke deep feelings but too full of bizarre, illogical transitions and events to be part of waking life. In “Mystery Story,” a woman finds herself returned, again and again, to the compartment of a passenger train, where... Read more

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  • Croatian Tales of Long Ago, by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1922)

    One day late, but in keeping with the spirit of Halloween, which reminds us each year of the didactic benefits of scaring the crap out of kids, I want to celebrate a fine example of fairy tales told with the gloves off. As Bruno Bettelheim (perhaps somewhat plagiaristically) reminded us, uniformly pleasant and positive stories... Read more

    The post Croatian

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  • “In Sleep,” by Robert Kotlowitz (1954)

    In Sleep What do I see in my sleep? A steady seepage of life in dreams that are of no use to a practical body. I awake like you, sapped by a watchful reality, defined by a soft-boiled egg. Today’s newspaper tucked under my arm, swats invisible enemies on the fleeing subway. Time, then, is... Read more

    The post “In Sleep,” by Robert Kotlowitz

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  • The Smoking Mountain, by Kay Boyle (1951; 1963)

    In 1948, the American writer Kay Boyle left France, where she had spent most of the previous 25 years to live in Germany. Germany was then an occupied country, split between the Soviets, French, British, and Americans into four zones of military administration. Whether she was making amends for sitting out France’s own time of... Read more

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  • Discovery, a Paperback Magazine (1953-1955)

    During my annual pilgrimage to the Montana Valley Book Store, I decided to dig around in the anthologies section, a section I’ve always avoided before. I’ll admit to a bias for original sources over compilations, and I’ve rarely found a good reason to overcome it. But it was hot outside and cool in the basement... Read more

    The post ...

  • Selected Stories, by Martin Armstrong (1951)

    In his dictionary, Samuel Johnson defined craftsman as “”An artificer; a manufacturer; a mechanick.” When the first OED was published 150 years later, craftsman was still associated with assembly rather than creation: “A man who practices a handicraft; an artificer, artisan.” And even today, to refer to a writer as a craftsman is to assign... Read more

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  • Vertical and Horizontal, by Lillian Ross (1963)

    Lillian Ross’s death at the venerable age of 99 has been widely noted, starting with Rebecca Mead’s obituary in Ross’s beloved The New Yorker. A number of her more successful books, including Portrait of Hemingway, have been reprinted in recent years and I suspect more will follow now. Less likely to be reissued is her... Read more

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  • Thirty Years, by John P. Marquand (1954)

    The dust jacket of Marquand’s Thirty Years provides this unimpressive description of the book’s contents: “A collection of stories, articles and essays which have not previously appeared in book form.” Plenty of such collections have been published, but perhaps none other has been so honest in acknowledging the flimsy rationale for its existence. Little, Brown,... Read more

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  • The Strangers Were There: Selected Stories by John Bell Clayton (1957)

    With Charlottesville, Virginia and its statue of General Robert E. Lee in the news, it’s worth taking a moment to note a long-forgotten collection of short stories set in and around the town. John Bell Clayton’s The Strangers Were There (1957), published posthumously, earned mildly reviews and quickly disappeared, but it remains perhaps the most... Read more

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  • The Third Reich of Dreams, by Charlotte Beradt (1968)

    Robert Ley, head of the German Labour Front under Hitler, once said, “The only person in Germany who still leads a private life is the person who sleeps.” In The Third Reich of Dreams, Charlotte Beradt proves that Ley underestimated the power of his own regime over the people’s unconscious. Working quietly and covertly, through... Read more

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(04/07/2015) The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa. New York. 2015. Farrar Straus Giroux. Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman. 326 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Alex Merto. 9780374146740.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9780374146740   The latest masterpiece--perceptive, funny, insightful, affecting--from the Nobel Prize-winning author Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa's newest novel, "The Discreet Hero," follows two fascinating characters whose lives are destined to intersect: neat, endearing Felicito Yanaque, a small businessman in Piura, Peru, who finds himself the victim of blackmail; and Ismael Carrera, a successful owner of an insurance company in Lima, who cooks up a plan to avenge himself against the two lazy sons who want him dead. Felicito and Ismael are, each in his own way, quiet, discreet rebels: honorable men trying to seize control of their destinies in a social and political climate where all can seem set in stone, predetermined. They are hardly vigilantes, but each is determined to live according to his own personal ideals and desires--which means forcibly rising above the pettiness of their surroundings. "The Discreet Hero" is also a chance to revisit some of our favorite players from previous Vargas Llosa novels: Sergeant Lituma, Don Rigoberto, Dona Lucrecia, and Fonchito are all here in a prosperous Peru. Vargas Llosa sketches Piura and Lima vividly--and the cities become not merely physical spaces but realms of the imagination populated by his vivid characters. A novel whose humor and pathos shine through in Edith Grossman's masterly translation, "The Discreet Hero" is another remarkable achievement from the finest Latin American novelist at work today."

 

  Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. Peru's foremost writer, he has been awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and the Jerusalem Prize. His many works include THE FEAST OF THE GOAT, THE BAD GIRL, AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER, THE WAR OF THE END OF THE WORLD, and THE STORYTELLER. He lives in London.

 

 

 

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