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(02/08/2015) A Stranger In The Village: Two Centuries Of African-American Travel Writing by Farah J. Griffin and Cheryl J. Fish (editors). Boston. 1998. Beacon Press. hardcover. 366 pages.  Jacket design by Sara Eisenman. Jacket photo: Bessie Coleman, first African-American female aviator.  keywords: Travel Black Anthology African American. 080707120x.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

080707120x   James Baldwin in Paris, Audre Lorde in the Soviet Union, Langston Hughes in Mexico, Martin Delany in Nigeria, June Jordan in the Bahamans. While much of the black experience in America has been characterized by movement, most attention has been focused on the forced migration of the slave trade and the great migration from the South to northern cities. But there is a rich tradition of writing by African-Americans who have traveled abroad in search of new opportunities, political insight pleasure, and adventure. From sailors to missionaries to leaders of nationalist movement, this unique collection documents a tradition of African-American travel writing throughout two centuries. It includes a nineteenth-century sailor’s account of his amazing adventures to ‘the ends of the world’; a female ‘doctress’ on the Panamanian frontier; the observations of Claude McKay on a newly formed Soviet Union; and Ntozake Shange’s musings from Nicaragua on the power of Motown to overcome boundaries of language and custom. A rich, expansive collection, A STRANGER IN THE VILLAGE offers a new perspective on what it has meant to be a black American.

 

Farah J. Griffin, author of WHO SET YOU FLOWIN’?, is assistant professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Griffin Farah J and Fish Cheryl J

Cheryl J, Fish, author of several articles on women and African-American travelers, is assistant professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.

 

 

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(02/07/2015) Those Bones Are Not My Child: A Novel by Toni Cade Bambara. New York. 1999. Pantheon Books. hardcover. 676 pages. October 1999.  Jacket photograph by CORBIS/Galen Rowell. Jacket design by Marjorie Anderson.  keywords: Literature Black Women America Atlanta African American. 0679442618.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   THOSE BONES ARE NOT MY CHILD is a staggering achievement: the novel that Toni Cade Bambara worked on for twelve years until her death in 1995 - a story that puts us at the center of the nightmare of the Atlanta child murders. It was called ‘The City Too Busy To Hate,’ but two decades ago more than forty black children were murdered there with grim determination, their bodies found - in ditches, on riverbanks - strangled, beaten, and sexually assaulted. Bambara was living in Atlanta at the time, and THOSE BONES ARE NOT MY CHILD is the result of her painstaking first-hand research, as she delved into the murders and the world in which the occurred. Evoking the culture of the late 1970s and early ‘80s with a keen eye - the Iranian hostage crisis, disco, Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver - THOSE BONES ARE NOT MY CHILD powerfully dramatizes the story of one black family surviving on the margins of a seemingly prosperous city. On Sunday morning, July 20, 1980, Marzala Rawls Spencer awakens to find that her teenage son has gone missing, even as the Atlanta child abductions are beginning to be reported. As she and her estranged husband frantically search for their son, the story moves with authority through the full spectrum of Atlanta’s political, social, and cultural life, illuminating the vexing issues of race and class that bedevil the city. Suspenseful, richly dramatic, profoundly affecting, THOSE BONES ARE NOT MY CHILD explores the complex relationships within one family in dire crisis. And as Toni Morrison, who edited Bambara’s manuscript, has observed, it is also ‘the narrative revelation of a major Southern city of the ‘80s, a revelation of what clogs the bloodstream of ‘The City Too Busy To Hate:’

 

  TONI CADE BAMBARA was the author of two short story collections, GORILLA, MY LOVE and THE SEABIRDS ARE STILL ALIVE; a novel, THE SALT EATERS; and a collection of fiction, essays, and conversations, DEEP SIGHTINGS AND RESCUE MISSIONS. Her writings continue to appear in literature anthologies throughout the world. A noted documentary filmmaker and screenwriter, Bambara’s film work includes the documentaries The Bombing of Osage Avenue and W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices.

 

 

 

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(02/06/2015) Why I Left America & Other Essays by Oliver W. Harrington. Jackson. 1993. University Press Of Mississippi. hardcover. 113 pages.  Photo of Oliver W. Harrington by Gerhard Kindt.  keywords: America Black Autobiography Politics History Racism African American. 0878056556.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   To American black newspapers of the 1930s and 1940s Ollie Harrington was a prolific contributor of humorous and editorial cartoons. He emerged as an artist during the Harlem Renaissance and created Bootsie, the popular cartoon figure that became a fixture in black newspapers. Langston Hughes praised Harrington as America’s greatest black cartoonist. After serving as a war correspondent in Italy, he returned to his homeland and the impediment of racism that pervaded American life. As director of public relations for the NAACP, he crusaded against America’s policies of institutionalized racism, openly supporting leftist reform leaders. Upon hearing in this era of red-baiting that he was targeted for investigation, Harrington left America. In the culturally rich American community on the Left Bank in Paris that would come to include Chester Himes, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright, he became a fixture. In 1961 he found himself trapped behind the Berlin Wall, but he chose to remain in East Germany. His cartoons appeared in East German magazines and in the American Communist newspaper The Daily World. Although he became a favorite with Eastern Bloc students and intellectuals, in America Harrington was mainly forgotten. The autobiographical pieces included in WHY I LEFT AMERICA AND OTHER ESSAYS, written mainly during the 1960s and 1970s, detail Oliver W. Harrington’s experiences as an African American artist in exile. One theme that persists in these writings and his cartoons is his intolerance of racism. Hence, as an artist, he has found it impossible not to be political. ‘Although I believe that ‘art for art’s sake’ has its merits,’ he says. ‘I personally feel that my art must be involved, and the most profound involvement must be with the Black liberation struggle.’ One essay, from Ebony magazine, fuels speculation about the mysterious circumstances in the death of his friend Richard Wright. In another piece Harrington details how he created the celebrated Bootsie. He writes in others of his life in New York during the Harlem Renaissance and in Paris with fellow black expatriate figures. Why did this African American choose to live in exile for over forty years? In an affectionate foreword to this volume Richard Wright’s daughter Julia gives clues to the answer. Her insights, along with M. Thomas Inge’s introductory essay about Harrington’s life and achievements, bring special focus to the experiences of an outstanding African American artist and social critic who has been virtually without recognition in his homeland.

 

Harrington Oliver W  Oliver Wendell "Ollie" Harrington (February 14, 1912 – November 2, 1995) was an American cartoonist and an outspoken advocate against racism and for civil rights in the United States. Of multi-ethnic descent, Langston Hughes called him "America's greatest African-American cartoonist". Harrington requested political asylum in East Germany in 1961; he lived in Berlin for the last three decades of his life. Born to Herbert and Euzsenie Turat Harrington in Valhalla, New York, Harrington was the eldest of five children. He began cartooning to vent his frustrations about a viciously racist sixth grade teacher and graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1929. Immersing himself in the Harlem Renaissance, Harrington found employment when Ted Poston, city editor for the Amsterdam News became aware of Harrington's already considerable skills as a cartoonist and political satirist. In 1935, Harrington created Dark Laughter, a regular single panel cartoon, for that publication. The strip featured the debut of his most famous character, Bootsie, an ordinary African American dealing with racism in the U.S. Harrington described him as "a jolly, rather well-fed but soulful character." During this period, Harrington enrolled in Fine Arts at Yale University to complete his degree, but could not finish because of the United States entry into World War II). During World War II, the Pittsburgh Courier sent Harrington as a correspondent to Europe and North Africa. In Italy, he met Walter White, executive secretary of the NAACP. After the war, White hired Harrington to develop the organization's public relations department, where he became a visible and outspoken advocate for civil rights. In that capacity, Harrington published "Terror in Tennessee," a controversial expose of increased lynching violence in the post-W.W. II South. Given the publicity garnered by his sensational critique, Harrington was invited to debate with U.S. Attorney General Tom C. Clark on the topic of "The Struggle for Justice as a World Force." He confronted Clark for the U.S. government's failure to curb lynching and other racially motivated violence. In 1947 Harrington left the NAACP and returned to cartooning. In the postwar period his prominence and social activism brought him scrutiny from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Hoping to avoid further government scrutiny, Harrington moved to Paris in 1951. In Paris, Harrington joined a thriving community of African-American expatriate writers and artists, including James Baldwin, Chester Himes, and Richard Wright, who became a close friend. Harrington was shaken by Wright's death in 1960, suspecting that he was assassinated. He thought that the American embassy had a deliberate campaign of harassment directed toward the expatriates. In 1961 he requested political asylum in East Germany. He spent the rest of his life in East Berlin, finding plentiful work and a cult following. He illustrated and contributed to publications such as Eulenspiegel, Das Magazine, and the Daily Worker.Harrington had four children. Two daughters are U.S. nationals; a third is a British national. All were born before Harrington emigrated to East Berlin. His youngest child, a son, was born several years after Harrington married Helma Richter, a German journalist. Publications:   Dark Laughter: The Satiric Art of Oliver W. Harrington, ed. M. Thomas Inge (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993); Why I Left America and Other Essays, ed. M. Thomas Inge (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993); Laughing on the Outside: The Intelligent White Reader's Guide to Negro Tales and Humor (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1965). [With Philip Sterling and J. Saunders Redding]; Bootsie and Others: A Selection of Cartoons (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1958); Hezekiah Horton (Viking Press, 1955). [with Ellen Tarry]; Terror in Tennessee: The Truth about the Columbia Outrages (New York: "Committee of 100", 1946). M. Thomas Inge is the Robert Emory Blackwell Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College.

 

M. Thomas Inge is the Robert Emory Blackwell Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College.

 

 

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(02/05/2015) Without Regard To Race: The Other Martin Robison Delany by Tunde Adeleke. Jackson. 2004. University Press Of Mississippi. hardcover. 274 pages.  Photograph of Martin Delany courtesy of the USA and Military History institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion.  keywords: History Black America Martin Delany Biography African American. 1578065984.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Before Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois lifted the banner for black liberation and independence, Martin Robison Delany (1812-1885) was at the forefront. He was the first black appointed as a combat major in the Union army during the Civil War. He was a Pan-Africanist and a crusader for black freedom and equality in the nineteenth century. For the past three decades, however, this precursor has been regarded only as a militant Black Nationalist and racial essentialist.’ To his discredit, his ideas, programs, and accomplishments have been maintained as models of uncompromising militancy. Classifying Delany solely for his militant nationalist rhetoric crystalizes him into a one-dimensional figure. This study of his life and thought, the first critical biography of the pivotal African American thinker written by a historian, challenges the distorting portrait and, arguing that Delany reflects the spectrum of the nineteenth-century black independence movement, makes a strong case for bringing him closer to the center position of the political mainstream. He displayed a far greater degree of optimism about the future of blacks in America than has been acknowledged, and he faced pragmatic socio-economic realities that made it possible for him to be flexible for compromise. Focusing on neglected phases in his intellectual life, this book reveals Delany as a personality who was neither uncompromisingly militant nor dogmatically conservative. It argues that his complex strategies for racial integration were much more focused on America than on separateness and nationalism. The extreme characterization of him that has been prominent in the contemporary mind reflects ideologies of scholars who came of age during the civil rights era, the period that initially inspired great interest in his life. This new look at him paints a portrait of the ‘other Delany,’ a thinker able to reach across racial boundaries to offer compromise and dialogue.

 

Adeleke Tunde  TUNDE ADELEKE, professor of history and director of African American studies at the University of Montana, Missoula, is the author of UnAfrican Americans: Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalists and the Civilizing Mission and editor of Booker T Washington: Interpretive Essays. He is currently editing for publication a collection of Martin Delany’s post-Civil War papers.

 

 

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(02/04/2015) Singing The Master: The Emergence Of African America Culture In The Plantation South by Roger D. Abrahams. New York. 1992. Pantheon Books. hardcover. 342 pages. May 1992.  Jacket art: ‘Study for Aspects of Negro Life: An Idyll of the Deep South,’ 1934, tempera on paper, by Aaron Douglas. Jacket design by Marjorie Anderson.  keywords: Black History America Folklore African American. 0394555910.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   In the American South before the Civil War, a harvest celebration developed surrounding the shucking of the corn each autumn. This event brought together both slave and master, with the slaves encouraged to perform. Thanks to the reports of visitors and foreigners, the corn- shucking ceremony became a representative scene of plantation life. In SINGING THE MASTER, Roger Abrahams reconstructs the genesis of the celebration - and offers a controversial and radical interpretation of the occasion. Tracing the origins of the ceremony to the English custom of harvest home Abrahams shows how the slaves, encouraged to express their African cultural heritage, transformed a chance for performance and self-expression into an opportunity for moral and social commentary – an occasion to mock and ridicule their masters. Abrahams also analyzes the corn-shucking ceremony’s fascinating dual cultural legacy - how the African American performance style influenced white culture as it was adapted and - imitated by whites in minstrel and vaudeville shows; and also how the bardic role of the performer, the subversive treatment of authority, and interplay with the audience are present in African American performance style today.

 

  Roger D. Abrahams is Professor of Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a past president of the American Folklore Society, a former chairman of the English Department at the University of Texas, and a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar. Professor Abrahams has done fieldwork in a range of African American communities from a ghetto neighborhood in Philadelphia to the Caribbean. He has also studied arid written about Anglo-American folk songs and children’s lore.

 

 

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(02/03/2015) Cane by Jean Toomer. New York. 1975. Liveright. hardcover. 116 pages.  Jacket design by Tim Gaydos. With A New Introduction by Darwin T. Turner. keywords: Literature Black America African American. 087140611x.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   First published in 1923 and now reissued with a new introduction by Darwin T. Turner, CANE is an acknowledged classic - a powerful work of innovative fiction evoking Negro life in the South, primarily Georgia. Jean Toomer was born in 1894 in Washington, D.C., the son of educated blacks of Creole stock. He studied various subjects at a number of universities, but literature was his first love and he regularly contributed avant-garde poetry and short stories to such magazines as DIAL, BROOM, SECESSION, DOUBLE DEALER, and LITTLE REVIEW. After a brief literary apprenticeship in New York, Toomer taught school in rural Georgia. It was that experience that led to the writing of CANE. ‘By far the most impressive product of the Negro Renaissance, [CANE] ranks with Richard Wright’s NATIVE SON and Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN as a measure of the Negro novelist’s highest achievement. Jean Toomer belongs to that first rank of writers who use words almost as a plastic medium, shaping new meanings from an original and highly personal style.  Toomer displays a concern for technique which is fully two decades in advance of the period. While his contemporaries of the Harlem School were still experimenting with a crude literary realism, Toomer had progressed beyond the naturalistic level to ‘the higher realism of the emotions,’ to symbol, and to myth.’ - Robert A. Bone, THE NEGRO NOVEL IN AMERICA. ‘No earlier volume of poetry or fiction or both had come close to expressing the ethos of the Negro in the Southern setting as Cane did. Even in today’s ghettos astute readers are finding that its insights have anticipated and often exceeded their own.’ - Arna Bontemps. ‘The colored people did not praise it. The, white people did not buy it.  Yet (excepting the work of DuBois) CANE contains the finest prose written by a Negro in America.’ - Langston Hughes.

 

 Jean Toomer (December 26, 1894 – March 30, 1967) was an American poet and novelist and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His first book Cane, published in 1923, is considered by many his most significant. Toomer was born Nathan Eugene Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C. His father was a prosperous farmer, originally born into slavery in Hancock County, Georgia. His mother, Nina Pinchback, was of mixed ethnic descent. Her father, Louisiana Governor P. B. S. Pinchback, was a planter and the first African American to become governor of a U.S. state. Her mother was a mulatto slave. Both of Toomer's maternal grandparents had white fathers. After Reconstruction, the Pinchbacks had moved to Washington, D.C., where they became part of the ‘mulatto elite.’ Toomer's father (also called Nathan Toomer) abandoned the family when his son was an infant, and the boy and his mother lived with her parents. As a child in Washington, Toomer attended all-black schools. When his mother re-married and they moved to suburban New Rochelle, New York, he attended an all-white school. After his mother's death, Toomer returned to Washington to live with his Pinchback grandparents. He graduated from the M Street School, an academic black high school. By his early adult years, Toomer resisted racial classifications and wanted to be identified only as an American. Between 1914 and 1917 Toomer attended six institutions of higher education (the University of Wisconsin, the Massachusetts College of Agriculture, the American College of Physical Training in Chicago, the University of Chicago, New York University, and the City College of New York) studying agriculture, fitness, biology, sociology, and history, but he never completed a degree. His wide readings among prominent contemporary poets and writers, and the lectures he attended during his college years, shaped the direction of his writing. After leaving college, Toomer published some short stories and continued writing in the volatile social period following World War I. He worked for some months in a shipyard in 1919, then escaped to middle-class life. Labor strikes and race riots occurred in several major cities during the summer of 1919, and artistic ferment was high. He devoted several months to the study of Eastern philosophies and continued to be interested in this. Some of his early writing was political, and he published three essays from 1919-1920 in the prominent socialist paper New York Call. They drew from the socialist and ‘New Negro’ movements of New York. Toomer was reading much new American writing, for instance Waldo Frank's Our America (1919). In 1921 Toomer took a job for a few months as a principal at a new rural agricultural and industrial school for blacks in Sparta, Georgia. It was in the center of Hancock County and in the Black Belt 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. His exploration of his father's roots in Hancock County, as well as being forced into witnessing the segregation and labor peonage of the Deep South, led him to identify more strongly as an African American. Several lynchings took place in Georgia during 1921-1922, continuing to enforce white supremacy with violence. In 1908 the state had ratified a constitution essentially disfranchising blacks; by Toomer's time, it passed laws to prevent outmigration and established high licenses fees for employers recruiting labor in the state. African Americans had started their Great Migration north and planters feared losing their pool of cheap labor. It was a formative experience for Toomer; he started writing about it while still in Georgia and submitted the long story ‘Georgia Night’ to the Liberator in New York while there. Toomer returned to New York where he became friends with Waldo Frank, who also served as his mentor and editor on his novel Cane. In 1923, Toomer published the High Modernist novel Cane, in which he used a variety of forms, and material inspired by his time in Georgia. It was also an ‘analysis of class and caste’, with ‘secrecy and miscegenation as major themes of the first section’. He had conceived it as a short-story cycle, and acknowledged the influence of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919) as his model, in addition to other influential works of that period. He also appeared to have absorbed The Waste Land of T. S. Eliot and considered him one of the American group of writers he wanted to join, ‘artists and intellectuals who were engaged in renewing American society at its multi-cultural core.’ Many scholars considered Cane to be his best work. A series of poems and short stories about the black experience in America, Cane was hailed by critics and is seen as an important work of both the Harlem Renaissance and the Lost Generation. Toomer resisted racial classification and did not want the book marketed as a black work. As he said to his publisher Horace Liveright, ‘My racial composition and my position in the world are realities that I alone may determine.’ Toomer found it more difficult to get published throughout the 1930s, as did many authors during the Great Depression. He became very interested in the work of the spiritual leader George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who had a lecture tour in the United States in 1924. That year, and in 1926 and 1927, Toomer went to France to study with Gurdjieff, who had settled at Fontainebleau. He was a student of Gurdjieff until the mid-1930s. In 1931 Toomer married the writer Margery Latimer. The following year she died in childbirth in August 1932 and he named their only daughter Margery. In 1934 he married a second time, to Marjorie Content. Because Toomer was notable as a writer, his two marriages, both classed as inter-racial, attracted notice and some social criticism. In 1940 the Toomers moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania. There he formally joined the Quakers and began to withdraw from society. Toomer wrote a small amount of fiction and published essays in Quaker publications during this time, but devoted most of his time to serving on Quaker committees and working with high school students. His last literary work published during his lifetime was Blue Meridian, a long poem extolling ‘the potential of the American race’. He stopped writing for publication after 1950, although he wrote for himself, including several autobiographies. He died in 1967 after several years of poor health. Darwin T. Turner is presently professor of English and chairman of the Afro-American Studies program at the University of Iowa. He has also taught at Clark College, Morgan State College, Florida A&M, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Hawaii. He is the author of numerous essays in Black Studies and in American literature, and is prominent in professional organizations. He has currently been working with Jean Toomer’s unpublished writings.

 

 

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(02/02/2015) Rails Under My Back by Jeffrey Renard Allen. New York. 2000. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. 563 pages.. keywords: Literature Black America African American. 0374246262.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   An astonishing debut novel, exploring the bonds, boundaries, and bondage of an African American family. Rails Under My Back is a daring work of art that reveals its family theme in a stunning depiction of its paradoxically opposite: abandonment. In this multifaceted, brilliantly colored, intensely musical novel, Jeffery Renard Allen tracks the interwoven lives of two brothers, Lucius and John Jones, who are married to two sisters, Gracie and Sheila McShan. For them, their parents, and their children, life is always full of departures; someone is always fleeing town and leaving the remaining family to suffer the often dramatic, sometimes tragic consequences. The multiple effects of the comings and goings are devastating: these are the almost mythic expression of the African American experience during the past half-century. Rails Under My Back ranges, as the characters do, from the City, which is somewhat like both New York and Chicago, to Memphis, to the West, and to many 'inner' and 'outer' locales. One image that holds the family together is that of the railroads taking them from place to place-from the South to the North, from their living to their working quarters, from one form of bondage or freedom to another. The McShans and the Joneses somehow prevail, in their bigger-than-life way, and their story has extraordinary literary, religious, and historical power. Allen's voice is unforgettable.

 

Allen Jeffrey Renard  Jeffery Renard Allen (born 1962 Chicago) is an American poet, essayist, short story writer, and novelist.He is the author of two collections of poetry, Harbors and Spirits (Moyer Bell 1999) and Stellar Places (Moyer Bell 2007), and three works of fiction, the novel Rails Under My Back (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2000), a story collection Holding Pattern (Graywolf Press, 2008) and a second novel, Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press, 2014). In writing about his fiction, reviewers often note his lyrical use of language and his playful use of form to write about African American life. His poems tend to focus on music, mythology, history, film, and other sources, rather than narrative or autobiographical experiences.

 

 

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(02/01/2015) The Black Interior: Essays by Elizabeth Alexander. Saint Paul. 2004. Graywolf Press. paperback. 224 pages.  Cover design by Julie Metz. Cover art: Elizabeth Catlett. ‘The Black Women Speaks’.  keywords: Literature Black Women Essays African American. 1555973930.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘Elizabeth Alexander is one of the brightest stars in our literary sky. a poet of poise and power. Now we see that she’s also capable of striking prose. These essays speak eloquently not only about literature - especially poetry - but also about life itself and the complicated culture in which we live. Her sharp intelligence and her knowledge of the contemporary arts make her a superb, invaluable commentator on the American scene.’ - Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University. ‘When a poet of such declarative distinction as Elizabeth Alexander unfolds her critical wings, she swoops across the landscape of Black cultural thought, making it new, making it her own. This is a work of great generosity and insight that explores the deep springs of African American creativity with a sensibility that is both moving and engaging.’ - Homi K. Bhabha, Rothenberg Professor of English, Harvard University. ‘In prose that is both elegant and clear, rigorous and accessible, Elizabeth Alexander illuminates in these essays on art, literature, film and politics, places in African American culture that elude stereotypic representations and the limits of public discourse.’ - Valerie Smith, Princeton University. ‘Elizabeth Alexander’s keen observations about a broad range of African American artifacts - poems, films, photographs, and conceptual art, for example - offer far more than clever visual analysis. They set cultural objects into their broadest social context. In these perceptive and eloquent essays, Alexander continually reminds us of the power of representation – words, images, indeed art itself - to oppress, to provoke, and ultimately to liberate. THE BLACK INTERIOR represents the best and most resonant form of cultural history writing that tackles life-and-death issues through the lenses of visual and literary culture.’ - Maurice Berger, Senior Fellow, The Vera List Center for Art & Politics, New School University.

 

 Elizabeth Alexander is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently ANTEBELLUM DREAM BOOK. She has taught and lectured on African American art and culture across the country and abroad for nearly two decades. Alexander currently teaches English and African American Studies at Yale University.

 

 

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(01/31/2015) The Reefs of Space by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. New York. 1964. Ballantine Books. 188 pages. September 1964. paperback.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   During the third millennium A.D. Earth is ruled by a computer that has replaced freedom with order. And the world is ticking over efficiently. Boringly hut efficiently. Then things go wrong and Machine Major Boysie Gann has to find out what. The trouble is coming from the Reefs of Space, where a group Of Earth people has been exiled. Putting the Sun out was just one of their annoying little tricks. But the more Machine Major Boysie Gann finds out, the more he becomes confused. Freedom, for instance, was banned a long time before he was born. But, from what’s happening in the Reefs of Space, it seems to have its good points.

 

Pohl Frederik  Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning more than seventy-five years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem ‘Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna’, to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy and its sister magazine If; the latter won three successive annual Hugo Awards as the year's best professional magazine. His 1977 novel Gateway won four ‘year's best novel’ awards: the Hugo voted by convention participants, the Locus voted by magazine subscribers, the Nebula voted by American science fiction writers, and the juried academic John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Campbell Memorial Award again for the 1984 collection of novellas Years of the City, one of two repeat winners during the first forty years. For his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction. It was a finalist for three other years' best novel awards. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards. The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers. Pohl won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog, ‘The Way the Future Blogs’.

 

Williamson Jack  John Stewart Williamson (April 29, 1908 – November 10, 2006), who wrote as Jack Williamson, was an American science fiction writer, often called the "Dean of Science Fiction" after the death of Robert Heinlein in 1988. Early in his career he sometimes used the pseudonyms Will Stewart and Nils O. Sonderlund.

 

 

 

 

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(01/30/2015) The Casanova Fable by William Gerhardi and Hugh Kingsmill. London. 1934. Jarrolds. 223 pages.  hardcover. Cover illustration by P. Youngman Carter.  Illustrated by P. Youngman Carter.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   An absorbing character study of the world’s greatest lover, set against a background of Venetian gondolas; the lilting strains of the Waltz; the eternal romance of Paris; and the carefree laughter of Madrid and London, Rome and St. Petersburg over 150 years ago. This volume is a guide to all readers in approaching a biography which fairly represents the life of men and women addicted to the pursuit of pleasure and a life of adventure. Delightfully illustrated by P. Youngman Carter with eight beautifully coloured plates.

 

  William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936)..

 

  Hugh Kingsmill Lunn (21 November 1889 – 15 May 1949), who dropped his last name for professional purposes, was a versatile British writer and journalist. Writers Arnold Lunn and Brian Lunn were his brothers. Hugh Kingsmill Lunn was born in London and educated at Harrow School and the University of Oxford. After graduating he worked for a brief period for Frank Harris, who edited the publication Hearth and Home in 1911/2, alongside Enid Bagnold; Kingsmill later wrote a debunking biography of Harris, after the spell had worn off. He began fighting in the British Army in World War I in 1916, and was captured in France the next year. After the war, he began to write, initially both science fiction and crime fiction. In the 1930s he was a contributor to the English Review; later he wrote a good deal of non-fiction for this periodical's successor, the English Review Magazine. His large output includes criticism, essays and biographies, parodies and humour, as well as novels, and edited a number of anthologies. He is remembered for saying 'friends are God's apology for relations', with a notable flavour of Ambrose Bierce. The dictum was subsequently used by Richard Ingrams for the title of his memoir of Kingsmill's friendships with Hesketh Pearson and Malcolm Muggeridge, two intimate friends whom he influenced greatly.Muggeridge drew a darker attitude from Kingsmill's sardonic wit. Dawnist was Kingsmill's word for those infected with unrealistic or utopian idealism — the enemy as far as he was concerned. Kingmill’s works include: The Will To Love (1919) novel, The Dawn's Delay (1924) stories, Blondel (1927), Matthew Arnold (1928) biography, After Puritanism, 1850-1900 (1929), An Anthology Of Invective And Abuse (1929), The Return of William Shakespeare (1929) novel, Behind Both Lines (1930) autobiographical, More Invective (1930) anthology, The Worst of Love (1931) anthology, After Puritanism (1931), Frank Harris (1932) biography, The Table Of Truth (1933), Samuel Johnson (1933) biography, The Sentimental Journey (1934) biography of Charles Dickens, The Casanova Fable: A Satirical Revaluation (1934) with William Gerhardi, What They Said At The Time (1935) anthology, Parents and Children (1936) anthology; Brave Old World (1936) humour, with Malcolm Muggeridge, A Pre-View Of Next Year's News (1937) humour, with Malcolm Muggeridge, Skye High: The Record Of A Tour Through Scotland In The Wake Of The Samuel Johnson And James Boswell.(1937) travel, with Hesketh Pearson, Made On Earth (1937) anthology on marriage, The English Genius: a survey of the English achievement and character (1938) editor, essays by W. R. Inge, Hilaire Belloc, Hesketh Pearson, William Gerhardi, E .S. P. Haynes, Douglas Woodruff, Charles Petrie, J. F. C. Fuller, Alfred Noyes, Rose Macaulay, Brian Lunn, Rebecca West, K. Hare, T. W. Earp, D. H. Lawrence (1938) biography, Next Year's News (1938) humour, with Malcolm Muggeridge, Courage (1939) anthology, Johnson Without Boswell: A Contemporary Portrait of Samuel Johnson (1940) editor, The Fall (1940), This Blessed Plot (1942) travel, with Hesketh Pearson, The Poisoned Crown (1944) essays on genealogies, Talking Of Dick Whittington (1947) travel, with Hesketh Pearson), The Progress Of A Biographer (1949), The High Hill of the Muses (1955) anthology, The Best of Hugh Kingsmill: Selections from his Writings (1970) edited by Michael Holroyd, Bernard Shaw, His Life and Personality.

 

 

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(01/28/2015) Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D. T. Suzuki by D. T. Suzuki. Garden City. 1956. Anchor/Doubleday. 294 pages.  paperback.  Edited by William Barrett. Cover design by Seong Moy. Typography by Joseph Ascherl.   

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Buddhism crossed from India to China in the 6th century A.D. and confronted the earthy and practical Chinese spirit with the imaginative and speculative spirit of India. The encounter is one of the most extraordinary events in history and makes one of the truly phenomenal chapters in the record of religion and culture. Translated into the Chinese idiom, Buddhism became one of China’s most potent spiritual and cultural forces. One expression of Chinese Buddhism known in China as Ch’an and, when it crossed to Japan in the 12th century as Zen, inspired some of the most beautiful painting, sculpture, and literature that have come from the Far East. Even more it presented to the world a form of religion unique in its emphasis on the freedom and self-realization of the individual. For this reason, Zen Buddhism as it has been discovered by the West in our time emerges as one of the great challenges to Western philosophy, psychology, and religion. The present volume, composed of the work of D. T. Suzuki, Zen’s chief exponent in English, and presented to Western readers by William Barrett, is intended to introduce the general reader to the history and spirit of Zen.

 

   Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (1870–1966) was a Japanese-born scholar and translator who over the course of the twentieth century came to be regarded as one of the leading authorities on Zen Buddhism. Suzuki was the author of more than a hundred works on the subject in both Japanese and English, and was most instrumental in bringing the teachings of Zen Buddhism to the attention of the Western world. His many books in English include An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Living by Zen, and Zen and Japanese Culture.

 

 

 

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(01/27/2015)The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein by Robert Heinlein. New York. 1966. Ace Publishing. 189 pages.  paperback.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   What if you had invented a means of predicting a man’s death, and all the insurance companies were going bankrupt? What if you had in your hands the ultimate weapon, for which no defense exists, and you knew that momentarily any other country could discover the same weapon? What if you had to find a young girl, blind and alone, who was lost somewhere on the vast face of the Moon? ROBERT A. HEINLEIN—winner of three Hugo Awards, and the most honored writer in science fiction—takes it from there in THE WORLDS OF ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, in stories which origin ally established his exciting reputation, plus a completely new, never-before-published novelette which shows Heinlein at the peak of his ability. It’s a collection no SF fan can afford to miss! 

 

 Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the ‘dean of science fiction writers’, he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility, and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered to be the ‘Big Three’ of science fiction authors. A notable writer of science fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Jr. in his Astounding Science Fiction magazine—though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any great degree. Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. He won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; in addition, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded ‘Retro Hugos‘—awards given retrospectively for works that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence. In his fiction, Heinlein coined words that have become part of the English language, including ‘grok‘ and ‘waldo‘, and popularized the terms ‘TANSTAAFL‘ and space marine. He also described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door Into Summer, though he never patented or built one. Several of Heinlein's works have been adapted for film and television.

 

 

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(01/26/2015) The Ballad of Beta-2 by Samuel R. Delany. New York. 1965. Ace Books. 124 pages.  paperback. Cover by Kelly Freas.  Paperback Original.  

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Between the distant stars lay terror.  Anthropology student Joneny was sent out on a quest he didn’t want: to find the meaning of the Ballad of Beta-2. For the ballad was the only clue that even hinted at what had happened to spaceship Beta-2’s missing crew of galactic colonists. Joneny’s search for the answer led him on a course of indescribable terror - and to a miraculous understanding.

 

  Samuel Ray Delany, Jr., also known as ‘Chip’, is an American author, professor and literary critic. His work includes a number of novels, many in the science fiction genre, as well as memoir, criticism, and essays on sexuality and society. His science fiction novels include BABEL-17, THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION (winners of the Nebula Award for 1966 and 1967 respectively), NOVA, DHALGREN, and the RETURN TO NEVÈRŸON series. After winning four Nebula awards and two Hugo awards over the course of his career, Delany was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002. Between 1988 and 1999 he was a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Between 1999 and 2000 he was a professor of English at SUNY Buffalo. Since January 2001 he has been a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he is Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program.

 

 

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(01/25/2015) The Collected Poems Of Robert Creeley, 1975-2005 by Robert Creeley. Berkeley. 2006. University of California Press. 662 pages.  hardcover.  9780520241596 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   This definitive collection showcases thirty years of work by one of the most significant American poets of the twentieth century, bringing together verse that originally appeared in eight acclaimed books of poetry ranging from Hello: A Journal (1978) to Life & Death (1998) and If I were writing this (2003). Robert Creeley, who was involved with the publication of this volume before his death in 2005, helped define an emerging counter-tradition to the prevailing literary establishment-the new postwar poetry originating with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky and expanding through the lives and works of Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, and others. The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975-2005, essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century American poetry, will stand together with The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975-2000, will be essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century American poetry.

.

  Robert Creeley (1926-2005) published more than sixty books of poetry, prose, essays, and interviews in the United States and abroad. His many honors included the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Frost Medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Bollingen Prize for Poetry. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Distinguished Professor in the Graduate Program in Literary Arts at Brown University.

 

 

 

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(01/24/2015) Firefly by Severo Sarduy. Brooklyn. 2013. Archipelago Books. 171 pages.  paperback.  Paperback Original. Translated from the Spanish by Mark Fried.  9781935744641 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9781935744641   Available for the first time in English, Firefly is Sarduy's most autobiographical work. The story follows the coming-of-age of a precocious and exuberant boy with an oversized head and underdeveloped sense of direction, who views the world as a threatening conspiracy. Told in breathless and lyrical prose, the vel is a loving rendition of a long-lost home, a meditation on exile and an allegory of Cuba's isolation in the world. Firefly responds to the questions of the 'Boom' generation, pushing the conventions of authors like Vargas Llosa or Garcia Marquez.

 

  Severo Sarduy (Camagüey, Cuba; February 25, 1937 – Paris; June 8, 1993) was a Cuban poet, author, playwright, and critic of Cuban literature and art. Sarduy went to the equivalent of high school in Camagüey and in 1956 moved to Havana, where he began a study of medicine. With the triumph of the Cuban revolution he collaborated with the Diario libre and Lunes de revolución, pro-marxist papers. In 1960 he traveled to Paris to study at the Ecole du Louvre. There he was connected to the group of intellectuals who produced the magazine Tel Quel, particularly to philosopher François Wahl, with whom he was openly involved. Sarduy worked as a reader for Editions du Seuil and as editor and producer of the Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française. In 1972 his novel COBRA won him the Medici Prize. He was among the most brilliant essayists writing in Spanish and ‘a powerful baroque narrator, full of surprising resources.’ As a poet, he was considered one of the greatest of his time. He was also a more or less secret painter; a major retrospective of his work was held at the Reina Sofía Museum of Madrid after his death. He died due to complications from AIDS just after finishing his autobiographical work Los pájaros de la playa. Along with José Lezama Lima, Virgilio Piñera, and Reinaldo Arenas, Sarduy is one of the most famous Cuban writers of the twentieth century; some of his works deal explicitly with male homosexuality and transvestism.

 

 

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(01/23/2015) The Case Against Tomorrow by Frederik Pohl. New York. 1956. Ballantine Books. 152 pages.  paperback. 206.  

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   TOMORROW.   Frederik Pohl has a disconcerting habit of turning the world on itself. In four short stories and two novelettes the results are hilarious, biting, provocative and startling—depending on what strange reach of the imagination he is exploring. For instance: Have you ever daydreamed about having anything, absolutely anything, you wanted? Yachts, country estates, swimming-pools, cars, luxurious foods, gowns, jewels, servants—anything you care to name. It’s easier than you suspect. You don’t need money. All you need—all anybody needs—is enough worldly goods. If this sounds ridiculous, read what happens when robot production lines turn the world into a consumers’ paradise. It’s not impossible. It’s not even too far off. And you’d better be ready. Not that Mr. Pohl has a grudge against the future, but he comes at it backwards (so to speak), thereby throwing the present into high relief. But in any case, whether his subject is consumer goods, overpopulation, baseball, segregation, Mars or a wicked little ‘yes-no’ machine, Frederik Pohl is practically required reading for any science-fiction fan worthy of the name, and an excellent reason for becoming one.

 

Pohl Frederik  Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning more than seventy-five years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem ‘Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna’, to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy and its sister magazine If; the latter won three successive annual Hugo Awards as the year's best professional magazine. His 1977 novel Gateway won four ‘year's best novel’ awards: the Hugo voted by convention participants, the Locus voted by magazine subscribers, the Nebula voted by American science fiction writers, and the juried academic John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Campbell Memorial Award again for the 1984 collection of novellas Years of the City, one of two repeat winners during the first forty years. For his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction. It was a finalist for three other years' best novel awards. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards. The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers. Pohl won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog, ‘The Way the Future Blogs’.

 

 

 

 

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(01/22/2015) The Walking Dead Volume 22: A New Beginning  by Robert Kirkman. Berkeley. 2014. Image Comics/Diamond Book Distributors. 136 pages.  paperback.  Artists: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn. Size: 6. 75 x 10. 25 Black & White. Recommended Age: Mature Readers (ages 16 and up). 9781632150417 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9781632150417   In the aftermath of ALLOUT WAR we discover.  A NEW BEGINNING. • Collects The Walking Dead #127132. KEY SELLING POINTS: • A perfect jumpingon point for new readers of the New York Times bestselling cultural phenomenon that AMC's #1 television show is based on. 

 

  Robert Kirkman (born November 30, 1978) is an American comic book writer best known for creating The Walking Dead and Invincible for Image Comics, in addition to Ultimate X-Men and Marvel Zombies for Marvel Comics. He has also collaborated with Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane on the series Haunt. He is one of the five partners of Image Comics, and the only one of the five who was not one of its co-founders.

 

 

 

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(01/21/2015) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. New York. 1954. Mentor/New American Library. 430 pages. September 1954. paperback.  Introduction by Sculley Bradley.  

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   AMERICA SPEAKS. These are the incomparable poems of one of America’s greatest poets - an exuberant, passionate man who loved his country and wrote of it as no other has ever done. Singer, thinker, visionary and citizen extraordinary - this was Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass is his enduring testament to a land whose vitality was the touchstone of his genius.

 

  Walter ‘Walt’ Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet,  essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality. Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and—in addition to publishing his poetry—was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842). Whitman's major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle. Whitman's sexuality is often discussed alongside his poetry. Though biographers continue to debate his sexuality, he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. However, there is disagreement among biographers as to whether Whitman had actual sexual experiences with men. Whitman was concerned with politics throughout his life. He supported the Wilmot Proviso and opposed the extension of slavery generally. His poetry presented an egalitarian view of the races, and at one point he called for the abolition of slavery, but later he saw the abolitionist movement as a threat to democracy.

 

 

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(01/20/2015) The Iron Sickle A Sueno and Bascom Mystery by Martin Limon. New York. 2014. Soho Crime. 309 pages.  hardcover. Jacket design by James Iacobelli. Jacket photo by Paul Bucknall.  9781616953911 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9781616953911   Early one rainy morning, the head of the 8th United States Army Claims Office in Seoul, South Korea, is brutally murdered by a Korean man in a trench coat carrying a small iron sickle hidden in his sleeve. The attack was a complete surprise, carefully planned and clinically executed. Against orders, CID agents Sergeant George Sueno and Ernie Bascom start investigating. Somehow, each person they speak to has not yet been interviewed. The 8th Army isn't great at solving cases, but they aren't that bad either. As the search continues, they realise not everyone wants the case solved.

 

  Martin Limón retired from military service after twenty years in the US Army, including ten years in Korea. He is the author of six previous books in the Sergeant George Sueño series: JADE LADY BURNING, SLICKY BOYS, BUDDHA'S MONEY, THE DOOR TO BITTERNESS, THE WANDERING GHOST, and GI BONES. He lives in Seattle.

 

 

 

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(01/19/2015) Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano. Boston. 2014. David Godine. 128 pages.  paperback.  9781567925388 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9781567925388  Patrick Modiano, winner of the Prix Goncourt, constructs 'a haunting tale of quiet intensity' (Review of Contemporary Fiction). It parallels the story of Jean B., a filmmaker who abandons his wife and career to hole up in a Paris hotel, with that of Ingrid and Rigaud, a refugee couple he'd met twenty years before, and whose mystery continues to haunt him. 

 

 

  Jean Patrick Modiano (born 30 July 1945) is a French novelist and recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. He previously won the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for lifetime achievement, the 1978 Prix Goncourt for Rue des boutiques obscures, and the 1972 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for Les Boulevards de ceinture. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have been celebrated in and around France.

 

 

 

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(01/18/2015) Missing Person by Patrick Modiano. Boston. 2014. David Godine. 168 pages.  paperback.  9781567922813 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Winner of the Prix Goncourt In this strange, elegant novel, winner of France's premier literary prize, Patrick Modiano portrays a man in pursuit of the identity he lost in the murky days of the Paris Occupation, the black hole of French memory. For ten years Guy Roland has lived without a past. His current life and name were given to him by his recently retired boss, Hutte, who welcomed him, a onetime client, into his detective agency. Guy makes full use of Hutte's files - directories, yearbooks, and papers of all kinds going back half a century - but his leads are few. Could he really be the person in that photograph, a young man remembered by some as a South American attache? Or was he someone else, perhaps the disappeared scion of a prominent local family? He interviews strangers and is tantalized by half-clues until, at last, he grasps a thread that leads him through the maze of his own repressed experience. On one level Missing Person is a detective thriller, a 1950s film noir mix of smoky cafes, illegal passports, and insubstantial figures crossing bridges in the fog. On another level, it is also a haunting meditation on the nature of the self. Modiano's sparce, hypnotic prose, superbly translated by Daniel Weissbort, draws his readers into the intoxication of a rare literary experience.

 

  Jean Patrick Modiano (born 30 July 1945) is a French novelist and recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. He previously won the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for lifetime achievement, the 1978 Prix Goncourt for Rue des boutiques obscures, and the 1972 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for Les Boulevards de ceinture. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have been celebrated in and around France.

 

 

 

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(01/17/2015) Things: A Story of the Sixties and A Man Asleep by Georges Perec. Boston. 2014. David Godine. 224 pages.  paperback.  9781567921571 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9781567921571   With the American publication of Life, a User's Manual in 1987, Georges Perec was immediately recognized in the U.S. as one of this century's most innovative writers. Now Godine is pleased to issue two of his most powerful novels in one volume: Things, in an authoritative new translation, and A Man Asleep, making its first English appearance. Both provoked strong reactions when they first appeared in the 1960s; both which speak with disquieting immediacy to the conscience of today's readers. In each tale Perec subtly probes our obsession with society's trappings the seductive mass of things that crams our lives, masquerading as stability and meaning. Jerome and Sylvie, the young, upwardly mobile couple in Things, lust for the good life. 'They wanted life's enjoyment, but all around them enjoyment was equated with ownership.' Surrounded by Paris's tantalizing exclusive boutiques, they exist in a paralyzing vacuum of frustration, caught between the fantasy of 'the film they would have liked to live' and the reality of life's daily mundanities. In direct contrast with Jerome and Sylvie's cravings, the nameless student in A Man Asleep attempts to purify himself entirely of material desires and ambition. He longs 'to want nothing. Just to wait, until there is nothing left to wait for. Just to wander, and to sleep.' Yearning to exist on neutral ground as 'a blessed parenthesis,' he discovers that this wish is by its very nature a defeat. Accessible, sobering, and deeply involving, each novel distills Perec's unerring grasp of the human condition as well as displaying his rare comic talent. His generosity of observation is both detached and compassionate.

 

  Georges Perec (7 March 1936 – 3 March 1982) was a French novelist, filmmaker, documentalist and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. Perec was born the only son of Icek Judko and Cyrla (Schulewicz) Peretz – Polish Jews who had emigrated to France in the 1920s – in a working-class district of Paris. He was a distant relative of the Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz. Perec's father, who enlisted in the French Army during World War II, died in 1940 from unattended gunfire or shrapnel wounds, and Perec's mother perished in the Nazi Holocaust, probably in Auschwitz after 1943. Perec was taken into the care of his paternal aunt and uncle in 1942, and in 1945 he was formally adopted by them. He started writing reviews and essays for La Nouvelle Revue française and Les Lettres nouvelles, prominent literary publications, while studying history and sociology at the Sorbonne. In 1958/59 Perec served in the army (XVIIIe Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes), and married Paulette Petras after being discharged. They spent one year (1960/1961) in Sfax (Tunisia), where Paulette worked as a teacher. In 1961, Perec began working at the Neurophysiological Research Laboratory in the unit's research library funded by the CNRS and attached to the Hôpital Saint-Antoine as an archivist, a low-paid position which he retained until 1978. A few reviewers have noted that the daily handling of records and varied data may have had an influence on his literary style. In any case, Perec's work on the reassesment of the academic journals under subscription was influenced by a talk about the handling of scientific information given by Eugene Garfield in Paris and he was introduced to Marshall McLuhan by Jean Duvignaud. Perec's other major influence was the Oulipo, which he joined in 1967, meeting Raymond Queneau, among others. Perec dedicated his masterpiece, La Vie mode d'emploi (Life A User's Manual) to Queneau, who died before it was published. Perec began working on a series of radio plays with his translator Eugen Helmle and the musician Philippe Drogoz in the late 60s; less than a decade later, he was making films. His first work, based on his novel Un Homme qui dort, was co-directed by Bernard Queysanne, and won him the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974. Perec also created crossword puzzles for Le Point from 1976 on. La Vie mode d'emploi (1978) brought Perec some financial and critical success—it won the Prix Médicis—and allowed him to turn to writing full-time. He was a writer in residence at the University of Queensland, Australia in 1981, during which time he worked on the unfinished 53 Jours (53 Days). Shortly after his return from Australia, his health deteriorated. A heavy smoker, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died the following year, only forty-five years old; his ashes are held at the columbarium of the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Many of his novels and essays abound with experimental word play, lists and attempts at classification, and they are usually tinged with melancholy. Perec's first novel, Les Choses (Things: A Story of the Sixties) was awarded the Prix Renaudot in 1965. His most famous novel, La Vie mode d'emploi (Life A User's Manual), was published in 1978. Its title page describes it as ‘novels’, in the plural, the reasons for which become apparent on reading. La Vie mode d'emploi is an immensely complex and rich work; a tapestry of interwoven stories and ideas as well as literary and historical allusions, based on the lives of the inhabitants of a fictitious Parisian apartment block. It was written according to a complex plan of writing constraints, and is primarily constructed from several elements, each adding a layer of complexity. The 99 chapters of his 600-page novel, move like a knight's tour of a chessboard around the room plan of the building, describing the rooms and stairwell and telling the stories of the inhabitants. At the end, it is revealed that the whole book actually takes place in a single moment, with a final twist that is an example of ‘cosmic irony’. It was translated into English by David Bellos in 1987. Some critics have cited the work as an example of postmodern fiction. Perec is noted for his constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter ‘e’. It has been translated into English by Gilbert Adair under the title A Void (1994). The silent disappearance of the letter might be considered a metaphor for the Jewish experience during the Second World War. Since the name ‘Georges Perec’ is full of ‘e’s, the disappearance of the letter also ensures the author's own ‘disappearance’. His novella Les revenentes (1972) is a complementary univocalic piece in which the letter ‘e’ is the only vowel used. This constraint affects even the title, which would conventionally be spelt Revenantes. An English translation by Ian Monk was published in 1996 as The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex in the collection Three. It has been remarked by Jacques Roubaud that these two novels draw words from two disjoint sets of the French language, and that a third novel would be possible, made from the words not used so far (those containing both ‘e’ and a vowel other than ‘e’). W ou le souvenir d'enfance, (W, or the Memory of Childhood, 1975) is a semi-autobiographical work which is hard to classify. Two alternating narratives make up the volume: one, a fictional outline of a totalitarian island country called ‘W’, patterned partly on life in a concentration camp; and the second, descriptions of childhood. Both merge towards the end when the common theme of The Holocaust is explained. ‘Cantatrix sopranica L. Scientific Papers’ is a spoof scientific paper detailing experiments on the ‘yelling reaction’ provoked in sopranos by pelting them with rotten tomatoes. All the references in the paper are multi-lingual puns and jokes, e.g. ‘(Karybb & Szyla, 1973)’. David Bellos, who has translated several of Perec's works, wrote an extensive biography of Perec: Georges Perec: A Life in Words, which won the Académie Goncourt's bourse for biography in 1994. The Association Georges Perec has extensive archives on the author in Paris. In 2013, Perec's initially rejected novel ‘Gaspar pas mort’ (Gaspar is not dead), which was believed to be lost, was found by David Bellos amongst papers in the house of Perec's friend Alain Guérin. Asteroid no. 2817, discovered in 1982, was named after Perec. In 1994, a street in the 20th arrondissement of Paris was named after him, rue Georges-Perec. The French postal service issued a stamp in 2002 in his honour; it was designed by Marc Taraskoff and engraved by Pierre Albuisson. For his work, Perec won the Prix Renaudot in 1965, the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974, the Prix Médicis in 1978. 

 

 

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(01/16/2015) Black Diamond by Zakes Mda. London. 2014. Seagull Books. 315 pages.  hardcover. Jacket design by Samandini Banerjee.  9780857422224 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   In this novel by celebrated South African writer Zakes Mda, Kristin Uys, a tough magistrate who lives alone with her cat in the Roodepoort district of Johannesburg, goes on a one-woman crusade to wipe out prostitution in her town. Her reasons are personal, and her zeal is fierce. Her main targets are the Visagie Brothers, Stevo and Shortie, who run a brothel, and although she fails to take down the entire establishment, she manages to nail Stevo for contempt of court, serving him a six-month sentence. From Diepkloof Prison, the outraged Stevo orchestrates his revenge against the magistrate, aided and abetted by the rather inept Shortie and his former nanny, Aunt Magda. Kristin receives menacing phone calls and her home is invaded and vandalized—even her cat isn’t spared the threats—and the chief magistrate has no choice but to assign a bodyguard to protect her. To Kristin’s consternation, security guard Don Mateza moves into her home and trails her everywhere. This new arrangement doesn’t suit Don’s longtime girlfriend Tumi, a former model and successful businesswoman, who is intent on turning Don into a Black Diamond—a member of the wealthy new black South African middle class. And Don soon finds that his new assignment has unexpected  complications that Tumi simply does not understand. In Black Diamond, Mda tackles every conceivable South African stereotype, skillfully turning them upside down and exposing their ironies—often hilariously. This is a clever, quirky novel, in which Mda captures the essence of contemporary life in a fast-changing urban world.

 

  Zakes Mda is professor of creative writing in the Department of English at Ohio University, and a South African novelist, poet, and playwright.

 

 

 

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(01/15/2015) A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño. New York. 2014. New Directions. 109 pages.  hardcover. Jacket photograph by Allen Frame. Jacket design by Erik Rieselbach.  Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer.  9780811223355 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Published in Spanish right before Bolaño's death, A Little Lumpen Novelita percolates with a fierce and tender love of women. ‘Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime’: so Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome. Orphaned overnight as a teenager—’our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us’—she drops out of school, gets a crappy job, and drifts into bad company. Her younger brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns how low she can fall. Electric and tense with foreboding, with its jagged, propulsive short chapters beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, A Little Lumpen Novelita delivers a surprising, fractured fairy tale of seizing control of one’s fate.

 

  Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile. At fifteen, he moved with his family to Mexico and there became a Trotskyite and a journalist. In 1973, he returned to Chile and enlisted in Allende’s party but was imprisoned for a week after the military coup. He then went to El Salvador, where he knew the poet Roque Dalton, then to Mexico, and finally Spain where he worked as a dishwasher, waiter, night watchman, garbageman, longshoreman, and salesman until the 80’s when he could make enough money to support himself by writing, and publishing. In 1999 he won the extremely prestigious Herralde & el Rómulo Gallego Award, considered the Latin American Nobel Prize (García Márquez and Vargas Llosa have been other winners.) He died of liver failure in Barcelona, and is survived by his wife and two children.

 

 

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(01/14/2015) Algerian Chronicles by Albert Camus. Cambridge. 2013. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 240 pages.  hardcover.  Translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer. Introduction by Alice Kaplan.  9780674072589 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   More than fifty years after Algerian independence, Albert Camus’ Algerian Chronicles appears here in English for the first time. Published in France in 1958, the same year the Algerian War brought about the collapse of the Fourth French Republic, it is one of Camus’ most political works—an exploration of his commitments to Algeria. Dismissed or disdained at publication, today Algerian Chronicles, with its prescient analysis of the dead end of terrorism, enjoys a new life in Arthur Goldhammer’s elegant translation. “Believe me when I tell you that Algeria is where I hurt at this moment,” Camus, who was the most visible symbol of France’s troubled relationship with Algeria, writes, “as others feel pain in their lungs.” Gathered here are Camus’ strongest statements on Algeria from the 1930s through the 1950s, revised and supplemented by the author for publication in book form. In her introduction, Alice Kaplan illuminates the dilemma faced by Camus: he was committed to the defense of those who suffered colonial injustices, yet was unable to support Algerian national sovereignty apart from France. An appendix of lesser-known texts that did not appear in the French edition complements the picture of a moralist who posed questions about violence and counter-violence, national identity, terrorism, and justice that continue to illuminate our contemporary world.

 

 Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. The son of a working-class family, he spent the early years of his life in North Africa, where he worked at various jobs to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. In occupied France in 1942 he published THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS and THE STRANGER, a philosophical essay and a novel that first brought him to the attention of intellectual circles. THE STRANGER has since gained an international reputation and is one the most widely read novels of this century. Among his other works of fiction are THE PLAGUE, THE FALL, and EXILE AND THE KINGDOM. In 1957 Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. On January 4, 1960, he was killed in a car accident.03/12/2015) The Disappearance Of The Outside by Andrei Codrescu. Reading. 1990. 216 pages. hardcover. 0201121948. Jacket design by Gary Koepke. keywords: Literature Romania Essays Literary Criticism America.

 

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(01/13/2015) The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley by Robert Creeley. Berkeley. 2013. University of California Press. 467 pages.  hardcover.  9780520241602 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Robert Creeley is one of the most celebrated and influential American poets. A stylist of the highest order, Creeley imbued his correspondence with the literary artistry he brought to his poetry. Through his engagements with mentors such as William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound, peers such as Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, and mentees such as Charles Bernstein, Anselm Berrigan, Ed Dorn, Susan Howe, and Tom Raworth, Creeley helped forge a new poetry that re-imagined writing for his and subsequent generations. This first-ever volume of his letters, written between 1945 and 2005, document the life, work, and times of one of our greatest writers, and represent a critical archive of the development of contemporary American poetry, as well as the changing nature of letter-writing and communication in the digital era.

 

  Robert Creeley (1926-2005) published more than sixty books of poetry, prose, essays, and interviews in the United States and abroad. His many honors included the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Frost Medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Bollingen Prize for Poetry. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Distinguished Professor in the Graduate Program in Literary Arts at Brown University.

 

 

Rod Smith is the author of several collections of poetry, including Deed (2007), editor of the journal Aerial, publisher of Edge Books, and manager of Bridge Street Books in Washington, D.C.

 

Peter Baker is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Towson University in Maryland. He is the author or editor of six previous volumes, including Detecting Detection: International Perspectives on the Uses of a Plot (2012).

 

Kaplan Harris is Associate Professor of English at St. Bonaventure University. He has published widely on twentieth-century poetry, including recent articles on Susan Howe, Ted Berrigan, Hannah Weiner, and Kevin Killian.

 

 

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(01/12/2015) A Plague of Pythons by Frederik Pohl. New York. 1965. Ballantine Books. 158 pages. September 1965. paperback.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   FREDERIK POHL - At somewhere in his forties, Fred Pohl should hardly qualify for grand old man of anything. But he could. For at least thirty of those forty-odd years he has been writing, reading, agenting, editing, collaborating, commenting and generally holding the field of science fiction together with an enthusiasm that remains unabated. Which is all very well but it does mean that full-length, original novels from Fred Pohl have become a relatively rare thing. (A PLAGUE OF PYTHONS is much expanded from the magazine version). It is a book about a future development which, hopefully, will never, ever come to pass. But with Fred Pohl, you never know. Look what happened to THE SPACE MERCHANTS (we understand advertisers still read it to pick up tips on far out slogans). Or SLAVE SHIP (all kinds of developments in ethology indicate we’ll soon be talking to the animals). And so on. Watch out. 

 

Pohl Frederik  Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning more than seventy-five years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem ‘Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna’, to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy and its sister magazine If; the latter won three successive annual Hugo Awards as the year's best professional magazine. His 1977 novel Gateway won four ‘year's best novel’ awards: the Hugo voted by convention participants, the Locus voted by magazine subscribers, the Nebula voted by American science fiction writers, and the juried academic John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Campbell Memorial Award again for the 1984 collection of novellas Years of the City, one of two repeat winners during the first forty years. For his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction. It was a finalist for three other years' best novel awards. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards. The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers. Pohl won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog, ‘The Way the Future Blogs’.

 

 

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(01/11/2015) Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz: Selected Works by Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz. New York. 2014. Norton. 216 pages.  hardcover. Jacket photograph by Susan Fox. Jacket design by Tiani Kennedy.  Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman. Introduction by Julia Alvarez.  9780393241754 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9780393241754   Latin America's great poet rendered into English by the world's most celebrated translator of Spanish-language literature. Sor Juana (1651–1695) was a fiery feminist and a woman ahead of her time. Like Simone de Beauvoir, she was very much a public intellectual. Her contemporaries called her "the Tenth Muse" and "the Phoenix of Mexico," names that continue to resonate. An illegitimate child, self-taught intellectual, and court favorite, she rose to the height of fame as a writer in Mexico City during the Spanish Golden Age. This volume includes Sor Juana's best-known works: "First Dream," her longest poem and the one that showcases her prodigious intellect and range, and "Response of the Poet to the Very Eminent Sor Filotea de la Cruz," her epistolary feminist defense - evocative of Mary Wollstonecraft and Emily Dickinson - of a woman's right to study and to write. Thirty other works - playful ballads, extraordinary sonnets, intimate poems of love, and a selection from an allegorical play with a distinctive New World flavor - are also included.

 

De La Cruz Sor Juana Ines  Sister (Spanish: Sor) Juana Inés de la Cruz, O.S.H. (English: Joan Agnes of the Cross) (12 November 1651 – 17 April 1695), was a self-taught scholar and poet of the Baroque school, and nun of New Spain. Although she lived in a colonial era when Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire, she is considered today a Mexican writer, and stands at the beginning of the history of Mexican literature in the Spanish language.

 

 

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(01/10/2015) The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. New York. 2014. Knopf. 306 pages. September 2014. hardcover. Jacket design by Peter Mendelsund.  9780385353496 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   From one of England's most renowned authors, an unforgettable new novel that provides a searing portrait of life-and, shockingly, love-in a concentration camp. Once upon a time there was a king, and the king commissioned his favorite wizard to create a magic mirror. This mirror didn't show you your reflection. It showed you your soul-it showed you who you really were. The wizard couldn't look at it without turning away. The king couldn't look at it. The courtiers couldn't look at it. A chestful of treasure was offered to anyone who could look at it for sixty seconds without turning away. And no one could. The Zone of Interest is a love story with a violently unromantic setting. Can love survive the mirror? Can we even meet each other's eye, after we have seen who we really are? In a novel powered by both wit and pathos, Martin Amis excavates the depths and contradictions of the human soul.

 

  Martin Amis is the author of eleven previous novels, the memoir Experience, and two collections of stories and six of nonfiction, most recently The Second Plane. He lives in London.

 

 

 

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(01/09/2015) On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay by Robert Creeley. Berkeley. 2006. University of California Press. 89 pages.  hardcover. Jacket design by Sandy Drooker.  0520247914 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

0520247914   Robert Creeley, one of the most significant American poets of the twentieth century, helped define an emerging counter-tradition to the prevailing literary establishment--a postwar poetry originating with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky and expanding through the lives and works of Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, and others. When Robert Creeley died in March 2005, he was working on what was to be his final book of poetry. In addition to more than thirty new poems, many touching on the twin themes of memory and presence, this moving collection includes the text of the last paper Creeley gave--an essay exploring the late verse of Walt Whitman. Together, the essay and the poems are a retrospective on aging and the resilience of memory that includes tender elegies to old friends, the settling of old scores, and reflective poems on mortality and its influence on his craft. On Earth reminds us what has made Robert Creeley one of the most important and affectionately regarded poets of our time.

 

  Robert Creeley (May 21, 1926 – March 30, 2005) was an American poet and author of more than sixty books. He is usually associated with the Black Mountain poets, though his verse aesthetic diverged from that school's. He was close with Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, John Wieners and Ed Dorn. He served as the Samuel P. Capen Professor of Poetry and the Humanities at State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1991, he joined colleagues Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein, Raymond Federman, Robert Bertholf, and Dennis Tedlock in founding the Poetics Program at Buffalo. Creeley lived in Waldoboro, Maine, Buffalo, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island where he taught at Brown University. He was a recipient of the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

 

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The Neglected Books Page

23 August 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • Chapters 1 and 2 from In Our Metropolis, by Phyllis Livingstone (1940)

    Back in March, I posted a short item about two forgotten novels I’d come across in an advertisement in the Times Literary Supplement. Neither received much attention and both quickly disappeared from sight. I was interested in knowing more about both books, so when I had the chance to visit the British Library for a... Read more

    The

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  • Businessmen as Lovers, by Rosemary Tonks (1969)

    Businessmen as Lovers was Rosemary Tonks’ fourth novel and, to be honest, the first in which she seems to relax and not be relentlessly straining to be clever. It’s her only novel not set in London: the whole story takes place on a train through France and an island off Italy, and perhaps the setting... Read more

    The post ...

  • Actors and Directors: Two Anecdotes from Letters from an Actor, by William Redfield (1967)

    Ralph Richardson and Basil Dean Some thirty years ago, Richardson was rehearsing a play directed by Basil Dean. The latter was the last of the old-time directors on the British side of the Atlantic. By “old-time,” I mean abusive, cruel, sarcastic, and contemptuous of actors. His American equivalent, albeit far younger, would be Jed Harris.... ...

  • Letters from an Actor, by William Redfield (1967)

    In 1964, Sir John Gielgud convinced Richard Burton to star in a Broadway production of Hamlet. Still smoking hot from his big-screen romance with Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, Burton was looking to solidify his street cred as a serious actor after a few Hollywood duds. Gielgud’s motivation is a little less clear, as gradually becomes... Read more

    The

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  • The Long Sunday, by Peter Fletcher (1958)

    Church, prayer, going to Sunday services and weekday evening meetings remains the center of life for some families and communities. One hundred years ago, they were the frameworks of the rituals and values of many English people, particularly those of the class of shopkeepers and lesser professions. Each denomination and sect identified itself through its... Read

    ...
  • The Fire Escape, by Susan Kale (1960)

    The paperback editions of The Fire Escape trumpet its message: “The tragic, unvarnished story of a prostitute.” Which is a bit like plastering the banner line, “The Story of a Cockroach” across the cover of The Metamorphosis: yes, well, I guess you could say it is, but that’s actually missing the point in a pretty... Read more

    The post ...

  • Blitz Writing: Night Shift and It Was Different at the Time, by Inez Holden (2019)

    As a rule, I don’t cover in print books on this site: the fact that a book is in print is proof that it may be underappreciated, but it’s certainly not forgotten. However, I have to make an exception in the case of the Handheld Press’s recent release of two of Inez Holden’s three books... Read more

    The

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  • Journey Through a Lighted Room, by Margaret Parton (1973)

    I knew I was going to like Margaret Parton’s memoir, Journey Through a Lighted Room, on page two, when she writes of reflecting upon a Quaker meeting while “wandering aimlessly about the garden with a vodka and tonic in hand.” This is the story of a woman who wasn’t ashamed by the fact that she... Read more

    The post ...

  • The Mere Living, by B. Bergson Spiro (Betty Miller) (1933)

    Had The Mere Living not been largely forgotten by now, it would undoubtedly be saddled with an shakeable and unfavorable comparison to Virginia Wolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. For both are circadian novels (taking place within the space of a single day) set in London and both really heavily on the use of a stream of consciousness... Read more

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  • My Heart for Hostage, by Robert Hillyer (1942)

    I feel a little trepidation in writing about My Heart for Hostage. It may be the closest thing to a perfect book that I’ve come across in nearly 13 years of working on this site. It’s so good that early in reading it, I felt a frisson of fear that Robert Hillyer would not be... Read more

    The post ...

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