They're here! The first two books from my Art of the Novella subscription have arrived. Remember when I stumbled upon the announcement from Melville House about subscribing to the series? Each month they'll be sending me two different novellas, which I hope to read before the next installment arrives. I was thrilled to see the package in my mailbox yesterday when I got home from work. They're such cool little books and reading them will help improve my 'Classics' reading, too, which I've done so poorly at in the last couple of years. The added bonus is a freebie t-shirt, which you can see here, but of course it's the books I'm really excited about.
First up are Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener and F. Scott Fitzgerald's May Day. The former I read many years ago when I was in high school and the latter will be completely new to me. It seems only right that I begin with the Melville, since he's the inspiration for the naming of the publisher.
"Academics hail it as the beginning of modernism, but to readers around the world--even those daunted by Moby-Dick--Bartleby the Scrivener is simply one of the most absorbing and moving novellas ever. Set in the mid-19th century on New York City's Wall Street, it was also perhaps Herman Melville's most prescient story: what is a young man caught up in the rat race of commerce finally just said, 'I would prefer not to'?"
Seems quite timely, doesn't it? As for the Fitzgerald . . .
"Set at the end of the first World War, in the heart of New York City, May Day is a tale of the brutalities of the American class system--depicted here as a confrontation between privileged college boys, impassioned, left-wing, intellectual journalists, and jaded soldiers returned from a bloody war, Fitzgerald's fine eye for detail is on special display and his relentless plot leads to one of his most shocking climaxes, in what is the first and only stand alone version of this rarity."
You know how sometimes you get all tingly in anticipation of reading a new book? That's how I feel about these. Can't explain why, but I'm excited about my novella subscription. And now I have a little confession to make. I've also succumbed to the NYRB Classics Book Club (I have Stefanie to blame thank for this one, since she so kindly pointed it out to me). I know, I know. I'm bad (actually I don't feel all that guilty). I can't help myself, but this is books we're talking about, and it's so important to support independent publishers, so I'm just doing my part and and widening my bookish horizons in the process--I'll be reading more classics, more works in translation--all good stuff. So I'm going to be doubly lucky each month--two novellas and a new NYRB classic to look forward to. My NYRB subscription will start with one of their forthcoming titles plus a bonus copy of Adolfo Bioy Casares' The Invention of Morel. It will be a surprise to see what they send me in January--one of these books perhaps?
January is always such a long, cold, dreary month, but now I have some brightness (books) to look forward to. And in the meantime I'll be spending time with Melville and Fitzgerald.