Just a couple of bookish items today. This has been a really good mail week so far, particularly as I have received my "subscription" books. And bonus--they all came on the same day! First up Melville House. I was surprised to find one of their cool totebags in the package as well as my next two novellas. I've been wearing their tee shirt when I walk and now I have another handy bag to carry around my books! This month's novellas are Fanfarlo by Charles Baudelaire and The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain. I've never read Baudelaire and very little by Twain, so I'm looking forward to starting one of these very soon.
Apparently Fanfarlo is the only piece of prose fiction Baudelaire ever wrote.
"Nonetheless it sparked a new turn toward short-form storytelling in nineteenth century France, with many scholars crediting Fanfarlo with inspiring Baudelaire's contemporaries to take up short-form fiction."
"In this brilliant new translation, the story it tells closely mirrors the life of its author: a talented young artist, 'a passionate atheist' and a dandy named Samuel Cramer finds himself falling into an obsessive love affair with a beautiful burlesque dancer."
I've only read one book by Mark Twain. That almost seems a sin to me, but to be honest Twain has never really appealed to me very much. Maybe after I read The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg I'll change my tune and want to immediately pick up one of his novels.
"The story of a mysterious stranger who orchestrates a fraud embarrassing the hypocritical citizens of incorruptible Hadleyburg. The novella is an exceptionally crafted work intertwining a devious and suspenseful plot with some of the wittiest dialogue Twain ever wrote."
And finally the first of my NYRB Classics subscription has arrived. Well, sort of. When I went to open the mailer I discovered it was already open. The flap came unstuck somewhere along the way and the first book, Testing the Current by William McPherson, was missing. The bonus book that you get for ordering early, The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares was there thankfully. It's not that I don't have plenty of other books to read of course, but you know how it goes when you anticipate something so much then discover you're not going to get it (not right away that is).
I've already emailed the NYRB Book Club and they got back to me right away to let me know they would send out a replacement. So I'll have another book to look forward to in the mail. Until then I still have The Invention of Morel.
"Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of the Screw. This fantastic exploration of virtual realities also bears comparison to the sharpest work of Philip K. Dick. It is both a story of suspense and a bizarre romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious."
I read Philip K. Dick about a year ago for the first time and loved The Turn of the Screw, so I'm very much intrigued by this book. And in anticipation of Testing the Current:
"In Testing the Current William McPherson subtly sets off his wide-eyed protagonist’s perspective with mature reflection and wry humor and surrounds him with a cast of vibrant characters, creating a scrupulously observed portrait of a place and time that will shimmer in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned."
I have lots of good books and novellas to look forward to, don't I? It's my goal to read each book as I receive it/them--at least before the next book comes in subscription. I'm not sure how the schedule works for Melville House (this is my second pair of books), but I am told that the monthly NYRB instalment is sent the first week of the month (this month's schedule was thrown off a bit by the holidays). I've already read last month's novellas, and I am planning on writing about them this weekend as I have a nice long weekend to look forward to--and which I plan on filling as full as possible with reading and stitching.
Now the question is, which one do I start with?