My novella reading continues apace. I am nearly managing to keep up with the books as they come, so let me start with them first. I've read my December, January and half of February's books so far. I've just started Nikolai Leskov's The Enchanted Wanderer, which is a bit longer than the others with over 200 pages. I have, however, fallen behind in writing about them. I will hopefully write about the Tolstoy and Twain books in the upcoming week. It's silly, but I do like to keep it all neat and tidy and somehow sharing something of my reading experience makes me feel like the reading process is complete.
What do I have to look forward to next? Machado de Assis is a Brazilian author whose work I am totally unfamiliar with. The Alienist sounds really interesting, however, and I am looking forward to reading it.
"First published in 1882, this little-known gem from one of Latin America's greatest--and rarely translated--writers asks questions that have yet to be answered: How can one individual judge another's sanity? And what do you do when your community is held to ransom by a mad despot who does a frighteningly good impression of a rational human being?"
Sounds thought-provoking, don't you think? It's paired with Guy de Maupassant's The Horla, which is a story I have read before, but am happy to revisit. De Maupassant is known for his short stories and an author I have long wanted to read more of.
"The chilling tale of one man's descent into madness was published shortly before the author was institutionalized for insanity, and so The Horla has inevitably been seen as informed by de Maupassant's mental illness. While such speculation is murky, it is clear that de Maupassant--hailed alongside Chekhov as father of the short story--was at the peak of his powers in this innovative precursor of first-person psychological fiction."
It's interesting to try and figure out what theme Melville House is going for with each monthly installment. This time around they've chosen books that are "different takes on madness".
Now my NYRB books are another matter entirely. I am reading William McPherson's Testing the Current right now. I am also quite thoroughly enjoying it and it will likely end up on my favorites list--it's that good. But it's a dense book--tiny print with little white space on the page with lots of detail and much description that just demands a slower (and I am already a slow reader) reading. I am working on it as much as possible this week and hope to finish it by the end of the weekend. We'll see.
The next couple of books (as well as the freebie when I began the subscription) are all much shorter books and hopefully I can get caught up quickly. It's more about enjoying the books and taking my time with them, though, than trying to rush through. But it is my intention to try and read them all in a timely manner, so I will keep the books in a little pile and whittle it down as I can.
March's book is Renata Adler's Pitch Dark. Adler was born in Milan but raised in Connecticut.
"Pitch Dark is a book of questions, a book of false starts, red herrings, misunderstandings, and lightning revelations. It is a book about love. Kate Ennis is poised at a critical moment in an affair with a married man. The complications and contradictions pursue her from a house in rural Connecticut to a brownstone apartment in New York City, to a small island off the coast of Washington, to a pitch black night in backcountry Ireland. And no matter where Kate goes or what she does, she confronts the mystery and inscrutability of others, and herself."
This really appeals to me (as well) and I am very tempted to pick it up and start reading it alongside the McPherson, but I will try not to be distracted! Although I am not keeping up as I would like to, these subscriptions have both been great bookish investments!