Monday was a very good mail day--book mail! And not just one parcel but two! My July NYRB Classic selection arrived. Way back in March I added Linda Rosenkrantz's Talk to my wishlist and a little patience and good luck has indeed brought me a copy. I've not done so well this year with reading my NYRB subscription books as they have been released (but that's okay, their moment will come--there is no rule that they must be read the moment they are pulled from their mailer), but I do think I am going to start this one right now.
Published in 1968, Talk is a novel made up entirely of dialogue. I think I will wait to write about it until I have read a bit and can give you a teaser, but the blurb on the back cover reads in part:
"Talk is the hilariously irreverent and racy testament to dialogue: the gossip, questioning, analysis, arguments, and revelations that make up our closest friendships. It's the summer of 1965 and Emily, Vincent, and Marsha are at the beach . . ."
Somehow it seems like the perfect July read, much like yesterday's A Hundred Summers was a perfect beach book.
My second parcel contained the first volume of Dorothy Richardson's famous quartet (at least Virago published the series of novels in four volumes) Pilgrimage. I had ordered the first two volumes after I read a short story by Richardson, but they went missing in the mail and so had to search for another copy. The books are somewhat rare and can be very pricey. I'm not sure how I will manage to fill out the remaining three books to complete the set. Do you see that postcard sticking out of the book?
I love it when I find some little ephemera in used books I buy--especially something as cool as this postcard, which will remain in the book as my bookmark!
I feel a little like a voyeur (and now I am making you one, too, since I am sharing the back side of the postcard), but as the book came from England and it is unlikely that either the giver or recipient will ever have a clue that they even lost the card . . . I wonder what she meant by the note? Do you think the book belonged to Sarah or Angeline? There is a story behind this card, which unfortunately I will never know, but it is fun to imagine.
As for the book . . . I am so interested in Dorothy Richardson, though I am the tiniest bit intimidated by this novel. I loved her short story and it was very accessible, but this sounds like something else altogether. This is what Virginia Woolf had to say about it:
"There is no one word, such as romance or realism, to cover, even roughly, the works of Miss Dorothy Richardson . . . She has invented a sentence we might call the psychological sentence of the feminine gender . . . proving that the novel is not hung upon a nail and festooned in glory, but on the contrary, walks the high road, alive and alert, and brushes shoulders with real men and women."
I'd call that pretty impressive coming from Virginia Woolf! As for the blurb:
"The magnificent novels that comprise Pilgrimage are the first expression in English of what was to be called 'stream of consciousness' technique, predating the work of both Joyce and Woolf, echoing that of Proust with whom Dorothy Richardson stands as one of the great innovatory figures of our time. These volumes record in detail the life of Miriam Henderson. Through her experience--personal, spiritual, intellectual--Dorothy Richardson explores intensely what it means to be a woman, presenting feminine consciousness with a new voice, a new identity."
That sounds pretty amazing. I think I don't mind that my first order went missing since I found such a cool surprise inside the book. Maybe it was meant to be? I have been a little too indulgent of late when it comes to book ordering, so I wonder what treat will come in tomorrow's mail?