“How nice it is that spring follows winter, every time.”—Robert Walser, from the story “Winter.” I know it’s sort of cruel that I keep pulling quotes from the out-of-print Selected Stories, but, guys, all the short stuff is so great, like little antidepressant morsels. And in Susan Bernofsky’s hands, Walser is even bouncier, funnier—a joy to read. She did most of the new Berlin Stories, which you can get here.
"May I," I asked with diffidence, "take a moment to acquaint myself with, and taste the qualities of, the most sterling and serious, and at the same time of course also the most read and most quickly acknowledged and purchased, reading matter? You would pledge me in high degree to unusual gratitude were you to be so extremely kind as to lay generously before me that book which, as certainly nobody can know precisely as only you yourself, has found the highest place in the estimation of the reading public, as well as that of the dreaded and thence doubtless flatteringly circumvented critics, and which furthermore has made them merry. You cannot conceive how keen I am to learn at once which of all these books or works of the pen piled high and put on show here is the favorite book in question, the sight of which in all probability, as I must most energetically suppose, will make me at once a joyous and enthusiastic purchaser. My longing to see the favorite author of the cultivated world and his admired, thunderously applauded masterpiece, and, as I said, probably also at once buy the same, aches and ripples through my every limb. May I most politely ask you to show me this most successful book, so that this desire, which has seized my entire being, may acknowledge itself gratified, and cease to trouble me?"
A Robert Walser character walks into a bookstore. He does not, after all that, buy the book. (From “The Walk,” which is in his Selected Stories, out out of print from NYRB (pronounced “nerb”).)
There are books I read as a child that I have re-read periodically ever since; there are children’s books that I have only known as an adult, and then there are the books that I read when I was young but for some reason haven’t read since. There’s nothing really strange about this; I am, after…
Our own Kate Milford, thinking about A Wrinkle in Time. If you like this, perhaps you might like reading the first chapter of her new novel, The Broken Lands, up on Goodreads. But really you should start with The Boneshaker.
Remember how I wouldn’t stop asking you to buy Leaving the Atocha Station, even before it came out? How I offered you 10% off your stuff if you bought it? It was great, I insisted. I continue to insist this, now for n+1.
Hi there, Jonathan Franzen. We hope you are having a lovely Tuesday. So you say Edith Wharton was a prude, confined largely to a sexless marriage, hemmed in by plainness and haunted to write about the very beauty and passion that was lacking in her own life?
“I tried to look serious and journalistic. Then I thought I’d take a crack at the da Hirsti code.”—Newish McNally J staffer Emma has a new column over in the Observer. In the first installment, she looks at a Damien Hirst dot painting for half an hour.
“Meanwhile you have rolled yourself a cigarette, say, and inserted it with great care between your well-practiced lips. With such an apparatus in your mouth, it is impossible to feel utterly without cheer, even if your soul happens to be torn in twain by sufferings. But is this the case? Most certainly not. Just wanted to give a quick description of the magic that a smoking white object of this sort is capable of working, year in and year out, on the human psyche. And what next?”—
Hi there, could you proved a list of all literary magazines you sell in your shop, please? I saw one I loved but didn't buy when I was there in September (already spent all my holiday money at your shop), and would like the chance to get it now.
Oh, Anonymous! I wish I could. We have so many—and so many good ones—but no easy list. Do you remember anything about it: whatever piece made you want it, the shape, the size, the cover, anything?
“A city like Berlin is an ill-mannered, impertinent, intelligent scoundrel, constantly affirming the things that suit him and tossing aside everything he tires of. Here in the big city you can definitely feel the waves of intellect washing over the life of Berlin society like a sort of bath. An artist here has no choice but to pay attention. Elsewhere he is permitted to stop up his ears and sink into willful ignorance. Here this is not allowed. Rather, he must constantly pull himself together as a human being, and this compulsion encircling him redounds to his advantage. But there are yet other things as well.”—“Berlin and the Artist” by Robert Walser at the NYRblog, an excerpt from the recently released Berlin Stories. (via nyrbclassics)