Catching Up

August 22nd, 2008

I wanted to take a quick moment to note some items of interest to neglected books fans:

Reviews of two novels by Vance Bourjaily

Malaysian blogger Raj Dronamraju recently posted reviews of two novels by Vance Bourjaily. Cover of first U.S. edition of 'The Man Who Knew Kennedy'Bourjaily’s is among the names most often mentioned in the emails I receive from site visitors. Dronamraju covers the two Bourjaily novels I’ve always been most intrigued by: The Hound of the Earth (1955) and The Man Who Knew Kennedy (1967). Hound is about a scientist involved in the construction of the first atomic bomb who deserts the Army in disgust with the results of his work and spends seven years as a fugitive. Kennedy is about a man of the same generation who briefly comes into contact with John F. Kennedy in the war and is more elegaic in tone. Dronamraju describes Bourjaily’s writing as, “… a cross between Nelson Algren and Dostoevsky ….Like Dostoevsky, he is a master psychiatrist and shows motivation very well without being too transparent….Like Algren, he speaks in a hard boiled voice with a lot of similes and metaphors.”
[Editor’s note: Kennedy takes its title from another neglected book, Sinclair Lewis’ 1928 short fiction, The Man Who Knew Coolidge (subtitled “Being the soul of Lowell Schnaltz, constructive and Nordic citizen”) is a set of monologues by a Babbitt-like character that one reader summed up as, “… all voice, a very long-winded voice that won’t shut up, even long after ceasing to amuse readers (at least this one).”]

Release of Strange Harbors, its 15th annual anthology of international writing in translation

Each year, the Center for the Art of Translation, based in San Francisco, releases a compilation of poetry and prose translations, often of writing little-known in the English-speaking world. This year’s anthology includes an excerpt from a 1986 Spanish novel, Beatus ille, by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by the renown Edith Grossman as A Manuscript of Ashes, along with pieces from over two dozen other writers.

Forgotten Book Fridays

I finally came across Forgotten Book Fridays a tag-team blogging effort launched by Patti Abbott, aimed at garnering “recommendations of books we love but might have forgotten over the years” from a group of fellow book bloggers. In the course of a little over four months, a growing army of bloggers have provided recommendations, both on Patti’s site and their own. The majority of titles proposed and discussed so far have been mysteries and thrillers, but with such a diverse group, everything from Peter Beagle’s lovely fantasy, A Fine and Private Place, to Dumbo the Flying Elephant has popped up. There’s no simple way to keep track of all these posts, although the search string, “forgotten books Friday” works pretty well.

4 Responses to “Catching Up”

  1. Patti Abbott Says:

    I will post the entire list with the name of the person who recommended the book again this week although the websites discussing them would probably unwieldy. Nice to find you here.
    Patti Abbott

  2. editor Says:

    Thanks for the note. I’m sure there’ll be others like me who will may this part of their regular browsing diet.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thank you for mentioning “The Man Who Knew Kennedy” — I read it a 5-10 years ago after a writing workshop leader mentioned Bourjaily… I’ve since read articles referring to Bourjaily as “a writer’s writer,” which makes sense because his style is clean and clear, and his content cuts. I enjoyed “The Man” so much that I bought another copy to send to my brother. I have “The Violated” but have not yet read it…

  4. Krishna Dronamraju Says:

    I have read the review of “The Man Who Knew Kennedy” and find it very thoughtful. I am going to make this blog a part of my daily browsing.

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