Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Philip Roth's NEMESIS, designed by Milton Glaser

The next book I'm slated to review on is the new Philip Roth book, Nemesis. As a big Roth fan, I was very excited when it arrived. I feel Milton Glaser did a fantastic job with the design, and I LOVE the book's spine. It's a little tough to see, but the publisher info comes first (centered at the top), leaving the title and author both for the base of the spine. So simple, yet so, so good.

(Unfortunately, this might be the best thing about the book... I'm under the impression that Nemesis is Roth's attempt at poisoning the Horatio Alger library, and by doing so he has ended up making a paranoid Americana book that just might actually be... boring? I've still got sixty pages to go, so fingers crossed that things get better.)


This is the 50th post at The Oxen of the Sun! I want to thank everyone for their continued support, and hope you all keep checking in. Occasionally I'll see that some readers were referred here from other blogs. For those readers who maintain a blog of your own, let me know! I'll add you to my blogroll and hopefully we'll each boost our readership.

Currently reading:
Nemesis by Philip Roth

Currently listening to:

Chris Kiehne, Pray for Daylight

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

REVIEW: Nicole Krauss, Great House

My review of Nicole Krauss's exceptional new novel Great House was recently published on Those of you looking for some great contemporary literature should definitely check it out:

Nicole Krauss, Great House

Great House will hit bookstores in the middle of October.

Coming up we'll take a look at Milton Glaser's outstanding design for Philip Roth's forthcoming novel Nemesis. Stay tuned!

Currently reading:
Nemesis, by Philip Roth

Currently listening to:
Barking, by Underworld

Monday, September 20, 2010

Novotny's Pain, by Philip Roth

Novotny's Pain is a 33 page short story by Philip Roth, published by Los Angeles bookdealers Sylvester & Orphanos in 1980. First appearing in The New Yorker in 1962, "Novotny's Pain" is the story of the recently-drafted Novotny whose mysterious back pain prevents him from being shipped out to Korea. It feels like the American sibling of The Death of Ivan Ilyich, as they both delve into grand themes of fate and responsibility to the world.

This is copy 209 of 330. There are 26 lettered copies, and four additional copies which were specifically made out to their recipient. The text looks beautiful printed on the book's thick, deckled Arches paper, and feels slightly raised if you were to run your hand along the pages. Similar to Roth's other elusive volume His Mistress's Voice, Novotny's Pain is a must-have for any serious collector.

Currently reading:
The Return, Roberto Bolano
By Nightfall, Michael Cunningham

Currently Listening to:
Black Moth Super Rainbow, Eating Us
The Go-Betweens, "Twin Layers of Lightning"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In the Belly of St. Paul, by Karl Hyde and John Warwicker (Tomato)

One of my favorite recent acquisitions, In the Belly of St. Paul, is the second typographic publication by the UK-based design collective Tomato. Karl Hyde (of the electronic music group Underworld) has teamed with artist (and old musical partner) John Warwicker to create an incredible book that I'm very excited to share. Essentially the print version of a found-sound music collage, In the Belly of St. Paul is composed of overheard sound bites from the streets of London, all of which are rendered into an array of experimental fonts with a stunning eye (or ear) for design.
The book was published in 2002 in an edition of 500 numbered copies. Each copy is signed by Hyde and Warwicker, and includes an original photograph. At, owners can register their print in an amazing pictorial registry. Here is where I think this book becomes really exceptional--flipping through the photo album, you'll see the location of each copy and see how wide-reaching and international the book actually is. For a project that deals with a city's infrastructure in physical and social ways, it's astonishing to see how connected we all are.

Currently reading:
Great House, Nicole Krauss

Currently listening to:
Black Moth Super Rainbow, Eating Us

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 Booker Prize shortlist announced

Wow, what a surprise. The Booker Prize shortlist was announced, and I'm shocked to see a book like Room made it over two exceptional titles like Skippy Dies and Jacob de Zoet. The list is as follows:

Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Emma Donoghue, Room
Damon Galgut, In A Strange Room
Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
Andrea Levy, The Long Song
Tom McCarthy, C

It's fantastic that Tom McCarthy's on there-- C is a very difficult and truly mesmerizing read. But, Room? My less-than-positive review can be read here.

Currently reading:
Great House, Nicole Krauss

2010 Booker Prize predictions

Hi everyone! With only a day left for shortlist predicitions, I thought I'd weigh in with a wager of my own. I've read four of my six projected short-listers; the last two are based on reviews I've read and a few other factors that might influence the judges in their decision.

Here goes:

David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Tom McCarthy: C
Paul Murray: Skippy Dies
Rose Tremain: Trespass
Helen Dunmore: The Betrayal
Damon Galgut: In A Strange Room

I'll be sticking to these six for now, and will update tomorrow with the finalized list. For those interested, I have had two new reviews published on, one for Tremain's Trespass and one for Emma Donoghue's Room (which I imagine will be left off tomorrow's shortlist). Take a peek at the embedded links.

Another update will come tomorrow: fingers crossed for Mitchell, McCarthy, and Murray-- I suspect the prize will eventually come between those three.

Currently reading:
Great House, Nicole Krauss

Currently listening to:
Calexico, "Feast of Wire"

Saturday, September 4, 2010

REVIEW: Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

My review of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom was recently published online and can be read here. As I continue to write reviews for, I'll post links here for any interested reader. And, if compelled, we can discuss in the comments of each post.

We'll be back to some more collectible titles shortly. Coming soon will be another rare Philip Roth edition, as well as an experimental typography book by an amazing art collective called Tomato. Stay tuned!

Currently reading:
Trespass, by Rose Tremain

Currently listening to:
Can, "Delay 1968"