Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anne Carson's Red Doc> (signed first edition)

Last week I was lucky enough to see Anne Carson do a reading at the New York Public Library. Her new novel Red Doc> is confoundingly good. It's the first I've read of Carson and I'm amazed at her ability to create something so familiar and empathetic that is rooted so deeply in classicism. "G" (short for Geryon, a mythical creature) is the protagonist of Red Doc> (if a book like this can even have a protagonist), and while he may be a winged, red monster he also has human, deep relationships with people, art, and memories. Here's an image of Geryon as he appears in Gustave Doré's edition of Dante's Inferno:

Weirdly enough, where I currently am in the book, G and his associate (a character named Sad) drive north to explore some flat ice-scapes that I imagine look like the glorious cover of Red Doc>. Unfortunately I can't maintain Carson's lovely columns of text on this blog, but here's a scene (and an accompanying image of the book):

"CROWS AS BIG as a barns rave overhead. Still driving north. Night is a slit all day is white. Panels of torn planet loom and line up one behind the other to the far edge of what eyes can see. Just ice says Sad. He opens a window and a sea fog pours in. They are passing a beach. Black chunks of lava pile on tangles of black seawrack. Waves tower and smash. White foam explodes upward. Stop if we see seals says G but Sad appears not to hear."

Carson's reading at NYPL was fantastic: she read from Red Doc> as well as a fascinating new 59-paragraph "essay" on Proust that she explained was written by G during his "withdrawl" from finally finishing À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. As I was getting my book signed, I noticed the Proust essay was entirely handwritten, as if she whipped it together over lunch that day like some eccentric genius.

Currently reading:
Red Doc> by Anne Carson

Currently listening to:
"Push the Sky Away" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A limited edition of REVENGE by Yoko Ogawa

This beautiful book is a limited edition of Revenge, a newly-translated collection of interlocking short stories by Yoko Ogawa. Bound in vintage kimono silk by the Jade Bookbinding Studio, Revenge is limited to 100 signed and numbered copies and was offered in three variant bindings:

is an outstanding and genuinely spooky little collection, conjuring up the work of such classic writers like Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe. Ogawa shows exemplary restraint and simplicity in her stories and is still able to shock her readers with sinister twists and reveals. I highly recommend you check it out, and will personally be looking into her other short novels.

It's exciting to see an author with relatively new collector's appeal get an edition like this. Typically, a tight limitation of 100 books will be bound in leather, slipcased, and would start at around 150GBP. Harvill Secker found a way to create something beautiful and covetable on a much more modest scale, allowing the books to sell at a perfectly appropriate 50GBP. Ogawa doesn't have the cult following yet to warrant an expensive leather binding, but I'm thrilled that the publisher saw collector's potential in her work and gave Revenge the treatment it deserves.

Ogawa has a number of untranslated novels, and I hope Harvill Secker continues to offer limited editions as these are published.

This is copy 49/100, signed in Japanese by Ogawa on a specially-made bookplate.

Currently reading:
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Currently listening to:
"The Rider Song" by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis