Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our Next Book Will Be....

Stet; A Memoir by Diana Athill (or Stet: An Editor's Life for those in the UK, by which I think I mean, me and Alex). I believe we'll reconvene to post reviews and discuss this on the last day of March, Sunday 31st. Happy reading!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Time To Choose A New Book!

Hello dear Slaves, it's that time once again, and I have the great honor of offering you a selection of titles for our next gathering. I thought it was a while since we'd read any non-fiction, and that it might be fun to read a memoir. But given that it is February and I, for one, have no desire for any misery, I've been looking out for memoirs that might be termed entertaining and which feature a strong bookish theme. Descriptions come from the back covers.

Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels

'Whenever I read the words "Peer's Daughter" in a headling,' Lady Redesdale once sadly remarked, 'I know it's going to be something about one of you children.' The Mitford family is one of the century's most enigmatic, made notorious by Nancy's novels, Diana's marriage to Sir Oswald Mosley, Unity's infatuation with Hitler, Debo's marriage to a duke and Jessica's passionate commitment to communism. Hons and Rebels is an enchanting and deeply absorbing memoir of an isolated and eccentric upbringing which conceals beneath its witty, light-hearted surface much wisdom and depth of feeling.

Diana Athill, Stet; An Editor's Life

For nearly five decades Diana Athill helped shape some of the finest books in modern literature. She edited (and nursed and coerced and coaxed) some of the most celebrated writers in the English language, including V. S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys and Brian Moore. The word 'stet' is an instruction on corrected proofs sent to a printer, meaning 'let the original stand'. This candid memoir writes 'stet' against the pleasures, intrigues and complexities of her life spent among authors and manuscripts. This was how things stood.

Phyllis Rose, The Year of Reading Proust; A Memoir in Real Time

The Year of Reading Proust is a love story, travel essay, biography, personal history,  mid-life accounting, mother-daughter story and essay on the literary life all in one. Starting with a brilliant description of what it feels like to read Proust, Phyllis Rose moves on to an account of her daily life, inspired by the works of Proust and written with panache and loving intelligence. Set largely in New York City and Key West, Florida, it gives dazzling glimpses of the lifestyles of the talented and famous. A completely original book and an exhilarating literary experience, it invites comparison with autobiographical classics like A Moveable Feast and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and will do for contemporary readers what those books did for an earlier generation.

Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes: sharing the pleasures of the local library's vaste cache with his mother when he was a boy, recounting the decades-long relationship with the English teacher who pointed him onto the path of letters, and describing and profoundly influential period he spent in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, girded by wisdom and an undeniable honesty. Anyone who not only enjoys the pleasures of reading but also believes in the power of books to shape a life will find here the greatest defense of that credo.

Richard Russo, On Helwig Street

'"Whoever said beggars can't be choosers," my grandfather would remark when she was out of earshot, "never met your mother."' 

Jean Russo was a single mother in the 1950s, badly paid and living with her only son, Richard, in the upstairs apartment of her parents' home on Helwig Street in Gloversville, New York. When Richard left for University, Jean saw her chance to escape a dead-end town in search of a better life elsewhere. So began a series of ill-conceived adventures, as ambitious son and restless mother strove to find somewhere to belong. Hilarious and heartbreaking, a story of growing up and of growing old, of becoming a man whilst remaining a son, of thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else, but knowing that going home is inevitable: On Helwig Street is a poignant tribute to a complicated mother and a brilliant evocation of mid-century America.

What's today? Friday? Already? Well, I'll tot up the votes in a weeks' time.