Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Adventures in Reading

Readers may be interested in the following books which have been added to stock at Galway City Library:

Tomás Rivera: The Complete Works; Arte Publico Press
Tomas Rivera presents us with the lives migratory farm workers in Texas during the decade of 1950 with all its joys and sorrows. Searching is a constant theme in his work: searching for work, searching for identity, and the quest for community. "How long, how long have we been searchers...from within came the passion to create a new life, a new dream every day. In the dump we discovered beautiful flowers among the cans and broken bottles. The sky was blue blue and even the birds looked at it and didn't disturb its beauty, a sacred blue pushing toward the earth."

The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal; Modern Library
The narrative takes the reader by storm with its fervid pace, the pace at which Stendhal wrote it. This translation by the distinguished poet, Richard Howard, preserves the brio, gusto, élan, verve, and panache of the original. The novel's hero is always measuring his life against the poems and novels he has read. He keeps checking up on himself, as if trying to conform to some hidden master plan for being, or for loving -- a plan that, as the novel tragically demonstrates, he is never quite able to follow.

Three Stories and a Reflection, by Patrick Suskind; Bloomsbury Publishing
The topics are all plucked from the life - sometimes melancholy, sometimes mysterious or dark, and never monumental but they tie one from the first sentence. The protagonists are underdogs or losers, and come mostly from humble backgrounds. The art lies not in the content of the stories, it is in their words. In the opening story, about a young painter who after harmless criticism plunges into despair, Suskind writes about the frightening power of superficial criticism.

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