After a couple of no-doubt excruciating weeks of no Soho Press Friday Reads…we’re back!
I’m currently re-reading Lolita for a few reasons—because Jessica , our old intern, brought to my attention how much I loved it the first time around; I found a charming old Penguin copy that had to be bought; and mostly because in light of the new (bad) erotica these days, it’s important to remember the masters of innuendo. This time, I’m reading it more critically and the best part about that is I’m noticing Nabokov’s strong presence in the work. It’s written in first-person, but there are many moments (short interspersed paragraphs) where there’s a switch to third-person and Humbert-Humbert becomes aware of himself. To me, it seems this is Nabokov distancing the reader, so they don’t feel too guilty for sympathizing with such a controversial protagonist. It’s quite clever, to say the least.
But I’m always shocked to hear that no-one’s heard of Laughter in the Dark. Written in a similar light as Lolita, but shorter, more concise, and quite possibly more tragic. Definitely a must-read for Nabokov fans.
Simona Blat, Editorial Assistant, Reads French! (See below)
I just finished Nathalie Sarraute’s Tropisms on the advice of Paul (one of our resident literary historians). I mentioned to him that I prefer the short form over novel length work, and he got excited and then explained Sarraute’s involvement with the French nouveau roman literary movement and then brought Tropisms for me the next day. The ‘stories’ that make up the collection are tense and alienating, and though very short, it makes for an anxiety-ridden experience. I suggest reading it in an uncomfortably crowded train, next to a noisy road, or in a room full of barking dogs.
Rudy Martinez, Marketing, Pastry Connoisseur
Simona-torial Note: Rudy, I LOVE Sarraute, and read the French version of Tropisms a year ago, it’s delicious, and this reminds me of another amazing nouveau roman! Add anything ever written by Alain Robbe-Grillet to your list, but especially Jealousy. It has a very unique narrator who is also propelled by a compulsiveness to observe, and largely fueled by obsession and jealousy. Because form mirrors content, this book is the equivalent of a scratching recording, or a looped taped. So amazing.
I’ve been burning through the YA this week! Not only have I been reading more Soho Teen books (just you wait until you get your hands on Deviant, people!), I’ve also read two by Malinda Lo, Ash and Huntress, and When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. Ash was beautiful (both the language and the physical book – even in paperback!), but I was more impressed with Huntress. It’s a wonderful mix of classic fantasy and fairy tale re-tellings. I recommend it! (Don’t worry, if you’re crunched on time, you don’t need to have read Ash).
Katie Hoffman, Ed Assistant, LEAVING US TODAY! (But we’re very
bitter at happy for her)
I’m reading LA CONFIDENTIAL by James Ellroy, finally! The plot follows three LAPD police officers over several years and several cases in the early 1950s. I’d seen and loved the movie, but the book is very rich in ways a movie just can’t be, especially the really original writing and the complexly drawn characters. It’s part of my catch-up crime fiction reading list, but also I’ve been meaning to read Ellroy for a long time. Our author Stuart Neville—one of the first people to get me interested in crime fiction, way back before I worked at Soho—has always cited Ellroy as one of the crime writers he most admires and as one of his influences. Now I finally see why! The book is REALLY different than any other crime fiction I’ve read so far. It’s practically written in a different language and it’s really, really hard to disentangle yourself from the story and, say, go to bed at a decent hour.
Juliet Grames, Editor, Admirer of Crafters of Strange and Beautiful Things
Listening to COSMOPOLIS on audio. Weird, antiseptic, beautiful. Pscyhed for film.
Also THE MAP AND THE TERRITORY by Houellebecq (thanks, KJ Grow, for the galley!). Only about 60 pages in, but love it so far. I recall the prose in his earlier novels PLATFORM and THE ELEMENTARY PARTICLES being very sculpted and spare, but here the voice is loose and discursive. Some of the sentences feel (in translation, anyhow) rather weak, but there’s such a tremendous authority in these early chapters that it feels almost beside the point.
Also just started DISPATCHES FROM THE FUTURE by Leigh Stein, who read last night with our own Paula Bomer at BookCourt. It’s freaking delightful, and I can temporarily feel less guilty about never reading contemporary poetry, because look! I’m reading contemporary poetry! “…I/ guess what I’m trying to do here is ruin any hope/ you may have had of coming out of this alive.”