Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday gift suggestions

This blog is all about public domain ebooks but you can't really give those as gifts.  Below are some recent physical books that I think will appeal to anybody who reads this.  As always support your local bookstore.

The Public Domain Review: Selected Essays 2011-2013 - The wonderful people at PDR have put together their first physical book, mostly reprinted from the site but with some new material. I think it's only available directly from them.

C.D. Rose - A Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure - From the ever-cool Melville House comes the book I most want to read at the moment.  Yes, I was a bit disappointed to learn that these mini-bios of "history's least accomplished writers" weren't real but then I read an excerpt that not only made me laugh out loud but was much smarter and satirically on-target than I'd expected.  [I've since read this and can't recommend it enough.  Though there's a bit of satire directed at literary criticism it's much more affectionate than mean and if anything the book is a tribute to writers, to readers, to publishers.  Plus it's genuinely funny.]

Robert Damon Schneck - Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist: And Other Strange-but-True Tales from American History - This kind of compilation can be hit or miss in terms not just of strangeness but even basic accuracy.  Flipping through this, it looks like it's on the good end.  [Well not completely.  After reading I see that some pieces recover forgotten but curious historical episodes but others mostly embrace Bigfoot, psychics and other fringe material which makes the history a bit dubious.]

Frances Larson - Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found - Can you imagine pitching this - "I want to write a book about severed heads."

Hugo Ball - Flametti, or the Dandyism of the Poor - One of the original dadas wrote a quasi-autobiographical novel that actually sounds quite peculiar.

John Ehle - The Land Breakers - Reprint of a 1964 historical novel about the Appalachians compared to Norse sagas and book of Genesis. This is the kind of thing that's likely to be either one of the best books I've ever read or completely ridiculous.

Antal Szerb - Journey by Moonlight - I pick up almost anything put out by NYRB Classics and this 1937 Hungarian novel newly translated sounds very promising.  "Utterly individual mix of magic, madness, eros, and menace" according to the publisher.

Georges Perec - I Remember - Perec's version of Joe Brainard's work of the same name.  "An affectionate portrait of mid-century Paris and a daring pointillist autobiography" now in English with notes.

 Ian Lowey & Suzy Prince - The Graphic Art of the Underground: A Countercultural History - A few decades of alternative design.