NYRB Classics discussion

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message 1: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Many of you have been here a long time, but I thought it would be nice to have a page for introductions, to get to know each other a bit better, and a place for newcomers to be made to feel welcomed. So please introduce yourself. I will start.

I am from Montreal and am an avid fiction reader, mostly contemporary, lots of Canadian, some African, some Indigenous, lots of short stories, and am trying to expand my reading to include more international literature.

I discovered NYRB Classics a year ago when someone mentioned the NYRB Classics Book Club to me, and it looked interesting so I bought a yearly subscription and have been hooked every since. I found my way over to this group and will now be helping Trevor as moderator. This is my first moderator gig, lol, so I will be learning along the way. Please feel free to make any suggestions that you think would help make this group a better place, and Trevor and I will do our best to accommodate.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 52 comments I dislike introductions, but here goes anyway:

I'm Bryan, and I can't remember now what drew me to the NYRB imprint. I do like the wide variety of genres that there are to chose from, and that they seem to concentrate on books that may have unfairly fallen out of the public eye.

I do all nearly all of my book buying second hand, so I only pick these up when I run across them. But if the group happens to pick one I have on my shelves, I'd certainly join in.


message 3: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "I dislike introductions, but here goes anyway:
."


Thanks for playing the game Bryan. I came across a copy of Summer Will Show on Amazon.ca, brand new for only $5.45 and that's in Canadian dollars so a few pennies in US dollars, hahaha. I snatched it up.


message 4: by Mirko (last edited Dec 03, 2018 09:19PM) (new)

Mirko | 77 comments My name is Mirko, and I live in British Columbia, Canada. I like to read European literature, as well as other international literature. I try to read literature from different countries or regions of the world. Though I have my moments where I feel, I should be reading more Canadian literature!

I discovered NYRB through the buying of two NYRB classics, Gabriel Chevallier's "Fear: A Novel of World War I" and "Confusion" by Stefan Zweig. I had bought "The Thirty Years War" by C.V. Wedgwood prior to the two novels, never to realise that Wedgwood's book was published by NYRB. It has found its rightful place among the other NYRB books. :)

The two novels in particular let me to explore novels, short story anthologies, which eventually led me to become a fan of the publisher.

As a suggestion, and if possible, I would love to see the continuation of the heads up on forthcoming publications. I understand though if it is too time consuming.


message 5: by Louise (last edited Dec 03, 2018 09:30PM) (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Mirko wrote: "As a suggestion, and if possible, I would love to see the continuation of the heads up on forthcoming publications. I understand though if it is too time consuming..."

Yeah! Another Canadian! Does NYRB publish any other Canadians besides Mavis Gallant and Helen Weinzweig (whom I discovered through my NYRB classics book club subscription with Basic Black with Pearls).

Thank you for your suggestion Mirko. We do hope to continue with news on forthcoming publications.


message 6: by Mirko (new)

Mirko | 77 comments Louise wrote: "Does NYRB publish any other Canadians besides Mavis Gallant and Helen Weinzweig (whom I discovered through my NYRB classics book club subscription with Basic Black with Pearls)."

That's a good question. I have come across John Glassco's Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco in addition to Mavis Gallant. I didn't realise though that Helen Weinzweig is Canadian.

I would need to look further into it too. I know Margaret Atwood has written a few introductions but they have also been for novels written by British authors such as John Wyndham.


message 7: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Hello, I’m Wendy, (but Wendy was taken on GR.) I live in Cleveland Ohio, more specifically I live in a suburb east of Cleveland, but I work in downtown Cleveland.

I use to read primarily historical fiction so have a lot of that on my shelves. Lately I’ve been drawn to contemporary fiction and indie writers and subscribe to 2 indie presses. One subscription is up so I will subscribe to nyrb in 2019

Is everyone aware of www.abebooks.com ? They’re excellent for used books. You can shop by title and publisher, the prices are cheap and you can almost always get free shipping, I built my personal library while raising kids (so very little extra money) for less than $8 a book. I try to buy new to support writers and publishers if the writer is alive, otherwise I go through abes.

Those of us who have subscriptions can announce the book of the month. I suggest that we try to read books of the month 3 or 4 months after the release month so members who use libraries or prefer to buy used books have time for the books to make it to used books shops or abes.

I hope this group stays active. Thank you for taking on moderator duty, Louise!


message 8: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Mirko wrote: "I didn't realise though that Helen Weinzweig is Canadian..."

Well she is actually Polish but she emigrated to Toronto when she was 9 years old and later married a Canadian and raised her kids in Canada too.


message 9: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
WndyJW wrote: "Those of us who have subscriptions can announce the book of the month. I suggest that we try to read books of the month 3 or 4 months after the release month so members who use libraries or prefer to buy used books have time for the books to make it to used books shops or abes. .."

We would like to continue having a page for each new book, and when we know it is part of the NYRB Classics book club we'll make a note of it. For now we will concentrate on getting our own monthly book club going again here, with nominations/voting. Certainly anyone with a subscription can nominate those books; I know I will.


message 10: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I'm Trevor, and I've been a part of the group for quite a while, but much of that has been through the fallow years. I'm excited for this rebirth, and I too hope it continues!

I used to create pages for each of the new books, and I'd track their release dates and make updates, etc. so if that's how we'll keep going I'll jump back in the ring.


message 11: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Thank you Louise and Trevor for doing this for the group!


message 12: by Lois (new)

Lois (literanarchy) | 113 comments Hi all :) I’m an academic based in Melbourne, Australia. Although I’m in the business school now my background is actually in literature/publishing, and I was really drawn to the NYRB Classics on both those fronts - I’ve always loved to read things as far outside my experience as possible (culturally/temporally/geographically) as well as things that are less well-known, as I feel I discover more that way, so I love the content of the books they publish. I also love the books as an imprint - the way they curate the titles, the jacket design, the book club. I think it’s all quite unique and highly effective, so I’m a fan from that point of view as well.

In terms of the group, I’ve been here for a long while now, including through some failed attempts to revive the monthly reads. However, I have to admit I wasn’t always able to keep up with the reads myself, as I am actually quite a slow reader and have spent the last 5.5 years doing my PhD, so I rarely had time/energy for leisure reading.

Thankfully that is done now and although I still have little time for leisure reading, I would like to make more of an effort, so I’m keen to try reviving the monthly reads again - let’s just try to avoid choosing another tome like Life and Fate! An amazing book and I’m glad this group prompted me to read it, but it took me about 9 months to finish and effectively stalled my participation in the group :/ If we do choose something substantial like that, I think we should break the read into parts over a number of months to give people a chance to keep up and avoid them falling out of the loop ... otherwise I loved the old model and am happy to go back to that :)


message 13: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Adams (kadams22) | 20 comments Hello everyone :) I’m Kevin, I’d say I’m a dad first, husband and dog owner. Oh, and I really love to read. Mostly fiction especially classics, NYRB, New Directions, Archipelago and really into postmodern literature. I try and read as many current novels as I can. I now live in the Hudson Valley section of upstate NY and lived most of my adult life in NYC. I am lucky enough to have a spouse that allows me to fill our house with colorful beauties in NYRB classics. Though my deal is anything that isn’t a “favorite” author then it’s all about our local library. Filling a house full of books is the reason my young children are so into reading and I couldn’t be happier. I have an Instagram @hvboknerd and I think Moby Dick is the greatest piece of literature ever made. That’s pretty much it.

VERY excited to bring this group of friends back. Thanks to all 📚


message 14: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I have put up the threads for the books I neglected over the last year and a half. Should be up to date, but I do need to edit the posts to include the covers, blurbs, and other information I tend to put on there. You shouldn't have to wait for that to get on and comment, though! And if you see problems, let me know!


message 15: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Trevor wrote: "I have put up the threads for the books I neglected over the last year and a half. Should be up to date, but I do need to edit the posts to include the covers, blurbs, and other information I tend ..."

Thank you Trevor!!! I can't imagine the amount of work that took to do that all at once.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 52 comments I don't know of more than a couple authors or titles you posted, but just the titles alone sound fascinating.


message 17: by Mark (new)

Mark (rattle_bag) | 12 comments Hi, I am Mark. I live in Leeds but am originally from Northern Ireland. I read a good mix of everything and would be very keen on joining in with the bookclub.

I do have an English degree despite working a million miles away from it these days.

I have been here for a little bit and have been very excited about all of the activity all of a sudden!


message 18: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Wow, if you build it they will come! What a nice little group we have here now.
Kevin, have you received Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants? I love the title. The two small people sitting next to you in your profile pic are very cute.

Mark, I love the the literature coming from the north. Have you read Ben Myers?

What are now an expert in, Dr. Lois?


message 19: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
The US, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. Let's see how many countries are represented in this wonderful group.


message 20: by Mark (new)

Mark (rattle_bag) | 12 comments I have the Gallows pole in my pile Wendy but haven't got to it yet. Heard nothing but good things.


message 21: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Adams (kadams22) | 20 comments So funny! I just picked it up from the library last night. Officially on my TBR! Thank you! My reading buddies!!!


message 22: by Randolph (new)

Randolph (us227381) South Carolina. Ha, ha. Well we did secede once in a monumentally bad decision.


message 23: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
Xan, I think you've posted in the wrong thread. Glad to have you, but I wanted to let you know in case some folks are waiting for your thoughts on the Iliad.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 4 comments Whoops! Sorry everyone. I'll remove that now.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 4 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Whoops! Sorry everyone. I'll remove that now."

Interesting introduction though, eh?


message 26: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
Ha! Yes it was!


message 27: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 46 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Whoops! Sorry everyone. I'll remove that now."

Xan, no worries! It happens to everyone at least once.


message 28: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas During | 7 comments Hello! My name is Nick During and I'm the publicist at NYRB Classics. Pretty excited to get back into this. I started it years ago (can that be true? I'm sure it is) and gave the reins to Trevor and now thrilled that Louise has taken over. Also thrilled to be back participating and wan to help with anything else that people enjoy and find fruitful in the reading.


message 29: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
How great to have the founder of the group here Nick! I am seeing a genuine long-lasting love for NYRB Classics in this group.


message 30: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
It was years ago, Nick! Years!


message 31: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenfrances) Mark wrote: "I have the Gallows pole in my pile Wendy but haven't got to it yet. Heard nothing but good things."

Currently reading this!


message 32: by Seana (new)

Seana | 407 comments Nicholas wrote: "Hello! My name is Nick During and I'm the publicist at NYRB Classics. Pretty excited to get back into this. I started it years ago (can that be true? I'm sure it is) and gave the reins to Trevor an..."

Great to see you back around these parts Nick. You got us off to a great start. I'm thinking there was someone else from NYRB who handled things in between you and Trevor for a while--I'm remembering a woman. Ringing any bells anyone?


message 33: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
There is a Sara listed as one of the moderators but I don't know if she is still here.


message 34: by Seana (new)

Seana | 407 comments Sara sounds right.


message 35: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments This is off nyrb topic, but I want to just boast about having both a 1st edition/1st print The Gallows Pole and a signed copy.

Nicholas, so happy to have you here! To whom do I direct my request for the publishing of more Patrick White?

It’s really wonderful to have so many people eager to get the group going again.


message 36: by Lois (new)

Lois (literanarchy) | 113 comments WndyJW wrote: "What are now an expert in, Dr. Lois"

Reading practices and the materiality of books :) At least, that's what I wrote my thesis on, although technically the field is marketing, believe it or not!


message 37: by WndyJW (last edited Dec 12, 2018 07:08PM) (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments That awesome, Lois! By materiality if books do you mean books as objects? It’s always heartening to hear people taking reading and books seriously, not just as readers or bibliophiles, but from a marketing perspective. That gives me hope that books will become cool.


message 38: by Lois (last edited Dec 12, 2018 07:11PM) (new)

Lois (literanarchy) | 113 comments WndyJW wrote: "Nicholas, so happy to have you here! To whom do I direct my request for the publishing of more Patrick White?"

Seconded! The issue might be that most of his books are published by a larger house, but I personally would love to see them in the illustrious company of the NYRB Classics fold :)

By the way, if you like Patrick White, have you read David Malouf? He is one of my favourites - I remember being particularly enamoured of An Imaginary Life


message 39: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetevans) | 63 comments Hi, my name is Janet and I've been on this list (but not very active) for a few years. I like to see what new books are coming out. I haven't yet really participated in any of the monthly book discussions, but if it's a book I either already own or want to read, I will try.

I'm in an IRL book group in which we read books about gardens, plants, the land, and the landscape in either fiction or non-fiction works. It's been going on for over 17 years and I think the first NYRB book we read in our group was The Ten Thousand Things, a hauntingly beautiful story (or series of stories) taking place in the Spice Islands, so really the landscape is a major element in what we read.

One of the things I like about this group is clicking on the "members" link to see what everyone is reading -- some interesting stuff.

Looking forward to at least following if not actively participating in the book discussions.


message 40: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
That is amazing Janet that your IRL book group has been going for over 17 years!! Has the group stuck to gardens/plants/land for all those 17 years? Glad to have you following along.


message 41: by WndyJW (last edited Dec 13, 2018 06:32PM) (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments I just came across The Ten Thousand Things last month and look forward to reading it.

Lois, I read Ransom and really liked it. I would read more by him.


message 42: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetevans) | 63 comments Louise, to your question, have we stayed with the garden, nature, landscape theme, I would say “yes” in that we interpret the topic in a very general way, which has led us to reading all kinds of works — from Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower to Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths to more recent dystopian eco-fiction like Annihilation and The Year of the Flood.

So there’s lots of room for interpretation and lots to talk about. And we discuss non-fiction, too, but the group leans more toward fiction.

Wndy, I can’t really think of a book that is like The Ten Thousand Things. It’s kind of in a class by itself and I’m not sure that the author wrote anything else but her descriptions of the island are lovely and she touches on many issues, including the colonial relationships between the Dutch and the island inhabitants in Indonesia. It’s set (if I’m remembering this correctly) in the 1930s-1940s.


message 43: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
Janet, have you read Onward and Upward in the Garden, by Katherine White. It’s lovely! It compiles White’s gardening articles she published in The New Yorker over many years, and I was surprised at how much I loved it, though I’m not really a gardener (but would like to learn to be).


message 44: by Janet (last edited Dec 14, 2018 12:00PM) (new)

Janet (janetevans) | 63 comments You know, we've never actually read that in book group, although I've read it myself and I agree with you, it's a wonderful read, so we'll need to revisit it. I'll put it on the running list we keep for consideration. What we do in the final meeting of the year (which is in June because we stop for the summer) -- we have a covered dish dinner and vote on the books for the next year. That way everyone knows what is on the reading list and doesn't have to scramble from month to month looking for copies.

There is another NYRB classic that I'm going to propose to my group: it's The Farm in the Green Mountains which I really enjoyed. We've also read short stories from NYRB. One particularly memorable one is a John Collier story from his Fancies and Goodnights about an orchid. It's a hoot. And by the way, the Collier cover is my flat-out favorite cover for NYRB books.

Here's what we've read over the years (did I mention that I'm a librarian and the group is in my library?)
http://pennhort.libguides.com/McLeanL...


message 45: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenfrances) So impressed with your IRL club, Janet. Such a curious theme to be going for 17 years. Have you read The Landbreakers by John Ehle? It's an NYRB title, and one I'm hoping to get to shortly.


message 46: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetevans) | 63 comments Helen, we have not read this and until you mentioned it, I’ve not heard of it so I looked at some GR reviews and I would say this is exactly the kind of story our group goes for so I will try to get a copy.

At 370 pages it hits the limit of what the group likes to read in a month (for practical reasons we find shorter is better and some of our best participants are in multiple groups) but we do tackle longer books a couple of times a year.

Thanks for the suggestion— this is exactly how we’ve managed to keep going for so long—by taking in suggestions from savvy readers like yourself and Trevor and others in this group!


message 47: by Helen (last edited Dec 15, 2018 08:58AM) (new)

Helen (helenfrances) Janet, so glad to hear it was a help. I'm really looking forward to getting into that one.
Now you've got me trying to recall any books that had a strong landscape theme. One that comes immediately to mind is Ron Rash's 'One Foot in Eden'. At the outset, it appears to be a crime novel (and a cracking one it turns out to be!) in the Southern Gothic genre, set just after WWII. But it's much deeper than that. Ron Rash is a professor of Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University, and he brings to the book his intricate knowledge of the flora and fauna of the place and ties into the storyline a dramatic historical overview of the flooding of the South Carolina Appalachian Valley by the Carolina Power Plant. On finishing the novel, I spent hours watching film footage on YouTube of Jocassee Valley, hearing stories from old timers who could recall life in a landscape lost forever, submerged in a world of water.


message 48: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetevans) | 63 comments Helen, while we didn’t read One Foot in Eden, we did read Ron Rash’s Serena, which is also a riveting Southern gothic with beautiful writing, with the story set in the Appalachian mountains during the Depression. It was about a couple who move into the area to set up a timber camp and basically denude the land, removing all the trees to make a quick profit. So there’s a real dilemma in that they are hiring locals to cut down the trees snd keep the economy going in the short term even though everyone realizes that there will be no work in the future . (An all too familiar dilemma, unfortunately)

Rash is a fabulous novelist— isn’t he also a poet? The movie made from Serena was a disappointment and I strongly urge folks to forget they ever saw the film and go straight to the book.

Somewhere on my bookcases I have a copy of his Saints at the River, which I still haven’t read, but you are so correct, he’s highly discussable
and a joy to read and I’ll look for One Foot in Eden.


message 49: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenfrances) Thank you for reminding me of Rash's Serena. One Foot in Eden was my first taste of his work, and that was at the beginning of this year, and I haven't been back to him since. I've heard only good things about that book (bad things about the film, as you point out! Definitely one I shall be avoiding) but it's probably high time I give him another go. Serena does indeed sound, sadly, like a timely book.


message 50: by WndyJW (last edited Dec 16, 2018 12:10PM) (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Helen, I’m not sure how much land, landscapers gardens, etc have to play a role in the books you choose or if simply a very strong sense of nature is enough, but The Gallows Pole set on the Yorkshire moors, has such a strong sense of place that I felt a brief moment of disorientation when I looked up from the book! The landscape is almost a character in this book.
Under The Rock: The Poetry of a Place Under The Rock The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers is about the moors, forests and reservoirs around Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, where Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath lived and wrote. That one is definitely nature writing.

It’s wonderful that you have a book group that has stayed together for so long!


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