Literary treats - recommend great reads

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Ground rules:

1. treats and gems only itt
(yes you may like Crime & Punishment but it's canonized to the point where it's ridiculous to recommend it, also this thread is about treats, not "books you feel like you/others should read")

2. quality > quantity
(no long lists of cool books needed, just recommend one good book and change the/my world)

3. not a thread for difficult reads
(disqualifies If on a winter's night a traveler and other "fun" experimental books, they can go into their seperate experimental treats thread)

4. max 300 pages
(because a brick is not a treat, or if they are they may go in a brick treats thread)

5. only books available in english translation
(because this is a functional recommendation thread, a separate untranslated gems thread might be interesting for the multilingual)

I'll start out by recommending the total treat Whereabouts (2018) by Jhumpa Lahiri
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/41/Dove_mi_trovo_%28Jhumpa_Lahiri%29.png

corrs unplugged, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 15:45 (two weeks ago) link

Sexing the Cherry

Flaubert's Parrot

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

weregoats of boston (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 15:48 (two weeks ago) link

Out Stealing Horses (2003) by Per Petterson

corrs unplugged, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 16:03 (two weeks ago) link

I love Angela Saini's work thought its non fiction so not sure if you're specifying fiction. Both Superior on why Race Science is so inherently flawed and Inferior which is similar but about Gender Imbalance.

Also Kehinde Andrews various books, Ibram X Kendi same.
JUst discovering Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison.

Reading a stack of books at the same time so this could continue . BUt trying to keep it short.
I bougt East West Street by Philippe Sands after hearing the podcast series tied in with it. But haven't started reading it yet

Stevolende, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 16:25 (two weeks ago) link

Of the discoveries I've made in all the Favourite Novels polls (not many but it's an ongoing thing) the most fun is The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf, if you fancy some early weird fiction and the following extract piques your interest then strap in for a wild ride:

The crowd flew apart, all eyes drawn to the foot to which the hand of the screaming man was pointing. On this foot sat the spider, black and huge, glowering balefully, maliciously all around. The blood froze in their veins, the breath in their breasts, and the sight in their eyes, while the spider calmly, maliciously peered about, and then the man’s foot turned black, and in his body it felt as if fire were hissingly, furiously doing battle with water; fear burst the bonds of horror, and the crowds scattered.

namaste darkness my old friend (ledge), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 16:42 (two weeks ago) link

Crowd flew apart, then scattered, even!

dow, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 16:49 (two weeks ago) link

zazen by vanessa veselka: crisply-written children of men-esque alternate-present/slight future, but set among the culture of white new age vegans and conveys that world only in the most sardonic tones. protagonist is an activist who is trapped in this realm and is having a huge nervous breakdown about it. idk maybe i’m not selling it but it’s one of my favorite books i’ve ever read

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 16:56 (two weeks ago) link

Anything by Eve Babitz, but let's go with Sex and Rage: Advice for Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time. Just the most delightful book, a blithe breeze through early 70s LA, like Joan Didion's much more fun younger sister.

Piedie Gimbel, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 17:06 (two weeks ago) link

I second Zazen.

A couple others: Unclay, by T.F. Powys, a hard-to-classify novel about Death visiting a small village in human form and learning all the weird, perverse little secrets of the townsfolk. Deeply odd, funny, a bit unsettling.

Journey by Moonlight, by Antal Szerb, about a Hungarian man on his honeymoon who has a chance encounter with an old friend, becomes obsessed with what has become of his weird goth friends from his teenage years, and abandons his wife to go track them down. His wife then sets off to have her own adventures. I found it totally delightful. (320 pages but they go by quickly.)

JoeStork, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 20:38 (two weeks ago) link

Never heard of Vanessa Velka before, but now I am intrigued. Her mother is Linda Ellerbee! And she won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize!

Sterl of the Quarter (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 20:57 (two weeks ago) link

I thought The Card of the Gambler by Benedict Kiely was a great retelling of the Death on the tree myth. Think its a story that is repeated across a few nation's mythology. Death put out of commission by being stuck somewhere so nobody dying for a while. I remember i being delicious prose but I read it like 29 years ago when i was first in Dublin. Must get around to reading more of him at some point.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 21:04 (two weeks ago) link

I'm going to stick to the rools and go with one: A Month in the Country by JL Carr (practically ILX canon, tbh). Swells beyond its 135 pages into timelessness.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 21:06 (two weeks ago) link

One non-fiction too: The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall. Colonial-gentleman-cum-Devonian-Quixote sets out to complete the solo round the world yacht race and rather than admit defeat, spirals into deception, isolation and madness.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 21:10 (two weeks ago) link

Ugh, didn't mean to misspell the name. Vanessa Veselka, sorry.

Sterl of the Quarter (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 21:25 (two weeks ago) link

I think this essay of hers is very much worth reading as well: https://magazine.atavist.com/the-fort-of-young-saplings/

There’s another essay about her narrow escape from the Truck Stop Killer as a teenage runaway but it basically ruined my day when I read it.

JoeStork, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 22:22 (two weeks ago) link

The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard. Really good personal essays.

Seconding A Month in the Country and also Eve Babitz, but the Babitz I like best is Slow Days, Fast Company.

War With the Newts by Karel Capek. 1936 Czech satire in which people discover and enslave a species of giant intelligent newt and the global economy becomes entirely dependent on them, leading eventually to global Newt revolution and a disastrous rise in sea levels.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 04:21 (two weeks ago) link

oh shit, yeah, the boys of my youth is the best. really influential for me. i also love beard's novel in zanesville though it could be construed as ya

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 04:31 (two weeks ago) link

Dog of the South - Charles Portis

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 05:13 (two weeks ago) link

Very much appreciating all these recommendations! I had fiction in mind but not opposed to non-fiction at all as long as we're talking real treats, such as well written, perhaps even gripping journalism or narrative essays. Poetry also welcome. Most important is that it be a kind of rewarding read that is not too demanding, an archetype of the treat I'm thinking of could be The Old Man and the Sea or Babette's Feast (although I'm more interested in novels than novellas).

corrs unplugged, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 09:20 (two weeks ago) link

The True Deceiver, Tove Jansson - The best of her adult novels I've read, female children's author who writes stories about harmless little bunnies rubs up against independent, hard edged woman in small village. Ideal Winter read, a good one to gift people as they usually don't have it.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 10:31 (two weeks ago) link

You may already be familiar with The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington but that seems well-suited here.

Also second the Charles Portis recommendation -- any of his novels, really, especially Masters of Atlantis.

Chris L, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 12:36 (two weeks ago) link

_The True Deceiver_, Tove Jansson - The best of her adult novels I've read, female children's author who writes stories about harmless little bunnies rubs up against independent, hard edged woman in small village. Ideal Winter read, a good one to gift people as they usually don't have it.


Will check this out

suggest bainne (gyac), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 12:41 (two weeks ago) link

War With the Newts by Karel Capek. 1936 Czech satire in which people discover and enslave a species of giant intelligent newt and the global economy becomes entirely dependent on them, leading eventually to global Newt revolution and a disastrous rise in sea levels.
― Lily Dale

Ah cool, so is Capek worth reading in general, then? Obv famed for popularising 'robot', but I've never been sure if he's worth digging into in his own right.

You may already be familiar with The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington but that seems well-suited here.
― Chris L

Seconded!

emil.y, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:17 (two weeks ago) link

The 'no experimentalism' thing is throwing me a bit, bah. Especially as I feel like IOAWNAT isn't even close to a difficult read! Also I'm guessing that the treat element means nothing too cynical or depressing, right?

emil.y, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:19 (two weeks ago) link

I'm going to stick to the rools and go with one: A Month in the Country by JL Carr (practically ILX canon, tbh). Swells beyond its 135 pages into timelessness.

― Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 21:06 (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

need to read this; his FA Cup book is absolutely amazing and does similar

imago, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:22 (two weeks ago) link

xp I like experimentalism as much as the next person but it just doesn't really fit my idea of a treat

then again rules are meant to be broken and if you know an experimental short novel that's the equivalent of a bounty bar, well... I'd be interested!

some depressing/cynical stuff leaves the reader elated (like Thomas Bernhard) and in that case it's fine by my

corrs unplugged, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:33 (two weeks ago) link

*me

corrs unplugged, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:33 (two weeks ago) link

also The Hearing Trumpet is one of the best books ever as far as I'm concerned btw, 100% concur, get on it, etc

imago, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:38 (two weeks ago) link

I think it's less that I want to recommend pure experimental lit and more that sometimes I don't know what people would consider overly experimental - to me something like The Third Policeman is a real treat, but would its quirks rule it out? But if experimental stuff is not completely banned, just not preferred, then that feels easier.

emil.y, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:44 (two weeks ago) link

I recently got around to The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares and that felt quite treat-like. The central character is overly obsessive about a woman he never speaks to, which may be off-putting, but I didn't feel pushed into empathising with that emotion but rather found myself chuckling at its extent. Mileage might vary, I guess.

emil.y, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:47 (two weeks ago) link

books like The Third Policeman manage to be both treats and the best books ever written tbf, this thread absolutely needs its ilk

imago, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:48 (two weeks ago) link

A Happy man by Hansjorg Schertenleib is a book that's prob a treat, just a guy walking around with a happy (or well-adjusted) life and every sentence it seems like he's going to die, a very strange tension that I haven't really seen very much

Bongo Jongus, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 15:57 (two weeks ago) link

Edmund White's Forgetting Elena is... [pause to consider] quite acceptable here. Don't you think?

alimosina, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 16:07 (two weeks ago) link

various things by John Einarson though I noticed a few years ago that his name keeps getting mispelt on different books or possibly listiongs. He has done some really good music bios including ghost writing/compiling Arthur Lee's memoir. His Mr Tambourine Man on Gene Clark was really good too.

I really enjoyed Behind The Scenes on the Pegasus Carousel by Love drummer Michael Stewart Ware. It was one of the first insider memoirs from the band· I haven't reread it in a while and it has had 2 different updates which I also haven't caught up with.
just looking around my room and seeing love posters on teh wall so being reminded by that.

Simon Reynolds various books on post-punk including Rip It Up And Start Again.

Mark Mordue's book on the young Nick Cave Boy On Fire
Clinton Walker's Stranded on Australian punk and its aftermath

Stevolende, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 16:59 (two weeks ago) link

Natasha Ginzburg - Sagittarius
Joy Williams - The Quick and the Dead
Elizabeth Taylor - A Wreath of Roses

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 17:05 (two weeks ago) link

based on these selections, one would do well to read any given new york review classic

mookieproof, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 23:08 (two weeks ago) link

I've run into a few duds in NYRB Classics, but overall it has an excellent hit rate. If I see one shelved in a used bookshop I always investigate it and usually buy it, read it and enjoy it.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 23:37 (two weeks ago) link

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze is another really good NYRB book - a forgotten classic of noir that I can't begin to describe but that made me put the book down and stare at a wall several times while I was reading it.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:04 (two weeks ago) link

That may not sound like much of a treat but I meant it in a good way.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:05 (two weeks ago) link

Loved reading Eva Baltasar's Permafrost earlier this year. Maybe too caustic for a treat? But the prose is really packed, maybe reads a bit like what it is -- European fiction in translation -- but it was as vital to read as anything I've read in a long time.

They hired me on a Monday, three months after my first article. For the first time, I felt colorless — a dreadful muddle of various hues, an unthinkably grim and grayish green. My skin was like a mollusk shell, my body parched, my muscles fibrous like esparto grass — and inside I smelled of a parking lot.

I enjoyed the two above-mentioned Babitz books too.

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:07 (two weeks ago) link

loved 'black wings has my angel'

flopson, Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:13 (two weeks ago) link

That one’s on my list/pvmic

Sterl of the Quarter (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:20 (two weeks ago) link

- The Beginning of Spring (Fitzgerald), my favourite book by my favourite author, the perfect midpoint between her early and late styles
- At Freddie’s (Fitzgerald), the funniest one
- The Beiderbecke Affair (Plater), the best ever novelisation of a TV show (not counting Steven Moffat’s The Day or the Doctor, which is probably too niche for this list)
- Harriet the Spy, one of the few books everyone should read

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:49 (two weeks ago) link

I really love The Long Secret, the sequel to Harriet the Spy.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 18 November 2021 01:15 (two weeks ago) link

I’m just about to start reading that!

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 18 November 2021 01:39 (two weeks ago) link

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze is another really good NYRB book - a forgotten classic of noir that I can't begin to describe but that made me put the book down and stare at a wall several times while I was reading it.

Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter has a similar effect as this, and goes in a couple of directions you wouldn't necessarily expect from this genre.

May as well start rounding out the list of NYRB Treats. The classic Western Warlock by Oakley Hall was one of my most captivating reads of the last few years. You can see the seeds of Deadwood being planted as you're reading it.

Chris L, Thursday, 18 November 2021 01:40 (two weeks ago) link

Warlock rules, can confirm

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 18 November 2021 01:41 (two weeks ago) link

gah i started it last year and had trouble getting into it. i will try again.

certified juice therapist (harbl), Thursday, 18 November 2021 01:48 (two weeks ago) link

lol i basically tried every nyrb classic that the library had five years ago but couldn't get into any of them. the hearing trumpet and the tove jansson book look promising though.

Linda and Jodie Rocco (map), Thursday, 18 November 2021 02:01 (two weeks ago) link

I borrowed my brother's copy of Warlock, didn't read it, and accidentally dropped it through the library return slot because I mistook it for another NYRB book. This is a good reminder that I should get around to ordering him another copy.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 18 November 2021 02:03 (two weeks ago) link

My NYRB recommendations would be Warlock, On the Yard by Malcolm Braly and The along Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson

.xlsm (P. Flick), Friday, 19 November 2021 23:44 (one week ago) link

hard rain falling by don carpenter and butcher's crossing by john williams (these are both also treats)

certified juice therapist (harbl), Friday, 19 November 2021 23:55 (one week ago) link

it's not a nyrb classic but my answer is 'darryl' by jackie ess. my ILB review here Are You There, God? What Are You Reading In The Summer Of 2021?

flopson, Saturday, 20 November 2021 00:20 (one week ago) link

High Wind in Jamaica is another v.enjoyable NYRB classic

Jimmy Iovine Eat World (bernard snowy), Saturday, 20 November 2021 00:23 (one week ago) link

Not exactly a hidden treasure, because it was such a hit in its day, but a quick, engaging book and a treat if you've not read it yet: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Saturday, 20 November 2021 01:16 (one week ago) link

Much more obscure, because much older, but a fun book of the sort that often gets called "a romp": The Grand Babylon Hotel, Arnold Bennett.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Saturday, 20 November 2021 01:19 (one week ago) link

Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I found Under the Glacier, Haldor Laxness, very enjoyable.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Saturday, 20 November 2021 01:23 (one week ago) link

Any of yall read Grand Hotel? (Yet another NYRB Classic, I now see.) Always enjoy it on TCM. A best seller, at least in Europe, then on stage (will prob be a Broadway musical, then a movie of that)(wait,
reference to the recently WAYR?-cited Adventures In The Screen Trade here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Hotel_(1932_film) Scroll down to Aborted late 1970s musical remake)

dow, Saturday, 20 November 2021 01:40 (one week ago) link

i read a different Arnold Bennett, The Card, recently and it was similarly a romp. was expecting North and South but set in the potteries, got something Norman Wisdom would be in the film of.

(ha, actually, Alec Guinness, petula clark)

koogs, Saturday, 20 November 2021 09:56 (one week ago) link

hard rain falling by don carpenter and butcher's crossing by john williams (these are both also treats)

I prefer Butcher's Crossing to Williams's more acclaimed Stoner

Chris L, Saturday, 20 November 2021 11:52 (one week ago) link

i was looking at that but i haven't read it. i ordered augustus in the nyrb sale.

certified juice therapist (harbl), Saturday, 20 November 2021 12:23 (one week ago) link

butcher’s crossing is amazing, not sure i’d call it a treat

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Saturday, 20 November 2021 13:37 (one week ago) link

I saw that Williams did a novel on the emperor Augustus that I may have seen locally and not payed attention to. Not sure if it was that or a different book by the title. Saw it on the NYRB page and thought oh is that that? Different edition anyway.

Stevolende, Saturday, 20 November 2021 13:43 (one week ago) link

I want to kind of echo poster Emil.y in that by denying experimental ficiton was a bit of a block but yes, people having fun on the page (my definition of treates lol) is something I do read quite a lot of and I'd recommend Krudy's work, especially The Adventures of Sindbad:

https://www.nyrb.com/collections/gyula-krudy/products/the-adventures-of-sindbad?variant=1094931553

If we are turning to the NYRB sale everyone should read this volume of novellas by Alvaro Mutis:

https://www.nyrb.com/products/the-adventures-and-misadventures-of-maqroll?variant=1094931537

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 20 November 2021 15:11 (one week ago) link

I saw that Williams did a novel on the emperor Augustus that I may have seen locally and not payed attention to. Not sure if it was that or a different book by the title. Saw it on the NYRB page and thought oh is that that? Different edition anyway.

― Stevolende, Saturday, November 20, 2021 6:43 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

i love augustus. i think i agree that both it and butcher’s crossing are better than stoner, tho i love and defend stoner

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Saturday, 20 November 2021 15:14 (one week ago) link

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

Sci-fi horror mystery, not my usual genre but I saw someone rave about it on Twitter so I picked it up. Some beautifully described but absolutely disturbing imagery. Time travel/apocalypse themes. Main character is a female astronaut/investigator. Lots of mind-fuckery. A total page-turner. I don’t read enough sci-fi to say this with any real conviction but I thought it was a really unique plot.

just1n3, Saturday, 20 November 2021 15:14 (one week ago) link

Oh I guess it’s 400pp but it reads pretty fast

just1n3, Saturday, 20 November 2021 15:15 (one week ago) link

butcher’s crossing is amazing, not sure i’d call it a treat

― STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Saturday, November 20, 2021 8:37 AM (two hours ago)

fine BRAD it was a GEM geez

certified juice therapist (harbl), Saturday, 20 November 2021 16:06 (one week ago) link

the second half of butcher’s crossing just feels too brutal to feel like a treat, i admit this is v subjective

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Saturday, 20 November 2021 17:08 (one week ago) link

yeah but that was the best part, to me

certified juice therapist (harbl), Saturday, 20 November 2021 17:16 (one week ago) link

Some lively discussions of Williams novels on past WAYR?! More than one, prob---seems like one of those subjects we come back to over the years, like when somebody discovers Jean Stafford.t Stoner,in particular, gets folks het up. (I still mean to read it, and maybe everything by him, at least I do when I think of those discussions.)

dow, Saturday, 20 November 2021 19:12 (one week ago) link

yeah but that was the best part, to me

― certified juice therapist (harbl), Saturday, November 20, 2021 10:16 AM (two hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

agreed!!!

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Saturday, 20 November 2021 19:17 (one week ago) link

since the hearing trumpet has already been repped for multiple times, another novel by an english surrealist i also really love: ithell colquhoun's goose of hermogenes

no lime tangier, Saturday, 20 November 2021 19:20 (one week ago) link

I found Augustus better realized than Stoner.`

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 20 November 2021 19:32 (one week ago) link

I admire what he brought off: a ruler with magnificent self-control writing crisp prose that aspires to be boilerplate but ends up self-revealing.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 20 November 2021 19:34 (one week ago) link

1 good short literary type book I read this year -- John Berger's The Red Tenda of Bologna. kind of a travelogue but mostly reminiscences and opinions on art and culture. short chapters and many are self-contained. available as a penguin mini, around 60 pages, 2007.

adam t. (abanana), Sunday, 21 November 2021 19:17 (one week ago) link

Omg Harriet trying to come up with a rhyme for her poem in The Long Secret is the best thing

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 21 November 2021 20:42 (one week ago) link

A saft ansuer tooneth away rat

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 21 November 2021 20:46 (one week ago) link

Harriet watching TV, as seen through Beth Ellen's eyes, is my favorite thing.

"Look at these things. Look at all these dumb people. Look at these rotten things. I never saw such dumb things. There isn't anything I'd like to see. There's never anything I'd like to see. What a bunch of ridiculous...HEY!" she suddenly yelled. "There's a GREAT Nazi movie on!"

She turned to Beth Ellen, who was flipping channels like a zombie.

"Quick," she screamed, "turn it to that!" She leapt across the room.

Beth Ellen looked over her shoulder at the program, then turned to the right channel. Some Nazis were beating up an old woman on the street.

"Look at those rotten things! Oh, boy!" said Harriet and sat down, stuffing a great gob of popcorn in her mouth.

Lily Dale, Sunday, 21 November 2021 21:26 (one week ago) link

Hup.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 21 November 2021 21:32 (one week ago) link

I may have misunderstood the assignment here but I can definitely second Yellowback Radio Brokedown.

A lot of the time for comfort and quick serotonin hits I revert to fun creative nonfiction (Joan Didion, John McPhee or whatever) or Annie Dillard way before I open a novel.

popcornoscenti (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 21 November 2021 22:19 (one week ago) link

1 good short literary type book I read this year -- John Berger's The Red Tenda of Bologna. kind of a travelogue but mostly reminiscences and opinions on art and culture. short chapters and many are self-contained. available as a penguin mini, around 60 pages, 2007.

Yes, that one meets the thread's remit. Little pages with paragraphs in the middle, portable, bite-sized. I don't appreciate food or textiles much in real life, but I felt like I did when I read this.

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Monday, 22 November 2021 01:07 (one week ago) link

Jon Fosse - Morning and Evening

115 pages. Gets you emotionally very quickly.

abcfsk, Monday, 22 November 2021 11:47 (one week ago) link

really appreciate all the recommendations!

do not personally care for John Williams, but I agree that if you like his style a book like Stoner must be a treat

Two of my favorite pure treat books, just 100% delightful to read, are Brat Farrar and The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey. Both classic mystery novels but with much more emphasis on the novel part than the mystery part.

intrigued by this (and the Maigret recommendation) as mystery/crime is a genre I like but where I have a hard time finding enjoyable books

corrs unplugged, Monday, 22 November 2021 13:39 (one week ago) link

I would highly recommend the Maigret novels; the vibe is quite a change of pace from the typical crime novel. I love the ones where he's just sort of hanging out at the fringes of a scene where shit went down/is about to go down, but not actually acting in any sort of official capacity.

cwkiii, Monday, 22 November 2021 14:01 (one week ago) link

Yeah, "Hey chief, big shoot-out here 10 minutes ago, Suspect B is all over the place." And he, like his creator, knows that he can't do his job like he's committed to if he isn't tuned into that human stuff, w/o gettin' snowflake--it's just that M. and S. have seen sooo much of this over the many years: the series is built for that, w/o getting to soap opera heroine w 7 spouses, 10 comas, x number gettin' into trouble for breakin' all the rules, like so many crime series.

dow, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 18:55 (one week ago) link

I mean usually there's more compartmentalization and repetition of big bravura SFX, none of that here.

dow, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 18:57 (one week ago) link

But I came here to say that mention of the xpost bite-size Berger reminds me of recently noticing a stand-alone of Michael Herr's "Illumination Rounds," an advance excerpt from Dispatches: got me going in New American Review, the mostly (?) 60s-published mass market paperback lit mag.

dow, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 19:02 (one week ago) link

seconding early ishmael reed & hard rain falling, will nom joseph mitchell joe gould's secret or even better the collection up in the old hotel - this is a whopper which is against the rules which are made to be broken, but it's a collection of smaller pieces tbf
(and skip the fiction probably)

another whopper the sot-weed factor is pure pleasure

muriel spark

coombination gazza hut & scampo bell (wins), Monday, 29 November 2021 22:09 (three days ago) link

i picked up 'at swim two birds' because of this thread

i lucked out and got this dalkey edition with this quote by dylan thomas on the cover

This is just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl!

https://entertainment.time.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2011/07/t100_novels_atswimtwobirds.jpg?w=258

flopson, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 03:28 (two days ago) link

Forgot about that quote.

Duck and Sally Can’t Dance (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 30 November 2021 03:32 (two days ago) link

Wanna get back into my middle school fave Saki, but library only has Complete Works in one smallish (Modern Library-style) volume: tiny type!! I may read it anyway, 'til eyeballs rebel.

xpost Muriel Spark: o hell yes The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is great gateway, and just the right length for this thread.

up in the old hotel - this is a whopper which is against the rules which are made to be broken, but it's a collection of smaller pieces tbf
(and skip the fiction probably)
Did Mitchell write fiction? Would like to check it if so.

dow, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 03:36 (two days ago) link

There has been some controversy in certain quarters over how much fiction may have crept into Mitchell's nonfiction. IIRC a few of the pieces in "Up in the Old Hotel" are labeled as fiction. Some others may have been "embellished". They are definitely treats though. Of books I've read recently the one that might best meet the criteria laid out for this thread is "Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith, i.e. an effortless, engrossing read.

o. nate, Wednesday, 1 December 2021 03:50 (yesterday) link

There are all sorts of shades of 'non-fiction', depending on the subject matter and how the author decides to present the material.

Embellishment is intrinsic to any kind of storytelling that pretends to convey a sense of life and action, no matter how strongly it is based in actuality. I guess the phone book (which soon will be completely obsolete as a thing known and familiar) would be a good example of minimally-embellished non-fiction, but even a phone book could be said to impose tiny amounts of imagination and coloration upon the bare facts.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 1 December 2021 04:00 (yesterday) link

Yeah, but I read (and skip the fiction probably) as distinguishing between two sets of publications, as if the author or someone since had straight-up designated, say, features over here, short storied over there.

dow, Wednesday, 1 December 2021 04:17 (yesterday) link

justin3 recommended “The Gone World” upthread & i read it last week

holy shit. a horror/scifi that really pushes the boat out. the horror is legit scary af, the scifi is v ambitious, really well written.

it was described as true detective meets inception but inception is wrong. maybe edge of tomorrow?

anyway, get into it, genre-nerds

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 1 December 2021 06:04 (yesterday) link

xp yeah I was referring to the handful of short stories collected in up in the old hotel which were explicitly published as fiction

coombination gazza hut & scampo bell (wins), Wednesday, 1 December 2021 07:15 (yesterday) link

Thanks! Didn't remember that distinction, will have to re-read with it in mind, though was pretty sure he at least massaged some of his material. (In Joe Gould's Teeth, Jill LePore says that some documents have come to light which Mitchell couldn't have known about, but also 0 indication among his copious papers that he ever responded to several people who offered to be interviewed etc re Gould.)
The Wikipedia article on Mitchell incl. several pieces that have appeared in The New Yorker this century (think it was the most recent one that I read and liked):
Wiki page has links for each, though they're behind account wall; dunno if you can just sign up and view w/o having to pay)
2000–2015
Takes Takes (May 28, 2000)
Street Life Personal History (February 3, 2013)
Days in the Branch Personal History (November 24, 2014)
A Place of Pasts Personal History (February 9, 2015)

dow, Thursday, 2 December 2021 03:19 (one hour ago) link

xxp i also read 'the gone world' on justin3's recommendation and it was v. good

however

as someone who grew up in southwestern pennsylvania at the same time as the protagonist (I was born a year later), i feel compelled to point out that teenage girls there in 1985 who dressed like madonna or had michael jackson jackets absolutely did *not* listen to AC/DC (especially not powerage, which didn't even have a hit?!)

otoh the author might have simply been heightening the contradictions? get out of my head

mookieproof, Thursday, 2 December 2021 03:39 (fifty-eight minutes ago) link

I really wish someone would read Keith Maillard, perhaps only to disabuse me of the notion that he’s utterly fabulous. I and about a dozen other people think he’s a treasure - and his books are a treat. Anything, really, but I was knocked out by his latest novel, Twin Studies.

war mice (hardcore dilettante), Thursday, 2 December 2021 04:28 (nine minutes ago) link


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