Naomi

Naomi is a retired humanities professor who views concepts like "personality," "the subject," and "self" as comforting illusions and instruments of power that have outlived their historical usefulness. The inconsistency of Naomi's epithets from infancy to the present--Naomi the Great, Naomi the Terrible, Naomi the Obscure, Naomi the Bold, Naomi the Wise--do not describe an arc of personal growth so much as confirm that there's no 'there' there. Her compulsion to write fiction, without clinging to outmoded models of authorship, finds subtle outlet in the anonymous notes she litters around, her habit of reacting only sporadically when her name is called, and the lies she produces spontaneously in response to questions about her past. In her free time, Naomi enjoys doubting, idling, faking, regretting, denying, waiting, misinterpreting, and worrying.

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Leaving the Atocha Station Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566892742
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Published: Coffee House Press - August 23rd, 2011

Adam Gordon, slacker poet on a fellowship in Spain, suffers a generic writer's debacle: the cleaving of experience into "what cannot be named" and "what cannot be lived." So afraid of failure that he "pretends he's only pretending to be a poet," and so desperate for human contact that he tells women that his mom--who is alive and well in Topeka--just died, Adam nonetheless escapes both self-indulgence and the post-modern cliché. His poor Spanish, frequent misunderstandings and mistranslations become the brilliantly original generative principle of Lerner's novel, and what may seem like Adam's weak character is revealed as the vulnerability of the poet and the man "learning how to live" in a foreign language and culture.


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Counternarratives Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811225526
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 17th, 2016

Keene writes colonial history inside-out. His 'stories' are for novel-lovers: not patchworks of detail burdened with significance, but whole organic worlds. He forestalls easy identifications and emotions (how could we colonize the son of a Native-American mother and European father whose family owns African slaves with our facile empathy or moral indignation?). Keene's complex alternative histories and baroque vocabulary/syntax will make you squirm--but they will revive sense organs you didn't know were dead. To the archival/documentary style of Alexander Kluge, Keene adds the visceral alarm of animals shipwrecked in a "new world."


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War Porn Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781616957155
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Published: Soho Press - August 2nd, 2016

Scranton diverges sharply from the first wave of fiction about Iraq and Afghanistan by talented veterans "whining about how nobody understands the moral complexity of being an imperial stormtrooper" to expose how what Orwell calls "the dirty work of empire" is really being done. He resists our impulse to pity and romanticize "the trauma hero" (title of Scranton's provocative essay on common war fiction tropes) by approaching the war from three perspectives: American soldier, Iraqi civilian, and U.S. home front. Scranton's collage technique captures the collective unconscious of the global war on terror better than any of the war fiction produced in recent years.


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Lucky Jim Cover Image
By Kingsley Amis, Keith Gessen (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781590175750
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Published: New York Review of Books - October 2nd, 2012

On lying in bed, severely hungover, suffering the “deep, untrained voice” of a fellow lodger singing in the shower: “The piece was recognizable to Dixon as some skein of untiring facetiousness by filthy Mozart.” Allow yourself a few days to sober up from the account of the hangover that follows—and to ponder a paradox: these details could have been written only sober...yet how could a sober person have hammered the hangover so accurately?!?


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Nadja Cover Image
By Andre Breton, Richard Howard (Translator)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802150264
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Published: Grove Press - January 11th, 1994

Equal parts love story, artwork, case study and autobiography, Breton’s most famous work of fiction applies surrealist principles of composition to narrative form. Nadja, the object of the narrator’s obsessive love, might be a distorted mirror of the author or a cipher for the city of Paris; her madness and indigence also make her the embodiment of a surrealist ideal. In this second work of fiction ever to appear with embedded photographs, the images interrupt and dispute the text, rather than merely illustrating it. The proximity between surrealism and psychoanalysis looms large. Breton’s self-scrutiny inverts the psychoanalytic insight that the self is haunted by the history of its love objects: to know who we are, he begins, we must know whom we haunt… The question is comforting and unsettling by turns: who in this world is haunted by me--and do the spectral memories of me they carry around augment or diminish my presence? Breton’s avant-garde story of doomed love is a must-read for all those who have been housed in and ghosted by those they love.


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Lost Illusions Cover Image
By Honore De Balzac, Herbert J. Hunt (Translator), Herbert J. Hunt (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780140442519
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Published: Penguin Books - October 28th, 1976

Balzac’s hero, Lucien, is the classic young man of overweening ambition and malleable character, who considers himself a “poet” before having produced any finished works. If only he were rich! If only he could escape the cultural wasteland of the provinces to launch his career in Paris! There, surely, his talent would be recognized! But, as readers of Balzac have observed, the true hero of La Comédie humaine is the gold coin. Several doomed love affairs, social catastrophes, and artistic compromises later, an older, more corrupt Lucien emerges as the inevitable product of an exploitative capitalist society. Balzac anticipates and brings to life Marx’s nearly contemporaneous analysis of the concentration of wealth and its human toll in modernity. It is unclear whether Lucien succeeds in losing his youthful illusions by the end of the novel...but ours do not survive.

 

 


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Berlin Childhood Around 1900 Cover Image
By Walter Benjamin, Howard Eiland (Translator)
$18.50
ISBN: 9780674022225
Availability: Out of stock, usually available in 1-5 days
Published: Belknap Press - April 2006

If Proust had written his autobiography in modernist fragments instead of personalizing Hegel's massive Phenomenology of Spirit, it might have looked like this lovely mosaic of moments from Benjamin's childhood in a rapidly modernizing Germany. Benjamin allegorizes memories of his youth in a bourgeois Jewish family and takes a snapshot of Berlin at the historical joint between the 19th and 20th centuries--a moment that he theorizes profoundly in his philosophical and critical works.


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The Piano Teacher Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802144614
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Published: Grove Press - October 2009

If you're trying to persuade your partner to take an irreversible vow of chastity, this book would make a great gift. If you're trying to persuade your teenage kids to take piano lessons, it might be equally effective; I don't know your kids. In addition to its cutting irony, parody of pornological discourse, absurdist play with cultural cliches and rage against gender inequality, Jelinek's experimental use of voices and her musical ear (rendered well in this translation) justify the Nobel Prize she received amid controversy in 2004.


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The Idiot Cover Image
By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (Translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780375702242
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Published: Vintage - July 8th, 2003

The hysterically earnest, raw part of you that hides instinctively from even your closest friends (especially them) won't be sure whether it's being wooed or abused by Dostoevsky in this novel - but it won't care. The Idiot features the most memorable of Dostoevsky's epileptic characters, his most developed characterization of the Russian spirit, and a crisis of faith provoked by Hans Holbein the Younger's The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb - a painting described so vividly that you can see the canvas even before you google it.


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Bouvard and Pecuchet: With the Dictionary of Received Ideas Cover Image
By Gustave Flaubert, A. J. Krailsheimer (Translator), A. J. Krailsheimer (Introduction by)
$19.00
ISBN: 9780140443202
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Published: Penguin Books - June 24th, 1976

In an act of staggering restraint, Flaubert confines his original mind to the unoriginal exploits of two professional copyists who embody the banality of bourgeois life even more consummately than Emma Bovary does. If this strange encyclopedia of lame ideas, derivative dreams and flopped attempts doesn't make you fall out of your seat laughing, I will wear black to curse the reign of averageness and mourn the death of irony in America.


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The Charterhouse of Parma Cover Image
By Stendhal, Richard Howard (Translator), Robert A. Parker (Introduction by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780679783183
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Published: Modern Library - September 12th, 2000

If you hold a mirror to the pages of this novel that Stendhal dictated in only seven weeks, it will fog up. Beloved to me as he was to Nietzsche, Balzac, James, Gide, etc., Stendhal invented realism when he resolved never to write "steed" where "horse" would do - but his heroes are bold, idealistic romantics trapped in a "realist" world, as they discover when they're bucked from unruly mounts in front of pretty girls or sleep through the Battle of Waterloo! These contradictions make perfect  sense in the work of an author who hid behind myriad pseudonyms and once took acting lessons in order "to appear more natural" in real life.


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The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories Cover Image
By Bruno Schulz, Jonathan Safran Foer (Foreword by), David Goldfarb (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143105145
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Published: Penguin Books - January 2008

Schulz gleans sublimity from flea markets, cheap commodities, and other cultural refuse, because "not one scrap of an idea of ours isn't transformed, mutilated, denatured mythology." In this cycle of interconnected stories, Schulz's modernist "primitivism" generates a private mythology in which tangled metaphors and metamorphoses figure the descent of the narrator's father into madness, while aligning the mad father with a series of paradigmatic "creators" ranging from God to the modern salesman and modern artist.


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The Rings of Saturn Cover Image
By W. G. Sebald, Michael Hulse (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811214131
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - April 17th, 1999

Though Austerlitz is his best known and most novelistic work, this book reveals that Sebald descends from a long tradition of great essayists by showcasing his particular genius for blending history, fiction, and art/cultural criticism. Topics as seemingly disparate as burial rites, the rise and decline of herring fisheries, silk trade, Rembrandt's painting of a medical dissection, and the ritualization of imperial power in China are woven together through a walking tour of Suffolk that transforms the English coast into a landscape of memory and reminds us how many unique, unknown histories coincide in every moment of our experience.