While working on the Information Desk, we review trucks (aka wheeled carts) of returned materials in search of books to put on display. Inevitably, there are items that catch my eye. As a new series, I’d like to post about these little intrigues. Often it begins with the spine of the book, but there must be more than that to hold my attention.
So, let’s begin…
Goldberg: variations (M) by Gabriel Josipovici. I think of Gould. Only later, Bach. The cover is a sillouhette of a sorrowed or pensive man. The description on the back,
At the turn of the eighteenth century, a writer — a Jew — enters an English country manor, where he has been invited to read through the night to his host until the gentleman falls asleep. What unfolds then are seemingly unconnected stories covering a vast array of topics — from incest to madness to a poetic competition in the court of George III. And what emerges by the end is a breathtaking tapestry in which past and present, imagination and truth, are intricately woven together into one remarkable whole.
What gets me: “…seemingly unconnected stories.” I love looking for links between lives, and patterns of experience. I read the first page. Have to make myself stop. There is description of place, of people, and details whose specificity I don’t understand, but am sure will be important later. The insomniac describes himself as a philosopher. He asks challenging questions, and makes rich statements. The book makes me think of If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler and Cloud Atlas, but after reading about Bach’s Goldberg Variations, it seems that this is where much inspiration came – for structure as well as content.
The Tiny Wife (M) by Andrew Kaufman. Appropriately, a tiny book (in different shades of purple). It’s catalogued as Fantasy. The novella is about a robbery, which happens to take place in a bank, but the thief is not looking for money. On page 2, the thief says, “While this is a robbery…I demand only one thing from each of you and it is this: the item currently in your possession which holds the most sentimental value.” Is it too much of a stretch to see a connection between this book and Josipovici’s? Will we not also be comparing and contrasting stories of strangers? Nonetheless, an exploration into the things we value, set in Toronto, which could probably be read over lunch. I’m in.
Jagannath: (stories) (M) by Karin Tidbeck. This book looks new. On the cover, there’s a creature with charm-bracelet horns. According to Wikipedia, Jagannath means Lord of the Universe, and is a deity worshipped in Hinduism. Karin Tidbeck is “one of Sweden’s emerging stars,” according to the back of the book; and there are blurbs from China Miéville, Ursula K. Le Guin, and an introduction Elizabeth Hand. This is a highly praised book of fantastical stories. Plus, Tidbeck does her own translations – for those stories she hasn’t written originally in English. After Alice Munro and Lynn Coady, why not try Karin Tidbeck?