I got the urge to go book shopping the other day, so I talked Hobgoblin into traveling to Manhattan to see what we could find. We both came home with a nice stack. We started at Three Lives, headed from there to Partners and Crime, took a walk over to the Strand, stumbled into Shakespeare and Co. for the first time, and ended our trip at Housing Works Cafe. There are at least a handful of other bookshops within fairly easy walking distance that we could have visited, if our backpacks hadn’t already been full and if we weren’t in need of dinner (at one of our favorite places, Chat ‘n Chew).
Here’s what I found:
- Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I adored The White Album when I read it a year or so ago, and so I wanted another collection of Didion essays. I have her book The Year of Magical Thinking, which I’m looking forward to, but that’s not an essay collection, and I wanted essays.
- George Orwell’s Facing Unpleasant Facts. You’ll see that I was on a nonfiction kick. I found six great books all at the Strand, which is why I like to go there so much: they have a great section of literary nonfiction that goes on for shelves and shelves — biographies, criticism, essays, memoirs. I usually head straight to that section and don’t emerge until someone makes me. Orwell is an amazing essayist, and I’m happy to read as many essays of his as I can find.
- David Laskin’s Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals. I read about this book on Zhiv’s blog. Its subjects include Mary McCarthy, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Hannah Arendt, and others, all of which sounds great, plus Zhiv’s enthusiasm was very persuasive.
- Kathleen Norris, The Virgin of Bennington. I read her book The Cloister Walk a while back, although I don’t remember it well, but she’s always seemed like a writer worth tracking, and the description of this book sounded intriguing: “Shy and sheltered, Kathleen Norris wasn’t prepared for the sex, drugs, and bohemianism of Bennington College in the late 1960s — and when she moved to New York City after graduation, it was a case of our of the frying pan and into the fire.” I’ve been in a mood for memoirs lately, and surely this will be a good one.
- Mary Gordon’s Good Boys and Dead Girls and Other Essays. I heard about this one from Emily. It’s a collection of essays and reviews, focusing particularly on literature, gender issues, and the Catholic church.
- David Lipsky’s Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. I couldn’t resist this one. Eventually I will read all of Wallace’s work, but I don’t want to read it too fast, so reading about him for a bit will slow that whole process down.
- And now on to some fiction. I got copy of George Eliot’s Scenes of Clerical Life because I’ve been hankering after some Victorian fiction. I want it to be something I’m sure to love, so Eliot is a safe bet. I have other Victorian novels to read, but sometimes no one else but Eliot will do.
- Anita Brookner’s The Bay of Angels. When I saw this book at Housing Works, I realized I wasn’t sure whether I had an unread Brookner novel at home or not. Having an unread Brookner novel at home seems like a wise thing to do, so I grabbed this one. It turns out I did have an unread Brookner after all, but now I have two.
- Robert Walser’s The Tanners. I don’t remember where I’ve read about Walser recently, but I know I have and he sounds intriguing.
So that was our trip. I can’t remember all of the books Hobgoblin got, but one of them was Justin Cronin’s novel The Passage, and he’s downstairs reading it now. I don’t think he’ll want to do anything else but read until he’s finished with the thing.