Welcome to I Know Books and your monthly suggestions
Another Country James Baldwin Baldwin's masterpiece feels as relevant today as it did back in 1961. Cool hipsters of Greenwich village, writers, actors, musicians, black and white, gay and straight, all their voices trying to decipher how to live in a changing America. It is the dawn of the counterculture, civil rights and the Vietnam war, New York in the late 50's. Struggling singers, Jazz artists and writers compete for each other’s love, each other’s approval. Sexuality is blurred and divisions of class and race bend and weave. Baldwin’s beautiful novel is as much a love/hate letter to the New York he left behind for Paris, as it is a perfect character study of the creative desperate lives that lived inside it. More than a historic piece of fiction, it resonates today as relevant today as it was in 1961 – a classic of American literature.
What I loved Siri Hustvedt
From one angle this novel is simply the life long friendship between two men, one an artist of great ability, the other a talentless art historian, but that is too simplistic a view.
What I Loved questions not only the question, what is art, it documents the end of the 70’s
New York and the commodification of art, of culture. It is also the story of father and sons , each character giving birth to sons in the same year, who go on to have vastly different fortunes.
Above all else, like Stoner, it is the perfect capture of a life, Hustvedt captures the angst of men, of middle age, of youth. She bottles up the feelings of falling in love and releases it slowly to the reader, as expertly as she does with grief.
While highly intellectual, it has warmth and tenderness that few male writers can ever hope to achieve.
Buy 8.73 Wordery (Free world delivery, Independent booksellers)
Post Apocalyptic prose has always been popular, but Ley’s debut takes a different stance in giving us a Pre-Apocalyptic world.
Like the best Apocalyptic novels, we don’t dwell on why this world has ended up like this, but how the hangers on are surviving.
What makes this novel special, is rather like the last days of Rome or Berlin before the rise of Hitler, are the characters facing the cliff edge and deciding to let the music play on.
Mathilde’s seduction from the drudgery of a world collapsing to the last party in town is brilliantly done and its often remarkable this novel is only a debut.
Buy 6.32 Wordery (Free world delivery, Independent booksellers)