Friday, October 28, 2011

Obsession by Calvin Coolidge

I'm going to break an arbitrary rule I set for myself when I assumed blogging duties for the Used Book Cellar. I'm going to talk about a book that we don't currently have in the UBC. Because I brought it home with me. Dalkey Archive Press are a rad-chilies publisher based in Dublin, London and exotic Champaign, Illinois. What makes Dalkey so rad? Here are the top two reasons:

No. 1: National Literature Series. For a few years at a time, Dalkey puts the spotlight on a handful of countries and translates a lot of great fiction and non-fiction from places we don't hear from too often and gets them in print in the States. Currently, Norway is one of the countries on the docket. I am OBSESSED with all things Scandi-hoovian, and the Norwegians hold a particularly dear place in my heart. I was lucky enough to score an advanced reader's copy of one of the novels they've published from this series, The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am by Kjersti Skomsvold. It's a tiny little novel with a quirky narrator that navigates the invisibility of aging in a warm-hearted, funny way. We have it upstairs in Fiction AND Destination Literature. But I digress.

Reason No. 2: Best European Fiction series edited by Aleksander Hemon. This series--now in its third year--picks particularly great short stories from authors native to a handful of European countries. Each and every story is completely engrossing and totally singular. These books are a great way to find new favorite authors, gain some cultural experience, or to just have a literary smörgåsbord (OBSESSED, I tell you!) to change things up.

So anyway, I had a point and it was this: the UBC acquired the 2011 volume of Best European Fiction and I TOOK IT HOME RIGHT AWAY. I'm three quarters done. Yeah, I read Norway, Iceland and Finland first and then started at the beginning again. SO WHAT. They were so gooood. I probably won't bring it back to the UBC anytime soon, but maybe someone else will. Or maybe you can just buy the 2012 edition upstairs (brand new! on the New Paperbacks table!) and see what I'm talking about.

But that's just a sliver of my own personal obsession with world literature. Just today we acquired something like 400 American Arts, Arts, and Ceramics Monthly magazines, from the 1940s through the 70s. The fruits of another's lifelong obsession with art. Chock full of beautiful reproductions, great ads for all you Mad Men afficianados, and just generally unique illustrations and covers that are great collector's items, decoupage material, or fodder for the ol' inspiration board. They're $3 a pop. Get one from the month your aunt was born for Christmas. She'll be impressed you remembered her birthday. Or offended. Skål!

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