It has been pretty quiet around here recently, I know. Sorry about that. I'm very busy over at The Book Depository gearing up both for Christmas and for some exciting new projects in the New Year.
Nonetheless, even if it goes unreported, the reading continues. The reading is endless: long live the reading!
One recent highlight has been Janet Malcolm's essay Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice which was splendid. The book:
... makes for a wonderfully fluent introduction to the Modernist writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) and her life partner Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967). As ever with Janet Malcolm's work – The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, The Journalist and the Murderer – her book is also an investigation into itself. Whilst this is a (brief) biography of Stein, it is also a (brief) meditation on the art – the duplicities, the impossibilities – of writing biography itself.
Malcolm is an incisive journalist and her book reads like a long New Yorker piece, a magazine for which she is a celebrated staffer. It makes the notoriously difficult Stein (whose books include The Autobiography of Alice B.Toklas, Three Lives and The Making of Americans) seem almost worth the effort of reading, whilst at the same time making it clear that Stein's often silly ramblings won't be to everyone's taste. As they say the best literary journalism should do, this leads one back to the work under discussion newly invigorated for the difficult task ahead of reading such a singular (and singularly odd) writer as Gertrude Stein.
One thing I should get back into the habit of doing, is bringing your attention to those books I've chosen as Books of the Week and Books of the Month. These, as I've said before, are the books that have landed here at RSB HQ (last week, last month) that have most caught my eye.
This week, you may have noted, my two books of the week are The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl (Shakespeare, I'll admit, is an author I'm always happier to read about than actually read; any book that whisks me back to an atmospheric sixteenth and seventeenth century I'll cheerfully to submit to) and Administration of Torture by Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh.