Not the last word on Beckett, Rosset, or Grove, but a vivid snapshot of a revolutionary era in the culture.

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DEAR MR. BECKETT—LETTERS FROM THE PUBLISHER

THE SAMUEL BECKETT FILE CORRESPONDENCE, INTERVIEWS, PHOTOS

An evocative but somewhat slapdash scrapbook of documents and interviews concerning the iconoclastic publisher of Grove Press and his most famous author.

As Paul Auster notes in his appreciative preface, the late Barney Rosset (1922-2012) made it Grove’s business to challenge the mid-20th-century status quo both by battling censorship with the publication of the unexpurgated Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer and by introducing America to a host of challenging new writers, from the Beat poets to such avatars of the European avant-garde as Alain Robbe-Grillet, Eugène Ionesco, and Harold Pinter. Some of them get nods here, but the focus is on Samuel Beckett, first and foremost among this stellar group from the time Rosset contacted him in 1953 to arrange an English-language edition of Waiting for Godot. The author and publisher’s increasingly warm professional and personal relationship is chronicled in rather spotty fashion here: Rosset’s letters—there are only a handful from Beckett—could use a lot more annotation than they receive from editor Oppenheim, who apparently thinks that a list of “Characters” up front is sufficient for general readers, who may be baffled by fleeting references to Beckett’s fiction (also published by Grove) and to Rosset’s notorious ouster by Grove’s new owners in 1986, which should have been covered in more detail or not at all. Still, a wonderful period aroma emanates from the reproductions of typewritten letters on Grove letterhead, telegrams, newspaper clippings, etc., and the detailed documentation of such projects as Beckett’s Film starring Buster Keaton and the world premiere of Rockaby with Billie Whitelaw is most welcome. Interviews with Les Editions de Minuit principal Jérôme Lindon and British publisher John Calder give a nice perspective on the international avant-garde.

Not the last word on Beckett, Rosset, or Grove, but a vivid snapshot of a revolutionary era in the culture.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62316-070-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: OPUS

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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CALYPSO

In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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