We're obsessed with new books at Kirkus, but what are new books without the books that came before them? A number of publishers are re-issuing classics this fall with vibrant new covers and thoughtful reassessments by contemporary writers, or gathering all of an author’s various writings into one volume. The Flannery O'Connor title, A Prayer Journal, is actually entirely new, discovered in O'Connor's archives relatively recently but we include it here because if Flannery O’Connor isn’t considered a classic writer, we don’t know who is. Here’s our list of the newest old books being published this fall (note that not all titles have been published yet, but will be in the coming months).
A Prayer Journal
By Flannery O’Connor
Publishes Nov. 12
“From January 1946 to September 1947, Flannery O’Connor kept a journal that was, in essence, a series of prayers,” W.A. Sessions writes in the introduction to A Prayer Journal. O’Connor’s prayers are so intensely imaginative that she seems to will God into existence—it was no coincidence that she began writing the stories that would become her first novel, Wise Blood, during these years. This candid glimpse into the writer’s psyche is a completely new publication recently discovered in O’Connor’s archives.
The Autobiography of Mark Twain
Edited by Charles Neider
Published Sept. 10
Mark Twain wrote this autobiography on his deathbed and he vowed it to be “free and frank and unembarrassed.” It presents a man who is more than a match for the expanding America of riverboats, gold rushes and the vast westward movement that provided the material for his novels. In the Introduction Neider writes, "Mark Twain's autobiography is a classic of American letters, to be ranked with the autobiographies of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Adams. . . . It has the marks of greatness in it—style, scope, imagination, laughter, tragedy."
The World in the Evening
By Christopher Isherwood
Publishes Nov. 19
When first published in 1953, The World in the Evening was notable for its clear-eyed depiction of European and American mores, sexuality, and religion. Against the backdrop of World War II, the novel charts the emotional development of Stephen Monk, an aimless Englishman living in California. Keep in mind we had this to say of Isherwood’s novel, “All this is a reassessment of experience- of the truth which hurts but also heals- and it is for the most part intense and immediate.”
By Velma Wallis
Publishes Nov. 5Two Old Women is based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River area in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine. As we wrote upon its publication in Oct., 1993, “Full of adventure, suspense, and obstacles overcome--an octogenarian version of Thelma and Louise triumphant.”
Translated by Jonathan Franzen
Publishes Oct. 1
In The Kraus Project Jonathan Franzen presents his definitive new translations of Karl Kraus, but annotates them spectacularly with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann. One hundred years ago, the Viennese satirist Kraus was among the most penetrating and farsighted writers in Europe. He had a fervent following, which included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, however he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work.
By Giovanni Boccaccio
Translated by Wayne A. Rebhorn
Published Sept. 16
Published on the 700th anniversary of Boccaccio’s birth, Wayne A. Rebhorn's translation of The Decameron introduces a new generation to the witty, earthy and bawdy irreverence the The Decameron offers. An extensive introduction provides useful details about Boccaccio's historical and cultural milieu, the themes and particularities of the text and the lines of influence flowing into and out of this monolith of world literature. We write in our Aug. review, “Rebhorn capably represents Boccaccio’s humor and sharp intelligence.”
All the Odes: Bilingual Edition
By Pablo Neruda
Edited by Ilan Stavans
Publishes Oct. 22
All the Odes is a career-spanning volume, charting the Nobel laureate’s work in the ode form. Pablo Neruda was in his late forties when he committed himself to writing an ode a week and in the end produced a total of 225, which are dispersed throughout his varied oeuvre. This bilingual volume gathers all the odes together for the first time in any language. All the Odes is a lasting statement on the role of poetry as a lightning rod during tumultuous times.
Fear of Flying
By Erica Jong
Publishes Oct. 8
Published in 1973, Fear of Flying, the bestselling story of Isadora Wing, coined a new phrase for a sex act and launched a new way of thinking about gender, sexuality and liberty. In a unique collaboration among publishers, Fear of Flying is being reissued in hardback by Holt for $35, with an introduction by Jennifer Weiner and the book's original cover image (pictured at left); in paperback by Penguin Classics for $18 and with an introduction by Theresa Rebeck; and as an e-book for $14.99 from Open Road Media with an introduction by Fay Weldon, along with an illustrated biography of Jong's life.
By Anaïs Nin
Edited by Paul Herron
Publishes Oct. 15
Mirages gathers, for the first time, the story that was cut from all of Nin’s other published diaries, particularly volumes 3 and 4 of The Diary of Anaïs Nin. It is the long-awaited successor to the previous unexpurgated diaries Henry and June, Incest, Fire, and Nearer the Moon. We write in our Aug. review, “the celebrated diarist, novelist and electric personality reappears with all the fire of her eroticism in pages untouched by a Bowdler or a Puritan.”
By Kingsley Amis
Publishes Sept. 17
Kingsley Amis was a great chronicler of the fads and absurdities of his age. The One Fat Englishman of the title is Roger Micheldene, a British publisher on a short stay in America. Roger is not only disgustingly fat but is bloated with a snobbery (that "angst-producing business") he is the first to admit. From New York to a small college in Pennsylvania, Roger is seen at his worst—"better a bastard than a bloody fool." This comic masterpiece about the 1950s crashing drunkenly into the consumerist 1960s, is one of Amis’ greatest and most caustic performances. Reissued by New York Review of Books Classics with an introduction by satirist David Lodge.