“The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray, originally published in 1961, is a brilliant work. It is a book concerned with perception as much as plot; it is, as Galchen points out, a novel of spin. These are the facts that all parties can agree on: the man known as Quincas Water-Bray — or Quincas Wateryell, in an earlier translation — is found dead one morning in his filthy room of unknown causes, his toe protruding from a dirty sock and a smile on his face. Beyond that, almost everything is in question.”
“There are writers, I believe, who benefit from constraint. This at least has been my experience with Saul Bellow, whose brilliance as a novelist is incontestable, but whose tendency to sprawl out in all directions, novelistically speaking, frustrates me sometimes when I read him. Case in point: Humboldt’s Gift is a masterpiece. It’s also kind of a mess, or at least I experienced it as such when I last read it a decade ago or so. It’s on an extended mental list of things I want to read again, someday, as soon as I have a spare moment.”
Emily St. John Mandel, on Saul Bellow’s novella The Bellarosa Connection.
“Jeet Thayil’s debut novel is an unsettling portrait of a seething city, a beautifully-written meditation on addiction, sex, friendship, dreams, and murder.”
- Dispatches from an Opium Den: Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis by Emily St. John Mandel
Thayil is a poet, and it shows in the prose, which contains countless moments of great beauty. His debut is an unsettling portrait of a seething city, a beautifully-written meditation on addiction, sex, friendship, dreams, and murder.
“In his Brenner and God, recently issued in translation by Melville House, Wolf Haas presents us with one of the most thoroughly likeable characters I’ve come across in a very long while. Simon Brenner is an ex-detective, a man in middle age who has decided after trying out more than 50 professions that he was born to be a chauffeur. Although actually, “chauffeur” doesn’t seem exactly the right word for his current employment: he’s almost, when you come right down to it, a sort of Autobahn-based nanny.”
-Emily St. John Mandel, “Nanny Noir: Wolf Haas’ Brenner and God”
[Image source: Amazon]
“H.H. Munro wrote a great many light and often very funny send-ups of the stifling conventions and manners of the Edwardian age. But on the other hand, three of the first eight stories in the book involve corpses, with two of these being small children eaten by wild animals.” -Emily St. John Mandel rereads The Best of Saki
[Image via The Guardian]