Saturday, May 2, 2015

Inherited books follow-up

I guess the first post kind of sank like a stone, but I have a bit of a follow-up today.

This may not even be an issue in another 20 years, but there are still a lot of people (like me) lugging around books that have some sentimental value, particularly those that have some connection to their parents.  In my case, I have a couple from my father that he either wrote or co-edited, and those I can't imagine parting with.  I had a few more sociology books from him, but I think I have gradually given those away, aside perhaps one by Robert Merton.

With my mother, the feelings are more tangled, obviously because she passed away when I was reasonably young.  There are books that simply have a connection to her (mostly art books) because we discussed them or I even loaned them out to her at one point, but they didn't belong to her.  Then there is the Georgia O'Keeffe catalog, which did belong to her, and I will hang onto for life.

I am slowly closing in on Matricide, which is one of the last fiction books that I recall taking from the estate.  I found that I didn't care for a few of the other ones I took, but kind of hope I like this one.  If I wasn't expecting to lose most of my evenings between now and June to getting the new house ready, including doing some painting, and moving, I would think that I would get to Matricide by mid June, but think early August is more likely.  I'll report back whenever I do get to it.

Somehow when I wrote the previous post, I had forgotten that I did have a small set of Penguin paperbacks from her (actually they belonged jointly to my parents but ended up with her and my mother did tend to go for the slightly more literary authors).  They are all from a series Penguin published in the late 70s/early 80s called Writers from the Other Europe, i.e. Eastern Europe (under Communist rule).*  In addition to Milan Kundera's Laughable Loves, highlights include Danilo Kis's A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, Borowski's This Way for the Gas, and Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles as well as his Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass.  (These were the ones that usually ended up in box sets.)  A presumably complete list is here.  I've hung onto 4 of the books from this series, and as they are very thin, will probably hang onto them indefinitely.  What I haven't done, however, is been very diligent in actually reading them, and I have just recently worked most of them into my master reading list.  I suspect that a few of them will end up being quite worthy books that I will consider passing on to my children, assuming they do graduate to the "hard stuff," i.e. the books that end up republished by NYRB and other high end imprints.  I guess it is too early to tell on either front.  I am glad, nonetheless, that I have a few more books that my mother hung onto, though I dearly wish I had had the opportunity to find out if they were actually books that meant anything to her.

* Interestingly, Penguin fairly recently started a new set of Central European Classics.  While I am familiar with 3 or 4 of the authors on the list, I've only read one so far (Capek's War with the Newts), though Von Rezzori's The Snows of Yesteryear is sort of implicitly on my master reading list.  Anyway, the list doesn't seem to be maintained at the Penguin website (so the series may not be as active as one might hope), but an annotated list can be found here.  While I would mostly likely enjoy all these books, I don't feel obligated to add them to the reading list at the moment.

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