One of the independent bookshops downtown had a pre-inventory sale over the weekend. The clearance books were half off and buy one get one free, and the rest of the store was 10% off, so I decided to stop in and see if there was anything that would interest me. I ended up finding four books in the clearance section, and another one on the regular shelves. My savings amounted to $60 off the listed price, so that’s hard to beat.
What I bought:
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima
From Goodreads: In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, celebrated Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima creates a haunting portrait of a young man’s obsession with idealized beauty and his destructive quest to possess it fully.
Mizoguchi, an ostracized stutterer, develops a childhood fascination with Kyoto’s famous Golden Temple. While an acolyte at the temple, he fixates on the structure’s aesthetic perfection and it becomes his one and only object of desire. But as Mizoguchi begins to perceive flaws in the temple, he determines that the only true path to beauty lies in an act of horrific violence. Based on a real incident that occurred in 1950, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion brilliantly portrays the passions and agonies of a young man in postwar Japan, bringing to the subject the erotic imagination and instinct for the dramatic moment that marked Mishima as one of the towering makers of modern fiction. With an introduction by Donald Keene; Translated from the Japanese by Ivan Morris.
Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky
From Goodreads: From the celebrated author of the international bestseller Suite Française, a newly discovered novel, a story of passion and long-kept secrets, set against the background of a rural French village in the years before World War II.
Written in 1941, Fire in the Blood – only now assembled in its entirety – teems with the intertwined lives of an insular French village in the years before the war, when “peace” was less important as a political state than as a coveted personal condition: the untroubled pinnacle of happiness. At the center of the novel is Silvio, who has returned to this small town after years away. As his narration unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the loves and infidelities, the scandals, the youthful ardor and regrets of age that tie Silvio to the long-guarded secrets of the past.
Time and Materials by Robert Haas
From Goodreads: The poems in Robert Hass’s new collection—his first to appear in a decade—are grounded in the beauty and energy of the physical world, and in the bafflement of the present moment in American culture. This work is breathtakingly immediate, stylistically varied, redemptive, and wise.
His familiar landscapes are here—San Francisco, the Northern California coast, the Sierra high country—in addition to some of his oft-explored themes: art; the natural world; the nature of desire; the violence of history; the power and limits of language; and, as in his other books, domestic life and the conversation between men and women. New themes emerge as well, perhaps: the essence of memory and of time.
The works here look at paintings, at Gerhard Richter as well as Vermeer, and pay tribute to his particular literary masters, friend Czesław Miłosz, the great Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, Horace, Whitman, Stevens, Nietszche, and Lucretius. We are offered glimpses of a surprisingly green and vibrant twenty-first-century Berlin; of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas; of a Bangkok night, a Mexican desert, and an early summer morning in Paris, all brought into a vivid present and with a passionate meditation on what it is and has been to be alive. “It has always been Mr. Hass’s aim,” the New York Times Book Review wrote, “to get the whole man, head and heart and hands and everything else, into his poetry.”
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville
From Goodreads: London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure but violent purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse’s bones—designs clearly present from birth, bearing mute testimony to . . . what?
Of such concepts and unforgettable images are made the twenty-eight stories in this collection—many published here for the first time. By turns speculative, satirical, and heart-wrenching, fresh in form and language, and featuring a cast of damaged yet hopeful seekers who come face-to-face with the deep weirdness of the world—and at times the deeper weirdness of themselves—Three Moments of an Explosion is a fitting showcase for one of our most original voices.
The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst
From Goodreads: Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . . And those spirits want to kill you. It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.
Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.
Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves.
But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.
I haven’t read any of these books aside from Nemirovsky’s Fire in the Blood, and I’m looking forward to all of them. I’m hoping to get to them in the next few months.