Totempole cover

Totempole

Totempole is Sanford Friedman’s radical coming-of-age novel, featuring Stephen Wolfe, a young Jewish boy growing up in New York City and its environs during the Depression and war years. In eight discrete chapters, which trace Stephen’s evolution from a two-year-old boy to a twenty-four-year-old man, Friedman describes with psychological acuity and great empathy Stephen’s intellectual, moral, and sexual maturation. Taught to abhor his body for the sake of his soul, Stephen finds salvation in the eventual unification of the two, the recognition that body and soul should not be partitioned but treated as one being, one complete man.

Totempole is the NYRB Classics Book Club selection for September 2014.

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Conversations with Beethoven

Sanford Friedman, introduction by Richard Howard
Deaf but still able to converse, Beethoven “heard” those around him by means of conversation books in which friends and family jotted down communications. This daring novel, featuring a Dickensian cast, is a fictional reconstruction of these books. In it we see the aging composer struggling with his art, fighting illness, and perpetually worried about the fate of his wayward ward and nephew, Karl.

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The Mad and the Bad

Jean-Patrick Manchette, introduction by James Sallis, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith
The “French Raymond Chandler” is back with this story of an assassination gone wrong and a manic, murderous cross-country road trip. “For Manchette … the crime novel is no mere entertainment, but a means to strip bare the failures of society, ripping through veils of appearance, deceit, and manipulation to the greed and violence that are the society’s true engines.”—James Sallis, The Boston Globe

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Augustus

John Williams, introduction by Daniel Mendelsohn
Williams’s biographical treatment of the founder of the Roman Empire won him the National Book Award and reveals him to be as transformative a writer of historical novels as he is of westerns (in Butcher’s Crossing) and the campus drama (in Stoner).

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The Captain's Daughter

Alexander Pushkin, introduction by Robert Chandler, translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler
At once a fairy tale and a thrilling historical novel of rebellion and romance, this singularly Russian work of the imagination is also a timeless, universal, and very winning story of how love and duty can summon pluck and luck to confront calamity. “The Captain’s Daughter is one of the stories in which Pushkin created Russian prose…. It is true poet’s prose, absolutely clear, objective, unpretentious and penetrating.”—Robert Conquest, The Spectator

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Fear: A Novel of World War I

Gabriel Chevallier, introduction by John Berger, translated from the French by Malcolm Imrie
Winner of the 2013 Scott Moncrieff Prize for Translation from the French. “Eighty years after it was first published … Gabriel Chevallier’s autobiographical novel about serving in the bombed-out trenches of World War I still chills the blood….Fear is a novel whose most indelible passages describe the sensory degradation of war on the human body…. One of the most effective indictments of war ever written.”—Tobias Grey, The Wall Street Journal

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