Book recommendations

If all goes well, this post, which I am writing in early December, will appear as if by magic in my blog on Christmas Day in the Morning.

As I explained in an earlier post, I am to recommend two books for Brian Joseph, c/o Babbling Books.

My choices are:

1. Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
2. Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov

Brian may be relieved to learn they are both reasonably short books!)

The first I have chosen because I love it (although I hope that admission doesn’t prevent Brian from panning it, should he disagree!) and can’t for the life of me understand why it’s so little known; and the second I have chosen because although I think it is the work of a very original and remarkable talent, I don’t think I really understood it, and would be pleased to have, as it were, a second opinion. There’s a very interesting review of it here.

Well, I’m offline till some time in the New Year. See you all then.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Hello, I’m here by way of Emma and Guy’s Humbook Christmas, and I love the sound of Happy Moscow. I haven’t read much experimental fiction, only B S Johnson’s The Unfortunates, but I like challenging books and I’ve read a little bit of contemporary Russian literature so this ticks both boxes for me.
    Best wishes for the festive season, I hope London isn’t too grey and gloomy.
    (I’m an Aussie now, but I was born in London and remember its winters only too well).
    Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers


    • Hello Lisa, and welcome. I apologise for having taken so long to reply: I had been offline over Christmas and New year.

      A good friend of mine is constantly recommending me to read B. S Johnson. I suppose I’ll have to dive into it some day!

      I need to tackle Happy Moscow again some day: I didn’t really take it in adequately the first time round. But Platonov’s short stories (there’s a marvellous selection in The Return and Other Stories) are superb, and I’m sure he is an author worth persevering with.

      London, as I write, remains as grey and as gloomy as ever I fear!


  2. I’ve read the first one and agree that it is excellent. Own the second one (NYRB recently released this title). Good choices.


  3. I don’t know these two books but I’ll read Brian’s reviews


  4. Posted by Brian Joseph on December 26, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Thanks Himadri!

    Though I had not heard of these two authors the books look really good. My secret references sources (ha ,ha these are my literary guides indicate that these may very well be terrific 😉 It looks like you made very thoughtful and appropriate choices!

    I plan to start reading one of the three as soon as I finish up the book that I am currently reading and will likely read the other two right after that.

    I hope that you like my picks for you.


  5. bibliographing wrote a fine series on Hogg which is easy to recommend and will likely inspire some fine ideas once it is time to do some writing.


  6. I have actually started reading “Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. I am liking it so far.

    Thanks for the recamendation Tom . I will check that out in detail. I may wait until after I have written some commentary. I usually wait to read other’s thoughts on a work, other then a summery of basic themes, until after I have written down mine ruminations. Otherwise I fear that I might parrot the ideas of others too closely.


  7. Happy New Year! Two great recommendations. I’ve only read short stories by Platonov, and have always meant to read The Foundation Pit, but not got around to it yet. I’ll check this one out.


    • Happy New Year to you also.

      I have heard translator Robert Chandler speak a number of times (he lectures quite frequently in London) about the difficulties involved in translating a writer as unorthodox and as linguistically inventive as Platonov, and I did get the feeling that he was not entirely happy with his translation of The Foundation Pit, which was the first book by Platonov he worked on. He seemed much happier with The Return and Other Stories, and with the novels Soul and Happy Moscow. Remarkable books all, but I do get the feeling that much of it has eluded me so far.


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