In reverse order…
1. Anne Seirstad. One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway. I had forgotten I wanted to read this until I saw it on the desk of a policeman in a Scande-noir TV series and recognized that as a sign. An immaculately precise recounting – though few people might want to put themselves through it.
2. Lord Kilbracken. Van Meergren: Master Forger. Spotted it in a Free Box on the sidewalk and thought, Why not?
3. Neil Bascomb. Winter Fortress. Had seen a BBC series on this and wondered how much was true. As I suspected, there was no beautiful woman as second-in-command at the British commandos’ training sight. And I was left wondering what role they found for Kirk Douglas in the movie.
4. Tove Ditlevsen. Depending. Last volume in The Copenhagen Trilogy. (See prior Last Ten.) Thoroughly good.
5. Thom Jones. Night Train. Collects the best of his stories. He’d been recommended to me multiple times over the years, and some of these were excellent. Plus, his life was several stories in itself. Should make quite a bio.
6. T. Ditlevsen. The Faces. Adele wanted to read one of her actual novels and chose this one, about a young woman in a mental hospital, one of her favorite genres. Harrowing.
7. Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra. Adele had re-read this and prevailed upon me to try it. I wanted something straightforward, uncomplicated and good. This fit the bill.
8. Howard Dolnick. The Forger’s Spell. I’d wanted more on Van Meergren. This didn’t satisfy me. But I’m done with him for now.
9. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet. Reviews of his newly released 1000-pp. bio drew me. It begins with “nothing,” “depression,” “absurdity,” and questions of “identity.” No plot, no characters.. “The Father of Portugese Modernism” he may be, but, at my age, if I haven’t got a handle on this stuff… After a while I stopped even writing “???” in the margin.
10. Perchuk & Singh, eds. Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular. A fellow at the café who’d known Smith tipped me off to this. The stuff on his films was beyond me, but I liked the pieces about the “Anthology” – and Smith’s own writings were a hoot.
In reverse order…