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Italo Svevo  

Italo Svevo (real name: Ettore Schmitz) was born in Trieste in 1861. A successful businessman, Svevo also wrote three novels during his lifetime (all at his personal expense): Una vita (1892), Senilità (1898), and La coscienza di Zeno (1923) (Zeno's Conscience).

After his first two novels were - for all practical purposes - ignored, Svevo considered giving up writing. But, aiming to improve his English, Svevo became a student of James Joyce. Joyce read Svevo's first two novels and encouraged him to continue writing. When Svevo completed Zeno's Conscience, Joyce helped get it published in France, where Svevo was soon nicknamed "the Italian Proust."

Long hailed as a seminal work of modernism and now available in an original English translation by William Weaver, Svevo's novel centers on Zeno Cosini, a neurotic Italian businessman who is writing his confessions at the behest of his psychiatrist.

Critics have enthusiastically embraced this translation of Svevo's masterpiece. The New Republic called it "a novel overflowing with human truth in all its murkiness, laughter and terror." The Atlantic Monthly commented, "William Weaver . . . updates the novelist's idiosyncratic prose with great affection." And Joan Acocella in The New Yorker called the book's publication, "An event in modern publishing. For the first time, I believe, in English, we get the true, dark music, the pewter tints, of Svevo's great last novel."

amy clampitt  

Amy Clampitt inhabits a secure position in the American imagination, and the story of her surprising success as a poet continues to be a subject of fascination. Always youthful and light-footed, she only began writing poetry late in life. Despite years of resolute backing by Howard Moss at the New Yorker and Mary Jo Salter at the Atlantic Monthly, her first book, The Kingfisher (1983), was not published until she was sixty-three. When Alice Quinn, then editor (and founder) of the Knopf Poetry Series, telephoned Clampitt to inform her of the book's acceptance, Clampitt was filled with typically childlike joy. As Hal (Harold Korn), her partner and later husband, explained to those who called to congratulate her: "I think she's outside skipping. You know, she's only three years old." It has been remarked that the first fifteen and last fifteen years of her life were the most important, certainly the most relevant, portions of her aesthetic existence. Although she began writing in late middle age, her most accomplished and frequent subjects were allied to her childhood. She shared a preoccupation with youth and departed innocence with the English Romantics—John Keats, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and most especially William Wordsworth—who also studied the faded light of childhood in their poems. Her effortless naturalism (she uses the sub-lexicon of botany to great effect) evolved from the same childhood reminiscences, growing up on farms in Iowa, descended from early pioneers. Study of ancient Greek and travel in modern Greece inspired poems on classical subjects, notably feminist considerations of women in Greek myth. Her style was uncommonly original and was considered unorthodox, without being necessarily avant-garde, a benefit in the post-avant-garde 1980s. Willard Spiegelman once commented that she had a "Keatsian lusciousness" somehow combined with a "Quaker austerity". She has always been considered a genuinely American writer, and perhaps this puzzling combination, a luscious austerity, can say a great deal about America itself.

Maggie Estep  

What happens when you talk to a strange, blonde woman on the F train? And when you agree to follow her boyfriend for a handsome sum of money? Meet Ruby Murphy and dig into life on Coney Island and around the horse racing tracks.

This is Maggie Estep's second novel. Poet, performance artist, emotional idiot, novelist and now... mystery writer.

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