January 03, 2009

wishlist 2009

- Arrow in blue, Arthur Koestler
"Arrow in the Blue is the first volume of Arthur Koestler's autobiography. It covers the first 26 years of his life and ends with his joining the Communist Party in 1931, an event he felt to be second only in importance to his birth in shaping his destiny. In the years before 1931, Arthur Koestler lived a tumultuous and varied existence. He was a member of the duelling fraternity at the University if Vienna; a collective farm worker in Galilee; a tramp and street vendor in Haifa; the editor of a weekly paper in Cairo; the foreign correspondent of the biggest continental newspaper chain in Paris and the Middle East; a science editor in Berlin; and a member of the North Pole expedition of the Graf Zeppelin. Written with enormous zest, jole de vivre and frankness, Arrow in the Blue is a fascinating self-portrait of a remarkable young man at the heart of the events that shaped the twentieth century. The second volume of Arthur Koestler's autobiography is The Invisible Writing."

- Indignation, Philip Roth

- I married a communist, Philip Roth
"Ira Ringold (now Iron Rinn) is a self-educated radio actor married to spoilt, rags-to-riches beauty and silent-film star, Eve Frame. He is a Communist, she is passionately and irrationally anti-Semitic (in spite of her own Jewish origins). Roth's alter-ego narrator Nathan Zuckerman--an idealistic admirer of Ira as a boy-- uncovers the story of Eve's betrayal of Ira to a gossip- columnist, and Nathan's own unknowing involvement with the blacklistings and ruined careers of the immediate post-war period. Roth's characteristically acerbic writing and keen eye for emotional detail reaches to the heart of this moment of high American tragedy, a point at which the American dream was damaged beyond recovery.

The McCarthy era has faded, eerily, into nostalgia, just as Capitol Hill produces its own 90s version of witch- hunt and communal obsession with enemies of the state, and perversions of justice perpetrated in democracy's name. Roth avoids nostalgia by making his narrator an active, if unwitting participant in the original drama, caught up in political currents and counter-currents he did not comprehend at the time."


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