Front Table - 1/20/20

January 19th, 2020

This month, we bid a fond and bittersweet farewell to Co-op Manager Adam Sonderberg as we welcome new Manager Alena Jones. On our Front Table this week, find some of Adam's favorites, from the emergence of literary modernism to the disappearance of language. Find the following titles and more at

84, Charing Cross Road (Penguin)
Helene Hanff

This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world.

Anna Karenina (Modern Library)
Leo Tolstoy, translated by Constance Garnett

Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, Anna Kareninais Tolstoy’s classic tale of love and adultery set against the backdrop of high society in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society. Adam prefers Constance Garnett's absorbing 1901 translation.

Extinction (Vintage)
Thomas Bernhard

The last work of fiction by one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists, Extinctionis widely considered Thomas Bernhard’s magnum opus. Franz-Josef Murau—the intellectual black sheep of a powerful Austrian land-owning family—lives in Rome in self-imposed exile, surrounded by a coterie of artistic and intellectual friends. On returning from his sister’s wedding on the family estate of Wolfsegg, having resolved never to go home again, Murau receives a telegram informing him of the death of his parents and brother in a car crash. Not only must he now go back, he must do so as the master of Wolfsegg. And he must decide its fate. Written in the seamless, mesmerizing style for which Bernhard was famous, Extinctionis the ultimate proof of his extraordinary literary genius.

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love (Walker Art Center) OUT OF PRINT 
Kara Walker

Kara Walker is among the most complex and prolific American artists of her generation. She has used cut-paper silhouettes, drawing, painting, colored-light projections, writing, shadow puppetry, film animation, and other media to narrate tales of romance, sadism, oppression and liberation. Deploying an acidic sense of humor, Walker's scenarios thwart conventional readings of a cohesive national history and expose the collective, and ongoing, psychological injury caused by the tragic legacy of slavery. This landmark publication accompanies Walker's first major American museum survey, at the Walker Art Center. It features critical essays by Philippe Vergne, Sander L. Gilman, Thomas McEvilley, Robert Storr and Kevin Young, as well as an illustrated lexicon of recurring themes and motifs in the artist's most influential installations by Yasmil Raymond, more than 200 full-color images, an extensive exhibition history and bibliography, and a 36-page insert by the artist.

Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography (Princeton University Press)
Joakim Garff, translated by Bruce Kirmmse

“The day will come when not only my writings, but precisely my life — the intriguing secret of all the machinery — will be studied and studied.” Søren Kierkegaard’s remarkable combination of genius and peculiarity made this a fair if arrogant prediction. But Kierkegaard’s life has been notoriously hard to study, so complex was the web of fact and fiction in his work. Joakim Garff’s biography of Kierkegaard is thus a landmark achievement. A seamless blend of history, philosophy, and psychological insight, all conveyed with novelistic verve, this is the most comprehensive and penetrating account yet written of the life and works of the enigmatic Dane credited with founding existentialism and prefiguring postmodernism. Acclaimed as a major cultural event on its publication in Denmark in 2000, this book, here presented in a crisp and elegant translation, will be the definitive account of Kierkegaard’s life for years to come.

Revolutionary Road (Vintage)
Richard Yates

From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Roadwas hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. It's the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.

Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language (Zone Books)
Daniel Heller-Roazen

Just as speech can be acquired, so can it be lost. Speakers can forget words, phrases, even entire languages they once knew; over the course of time peoples, too, let go of the tongues that were once theirs, as languages disappear and give way to the others that follow them. In Echolalias, Daniel Heller-Roazen reflects on the many forms of linguistic forgetfulness, offering a far-reaching philosophical investigation into the persistence and disappearance of speech. In twenty-one brief chapters, he moves among classical, medieval, and modern culture, and draws examples from literature, philosophy, linguistics, theology, and psychoanalysis. From the infant's babble to the legacy of Babel, from the holy tongues of Judaism and Islam to the concept of the dead language and the politics of exiled and endangered languages, Echolalias invites us to reflect in a new way on the nature of the speaking animal who forgets.

Thanks, Adam.


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