Posted by: Matt | July 15, 2007

Making the List

This weeks addition comes entirely from the pages of the NYRB Classics catalogue (pdf). I’ve already purchased one book from the collection, and I am looking forward to plundering it some more.

  • Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself by Robert Montgomery Bird – “This is the story of a young idler who goes in search of buried treasure and finds instead the power to transfer his soul into other men’s bodies. What follows is one increasingly practiced body snatcher’s picaresque journey through early American pursuits of happiness, as each new form Sheppard Lee assumes disappoints him anew while making him want more and more. When Lee’s metempsychosis draws him into the marriage market, the money market, and the slave market, Bird’s fable of American upward mobility takes a more sinister turn. Lee learns that everything in America, even virtue and vice, are interchangeable; everything is an object and has its price.” This book will be released in November 2007.
  • Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams – “It is the 1870s, and Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek “an original relation to nature,” drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher’s Crossing, a small Kansas town on the outskirts of nowhere. Butcher’s Crossing is full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. Before long Andrews strikes up a friendship with one of them, a man who regales Andrews with tales of immense herds of buffalo, ready for the taking, hidden away in a beautiful valley deep in the Colorado Rockies. He convinces Andrews to join in an expedition to track the animals down. The journey out is grueling, but at the end is a place of paradisal richness. Once there, however, the three men abandon themselves to an orgy of slaughter, so caught up in killing buffalo that they lose all sense of time. Winter soon overtakes them: they are snowed in. Next spring, half-insane with cabin fever, cold, and hunger, they stagger back to Butcher’s Crossing to find a world as irremediably changed as they have been.” I’m not sure when I became interested in Westerns but I seem to be adding them to my list and my bookshelf lately.
  • On the Yard by Malcolm Brady – “A book of penetrating psychological realism in which Malcolm Braly paints an unforgettable picture of the complex and frightening world of the penitentiary. At its center are the violently intertwined stories of Chilly Willy, in trouble with the law from his earliest years and now the head of the prison’s flourishing black market in drugs and sex, and of Paul, wracked with guilt for the murder of his wife and desperate for some kind of redemption.”

There are plenty more books in the NYRB Classics catalogue to add to my list but I think three will do for now. Check out the links above to start adding some of these to your list.



  1. I have Burcher’s Crossing. I hope to get around to it in a month or so. NYRB also has another Williams novel–Stoner–that I picked up for five bucks at ALA.

  2. Great list!

  3. SFP – I’ve been reading a lot about Stoner lately, I only realized that they were by the same author when I posted this.

    Kelly – Thanks!

  4. I like your picks primarily because they’re books I wouldn’t have chosen myself so it will be good to read what you have to say about that. Yay for checking out the NYRB classics!

  5. imani – The trouble is, it could be years before I make it to some of these, so you may be waiting awhile before reading what I think of them…

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