Peter came to bookselling late, discovering in midlife what he'd always wanted to be doing but couldn't previously identify. His desert-island books are The Complete Poetry of Emily Dickinson, and Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain. He's currently working on translating Dickinson into Portuguese, and Portuguese poet Miguel Torga to English.
Reviews & Recommendations
My favorite living author? Easy: Javier Marias. As the title promises, The Infatuations is about impetuous, sudden and fierce preoccupations among people, based upon little if any knowledge but rather on the role into which one person casts another, and what happens when the subject refuses to fulfill the casting. Spellbinding!
If you, like me, enjoy twisting your mind into knots pursuing-- or ruling out-- answers to the basic philosophical inquiry: why is there something instead of nothing?-- this delightful book is for you.
Ford Madox Ford-- incomprehensibly overlooked as one of the great writers of 20th-century fiction-- published the first volume of Parade's End the same year Joyce published Ulysses. No doubt in my mind that this one is the enduring masterpiece. Touching all the nerves leading into the cataclysm of WWI, it's simply the best thing I've read in about a decade.
Reads like the best detective, espionage, adventure fiction. The intriguing tale of the pursuit and discovery of the manuscript that helped spark the Renaissance. And then Lucretius' poem!—who was he?—how could anyone possibly be so brilliantly prescient? Mysteries abound!
Forget everything you (think you) know about John le Carre, except that he's one fabulous writer. And don't let the title pigeonhole your expectations. A Perfect Spy is a deep-delving, exhilarating exploration of the making of a human chameleon, tapping the sources of loyalty and trust, betrayal and suspicion, the hunger to love and be loved-- all wrapped in a narrative that begins in a slow burn, and accelerates to demise.
I agree with James that this is his best novel and, for me, his most pleasurable. For the reader who enjoys immersing himself in a quiet world of nuance and the half- and mis-understood actions and motivations that make of us constant mysteries to one another, here's the perfect venue. And make no mistake—beneath the quiet surface run currents of rage, humor, and passion, heartbreak and pathos. Here's a book entertaining and of fabulous depths.
One of America’s great 20th Century poets, Kunitz achieved in his later work a luminous clarity and simplicity of language. This collection of his best later poems provides endless hours of pleasure. A little treasure chest.
To say this is a novel of the Spanish civil war is understatement. Rather—it is a sprawling epic wrapped in mystery—of individual and institutional duplicity—of loyalty and betrayal—self-sacrifice and self-interest—stunningly and hypnotically told. And—a fascinating history lesson along the way.
The premise: sentenced to house arrest for life as an unrepentant nobleman in the Metropol Hotel, Count Rostov witnesses the course and aftermath of the Russian revolution through the stream of guests and employees of the hotel. This is the most enjoyable and satisfying novel I've read in years.