“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” It is impossible to talk about L.P. Hartley’s 1953 masterpiece without starting with its famous first sentence. On vacation with a wealthy family, young Leo Colston acts as “go-between” for their beautiful daughter and a poor farmer. Simple at first, but the author soon resembles a British Proust, as the story is recounted by an older Leo perusing a diary, and the varied screens of experience — the elder, the youth, the reader, the writer — create a mosaic of lost innocence.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Tunnel” by Russell Edson
Reading a book of Edson’s poetry is like looking into a shadow-box full of exotic snails with koans carved into their shells. Each of these prose poems is its own contained universe. They exist by themselves, and only by themselves, for us to observe their habits. They live together in a book so they don’t get lonely. Edson practiced the basic language of wonder, and his is some of the most taught and unusual writing I’ve ever encountered.
— Jarrod Annis, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
Using anachronistic wit and delightfully expressive illustrations, Beaton delivers hysterical re-imaginings of historical events, the literary canon, and pop culture. Even the most obscure references are made hilarious thanks to Beaton’s impeccable style. Some will even send you on Wikipedia binges trying to learn more about Tom Longboat or Katherine Sui Fun Cheung. Every comic in this collection will elicit at least a chuckle and, more often than not, uncontrollable laughter. I really can’t recommend this enough.
— Dylan Soltis, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr