Roz Chast

The cartoonist on three fiction favorites.



If you've ever felt awkward, neurotic, plagued by indecision, or frustrated with the mysteries of everyday life, then you've probably recognized a little of yourself in the cartoons of Roz Chast. Her jittery, unmistakeable panels -- which have appeared in The New Yorker since 1978 -- elicit delight even as they defy description. Hence the appeal of her new book, What I Hate: From A to Z, which turns a hilariously spiteful gaze on irritants including rabies, tunnels, and Jell-O. This week, Chast offers a respite from such annoyances in a trio of fictions: "I've read all of these books at least twice," she assures us, "and would be happy to read any of them again."


Books by Roz Chast



Strange Life of Ivan Osokin

By P. D. Ouspensky


"This book is about the desire to go back in time and do things differently, knowing what you now know. The question is, would you do things differently? Or would you make the same mistakes again and again, carefully rationalizing each one every step of the way until you end up in the same place? It's kind of bleak, but also kind of hopeful."



The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith


"A terrifying, fascinating, and sometimes very funny book about a sociopath named Tom Ripley who is sent to Italy to retrieve a wealthy young man named Dickie Greenleaf by Dickie's father. It's also about envy, money, love, obsession, class in America, repressed sexuality, and lots of other interesting things."




The Magic Mountain

By Thomas Mann


"This is the story of Hans Castorp who goes to a tuberculosis sanitarium to visit his cousin for a three week stay. At first he finds the sanitarium and its inhabitants strange and almost repellent. After not too long, though, he is drawn into the world of the sanitarium, which centers on illness and allows its residents to be cut off from the outside world with its workaday concerns, and he winds up staying seven years."

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."