Edward Carpenter

After Edward Carpenter died in 1929, E. M. Forster speculated that the British essayist, poet, and philosopher "won't survive...in his books, but in the testimonies of his friends. He was so much more important in himself than in his printed words." Indeed, Carpenter isn't read much today, perhaps confirming Forster's suggestion that his friend's influence stemmed primarily from the force of his personality. Fortunately, Sheila Rowbotham's fine biography captures that personality so vividly that it is sure to renew interest in this remarkable man. Carpenter was born into a respectable Victorian family in 1844, but he became a socialist whose adopted causes -- gay liberation, free love, nudism, vegetarianism, recycling -- anticipated movements that wouldn't coalesce for decades or more. He wrote and lectured tirelessly, but more than expressing his ideals, he lived them. Although he had a considerable inheritance, he engaged in cooperative farming, declaring that "we will show in ourselves that the simplest life is as good as any?and we will so adorn it that the rich and idle shall enviously leave their sofas and gilded saloons and come and join hands with us in it." Not long after Oscar Wilde was sentenced to hard labor for committing sodomy, Carpenter began living openly with his male partner. Rowbotham's exhaustive research has produced a riveting portrait of a man who had an uncommon ability to draw people to him and infect them with his utopian beliefs. In doing so, she writes, he "helped to prod the modern world into being."

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.

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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."