The Snows of Yesteryear

An ember among the cinders of a bygone empire, Gregor von Rezzori's The Snows of Yesteryear is a memoir that doesn't lack for the emotional and observational reticulations proper to a classic novel. In the telling of his story, the renowned author of Memoirs of an Anti-Semite leans less on the blunt scythe of chronology than on the "fine-webbed ramifications" suited to an impressionistic imagination. Born close to the outset of the First World War in Czernowitz, Bukovina (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine), a region that in his lifetime (1914-98) passed from the ownership of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Romania to the Soviet Union, Rezzori came to manhood in an unsettled household. He lived amid eccentric personalities like his mother, who forbade her children to sit on the ground lest "vapors emanating from the soil" induce "infant paralysis," and his wet-nurse, an illiterate woman who conversed in a hodgepodge of languages, whose linguistic idiosyncrasies sprouted "newly minted with every sentence." Like weathervanes of history, the erratic fortunes of his family mark the currents that blew throughout Europe during the first half of the 20th century. The life-giving kernel of this book is summed up in Rezzori's observation that "where unrest leads to grief and grief gives rise to lament, poetry blossoms."

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.

advertisement
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."