Books Acquired, 11.19.2011


Keith Miller’s novel The Book on Fire features a biblioklept as its protagonist/narrator—so that obviously piqued my interest. The setting also seems cool, so this will find its way close to the top of the review stack. Here’s a description from Miller’s site

Balthazar, book thief and bon vivant, arrives in Alexandria to steal from the famous library. But from the moment he steps off the boat, a veiled figure shadows him. Zeinab, literary prostitute and avenging ghost, will be his chaperone through the city of books. With her help, he succeeds in penetrating the underground library. But once inside, instead of ransacking it, he becomes obsessed with the youngest librarian, Shireen, who was born in the library and is herself more than half book. Their love story forms the heart of the novel. Balthazar schemes to get Shireen out of the library. But Zeinab has plans of her own . . .


Andrei Gelasimov’s Thirst is new in English translation next week from, uh, Amazon’s new imprint, Amazon Crossing. Here’s their description—

Masterfully translated from its original Russian by award-winning translator Marian Schwartz, Thirst tells the story of 20-year-old Chechen war veteran, Kostya. Maimed beyond recognition by a tank explosion, Kostya spends weeks on end locked inside his apartment, his sole companion the vodka bottles spilling from the refrigerator. But soon Kostya’s comfortable, if dysfunctional, cocoon is torn open when he receives a visit from his army buddies who are mobilized to locate a missing comrade. It is through this search for his missing friend that Kostya is able to find himself.

Thirst is a nice slim novella, and I enjoyed its opening pages, but I’ve got to grip about the cover. I get that the book deals with alcoholism, but ripping off Absolut Vodka’s iconic design is lame. I get that it’s supposed to be ironic or whatever, but I just really hate it. Anyway, I also hate the cover for David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress, so it’s silly to gripe about covers. Someone should make up an adage.

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