The Endless Bookshelf : simply messing about in books





Books are what I do : Write (very slowly), Read (rapidly or at leisure), Re-read (for pleasure or reference), Buy and Sell (my livelihood), Catalogue and Describe (ditto), Edit, Publish, Review (for The New York Review of Science Fiction and others), Recommend or Give away, Receive, and — unavoidably and repeatedly  — Lift (whether singly or in boxes). I concede a fondness for private eye novels, equalled by my interest in the quirky, erudite, or obscure, and surpassed only by my love of the literature of the fantastic.

— Henry Wessells

Buchnarr, 1494. Ware! Ware! Ware the Book-Fool!


9 December 2014




critical fiction

Best Book 2013

Best Books
2012 2011
2010 2009




turkey city

making light

The Best Book of the Year 2014

— George Koppelman & Daniel Wechsler. Shakespeare’s Beehive. An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light. Axletree Books, 2014.

Your correspondent has read many good books this year (see immediately below) but Shakespeare’s Beehive remains unequalled, the most engaging and astonishing of them all, the Best Book of the Year 2014.

Reviewed here :

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alphabetical list of a few good books read in 2014

— John Clute. Stay. Beccon Publications, 2014.

— [Nicholas Currie]. Momus. UnAmerica. Penny-Ante Editions, 2014. Reviewed here

— Disobedient Objects. Edited by Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon. V&A Publishing, [2014].

— C. M. Doughty. The Cliffs. Duckworth, 1909.

— William Gibson. The Peripheral. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, [2014]. Notice here

— Greer Gilman. Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Small Beer Press, [2014].

— Craig Graham. Phantom Pain. Poems. Vagabond Books, [2014].

— Eileen Gunn. Questionable Practices. Small Beer Press, [2014]. Light fuse and get away

— Nick Harkaway. Tigerman. William Heinemann, [2014].

— J.S. Le Fanu. In a Glass Darkly (1872).

— W. Somerset Maugham. Ashenden or The British Agent. William Heinemann, 1928.

— William Plomer. Turbott Wolfe. Edited by Stephen Gray. Johannesburg : A.D. Donker, [1980]. Originally published in 1926 by the Hogarth Press.

— John Shire. Bookends. A Partial History of the Book Trade in Brighton. Invocations Press, [2011]. Notice here

— Marcel Theroux. Strange Bodies. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2014]. Reviewed here

— Anthony Trollope. The Way We Live Now (1875).

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in your mailbox

To the first dozen readers who write in, the Endless Bookshelf will send an interesting book from the shelves (U.S. only) : with a promise that it will not be from the Mailbag Roulette books unless you request one. Please indicate fiction or nonfiction (if you set store by such distinctions).

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The Private Life of Books : poems by Henry Wessells, with duotone photographs by Paul Schütze, published on 15 September, a few copies still available, details here :

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recent reading

— John Delaney. Nova Cæsarea. A Cartographic Record of the Garden State 1666-1888. Princeton University Library, 2014. Detail above showing The Cedars, residence of H.W. Herbert (“ Frank Forester ”), from Map of Essex County New Jersey. With the Names of Property Holders &c. Hiram A. Belding, 1850. Your correspondent dwells not far from Crane’s Gap, south of Goffle and west of Weasel (place names on the 1828 map of New Jersey).

— Charles Dantzig. Dictionnaire égoïste de la littérature française (2005). Grasset, [2nd printing, 2006]. I am re-reading in this big, opinionated volume, with pleasure.

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— One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature. Curated by Chris Loker. Edited by Jill Shefrin. The Grolier Club, 2014. Catalogue of the exhibition (on view 10 December 2014 to 7 February 2015). A fine show with some astonishing books — rare and often in spectacular condition —  but any prescriptive list such as this is an Argument cloaked in camouflage of respectability. What thinking reader can look at the books and not think (once or twice), why is that book there ? or, why is this one missing ?

— Paul Williams. Only Apparently Real. [Entwhistle Books, 1986 ; 2nd printing, 1999]. “ The World of Philip K. Dick ” (cover).

— Philip K. Dick. Confessions of a Crap Artist — Jack Isidore (of Seville, Calif.). A Chronicle of Verified Scientific Fact, 1945-1959. Entwhistle Books, [1975; 1978 pbk.]

— Avram Davidson. “ The Slovo Stove ” (1985). [re-reading, with great pleasure]

— Wendy Walker. The Secret Service. Sun & Moon Classics, [1992]. [ditto]

— Penelope Fitzgerald. The Blue Flower. [1995]. Mariner Books Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2014]. Novalis and his times (poet-novel).

— William Gass. In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. NYRB Classics, with introduction by Joanna Scott.

— E. Phillips Oppenheim. The Illustrious Prince. Little, Brown, 1910. An eventful opening sequence. Diplomatic intrigue, murder, dull rose silk, etc. A late offering in the Future War / Invasion tradition, and a portent of U.S.-Japan conflict.

— E. Phillips Oppenheim. The Long Arm of Mannister. Illustrated by Frank Snapp. Little, Brown, 1908. Revenge drama.

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— Waltercio Caldas. Manual of Popular Science. Text by Paulo Venancio Filho. Foreword and commentary by the artist. [Translated from the Portuguese by Julie Atwater]. New extended edition. Cosaicnaify, [2007]. Originally published in 1982. Detail of no. 8, For Rilke (reduced).

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— Lord Dunsany. Lost Tales. Volume III. Pegana Press, 2014.

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Wander in the Archives

The Archives of the Endless Bookshelf have been swept and tidied and a guide has been prepared to assist wanderers. Index would be too strong a term : the headwords tend to be suggestive rather than directive. Start here. Have fun.

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This creaking and constantly evolving website of the endless bookshelf : some entries are brief mentions, others take the form of more elaborate essays and reviews. Someday, not soon, comments or interactivity. Right now you’ll have to send links to me, dear readers. [HWW]

electronym : wessells at aol dot com

Copyright © 2007-2014 Henry Wessells and individual contributors.

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