I seem to have a growing number of literary people arriving in the post at the moment.
Enticing biographies that feed nicely into that endless fascination about people's lives, often lives I know little or nothing about but I can see vast new reading trails opening alongside these as I browse, so I thought I'd share a few and see if you have any reading suggestions to go with them.
Why This World A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser, published by Haus.
I have managed to find and read just one book by Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star, the author who ' looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf ', which, though making no assumptions or judgments, is probably the right way round to be. One of the most popular but least understood of modern Latin American writers, according to the press release and little understood here by me because the books are almost impossible to lay hands on.
Clarice Lispector born in 1920 in post-World War 1 Ukraine and
'driven to Brazil by the pogroms that killed her mother and ruined her father. Despite this, she triumphed over her origins to become, virtually from adolescence. a person whose beauty, genius and eccentricity intrigued all of Brazil's writers and artists.'
What as piqued my interest further is reading Clarice described as the true heir to Kafka.
Now Kafka is one of those writers who strangely terrifies me.
Is he another who has been swept into the upper reading echelons in my sub-conscious and really not for me to meddle with because I wouldn't understand a word?
Except that a lovely set of the new Oxford World's Classics editions of The Castle, Metamorphosis and The Trial arrived a while back and I had marked Kafka up for a foray, just to see if I could cope.
Any thoughts on Kafka reading out there?
Knut Hamsun Dreamer and Dissenter by Ingar Sletten Kolloen published by Yale University Press in late September.
However long have I been meaning to read Knut Hamsun and never quite got there so perhaps now's the moment.
The 150th anniversary of his birth in Jotunheimen in deepest Norway and obviously there are going to be both highs and lows in this book, the Nobel Prize in 1920 and blatant collaboration with the fascists during the German occupation of Norway and a refusal to renounce Nazi sympathies make controversy inevitable. Kolloen traces the roots of those sympathies back to Hamsun's earliest days as he attempts to shine some light on this 'irrational, eccentric, strange and compelling - a man uncomfortable in his own time.'
I also think it might be interesting to read the life before the novels for once, an opportunity to approach a writer's life with no preconceptions.
I shall seek out more of Knut Hamsun's writing but where to start, any suggestions?
The Last Englishman The Double Life of Arthur Ransome by Roland Chambers, published by Faber
Good, someone I do know of, but still not a great deal about and admittedly more Swallows and Amazons than the love affair with Leon Trotsky's private secretary or his life as a controversial English journalist. Apparently Ransome escaped accusations of treason by the merest squeak for his ardent defence of Bolshevism.
'Ransome's triumph was to erase the entire episode from the public consciousness, just as he erased all uncomfortable episodes, including his relationship with his only daughter.'
This makes me think I should elevate Swallows and Amazons into Inner Child reading before I tackle this biography, I may never look on it in the same light again.
This all set me thinking about more people I'd really like to see thudding through the letterbox one day, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Penelope Fitzgerald, I have no idea whether someone somewhere could be writing them but I do hope so.