The Bell Jar

TBJ

Sylvia Plath

FROM THE ARCHIVES

First Sentence:     It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York

Back of the book:

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into serious depression as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take her aspirations seriously.

Quotes from the book:

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

“Because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

But when it came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defenseless that I couldn’t do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get.

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Amongst Women

amongst-women

John McGahern

FROM THE ARCHIVES

First Sentence:     As he we weakened, Moran became afraid of his daughters.

Back of the book:

Moran is an old Republican whose life was forever transformed by his days of glory as a guerilla leader in the War of Independence. Now, in old age, living in the country, Moran is still fighting – with his family, his friends, even himself – in a poignant struggle to come to terms with the past.

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Lord Of The Flies

lord-of-the-flies

William Golding

FROM THE ARCHIVES

First Sentence:     The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon.

Back of the book:

A plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast.

In this, his first novel, William Golding gave the traditional adventure story an ironic, devastating twist. The boys’ delicate sense of order fades, and their childish fears are transformed into something deeper and more primitive. Their games take on a horrible significance, and before long the well-behaved party of schoolboys has turned into a tribe of faceless, murderous savages.

Quotes from the book:

He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.

“Sucks to your ass-mar!”

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4 3 2 1

4-3-2-1

Paul Auster

First Sentence:     According to family legend, Ferguson’s Grandfather departed on foot from his native city of Minsk with one hundred rubles sewn into the lining of his jacket, traveled west to Hamburg through Warsaw and Berlin, and then booked passage on a ship called the Empress of China, which crossed the Atlantic in rough winter storms and sailed into New York Harbor on the first day of the twentieth century.

Back of the book:

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.

Quotes from the book:

“[…] dear, dirty, devouring New York, the capital of human faces, the horizontal Babel of human tongues.”

He felt the impact, felt the wood crack down on him as if someone had clubbed him from behind, and then he felt nothing, nothing at all or ever again, and as his inert body lay on the water-soaked ground, the rain continued to pour down on him and the thunder continued to crack, and from one end of the earth to the other, the gods were silent.

“Everything solid for a time, and then the sun comes up one morning and the world begins to melt.”

Memories are not continuous. They jump around from place to place and vault over large swaths of time with many gaps in between. […] do not form a continuous narrative. Rather, they tend to unfold as dreams do—which is to say, with a logic that is not always readily apparent.

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Sunset City

Sunset-City

Melissa Ginsburg

First Sentence:     It had rained hard through the night and now the water raced and swirled, overflowing the ditch in front of my building.

Back of the book:

Twenty-two-year-old Charlotte Ford reconnects with Danielle, her best friend from high school, a few days before Danielle is found bludgeoned to death in a motel room. In the wake of the murder, Charlotte’s life unravels and she descends into the city’s underbelly, where she meets the strippers, pornographers and drug dealers who surrounded Danielle in the years they were estranged.

Ginsburg’s Houston is part of a lesser known south, where the urban and rural collide gracelessly. In this shadowy world, culpability and sympathy blur in a debut novel which thrillingly brings its three female protagonists to the fore. Scary, funny and almost unbearably sad, Sunset City is written with rare grace and empathy holding you transfixed, praying for some kind of escape for Charlotte.

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