07 December 2012

Imprint Friday: Alibis by Andre Aciman

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Picador USA. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Sometimes I think the art of the essay was left behind decades ago in favor of the more self-absorbed memoir in short pieces. But then I'm reminded of André Aciman, and I'm grateful that a master has made it to the twenty-first century. His Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere has just come out in paperback.

Here's the publisher's summary:
Celebrated as one of the most poignant stylists of his generation, André Aciman has written a luminous series of linked essays about time, place, identity, and art that show him at his very finest. From beautiful and moving pieces about the memory evoked by the scent of lavender; to meditations on cities like Barcelona, Rome, Paris, and New York; to his sheer ability to unearth life secrets from an ordinary street corner, Alibis reminds the reader that Aciman is a master of the personal essay.
The elsewhere in the subtitle of Aciman's collection encompasses not only physical space but also time and memory. His essays have a nostalgic air but are not indulgent or melancholic. And they are truly essays: not short stories, not memoir, not travel pieces.

In Alibis, Aciman savors his journeys, sometimes pondering the impossibility of recapturing the past, and sometimes celebrating the special moments that do just that. But no matter where he is, Aciman is aware of the connections between time and place, whether he remembers walking his sons home from the school bus or imagines Monet at work in his studio.

I especially liked the comparison Aciman made between himself and his wife. She, who lived all her life in America, travels Europe looking for new experiences and relishing the idea of getting lost in the surroundings. He, who lives in exile from his native Alexandria, is looking for the old and familiar, hoping to be found.

Here's a paragraph I marked from p. 141:
And this is what I've always suspected about Tuscany. It is about many beautiful things—about small towns, magnificent vistas, and fabulous cuisine, art, culture, history—but it is ultimately about the love of books. It is a reader's paradise. People come here because of books. Tuscany may well be for people who love life in the present—simple, elaborate, whimsical, complicated life in the present—but it is also for people who love the present when it bears the shadow of the past, who love the world provided it's at a slight angle. Bookish people.
Treat yourself to André Aciman's Alibis. But don't rush through it. Read it essay by essay and then shelve it where you can return to it to share a passage, to dream of Paris, or to think about your own elsewheres.

Picador USA is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, visit the Picador's website. While there, take a look at the Picador book club and reading guides and sign up for their newsletters. For up-to-date news, don't miss their Tumblr site or Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.

Buy Alibis at an indie or at a bookstore near you. (Link leads to an affiliate program.)
Published by Macmillan / Picador 2012
ISBN-13: 9781250013989

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


rhapsodyinbooks 12/7/12, 6:16 AM  

Such an interesting comment on Tuscany! Well, we went there two years ago, and although I love books, I would say it is ultimately about the love of gorgeous scenery, and unbelievably good PASTA!! :--)

Sandy Nawrot 12/7/12, 6:31 AM  

STOP IT JILL! Or I'm going to have pasta for breakfast. First I love the cover. I'm getting some kind of deja vu that you have posted a picture like this on WW!! It sounds gorgeous. I'm just wondering if my uncultured brain would get it...

Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams 12/7/12, 9:48 AM  

I loved Alibis. So insightful and beautifully written. Great post!

bermudaonion 12/7/12, 10:45 AM  

Either they're publishing more collections of linked essays or I'm becoming more aware of them. I think they're great because they're easy to read when you're really busy. This collection sounds wonderful!

Jenners 12/7/12, 4:32 PM  

A good collection of essays can be hard to find.

Julie P. 12/7/12, 6:44 PM  

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get it!

veens 12/7/12, 9:49 PM  

I have not read a collection of essays till now, but this does sound good.

I will be on the look out for this here.

Laurie C 12/8/12, 9:19 AM  

I had never heard of Andre Aciman until last year around this time when a blogger posted a list of holiday reads and included his book Eight White Nights. It was a great audiobook but a very New York-neurotic, obsessive kind of story that I like but can get on people's nerves.

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