cover image Other People's Trades

Other People's Trades

Primo Levi. Summit Books, $18.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-61149-1

It is almost two years since Italian writer Primo Levi ( The Periodic Table ; Survival in Auschwitz ) committed suicide by throwing himself down the stairwell of the house in Turin where he had lived his entire life. Here, to the delight of his devotees, are 43 brief, elegant essays on subjects that aroused and amused him: birds, insects, frogs, parasites, pain, sidewalks, Rabelais, imaginary animals, the fear of snakes, qualities common to chess and poetry, children's games, using a word processor for the first time, going back to school at 60, uncertainty about the future, psychological exams, the language of chemists, obscure writing (German poets Trakl and Celan, both of whom committed suicide). These witty, charming pieces confirm Levi's position as one of the most gifted writers of our time. Reader's Subscription Book Club alternate. (May)