Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison

Arnold L. Weinstein, Author . Random $26.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6094-8

Weinstein, a professor of comparative literature at Brown, sets out to open up some of the great works of 20th-century fiction to the general reader. His decades in academia show: this is a teacherly account of the authors covered, and although the prose is mostly accessible and shies away from academic jargon, a reader must come to the book with some knowledge of concepts not usually discussed in general conversation: epistemology, jouissance and the Southern Code, to name a few. At first blush, the thesis of the book seems both restricting and reductive: that these novels help us discover "our story, our consciousness of things," as if the only reason to read were a narcissistic project of self-betterment. In fact, though, Weinstein's vision is far more generous. His claim, with other lovers of literature, is that fiction teaches nothing less than "how the heart lives, and how it dies. That is why we have art." At the heart of the project lies a very personal essay on the works of Virginia Woolf that both illuminates the methods and meanings of her novels while at the same time illustrating how they can speak to an individual reader's soul. (On sale Mar. 14)

PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR
THE BEST NEW BOOKS
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR THE BEST NEW BOOKS