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Staff Picks: ‘The Univited Guests,’ ‘Capital’

January 27, 2012 | by

I am always interested in reading about Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, and all the more so when a profile begins thusly: “Yayoi Kusama is 82 years old. But when she is wheeled in, on her blue polka-dotted wheelchair, she looks more like a baby, the sort you might see played by an adult in a British pantomime.” —Sadie Stein

“My middle-aged memories of the house by the sea, like the photographs my family took there, are caught up in the frothy state of betwixt-and-between that gave the place its grain: sharp grass and velvet mud, rush of water and crunch of shell, placid exteriors and rough-planked rooms.” So begins one story in Matthew Battles’s first collection, The Sovereignties of Invention. As one might expect from the author of Library: An Unquiet History, Battles owes a debt to Borges—but it’s the right kind of debt. His fables unfold against a hi-res real world, with close attention to everyday detail, in a prose that is precise, concise, musical, and alive. —Lorin Stein

At St. Ann’s Warehouse, Daniel Kitson makes a wonderful show of stuttering, stumbling, and giggling his way through It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later, his endearing and thoughtful one-man play about two long lives and the short moment at which they intersect. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

If these gray days inspire a need for a good, old-fashioned Gothic country-house read, I recommend Sadie Jones’s The Uninvited GuestsI will spend the weekend happily curled up with it. —S.S.

Sunday I stayed in bed all morning with the galleys of John Lanchester’s Capital. Didn’t even get up to make coffee. —L.S.

Soon I’ll be settling down to reread John Crowley’s Little, Big— a family saga, a fantasy, a journey from the small to the large and back again. I think, while under its spell, I could be snowed in all season: “‘In winter,’ Grandfather Trout said, ‘summer is a myth. A report, a rumor. Not to be believed in.’”  —Josh Anderson

I have no idea what to say about this, but I read it and was thoroughly amazed. —Natalie Jacoby

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