Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Debut

The Debut (originally published as A Start in Life) is the U.S. title of the 1981 novel by Anita Brookner. This was her first novel, though she had written some non-fiction before. I've read several books by her (including Hotel Du Lac (1984), The Misalliance (1986), A Friend From England (1987), Brief Lives (1990), and Fraud (1992)) and have others on my TBR shelf. I pick her work up whenever I find it, and I always enjoy them.

I am tempted by this book: Understanding Anita Brookner (from the Understanding Contemporary British Literature series) by Cheryl Alexander Malcolm. It's $30, though, so I'm sure I won't be yielding to that temptation. Reading more about Brookner would be fun, I think, but I guess I'll just focus on books she herself has written.

from the back of the book:
Since childhood Ruth Weiss has been escaping from life into books, and from the hothouse attentions of her tyrannical and eccentric parents into the gentler warmth of lovers and friends. Now Dr. Weiss, at forty, a quiet scholar devoted to Balzac, is convinced that her life has been ruined by literature, and that once again she must make a new start in life.
first sentence:
Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.
another selected quote:
Ruth woke, as was her wont, at six and wondered how she was going to fill the day. With anticipation, of course. That is how most women in love spend their day. Frequently the event anticipated turns out to be quite dull compared with the mood that preceded it. The onus for redeeming the situation rests on the other person, who is, of course, in no position to know of the preceding mood. Thus both fail and both are disappointed.
Kirkus Reviews says, "Brookner writes with a fine, lean edge, and the pathos of the stunted middle-aged personalities here comes across with a dark, deadpan irony reminiscent of Bernice Rubens."


  1. Can´t you find the Brookner-book at the public library? At ours, if they don´t have it, they will fetch it from another library that has, or even buy it if they think it´s interesting for more people than myself.

    1. I used to live at my public library -it was home away from home- but years ago I went in to renew my card and they asked me to fill out a new application. The application required my social security number. They couldn't give me any reason they would want it except that there was a space for it on the form. I wouldn't give it to them, so they wouldn't update my card. It's weird. On the one hand they warn you to be careful with your social security number because of the danger of identity theft and not to give it out unless it's necessary, and then they require me to write it out on a paper library card application form. There's no telling how many people have access to that. :( As you can see, I'm still not happy about that situation. I do buy books from the library's used book store.

  2. From the quotes you shared, this sounds like a book I would love to read, and an author I would love to familiarize myself with.

    I remember when I used to have my SSN printed right on my checks because that way I didn't have to repeat it, since everyone, and I mean EVERYONE asked for it when you wrote a check. Now I wouldn't give it out if my life depended on it, except to the IRS. I have to agree with you on that decision.

    1. Their argument that I have to provide it because there's a space for it on the form is unconvincing ;). They require plenty of other id so they can find me if I don't return a book. I'd rather not place my identity in their hands in exchange for a book loan.