My horizon has been widened in the last few months thanks to Jane Gleeson-White’s Australian Classics: 50 Great Writers and Their Celebrated Works (2011), which introduced me to the wealth of interesting Australian writers beyond the ones I’d been aware of (Stead, Patrick White, Miles Franklin). Easy the most intriguing book discussed by Gleeson-White is Eve Langley’s 1942 novel, The Pea Pickers , which she describes as “a raucous romp through the Victorian countryside in praise of Australia, and a voyage through the passions of a young woman with the soul of a poet determined to live by her own elusive law.” Novelist Georgia Blain proclaims it “a wonderful book, absurd, hilariously funny, messy, anarchic; the kind of book that so rarely gets published.”
The Pulitzer Prize for History has been awarded since 1917 for a distinguished book upon the history of the United States. Many history books have also been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. Two people have won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice; Margaret Leech, for Reveille in Washington, 1860-1865 in 1941 and In the Days of McKinley in 1960, and Bernard Bailyn, for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1968) and Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (1987).
Balzac’s coffeepot is displayed at 57 rue Raynouard in Paris, where he lived for much of his miserable last decade, writing La Cousine Bette and Le Cousin Pons , losing his health, and escaping bill collectors through a secret door. My friend Adam (who likes his espresso strong but with sugar) visited the house a few years ago. “The coffeepot is red and white china,” he wrote me, “and bears Balzac’s monogram. It’s an elegant, neat little thing, almost nautical in appearance. I can imagine it reigning serenely over the otherwise-general squalor of his later life, a small pharos of caffeine amid the gloom.”