Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Live Nude Girl in the Devil's Territory, coming to a city near you!


If you're in Bellingham, or have the means and the will to get here the evening of Saturday, February 7, please join me in celebrating the recent release of Kathleen Rooney's memoir Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object and Kyle Minor's short story collection In the Devil's Territory, both excellent reads. Kyle and Kathleen have graciously asked me to appear on the ticket for their Bellingham reading at Village Books. Prior to being asked to read with them, I knew nothing about Kyle's work and tout de suite took advantage of the holiday sale over at Dzanc Books to grab myself a copy of his collection (as well as the latest Yannick Murphy book, In a Bear's Eye). Dzanc Books is a new press and if Kyle's book is any indication of the quality of the rest of their output, I think we're in for a long and excellent ride with them. As I do with any book of great merit, I have been taking my time getting through In the Devil's Territory (though I plan to have it finished before they roll into town). The (long) short story "A Day Meant to Do Less" is a complicated masterpiece that beautifully navigates multiple time shifts and perspective, including what has proven for me the best written illustration of dementia I have ever read in which the character exists on several planes of time and experience at once. I really can't emphasize enough how worth your time this book is.

Kathleen Rooney, thus far better known to me as a poet (mostly for her moving and at times appropriately jarring and disconcerting look at the art and oddness of wedding in 2007's winner of Switchback Books's Gatewood Prize, Oneiromance), has outdone herself with Live Nude Girl. Kathleen's memoir primarily addresses her experience as a nude art model and the strange perspectives that go along with that. At times she's balancing on several different levels, deftly melding art history, theory, and popular culture with sometimes wonderfully almost clinical narrative of the mechanics of modeling, as well as excerpts from childhood memory when supposing what may have allowed her this direction. As someone comfortable with my body, yet not willing to disrobe for strangers and having never examined this for myself, I read this book with almost voyeuristic pleasure. Check out this and other books by K. Rooney here: Oh! And she's also one of the founding editors of one of the best small presses in recent years to rocket onto the scene, Rose Metal Press (

Anyway, my lunch menu is tuna salad and Lost, and it's really calling me. Check Kathleen Rooney, Kyle Minor and I out Saturday, February 7 at Village Books, 7PM. To round out a triple-genre threat, I'll likely read a few poems to start things off. For other dates and locations, check the poster above or see the tour blog here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Notes on the Lawn, a Space Oddity


The lovely and talented Carol Guess was featured on the music and arts blog largeheartedboy yesterday, with a playlist designed to accompany her new book. Here's the link:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 reading list

Listed last read to first, as in The Humument was the last book I finished... yesterday. A lot of these books were amazing, this was probably the best book-reading year I've had in my 32 years. Some were downright awful. When keeping records for myself I have a 5-star system, but have removed that here. My stars are not on the empirical goodness of a book, but a combination of my enjoyment of it and its goodness for what it is, if that makes any sense. As in, I would probably never value a graphic novel over a regular novel unless the regular novel was awful, because I like the form more of a regular novel, but the graphic novels on this list (there are three or four, I believe) often got higher marks. If you're curious about any of these, let me know. Probably the best of all of these was Tom Phillips's The Humument. I should note that what I read was the 1995 edition of the book, as I believe there are 5 editions and some are entirely different than others, and the ones that aren't entirely different are mostly different. Google it, you'll see what I mean. I think you can read the most recent one (released 2005...?) online. This book has done more for my writing in the past month than I think anything has. And I've started one of my own - The Oil Rat, a treatment of Rousseau's The Social Contract.

I should also list my favorites of these... not in order of greatest love:
2. The Book of Evidence – John Banville
20. The Book of Chameleons – Jose Eduardo Agualusa
43. Zubaida’s Window (A Novel of Iraqi Exile) – Iqbal Al-Qazwini
47. Half a Life – V.S. Naipaul
59. The Wasteland, Four Quartets, and Other Poems – T.S. Eliot
66. Days With Diam - Svend Age Madsen
72. In the Skin of a Lion – Michael Ondaatje
85. Memory for Forgetfulness – Mahmoud Darwish
104. Correction of Drift: A Novel in Stories – Pamela Ryder
114. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
119. In the Heart of the Country – J.M. Coetzee
124. Beauty and Sadness – Yasunari Kawabata
129. Some Prefer Nettles – Junichiro Tanizaki

Also, I did not list in the above favorites those books written by people I know. Not even my girlfriend's. Because those are always the most enjoyable read. I would always choose to read something by someone I know before anything else. There's something so intrusive and satisfying, yes, sorry, that delights more than anything. They are also phenomenal writers all.

1. The Humument – Tom Phillips
2. The Book of Evidence – John Banville
3. The Tether – Carl Phillips
4. The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus – Joshua Kendall
5. Oneiromance (an epithalamion) – Kathleen Rooney
6. The Curtain – Milan Kundera
7. Saturday – Ian McEwan
8. Picasso: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – Norman Mailer
9. Ideas of Heaven: a ring of stories – Joan Silber
10. God Hates Fags – Michael Cobb
11. Factory – Antler
12. The Beauty of the Husband – Anne Carson
13. Our Lady of the Artichokes – Katherine Vaz
14. Pastoral – Carl Phillips
15. Parenthetical Ontology – Deborah Poe
16. On Photography – Susan Sontag
17. Elimination Dance – Michael Ondaatje
18. Cortege – Carl Phillips
19. The Mystery Guest – Gregoire Bouillier
20. The Book of Chameleons – Jose Eduardo Agualusa
21. The O. Henry Stories 2007 – Ed. Joanne Furman (liked two stories, Joan Silber and Yannick Murphy)
22. Red Bird – Mary Oliver
23. What I Think About When I Think About Running – Haruki Murakami
24. Theory of Light and Matter – Andrew Porter
25. After the Quake: Stories – Haruki Murakami
26. The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese – Arthur Sze
27. Hubert’s Freaks: The Rare Book Dealer, The Times Square Talker, and the Lost Photos of Diane Arbus – Gregory Gibson
28. The Name of the World – Denis Johnson
29. Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West – Benazir Bhutto
30. Anxious Pleasures: a novel after Kafka – Lance Olsen
31. Botchan – Natsume Soseki
32. Unfortunately, It was Paradise – Mahmoud Darwish
33. Inside and other short fiction: Japanese women by Japanese women – Diado, Shimamoto, Muroi, Uchida, Fujino, Yamada, Hasegawa, Takagi
34. Chicken with Plums – Marjane Satrapi
35. Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman – Sharon Rudahl
36. 3x10 – Ernest Hemingway
37. Three Chinese Poets (Translations of Wang Wei, Li Bai (Li Po), and Du Fu) – Vikram Seth
38. Louis Riel – Chester Brown
39. Son for Night – Chris Abani
40. Suspended in Language: Niels Bohr’s life, discoveries, and the century he shaped – Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis
41. Body Language – Kelly Magee
42. Windows – Robert Creeley
43. Zubaida’s Window (A Novel of Iraqi Exile) – Iqbal Al-Qazwini
44. The Ghost Soldiers – James Tate (liked it as fiction, not poetry, long prose poems, three pages)
45. Brief Encounters with Che Guevera – Ben Fountain (last story, 11 fingers )
46. Our Former Lives in Art – Jennifer S. Davis
47. Half a Life – V.S. Naipaul
48. After Dark – Haruki Murakami
49. Cultivating Bonsai – V. Ditri
50. Summer in Baden-Baden – Leonard Tsypkin
51. Love is a Map I Must Not Set on Fire – Carol Guess
52. The Milk of Inquiry – Wayne Koestenbaum
53. WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program – Pete Earley and Gerald Shur
54. The Wavering Knife – Brian Evenson
55. NIghtwood – Djuna Barnes
56. Narrow Road to the Interior – Matsuo Basho
57. Safe Sex – Harvey Fierstein
58. Addicted to War – Joel Andreas
59. The Wasteland, Four Quartets, and Other Poems – T.S. Eliot
60. Texas School Book Depository – Cathryn Hankla
61. The Politics of Truth – Ambassador Joseph Wilson
62. Master Harold and the Boys – Athol Fugard
63. Blood and Guts in High School – Kathy Acker
64. Lawnboy – Paul Lisicky
65. American Linden – Matthew Zapruder
66. Days With Diam - Svend Age Madsen
67. Fake Math – Ryan Fitzpatrick
68. Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch – Hollis Gillespie
69. I Never Liked You – Chester Brown
70. A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women – Clark, Ellen, Fish, Smith
71. Travels in the Scriptorium – Paul Auster
72. In the Skin of a Lion – Michael Ondaatje
73. Father of Lies – Brian Evenson
74. King Baby – Lia Purpura
75. The Stone Gods – Jeannette Winterson
76. Lunch Poems – Frank O’Hara
77. Family Bible – Melissa J. Delbridge
78. The Sleep of Four Cities – Jen Currin
79. Motherless Brooklyn – Jonathan Lethem
80. Hiding Out – Jonathan Messinger
81. Road-side Dog - Czeslaw Milosz
82. Girl Factory – Jim Krusoe
83. Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence
84. You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train – Howard Zinn
85. The Little Earth Book – James Bruges
86. Memory for Forgetfulness – Mahmoud Darwish
87. On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan
88. Hello, I'm Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity – Hal Niedzviecki
89. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife – Mary Roach
90. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
91. Talk Shows – Monica de la Torre
92. Tinderbox Lawn – Carol Guess
93. I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual – Pierre Seel
94. Out of Light – Joseph Massey
95. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
96. Final Girl – Daphne Gottlieb
97. The Romance of Happy Workers – Anne Boyer
98. Real to Reel – Lidia Yuknavitch
99. Brevity & Echo – Eds. Abigail Becker & Kathleen Rooney
100. Hagiography – Jen Currin
101. City Life – Donald Barthelme
102. Road of Five Churches – Stephanie Dickinson
103. American Husband – Kary Wayson
104. Correction of Drift: A Novel in Stories – Pamela Ryder
105. Modern Times – Matthea Harvey
106. Now the Day is Over – Joan Fiset
107. Lucy – Jamaica Kincaid
108. The Vicinity – David O’Meara
109. Nine Humorous Stories – Anton Chekov
110. Summer Rain – Marguerite Duras
111. Planet News – Allen Ginsberg
112. The Smell of Apples – Mark Behr
113. The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq – John Crawford
114. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
115. Beloved Infidel – Dean Young
116. War Trash – Ha Jin
117. Attempts at a Life – Danielle Dutton
118. Underwater City – Kelle Groom
119. In the Heart of the Country – J.M. Coetzee
120. Gazelle – Rikki Ducornet
121. Be the Pack Leader - Cesar Millan
122. My Untimely Death – Adam Peterson
123. What Narcissism Means to Me – Tony Hoagland
124. Beauty and Sadness – Yasunari Kawabata
125. The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation – Barbara Rossing
126. Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography – Andrew Morton
127. The Triumph of Achilles – Louise Gluck
128. Two Lives Gertrude and Alice – Janet Malcolm
129. Some Prefer Nettles – Junichiro Tanizaki
130. The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don’t Think for Themselves – Curtis White
131. Figures for a Darkroom Voice – Noah Eli Gordon & Joshua Marie Wilkinson