Saturday, April 3, 2010

From Sara Greenslit's The Blue of Her Body:

The blue slur of oncoming sleepiness. She wants to shut down and forget all the complications, the rugburn of communication, the loss of words and fighting, the drag and stop of language as she fails Kate again and again. She hates these moments of burn and anger, and bites her nails until they bleed, copper in her mouth. (47)

The habit of meals and sleep, the patterns of pattern. Hours and streets and seasons. Leaves, new growth, then falling. Failure. Capability and time line. Endpoint and/or circular. (62)

Humans only use 60% of the oxygen in their lungs; birds 99%. (98)


Think of all the mouths you have known: kissed, fed, envied, missed, desired, touched, grazed, imagined, fingered, fled. Your own: given, shut, blurted, silenced, sung. Enter. The room brims with words, vowels hitting our faces. Exit. Say X Y Z. If we linger here, where the alphabet runs out, never fear, our mouths loop back to A. My home is your mouth. Your home is my mouth. Remember? (125)


You see, the heart splits both down and across. (125)

Quarterly reading check in--Title, Author (Notes to Remind)

What I've read so far this year...

I like my new feature of what amounts to a <10-word personal "review." I'm a list-maker, a haphazard organizer of things, mostly words. I have this idea that everything I've ever read will be useful to me forever. I keep a notebook of quotes I like from books I read. I should say notebookS; you should see the stack of them. I started doing this when I was about 10. I should have known then that words would be what my life was made of, but I kept thinking psychology, neuroscience, then photography, before I got irritated at artists s**t-talking each other at some party and decided to focus on what had always diverted my attention anyway: writing. I'd always written stories. When I was a kid (often sent out of the house for the day) I would take a notebook and re-write stories I liked. I never had any interest in remembering them the way they were told exactly. I retold them, sometimes adding characters, plot twists. Then I started re-writing events in my life, making them turn out differently, better. Then I saw that better didn't make the story better.

Anyway, I have this idea that in twenty years, thirty years I will see some book cover or someone will mention Wallace Stegner or Maggie Nelson at a party and I will think, yes, I've read that/those book/books and will return home to look through my lists and have a good time remembering the read based on my ten-word description of it. So if you see me at that party and I have a faraway look on my face I'll either be conjuring this list, or forming a new list for something onto which I'm placing our conversation.


1. Trust – Liz Waldner (Not quite as engaging as Dark Would. “Passing”=amazing.)
2. Counterfeit – Christine LeClerc (Smart. Pop culture references. Nods to theatre.)
3. A Thief of Strings – Donald Revell (a bit of nature, a bit of the war)
4. Plato’s Bad Horse – Deborah Woodard (Long lines, excellent sounds, erudite references.)
5. The Most of It – Mary Ruefle (Short short prose from an excellent contemporary poet.)
6. A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat – Arthur Rimbaud (Woah. I want the Revell translation now.)
7. The Totality for Kids – Joshua Clover (Echoes of end of the world; pop culture.)
8. The Lack Of – Joseph Massey (As always, genius. I want more.)
9. Jane: a murder – Maggie Nelson (Poetic examination of aunt’s unsolved murder. Stunning.)
10. Wrong – Reginald Shepherd (Best moments=when sounds overtake him.)
11. The Red Parts – Maggie Nelson (Memoir, written shortly after Jane, while the murderer was being tried.)
12. Bluets – Maggie Nelson (She’s in love with blue; I’m in love with her. Paragraphs numbered remind me of Coetzee’s second, In the Heart of the Country.)
13. Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner (Novel of the “frontier west.” Grandma Susan’s lesbianish friendship explored; both women married men.)
14. Fifty Poems – Liana Quill (Spareness I don’t get. Birds and trees.)
15. Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives – Tom Shroder (Journalist’s examination of guy who examines scientific evidence for past lives—Ian Stevenson.)
16. Are We Lucky Yet?: Stories – Jane Bradley (Made me remember high school. And feel like a straight girl.)
17. The Black Swan – Thomas Mann (Mann’s feminine look at his imminent mortality.)
18. The Mere Future – Sarah Schulman (Satiric social commentary; only killers gain acclaim, riches.)
19. I is to Vorticism – Ben Mirov (“interstellar ventriloquism”=meaningful absurdity)
20. Otherhood – Reginald Shepherd (cover reminds of a Pgh photograph I once took)
21. Other Prohibited Items – Martha Greenwald (Best=Amtrak holdback; office poems also had excellent lines.)
22. Minimum Heroic – Christopher Salerno (best of the three)
23. The Muse is Always Half-Dressed in New Orleans – Andrei Codrescu (“Not born but snapped”; best moment=showing book jacket as I.D. to cop)
24. Housekeeping – Marilynn Robinson (beautiful language I would have appreciated more if not for the voice of the woman on the audiobook.)
25. Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story – Paul Monette (coming out story; language)
26. Six Seconds in Dallas: A Microstudy of the Kennedy Assassination – Josiah Thompson (most interesting to see the questions we do have answers to that the writer is asking in 1967; good math)
27. The Book of Frank – CA Conrad (feels like my childhood; maybe I am Frank)
28. Letters to Wendy’s – Joe Wenderoth (comment cards blossom epically)
29. Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories – ed. Robert Shapard & James Thomas (a few nice pieces)
30. Personationskin – Karl Parker (terror and comedy of ambiguation; lots of caps)
31. Spar – Karen Volkman (prose poetry narrative interspersed with regular line-break poems; like)
32. Fast Lanes – Jayne Anne Phillips (title story one of the best ever love stories/relationship stories)
33. Half Girl – Stephanie Dickinson (swine princess; excellent metaphors)
34. The Preservationist – David Maine (retelling Noah’s Ark)
35. Savage Love – Dan Savage (compendium as of ’98)
36. Ka-Ching – Denise Duhamel (first section so good, money; parents’ mishap with escalator stunning – unable to look away)
37. Silkscreen Techniques – J. I. Biegeleisen and M. A. Cohn (a future project)
38. Family Dancing – David Leavitt (early 80s, standard storytelling, very consistent)
39. The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa (tender, fascinating conceptually, 80-minute memory, mathematics prof.)
40. OK, Goodnight – Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg
41. I Have to go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl – Karyna McGlynn (girl in the pool, yes)
42. World Famous Love Acts – Brian Leung (Loved, “Leases”=woah)
43. The Blue of Her Body – Sara Greenslit (Sex, drugs, and birds of prey)