Friday, January 28, 2011

What I do when I'm down:

I go to the library.

And take pictures of books.

Also read.

I drive a long way to somewhere else, have coffee. Read.

Walk in the rain. By the river. Take pictures.

Happy to be not in my town for a minute.

All in all, it was a good day. I read Alex Phillips's Crash Dome, most of Dawn Paul's The Country of Loneliness, and some of Sara Marcus's Girls to the Front: True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. One comment for each. A. Alex Phillips rides into (almost entirely appropriately) weird territory here, talking the problem of accurately assessing reality and coming to terms with various ends of the world; the language was not always as beautiful as I wanted it to be, but I loved 90% of the book. B. It is brave to name a book the anything of Loneliness (thanks to Radclyffe Hall); the structure of the book is well done, something to learn from, as is the fictionalizing of the life of a family member. C. On Marcus: Read this book. I'm taking my time with it, so you'll have to get your own copy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

from Nicholas Mosley's Accident

All caring was risky: you exposed yourself. It was better to be like this than the other. I was justifying myself. With the sun out. In the summer. (26)

We remember in envy, not regret; what we are now needing the past for its colour, tolerance. We know all this. The dangerous men are those with no memory; the ancient babies. Wisdom is a bit of cloth with the warp and woof breaking. The dust settling in the air; the people below choking. (67)

Charlie said "Shall we play tennis? There are millions of things happening in the world! People are starving. Murdering. Seeing visions." (74)

It might be better if we ruined ourselves. (80)

When you are too much on your own you have a feeling of profusion, of intensity. I had become obsessed with this split between our public face and our private helplessness. The men on television. The brain in the Oxford frigidaire. (88)

...the people in the courtyard began to regroup in a protective way against the stranger: a chromosome formed of things that were not alive ut which acted as if they were: the group, aristocrats. A survival of the fittest. The men had small heads and hands; the girls were smooth-bottomed cylinders with little taps and dials at the top. (88)

The words came out. There was painted furniture, sweetness, shadow. Her long and lovely back. This had happened. We make a god of it. Defeat. I am almost gutted. Let me become that thing, empty, floating past the walls of crumbling buildings. No more a person. Quick. Let me remember it. (105)

I held her. Her eyes on the edge of the precipice. Horses. The wind in fir trees. We were going deep. I thought--I am no good at this. This is what matters. (120)

"This is what I think about, what I think is important. Either you turn into some sort of gutted thing, automaton, or you have to become involved with pain and birth again, the roots, and all that nonsense. I keep on saying this. But I do feel this sort of crack-up, everything exploding, we're one person one moment and another person the next; no continuity because no illusion. I'm a different person with you than I am with Charlie or in college. I don't know if this is good or bad--" (145)

I was about to step into the car. I was about to smash something. I would pull up the stones with my fingers. I said "Thank you Mrs.--" I couldn't remember her name. I sat behind the driving wheel. I could not drive. I could not get the car into gear. I would drive it into the wall. Fast. Now this was the moment. Quietly. (171)

Also... from the Afterword (by Steven Weisenberger):
Mosley too is suspicious of received knowledge in all its effects on everyday experience. Still more significantly he is suspicious of how our everyday experiences are rationalized, plotted, from the moment they slide away from us. Stephen [the main character, the "I"] claims: "You live in the present, which does not exist; it exists in memory." And Accident argues that what is "real" is not a text--for it is essentially non-narrative, accidental. But Mosley adds the priviso that as "reality" becomes past it is accessible only as a "text"--when it is known through episodic memory, in story-telling.


I want Nicholas Mosley to be my literary daddy. Or something. To Shane McCrae I will forever be in debted for introducing me to this author. Nothing excites me more than to have a new favorite writer. Especially someone with soo many books.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: The Year in Reading

1. Trust – Liz Waldner
2. Counterfeit – Christine LeClerc
3. A Thief of Strings – Donald Revell
4. Plato’s Bad Horse – Deborah Woodard
5. The Most of It – Mary Ruefle
6. A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat – Arthur Rimbaud
7. The Totality for Kids – Joshua Clover
8. The Lack Of – Joseph Massey
9. Jane: a murder – Maggie Nelson
10. Wrong – Reginald Shepherd
11. The Red Parts – Maggie Nelson
12. Bluets – Maggie Nelson
13. Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner
14. Fifty Poems – Liana Quill
15. Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives – Tom Shroder
16. Are We Lucky Yet? – Jane Bradley
17. The Black Swan – Thomas Mann
18. The Mere Future – Sarah Schulman
19. I is to Vorticism – Ben Mirov
20. ----------FEBRUARY----------Otherhood – Reginald Shepherd
21. Other Prohibited Items – Martha Greenwald
22. Minimum Heroic – Christopher Salerno
23. The Muse is Always Half-Dressed in New Orleans – Andrei Codrescu
24. Housekeeping – Marilynn Robinson
25. Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story – Paul Monette
26. Six Seconds in Dallas: A Microstudy of the Kennedy Assassination – Josiah Thompson
27. The Book of Frank – CA Conrad
28. Letters to Wendy’s – Joe Wenderoth
29. Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories – ed. Robert Shapard & James Thomas
30. ----------MARCH----------Personationskin – Karl Parker
31. Spar – Karen Volkman
32. Fast Lanes – Jayne Anne Phillips
33. Half Girl – Stephanie Dickinson
34. The Preservationist – David Maine
35. Savage Love – Dan Savage
36. Ka-Ching – Denise Duhamel
37. Silk Screen Techniques – J. I. Biegeleisen and M. A. Cohn
38. Family Dancing – David Leavitt
39. The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa
40. OK, Goodnight – Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg
41. I Have to go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl – Karyna McGlynn
42. World Famous Love Acts – Brian Leung
43. ----------APRIL----------The Blue of Her Body – Sara Greenslit
44. Fire on the Mountain – Anita Desai
45. When to Go Into the Water – Lawrence Sutin
46. Tell Me, Tell Me: Granite, Steel, and Other Topics – Marianne Moore
47. Selected Stories – Lu Hsun
48. Requiem for the Orchard – Oliver de la Paz
49. 10:01 – Lance Olsen
50. Hornet Homily – Patrick Culliton
51. Dearest Creature – Amy Gerstler
52. How – Emily Pettit
53. Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
54. Amorisco – Khaled Mattawa
55. Catalogue of Comedic Novelties – Lev Rubinstein
56. Team Sad - Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg
57. ----------MAY----------My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer – Edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian
58. Dick of the Dead – Rachel Loden
59. The Last 4 Things – Kate Greenstreet
60. Await Your Reply – Dan Chaon
61. Texture Notes – Sawako Nakayasu
62. Veil – Rae Armantrout
63. Fernhurst, Q.E.D., and Other Early Writings – Gertrude Stein
64. Living Must Bury – Josie Sigler
65. Man in the Dark – Paul Auster
66. Star Dust – Frank Bidart
67. Something Has to Happen Next – Andrew Michael Roberts
68. ----------JUNE----------Want – Rick Barot
69. What Begins With Bird – Noy Holland
70. Elements – Deborah Poe
71. The Wild Things – Dave Eggers
72. Why We Do It: Rethinking Sex and the Selfish Gene – Niles Eldredge
73. A Belonging Field – Andrew Grace
74. Shadeland – Andrew Grace
75. The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information – Noel Botham & The Useless Information Society
76. Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
77. The Principles of Uncertainty – Maira Kalman
78. Dharma Girl – Chelsea Cain
79. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky
80. ----------JULY-----------Rhapsodies of A Repeat Offender - Wayne Koestenbaum
81. Shiner – Maggie Nelson
82. Wonder Bread & Ecstasy: The Life and Death of Joey Stefano – Charles Isherwood
83. Frances Johnson – Stacey Levine
84. The Morning News is Exciting! – Don Mee Choi
85. Anil’s Ghost – Michael Ondaatje
86. Advanced Elvis Course – CA Conrad
87. Outline of My Lover – Douglas Martin
88. Queer and Loathing: Rants and Raves of a Raging AIDS Clone – David B. Feinberg
89. ----------AUGUST----------The Truant Lover – Juliet Patterson
90. Children of Darkness and Light – Nicholas Mosley
91. Tracer – Richard Greenfield
92. The Colossus – Sylvia Plath
93. Quarantine – Brian Henry
94. Divisadero – Michael Ondaatje
95. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
96. Crush – Richard Siken
97. ----------SEPTEMBER----------Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
98. With Deer – Aase Berg
99. Haunted House – Marissa Crawford
100. Zephyr – Susan Browne
101. Complaint in the Garden – Randall Mann
102. The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art – Eileen Myles
103. Just Kids – Patti Smith
104. Zorba’s Daughter – Elisabeth Murawski
105. Scavenge – R.J. Gibson
106. Cosmos – Witold Gombrowicz
107. Pornographia – Witold Gombrowicz
108. ----------OCTOBER----------The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
109. Thirst for Love – Yukio Mishima
110. Taste of Cherry – Kara Candito
111. Clamor – Ann Lauterbach
112. In Canaan – Shane McCrae
113. Tinkers – Paul Harding
114. Cocktails – D.A. Powell
115. ----------NOVEMBER----------Tender Buttons – Gertrude Stein
116. Ways of Dying – Zakes Mda
117. Exquisite Pain – Sophie Calle
118. If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting – Anna Journey
119. The Tenth Parallel – Eliza Griswold
120. Plainwater – Anne Carson
121. Faulkner’s Rosary – Sarah Vap
122. Passing World Pictures – Valerie Coulton
123. Hotel Imperium – Rachel Loden
124. ----------DECEMBER----------Great Topics of the World – Albert Goldbarth
125. What Other Choice – Jeremy Halinen
126. Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings – Gore Vidal
127. Shore Ordered Ocean – Dora Malech
128. Say So – Dora Malech
129. Color Plates – Adam Golaski
130. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster – Mike Davis
131. Room – Emma Donoghue

I wonder if at some point I'll hone the magpie reading method into something more focused and determined. Generally I try to read through what I've got stacked around my office, also reading what comes recommended from friends, and whatever catches my eye in trips to the library. Maybe I'd have a better sense of the history of things if I became more purposeful. I think this at the end of every year when I look at the list. But really, part of the adventure is the wildness. If reading can be considered wild.

And, as always I choose the ten that were game-changers in some way for me. As in, when I think back over 2010, the year would not have been as meaningful without them. (And as always I won't include friends' books in the top ten, though those are always at the top of my list of favorites. I will get to know you more through what you write than anything you say.)

The top 10:
Bluets – Maggie Nelson
The Book of Frank – CA Conrad
Spar – Karen Volkman
Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
The Last 4 Things – Kate Greenstreet
Children of Darkness and Light – Nicholas Mosley
Just Kids – Patti Smith
Hotel Imperium – Rachel Loden
Say So – Dora Malech
Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster – Mike Davis

6 from othertimes; 4 from 2010
6 women; 4 men
6 poetry; 4 prose (2 fiction; 2 nonfiction)

Maybe it would be worth telling what each did for me. But that's for another post. Maybe. Happy New Year, y'all. Get reading.