Book Acquired Recently: Jennifer Pashley’s States

Pashley, Jennifer. States. Lewiston: Lewis-Clark, 2007.

Pashley gave a reading of her fiction at Utica College last week, and it was one of those experiences where literature provided exactly the message I needed to hear at the time. I am always amazed and grateful when this happens. The reading was powerful enough that I was happy to buy her first book of short stories.

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Books Acquired Recently

Davis, James L. Legendary Locals of Greater Utica. Charleston: Arcadia, 2013.

I am still relatively new to Utica, and thus continue to seek out books about it to help orient me to the area. I’ve read some of Davis’s work on the city before and appreciated it, thus decided to buy this book. It will be a helpful resource for learning about the city’s personalities rather than its geography, which I am becoming more and more familiar with.

This and the Toews novel were acquired from amazon.com.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2014.

I read a review of this book in the New Yorker and it sounded fascinating, so I ordered it from abebooks.com. It’s a book-length poem about continuing instances of racism in America. I’ve already read it, and it was fantastic. I had never encountered Rankine’s work before, but I would now recommend it to anyone.

Toews, Miriam. All My Puny Sorrows. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, 2014.

Toews is one of my favorite authors, and I am very excited to read her new novel. I’ve heard very good things about it, and normally wouldn’t have waited several months to acquire it, but the U.S. edition just came out and I was too lazy to try and track down a copy of the Canadian edition online.

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Book Acquired Recently: Rudy Wiebe’s Come Back

Wiebe, Rudy. Come Back. Toronto: Knopf, 2014.

Rudy Wiebe has been an important author in my life, and of course he is one of the most influential Mennonite writers ever, so when his new novel came out I was eager to purchase it. It hasn’t been published in the U.S. yet, but I was able to find a copy of the Canadian edition on amazon.com. Wiebe is at an age where one must wonder whether each new book will be his last, but it is gratifying to see him still working.

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Books Acquired Recently

The Laurel Poetry Series.

The Laurel Poetry Series.

Blake, William. Blake. Ed. Ruthven Todd. New York: Dell, 1960.

Browning, Robert. Browning. Ed. Reed Whittemore. New York: Dell, 1960.

Herbert, George. Herbert. Ed. Dudley Fitts. New York: Dell, 1962.

Herrick, Robert. Herrick. Ed. William Jay Smith. New York: Dell, 1962.

Jonson, Ben. Ben Jonson. Ed. John Hollander. New York: Dell, 1961.

Keats, John. Keats. Ed. Howard Moss. New York: Dell, 1959.

Marvell, Andrew. Marvell. Ed. Joseph H. Summers. New York: Dell, 1961.

Whitman, Walt. Whitman. Ed. Leslie A. Fiedler. New York: Dell, 1959.

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and they were having a used book sale to benefit a local charity. A set of books that was rubber-banded together immediately caught my eye because the cover of the top volume was clearly an illustration of Walt Whitman, one of my favorite writers. The books turned out to be selections from the Laurel Poetry Series. The set only cost $1.00, so I bought it because the books are so aesthetically pleasing. It was definitely an instance of appreciating books-as-furniture. While I enjoy the work of Whitman, Blake, and Herrick, I’m not sure if I will actually read any of the books, but they deserve a good home, which I will give them. They are all in very good condition despite being from the 1960s. Several volumes have a stamp on the first page that reads “Dave Harralson English Department,” and a Google search quickly turned up a Dave Harralson who worked at Utica College (which is where I currently teach), so their provenance is established.

Waters, Sarah. The Paying Guests. New York: Riverhead, 2014.

The New Yorker had a brief review of Waters’s latest novel last week, and I bought it (on amazon.com) immediately, as she is one of my favorite writers. It is nearly 600 pages long, but I hope to find time to read it soon.

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Thoughts on the Mets 2014 Season

The New York Mets finished their season today with an 8-3 win over the Houston Astros. It was a good team win, with solid pitching and timely hitting, something that the Mets had a difficult time with throughout the year.

The team finished 79-83, and while finishing under .500 again was a disappointment, there are numerous positives that may be taken from this season as the team looks toward 2015. The Mets finished over .500 after the All-Star break, and had a positive run differential. They finished in second place in the National League East, tying with Atlanta and winning the head-to-head series. While this finish is in a sense meaningless because it was not enough to earn a playoff berth, it is significant that the Mets were able to keep pace with most of their division as they think about their path to the playoffs next year.

There were also a number of individual bright spots for the Mets this year. Jacob deGrom had a fantastic rookie season and should become the first Met since Dwight Gooden to win Rookie of the Year. Lucas Duda had an excellent breakout season once the club gave him the first base job on a full-time basis, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 92. Zack Wheeler built on his solid rookie campaign to become a dependable number two starter with ace potential. Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia had excellent seasons in the bullpen, and the bullpen as a whole was quite good after the first month or so of the season. Travis d’Arnaud had an excellent second half, and proved that he can be an everyday catcher in the majors. Likewise, Juan Lagares, who should win a Gold Glove, showed that he can also hit enough to be a valuable part of the offense.

Obviously there were also some negatives that will need to be remedied next year. David Wright had one of the worst seasons of his career. He is at a stage where he needs to make the mental adjustment away from being a power hitter to strictly being a high on-base percentage guy. If he can do this, he will be fine. Curtis Granderson was similarly a bust for much of the season, though he finished strong, which offers hope for 2015.

The biggest negative of the year was Terry Collins’s managing. Collins has done a good job shepherding all of the Mets’ young players into the big leagues, but he is a terrible on-field manager. He constantly makes questionable decisions with the lineup and with pitching changes, and if the Mets want to contend next season they will not have the margin of error to cover for the games he costs them with these decisions. The team has said Collins will be the manager next year, but I hope that they have him on a short leash.

However, overall I am left with a positive outlook on the Mets as I turn toward the offseason. I am excited to see what moves the front office makes to improve the team before spring training, and look forward to watching all of the Mets’ young studs continue to blossom.

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Book Acquired Recently: Women in Clothes

Heti, Sheila, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Sharpton, eds. Women in Clothes. New York: Blue Rider, 2014.

I read a review of this book in BookForum and thought it sounded amazing, so I bought it from one of amazon.com’s independent sellers. It is the results of a survey the editors did of women about clothing. The goal was to document some of the everyday discourse around women’s clothing as opposed to that in the fashion world and media. The book includes text, drawings, and photographs. Aesthetically it is a very pleasing object, and the subject sounds super fascinating and important. I can’t wait to read it!

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Book Acquired Recently: Motion: American Sports Poems

Blaustein, Noah, ed. Motion: American Sports Poems. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2001.

One of my colleagues is teaching a course on sports and literature this semester, and was telling me about this anthology, which is one of the course texts. It sounded interesting enough that I decided to buy a copy from the campus bookstore. The book covers a wide range of sports, not just the big five, which is refreshing. It includes a nice range of poets from the canonical (e.g., Sherman Alexie, Elizabeth Bishop, and Donald Hall) to the obscure.

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