Books Acquired Recently

Coverley, Merlin. The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker. Harpenden: Oldcastle, 2012.

Dorsey, Candas Jane. Black Wine. New York: Tor, 1997.

—. Machine Sex and Other Stories. London: Women’s, 1990.

I bought these three books (all from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers) as a result of reading Greg Bechtel’s collection of short stories Boundary Problems. Many of Bechtel’s stories are infused with psychogeographical themes, which is a topic that Coverley has written about at length. As a result of my interest in psychogeography I have thought about reading The Art of Wandering in the past, and decided that this summer would be a good time to do so.

Similarly, I have been wanting to read some of Dorsey’s fiction since I read an article by her on Samuel R. Delany’s work called “Being One’s Own Pornographer” about five years ago. One of Bechtel’s stories has a quotation from this essay as an epigraph, which I took as a kind of sign that it was time for me to explore Dorsey’s work.

Tytell, John. Writing Beat and Other Occasions of Literary Mayhem. Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 2014.

I was randomly sent an exam copy of this book by the publisher. I am excited to read it soon because I enjoy the Beats and because I am hoping to do lots of writing this summer and the book looks like it offers some helpful meditations on the subject.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copy Edition

Over the past few weeks I’ve received desk copies of several novels that I’ll be teaching in the fall. They are all books that I already own which have been reprinted with different pagination than previous editions, hence the need for new copies.

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. 1969. New York: Random, 2009.

Dick, Philip K. The Man in the High Castle. 1962. Boston: Mariner, 2011.

Winterson, Jeanette. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. 1985. New York: Grove, 1987.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Books Acquired Recently: Nostalgia Edition

My parents have recently been completing some house renovations, and in the process of moving furniture around to accommodate these changes my mother has been de-accessioning some books. She asked whether I wanted any of them and I took a few, some because I have fond memories of them from childhood and some because I am interested in their Mennonite subject matter.

MacDonald, Betty. Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. 1957. New York: Scholastic, 1987.

When I was little my mother would read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books to my sister and me after school, and I loved them for their humor. This copy has my mother’s name scrawled on the front cover in my crooked elementary school handwriting.

—. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. 1947. New York: Scholastic, 1987.

Like the previous book, this one is falling apart, with tape everywhere and some dog-eared pages–they are well-worn because we loved them so much. I also wrote my mother’s name in this volume. Apparently I’ve always been concerned about which books belonged where.

Reed, Kenneth. Mennonite Soldier. Scottdale: Herald, 1974.

This book is a retelling of the prodigal son story set during World War I, a war in which many American Mennonites were persecuted for their pacifist stance and German heritage. It is a fascinating early example of Church-sanctioned (Herald Press is the official publishing house of Mennonite Church USA) Mennonite literature.

Smucker, Barbara Claassen. Days of Terror. Scottdale: Herald, 1979.

We had several of Claassen’s fictional retellings of Mennonite persecution in Russia when I was a child. This book also has a price tag from Provident, this time on the back cover, $7.95.

Wenger, John C. Glimpses of Mennonite History and Doctrine. Scottdale: Herald, 1947.

Wenger was a well-know Mennonite theologian in the mid-twentieth century, and I have several of his other books on Mennonite thought. I love that the title humbly claims to only offer “glimpses” of Mennonitism rather than claiming to be definitive.

Wiebe, Rudy. Peace Shall Destroy Many. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962.

I already have several copies of Wiebe’s seminal novel, but wanted this copy because it belonged to my mother. Before I was old enough to read it I would often stare at its spine on the shelf and wonder what it was about because I found the title haunting. I love thinking about the history of copies of old books (i.e., thinking about the object itself), and thus it makes me very happy that the original price tag is still with the book on the first page (the design of the book’s famous cover leaves no room for a price tag there). The book was bought at a Provident Bookstore (Provident [Which is now, alas! defunct. Shopping at the Provident in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was how I learned to love browsing for books.] was Herald Press’s official bookstore chain) for $1.95.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Cecconi, Mike. This is My Inside Voice. Utica: VBLP, 2015.

Cecconi is a regular reader at the Tramontane Cafe’s poetry nights here in Utica, which I frequent occasionally. His chapbook came out a few months ago, and I finally got around to purchasing it (only $5.00!). I read it last night and it is fantastic.

Plimpton, George. The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. New York: Macmillan, 1987.

I enjoy Plimpton as a writer, and I have read the shorter version of this novel about the Mets’ mysterious pitching phenom several times. After seeing grantland.com’s recent short documentary on the story I decided to buy the novel, which I found from one of amazon.com’s independent sellers for $0.15!

Wright, David. The Small Books of Bach. Eugene: Wipf, 2014.

This book of poems (which is not by the David Wright that plays third base for the Mets) is inspired by Bach’s music. I rarely like collections of poems that are about a single subject, but I’ve read Wright’s previous work and enjoyed it, so I decided to buy this volume. It was especially enticing because Wipf & Stock offered it on their website for only $8.00.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Books Acquired Recently: Mennonite Literature Edition

As I mentioned in a recent entry, I attended Mennonite/s Writing VII at Fresno Pacific University two weeks ago. Aside from the books that I bought at the conference, I also came away with a number of recommendations of books, and these texts have been arriving in the mail all week. I was able to order nearly all of them from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers, but in two instances I ran into the issue of books published by Canadian companies not being readily available in the U.S. Thus I had to order Dueck’s book directly from Turnstone Press and Bergen’s book from a Canadian bookseller that I found on abebooks.com.

Bechtel, Greg. Boundary Problems. Calgary: Freehand, 2014.

Bechtel writes science fiction and is thus one of the very few Mennonite writers writing speculative fiction. This subfield is growing more and more, however, which is an exciting development.

Bergen, David. Leaving Tomorrow. Toronto: Harper, 2014.

Bergen is my favorite Mennonite novelist, and in recent years he’s been incredibly prolific, but sadly most of these books have not been published in the U.S.

Birdsell, Sandra. Night Travellers. 1982. Toronto: General, 1984.

I read this novel in stories straight through last night. What a powerful, early feminist Mennonite text!

Dueck, Dora. What You Get at Home. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 2012.

I read Dueck’s novel This Hidden Thing several years ago and thought it was only so-so, but I heard that this short story collection includes a story with a queer protagonist, and since LGBT Mennonite literature is a major interest of mine I decided to buy it.

Also, it is important to acknowledge the essential role Turnstone Press has played in support of Mennonite literature since they began publishing Mennonite writers in the 1980s. Aside from Dueck and Klassen, they have also published such heavyweights as Di Brandt, Patrick Friesen, and Miriam Toews.

Klassen, Sarah. The Wittenbergs. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 2013.

I met Klassen at the conference and she gave me a copy of one of her poetry collections for free (which I enjoyed), so I wanted to return the favor by making sure to buy one of her novels as well.

Redekop, Corey. Husk. Toronto: ECW, 2012.

This novel also apparently involves a queer protagonist.

—. Shelf Monkey. Toronto: ECW, 2007.

When I heard about Husk, I went to Redekop’s website to learn more about him and his work, and the description of Shelf Monkey (“Thomas Friesen has three goals in life. Get a job. Make friends. Find a good book to curl up with. After landing a job at READ, the newest hypermegabookstore, he feels he may have accomplished all three. … If you’ve ever thrown a book against a wall in disgust; if you’ve ever loved a novel that no one else can stand; if you obsess over the proper use of punctuation; this may be the novel for you”) was irresistible, so I bought it as well.

Snyder, Carrie. Girl Runner. New York: Harper, 2015.

I read this novel last weekend and it is excellent.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Hertz, Sue. Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling. Los Angeles: Sage, 2015.

I have been wanting to write more creative nonfiction, and while I’ve had a bit of success getting published in the genre in the past I still don’t feel like I have a good sense of how to write compelling pieces of it consistently. Therefore, when I was offered an exam copy of this book I was happy to take it with the hope that it will help improve my own writing as well as potentially my students’.

Howard, Tim, with Ali Benjamin. The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them. New York: Harper, 2014.

I received this book as a birthday present. Howard is the best American goalkeeper ever, and I am excited to read about his life in the sport that obsesses me.

Schulman, Sarah. Rat Bohemia. New York: Dutton, 1995.

A friend recently recommended this novel to me, and I am especially excited to read it now that I see that it has a blurb from Tony Kushner, whose work I love. I bought it from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Sports

Books Acquired Recently: Mennonite/s Writing Edition

This past weekend the Mennonite/s Writing VII conference was held at Fresno Pacific University. It was an excellent time, and as usual the conference had a wide variety of books by authors in attendance available. Despite the fact that I buy most pieces of Mennonite literature as soon as I find out about them, I still managed to come away with four books from the conference, and could have bought more. It’s important to note that three of the four books I acquired are poetry. I haven’t been reading much poetry and I think that subconsciously I was craving it.

Dueck, Nathan. he’ll. St. John’s: Pedlar, 2014.

Dueck and I got to know each other at the conference and we have a lot of both literary and non-literary interests in common. It’s always enjoyable to buy a book written by someone who you like as a person.

Everwine, Peter. From the Meadow: Selected and New Poems. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2004.

Everwine was one of the featured local writers at the conference (he is not Mennonite, but there is a tradition of having non-Mennonite keynote speakers at these conferences), and gave a fantastic reading on Thursday night. I had never encountered his work before, but his work had the audience spellbound and there was no question about whether I should buy one of his books afterward.

Klassen, Sarah. Monstrance. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 2012.

I actually wanted to buy a book of Klassen’s fiction, but she was sold out. However, upon seeing my disappointment she gave me this collection of poetry as a gift! What a sweet, gracious gesture. I will make sure to order some of her fiction to repay the favor.

Swartley, André. Americanus Rex. Bluffton: Workplay, 2009.

Swartley and I were in college together (he was in the first writing workshop I ever took), and it was good to reconnect at the conference. He had several novels available, and I chose this one based on its blurb. I am about two-thirds of the way through it and am enjoying it thus far.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature