Book Acquired Recently: Porn Archives

Dean, Tim, Steven Ruszczycky, and David Squires, eds. Porn Archives. Durham: Duke UP, 2014.

I received this book as a Valentine’s Day present. I saw an ad for it during the holidays (I think in Book Forum) and had put it on my amazon.com wishlist. It interests me in part because I’ve read some of Tim Dean’s work before and really enjoyed it and in part because I am fascinated by how academics study pornography. Pornography itself is such an ephemeral genre (especially these days with so much of it only in digital rather than material form) that the problem of how to archive it becomes an arresting subject.

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Book Acquired Recently: David Peace’s The Damned Utd

Peace, David. The Damned Utd. 2006. Brooklyn: Melville, 2014.

I recently read Peace’s novel about Bill Shankly, Red or Dead, and enjoyed it enough that I decided to explore more of his work. The Damned Utd is about Brian Clough’s short tenure as manager of Leeds United. Clough is a figure who has long fascinated me because of his highly successful time as manager of Nottingham Forest, which resulted in a string of trophies that will probably never be repeated by a small English club again. I am excited that Melville House has published an edition of the book, since most soccer novels only get published in England, and thus are impossible for me to assign in my classes because the bookstore is unable to acquire enough copies. If The Damned Utd is, as a review from the Times claims, actually “the best novel ever written about sport,” I might decide to teach it sometime.

I purchased the book from amazon.com.

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Thoughts on Combining Personal Libraries

I just came across this excellent article by Alexander Chee (whose novel Edinburgh is fantastic, incidentally) about the issue of combining libraries when one moves in with a new romantic partner. This is a topic that I have thought a lot about over the years, and especially in the past few as I’ve gone through a divorce. My ex-wife and I combined our books on the shelves according to the classification system that I used for my books, which meant that sometimes she would have to ask me where one of her books was located. In other words, despite being combined, it never really felt like a shared library, but rather a situation in which I was graciously letting her books hang out with mine, and perhaps that is a symbol of why the relationship ultimately failed.

As I’ve been thinking about what I would like my future romantic relationships to be like, I’ve decided that were I to live with another person I would keep my library separate from theirs. On the surface, this may sound selfish or like I am incapable of a full commitment, but Chee eloquently explains why this is not the case, and why it is acceptable for each partner to keep their own copies of books that they have in common. He writes that

“When each of you owns one copy of a book, it does seem particularly problematic, as if the two of you should only have one copy of it. On the surface that seems to make sense. But the thought of selling my copy makes me feel a phantom pain, but from a future phantom limb—the literary equivalent of a premonition of amputation. I can only conclude I want my own copy not because I don’t feel sufficiently attached to the person I live with, but because I want to feel sufficiently attached to myself. …

“You don’t keep the doubles because you believe you may not stay together. You keep the doubles because the one you own, that’s your friend [Chee’s italics]. The one he owns, that’s his. To only have one, it would be like sharing an email address.

“Not everything can be shared. And that isn’t a crisis. It’s how it should be.”

I have previously written about how my books feel like they are a part of me because they are a physical documentation of my history. I appreciate how Chee acknowledges that this is the case for everyone who loves books. His naming of books as “friends” is spot on.

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Books Acquired Recently

July, Miranda. The First Bad Man. New York: Scribner, 2015.

I really enjoyed July’s short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, and thus probably would have bought this book eventually. However, what caused me to buy it immediately was Kaitlin Phillips’s review in the February/March issue of Book Forum. Phillips writes of the protagonist’s romantic difficulties “who needs compatibility when you have fantasy?,” which is an issue I have been thinking about a lot lately as I recover from my divorce. So I am hoping that the novel will, aside from being enjoyable, also offer some helpful advice on this topic.

Koestenbaum, Wayne. Hotel Theory. Brooklyn: Soft Skull, 2007.

—. Humiliation. New York: Picador, 2011.

I recently finished Koestenbaum’s My 1980s and found his writing style refreshing and catchy, and decided that I wanted to read more of his work. I bought these two books because they are on subjects that I find intriguing; the former because hotels are such exciting, odd, and depressing places (often all at once), and the latter because of my interest in BDSM.

Wallace, David Foster. The David Foster Wallace Reader. New York: Little, Brown, 2014.

Wallace is one of my favorite writers, and I am somewhat of a completist regarding his books. I already own much of this collection in various other volumes, but there are some essays of commentary on his work that are new and a few obscure pieces of Wallace’s own writing that I have not read before.

I purchased all four books from amazon.com.

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Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. Give It To Me. New York: Feminist, 2014.

I read the first draft of this book when Castillo and I were colleagues at Westminster College for a semester and loved it. It is sexy, humorous, and scandalous. I bought it as soon as I found out it had been released.

This, Plett’s, and Samatar’s books were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment. Boston: Shambhala, 2010.

I have been struggling to stay in the present recently and was feeling the need for some guidance about how to do so. I came across this book in the “Eastern Religions” section of my local Barnes & Noble and decided to buy it in part because it sounded like what I was looking for and in part because I have had a number of friends recommend Hanh’s writing to me. I have read the first few chapters, which have been fantastic.

Larkin, Philip. Collected Poems. Ed. Anthony Thwaite. New York: Farrar, 2004.

I’ve been meaning to read Larkin for quite some time, and have not read any poetry for a while, so earlier this week when I was in the campus bookstore checking to see whether the books for my courses had come in and I saw that one of my colleagues has assigned this book for one of his courses I bought it.

Pashley, Jennifer. The Conjurer. Syracuse: Standing Stone, 2013.

I received this as a belated holiday gift. I really enjoyed Pashley’s other collection of stories, States, so I am eager to read this one.

Plett, Casey. A Safe Girl To Love. New York: Topside, 2014.

I was super-excited to buy this book, as I have read and enjoyed several of Plett’s short stories. I read through it in one sitting last night. It is excellent writing, though emotionally draining (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive characteristics).

Samatar, Sofia. A Stranger in Olondria: Being the Complete Memoirs of the Mystic, Jevick of Tyom. Easthampton: Small Beer, 2013.

I recently heard about this book via my alma mater Goshen College’s alumni magazine. Samatar is also a Goshen grad. Very little Mennonite literature (Goshen is a Mennonite school and Samatar was raised Mennonite) is written in the fantasy genre, so this is an important addition to the field.

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Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copy Edition

I already had the most recent editions (and thus the ones that are in print that the campus bookstore can order for students) of most of the books that I’ll be teaching this semester. The Harper and Larsen are for an African American literature course, and the Whitehead is for a Literature of New York course.

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins. Minnie’s Sacrifice. c. 1868. N.p.: Kessinger, 2004.

Larsen, Nella. Passing. 1929. New York: Penguin, 2003.

As always, Penguin paperbacks are the best!

Whitehead, Colson. Sag Harbor. 2009. New York: Anchor, 2010.

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Books Acquired Recently: Holiday Edition

I’ve acquired a number of books over the past few weeks. Most of them (the ones without their provenance listed) have been gifts, though a few I’ve bought for gifts to myself to read over the semester break.

Ballard, J.G. Cocaine Nights. 1996. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998.

Ballard is an author that I love to read in my spare time because of his fiction’s cynical view of society, which I tend to share. I’ve never attempted a systematic investigation of his oeuvre (which is rare for authors that I enjoy as much as I enjoy him), but I buy one of his books every once in a while when I come across them and am never disappointed.

This and the books by Cha, Rechy, Rhys, and Walker were acquired with a gift certificate that I received to DogStar Books in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung. Dictee. 1982. Berkeley: U of California P, 2001.

I remember reading about this book, which is classified as poetry, in a book about postmodern fiction at some point. It has all sorts of visual elements–photographs, facsimiles of handwriting, drawings–that I love in text-based books. My knowledge of Asian American literature is also lacking, so I am excited to read it.

Keogh, Theodora. Street Music. 1952. N.p.: Olympia, 2009.

I love Keogh’s fiction because of its subtle queer bent, but haven’t had the time to read any of her novels in a while, thus I was glad to receive this as a gift.

Kuper, Simon. Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe’s Darkest Hour. New York: Nation, 2012.

Growing up in the 1990s as a soccer fan in the U.S. I always felt the lack of available books on soccer history (and especially European soccer history) keenly. I am happy that with the sport’s recent rise in popularity here this lacuna is being filled.

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Rev. ed. New York: TCG, 2013.

Angels in America is my favorite play, and I teach it often. I just recently discovered that a revised edition has been published, which, frankly, worries me (what if Kushner’s meddling with the play is along the lines of George Lucas’s with Star Wars?). However, it is an essential enough text that reading the new version at least once is a necessity.

This and Miller’s Eyes at the Window were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Mass, AJ. Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots. New York: Rodale, 2014.

Mass used to be Mr. Met. I read an excerpt of this memoir when it came out a few months ago and enjoyed it, so decided to put it on my wish list.

Miller, Evie Yoder. Everyday Mercies. Milton: Big Girl, 2014.

I’ve been asked to review this novel for Mennonite Quarterly Review. I had heard of Miller, but have not read any of her fiction before. It is good to see more Mennonite writers from the U.S. working in the genre.

—. Eyes at the Window. Intercourse: Good, 2003.

I bought this book to read to get a sense of Miller’s work before I read Everyday Mercies.

Rechy, John. Bodies and Souls. New York: Carroll, 1983.

I have enjoyed the couple of Rechy’s novels that I have read, and he is a foundational queer Latino writer, so I was excited to buy this book when I found it in my browsing at DogStar.

Rhys, Jean. Jean Rhys: The Complete Novels. New York: Norton, 1985.

I have been wanting this volume since 2005 when I saw a graduate school classmate’s copy during a discussion of Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. I have looked for it in used bookstores since then and was thrilled to finally find a copy. I have grown a fondness for twentieth century female British-ish writers (Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing, etc.) over the past year or so, and look forward to reading Rhys’s corpus as a furthering of this interest.

Walker, Alice. In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women. San Diego: Harcourt, 1973.

I wrote about this excellent book in my dissertation, but did not actually own a copy. I’ve been looking for it in used bookstores recently and was happy to find a copy in very good condition for only $4.00.

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