Books Acquired Recently

Alvarado, Leticia. Abject Performances: Aesthetic Strategies in Latino Cultural Production. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

I am beginning to work more with Latinx literature in my scholarship, and thus have been working to build my library of criticism and theory in the field. This book looks relevant to that task, so I bought it directly from the publisher.

Hughes, Langston. I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey. 1956. New York: Hill and Wang, 1964.

A colleague gave me this and the Hughes and Bontemps anthology because she was de-accessioning some books and knows that I am interested in African American literature. I was very happy to receive them, partly because I love preserving old books and partly because, in the case of I Wonder as I Wander I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time and in the case of the anthology I am obsessed with poetry anthologies. The autobiography is stamped “The African-Caribbean Bookstore, 2319 E. 71st Street, Chicago, IL, 60649, (312) 288-0880” (which is apparently no longer in existence according to a quick Google search) and the anthology is inscribed “P.S. Kipp, Feb. 1963.”

Hughes, Langston, and Arna Bontemps, eds. The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949: A Definitive Anthology. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1949.

This anthology, which is in excellent condition, was ahead of its time in that it includes poetry from all over the world rather than just from the U.S. Unfortunately, only one poet from Africa is included, which indicates just how unexplored African literature was at the time, but there are numerous poets from Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Kitano, Christine. Birds of Paradise. Spokane, WA: Lynx House Press, 2011.

Kitano gave a poetry reading at Utica College last week, and I decided to buy her first collection because she said it has a lot of poems about ghosts, and it was the third time in less than a week that ghosts had come up for me, which felt significant because of the rule of threes. I had dinner with her and her husband after the reading and she seems like quite a nice person.

Morales, Ed. Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture. London: Verso, 2018.

I received a promotional email about this book several weeks ago and ordered an exam copy immediately. It came in the mail at the end of last week and I hope to begin reading it later today.

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Books Acquired Recently: Albany Book Festival

Yesterday I went to the first Albany Book Festival. It was an enjoyable event with a mix of panels, author signings, and authors selling their books, many at reduced prices. I ended up spending about $85.00 total for the seven books I acquired, so about $12.00 per book, which is not bad. I had heard of Whitehead, Ostriker, and Dentz before (and was able to have them sign their books), and discovered the other authors as a result of the event. Parks’s and Whitehead’s books are fiction, Dentz’s is a mixed-genre memoir, and the rest are poetry.

Amador, Nico. Flower Wars. Austin, TX: Newfound, 2017.

Dentz, Shira. door of thin skins. Fort Lee, NJ: CavanKerry Press, 2013.

Gette, M.J. The Walls They Left Us. Austin, TX: Newfound, 2016.

Lynch, Michael. Underlife and Portico. Boston: Aforementioned Productions, 2013.

Ostriker, Alicia Suskin. Waiting for the Light. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.

Parks, Robin. Egg Heaven: Stories. Albany, NY: Shade Mountain Press, 2014.

Whitehead, Colson. Zone One. 2011. New York: Anchor Books, 2012.

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Books Acquired Recently

Cuevas, T. Jackie. Post-Borderlandia: Chicana Literature and Gender Variant Critique. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2018.

I just heard about this book, which is at an intersection (queer+Latinx) I am beginning to explore in my work, so I decided to buy it. I acquired it, Maurensig’s, and Shapiro’s books from amazon.com.

Maurensig, Paolo. Theory of Shadows. 2015. Translated by Anne Milano Appel. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.

I greatly enjoyed Maurensig’s 1993 chess-themed novel The Lüneburg Variation when I read it about a decade ago, thus when I heard he had published another novel on the game I put it on my list.

Shapiro, Laura. What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women & the Food That Tells Their Stories. 2017. New York: Penguin Books, 2018.

I assign a food essay in my first-year composition course, and am always looking for good food-related books to read alongside it. I received a promotional email about Shapiro’s book from the publisher and decided to buy an examination copy for $3.00 to see whether it might be worth teaching.

Shawl, Nisi. Everfair. 2016. New York: Tor, 2017.

Shawl is an author I have been wanting to read as part of my continuing exploration of speculative fiction by people of color. Everfair was recommended to me as a good place to start.

Toews, Miriam. Women Talking. Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2018.

I bought Toews’s newest novel as soon as it was published. It won’t be out in the U.S. until next year, so I had to order the Canadian edition from amazon.ca. I read it as soon as I received it and it is amazing, powerful, an absolute must-read.

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My Article in the New York Times

About a month ago I was contacted by an editor from the New York Times who asked whether I would be interested in writing an article to accompany a photo essay about Mennonites in Belize. I said yes, and the article was published today. You can read it here.

Aside from several pieces in the Goshen College Record when I was in college, this is the first time I have written for a newspaper, and it was an interesting experience. I had to think about a very different kind of question when writing for a general audience than when writing for a scholarly one. It is also fascinating to me that the online headline, “A Simple Life,” is different from the one in the print edition, “Mennonites in Belize.” I am grateful to have had this opportunity to grow as a writer.

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Books Acquired Recently

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Mennonite speculative fiction writer Sofia Samatar recently, including reading through lots of her interviews (a list of them is on her website). Interviewers often ask her about books she’s read lately and I’ve almost always never heard of them, so I try to buy the ones that sound interesting or helpful for my own work. These three books are examples of this gleaning.

Martin, Douglas A. Acker. New York: Nightboat Books, 2017.

I like Kathy Acker’s writing, and this book is blurbed by Maggie Nelson and Wayne Koestenbaum, two queer writers whose work I enjoy, so I am especially excited to read it.

Valente, Catherynne M. Palimpsest. New York: Bantam Books, 2009.

The premise of this novel is apparently that you have to have sex in order to enter the city where it takes place.

Zambreno, Kate. Heroines. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012.

This book is about the wives of famous authors. I’m always interested in books that investigate the margins.

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Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. Sapogonia: An Anti-Romance in 3/8 Meter. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.

I’ve read most of Castillo’s earlier work, but somehow this novel slipped my notice, perhaps because it is now out of print. I decided to read it as part of my research for the paper I am writing on her novel Give It to Me.

This and Groff’s book were bought from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Groff, Lauren. The Monsters of Templeton. New York: Hyperion, 2008.

I recently heard about the Mennonite writer Lauren Groff, and bought this book in order to investigate her work.

Miller, Todd. Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2017.

Earlier this summer I went to to Arizona and Sonora on a learning tour about the border, and we met with Miller to talk about his writing on the relationships between border issues and climate change. This conversation made me decide to buy his book. I read it over the weekend and it is quite sobering. He says that our civilization is dying, and I think he’s right. The problem is that no one in government seems to realize it.

This and Wiebe’s book were bought from amazon.com.

Wiebe, Katie Funk. You Never Gave Me a Name: One Mennonite Woman’s Story. Telford, PA: DreamSeeker Books, 2009.

Wiebe is an important Mennonite writer in the older sense of the term (i.e., someone who wrote in service to the church, often for church periodicals, rather than someone who writes literature as art, a definition that is not meant to disparage the former kind of writing but simply to note that it is very different from what the term “Mennonite writer” means now), and I’ve known her name since I was a child because my mother had several of her books, but I’ve never actually read any of her work. I decided to purchase her autobiography to get a better sense of her life and her writing.

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Books Acquired Recently: Lauren Groff Edition

I recently heard about the author Lauren Groff, who is of Mennonite background even though she does not apparently identify as Mennonite. Well, we Mennonite literary critics name Mennonite writers as such whether they like it or not, so guess what, Lauren Groff, you’re a Mennonite writer! Don’t try to fight it! Join the dark side! We have baked goods.

Anyway, I bought her books from amazon.com because of the Mennonite connection.

Groff, Lauren. Arcadia. 2012. New York: Hachette Books, 2015.

—. Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories. 2009. New York: Hachette Books, 2015.

Weirdly, this reprint is also a hardcover rather than a paperback.

—. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead Books, 2015.

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