Monthly Archives: November 2012

Books Acquired Recently

Atwood, Margaret. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. 2011. New York: Anchor, 2012.

I ordered this book at Rocky Mountain MLA last month, and it arrived yesterday. I enjoy Atwood’s fiction and her germinal book on Canadian literature, Survival, and I have been reading more and more science fiction (the “SF” of the title, which is the accepted term in the field, never “scifi”), so I’ve been thinking about buying this book since it came out last year. I finally bought it at the conference because it was available at a sizeable discount.

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 3rd ed. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009.

I just received a desk copy of this book from the publisher. I’ll be using it in my Literary Criticism and Research course next semester. I’m drawn to it as a teaching resource because it is recent, comprehensive, and reasonably priced (around $20.00 new) rather than being priced like a textbook. Kudos to Manchester University Press for taking the high road and caring about student budgets.

On another note, I haven’t written in nearly a week because I’ve been busy reading applications for a job opening in my department. This is the first time I’ve ever served on a search committee; it’s so fascinating! I am enjoying getting to learn about other people, reading their writing, and seeing how they approach the elusive, mysterious genres of the C.V. and the cover letter. I love encountering other’s ideas about what they think an academic should be.

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Books Acquired Recently

Cortázar, Julio. Hopscotch. 1963. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Pantheon, 1966.

I will be teaching Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters next semester, and its blurb claims that it is inspired by Cortázar’s novel. So I thought I would read it as research for teaching Castillo. Hopscotch is nearly 600 pages long in the edition I bought, and The Mixquiahuala Letters is less than 200, thus I assume that the inspiration is thematic rather than formal, which makes me sad since my favorite thing about Castillo’s book is the way it requires the reader to play a role in forming the text by choosing from three different reading paths.

Scott, Darieck. Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination. New York: New York UP, 2010.

I bought this book because it touches on two of my favorite research interests: it has a chapter on Samuel R. Delany and also examines BDSM in African American literature as a whole. I can’t wait to read it!

Both books purchased on amazon.com.

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Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton

I just finished reading Salman Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton, which is primarily about the years after the fatwa was issued against his life in 1989 in response to the publication of The Satanic Verses. Rushdie writes eloquently about his most depressing emotional moments during the thirteen years when he had to live under police protection, but he also offers beautiful, inspiring tributes to all of the people (especially his protection team and many of his fellow writers) who supported him, as well as offering the book as an impassioned defense of free speech. Happily, most writers were both privately and publicly supportive of Rushdie, including Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Buford, Martin Amis, and Kurt Vonnegut, though a few–including, sadly, Roald Dahl–were not. Shamefully, The Satanic Verses‘ publisher, Viking-Penguin, refused to issue a paperback of the novel, though they kept the hardcover in print. Many bookstores (including many stores in the U.S., who took out an ad in the New York Times when the novel was published here to say that they would stock it), courageously made the book available to the public even though several were bombed by religious fundamentalists.

Joseph Anton is a masterpiece, and is necessary reading for anyone who cares about literature. It should finally persuade the Nobel Prize committee to award Rushdie their literature prize. It is over 600 pages long–Rushdie’s joyful prolixity surfaces once again–but every page is compelling and intense. I found that I was only able to read about seventy-five pages of it per day because it got me so worked up, but this visceral reaction is a testament to Rushdie’s gifts as a writer. He is a hero for anyone who truly cares (i.e., not most American politicians) about freedom.

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