Books Acquired Recently: MLA Edition

Today I made my long-anticipated visit to the MLA Convention book fair. I acquired five books and ordered several more that will be shipped to me, which I will write about once I receive them. All of the books interest me, but the fact that I got several of them at a discount made them irresistable. I noticed that the majority of the publisher representatives at the fair were women, and especially younger women who looked to be in their twenties. This trend was especially pronounced in representatives from commercial publishers. My perhaps cynical thought upon making this observation was “this is where excess English majors end up.” But that’s not quite fair. I suppose that the job would be a fascinating and even enjoyable one. On the one hand it’s just being a cashier, but on the other, it involves travel and the opportunity to meet lots of people.

The books that I acquired at MLA with the view of downtown Boston from my hotel room window in the background.
The books that I acquired at MLA with the view of downtown Boston from my hotel room window in the background.

Barnes, Julian. The Sense of an Ending. 2011. New York: Vintage, 2012.

I’ve heard good things about Barnes’s work and read a laudatory review of this novel when it was published in hardcover, thus I was happy to buy the paperback for only $3.00.

Holland, Sharon Patricia. The Erotic Life of Racism. Durham: Duke UP, 2012.

This book’s blurb begins “A major intervention in the fields of critical race theory, black feminism, and queer theory….” Boom. I was sold right there. (Yes, I realize that I am a total nerd.) Duke University Press publishes so many yummy books about queerness and about race that it was very difficult to restrain myself from buying many more of their books. There was a history of the concept of the orgasm that was especially tempting to me, but I was able to resist.

Iversen, Kristen. Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats. New York: Crown, 2012.

The publisher was giving hardcover copies away for free, and Iversen was there to sign them, so I picked one up. It looks somewhat interesting–it is about her childhood growing up in one of the classified towns the U.S. government set up in the 1940s and 1950s for nuclear weapons research and development. I’m not sure how I as an author would feel about my publisher giving my books away for free while making me sit there and watch. Does the publisher think no one will buy them, and so this is a PR-friendly way of getting rid of them? Do they think the book is so good that they can give it away to professors because we’ll all want to assign it in our classes? I admit to being confused by this promotion.

Olds, Sharon. Stag’s Leap. New York: Knopf, 2012.

I love Olds’s poetry and was able to buy her latest collection for only $3.00. This price makes me happy, but it is also a shame to pay so little for something so valuable as poetry.

Scott-Heron, Gil. The Last Holiday: A Memoir. New York: Grove, 2012.

I’ve been fascinated by Scott-Heron since I heard his two most famous songs/poems, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and “Whitey on the Moon” back in high school. His art is so wise, and yet he struggled with an addiction to heroin up until the time of his death. Getting the opportunity to learn more about this paradox alone makes the book worth the $5.00 I paid for it.


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