Monthly Archives: June 2013

Book Acquired Recently: Eileen R. Kinch’s Gathering the Silence

Kinch, Eileen R. Gathering the Silence. Georgetown: Finishing Line, 2013.

I know I said in my previous post that I was done acquiring books until after my move, but this book arrived as a surprise from my sister in the mail today. Kinch is a friend of ours, and I knew that she writes poetry, but did not realize that she had a book coming out. The only thing better than receiving an unexpected package in the mail is receiving an unexpected package containing books in the mail! I am very excited to read it. Julia Spicher Kasdorf blurbed it, which is impressive.

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And Now for Something Completely Different: Books Acquired Recently

D’anna, Lynnette. RagTimeBone. Vancouver: New Star, 1994.

This is yet another of D’anna’s books that have been trickling in over the past few weeks. I am waiting until they all arrive to begin reading them. Summer is a great time for reading a writer’s oeuvre straight through because of the extra time off. I used to spend extended periods of time with authors (Chaim Potok, Philip Roth, Samuel R. Delany, and Louise Erdrich, to name a few) a lot, but, with the exception of a brief Theodora Keogh phase last summer, my reading over the past two years has been rather piecemeal. I’m looking forward to re-encountering the luxurious feeling of being enveloped in a writer’s voice for several weeks on end.

Hill, Lawrence. Someone Knows My Name. New York: Norton, 2007.

A colleague told me about this book recently. It’s a neo-slave narrative told from a Canadian perspective, which should be fascinating.

Both books bought via amazon.com’s network of booksellers. These are the last two books I will acquire before I move to New York next week. I pity the movers having to carry all of my books and bookcases!

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Books Acquired Recently

Acker, Kathy. Bodies of Work. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1997.

—. Don Quixote. New York: Grove, 1986.

I love Kathy Acker, and have been meaning to read Don Quixote for quite a while now. I picked up Bodies of Work, a collection of her non-fiction, because it was only a dollar. It is in terrible shape; large chunks of pages are falling out, but all of the pages are there, so I’ll get the book re-bound. Normally I don’t buy books in bad condition, but I made an exception in this case because I love how Acker’s mind works.

These along with the Baldwin and Everett were purchased at Ken Sanders Rare Books.

Baldwin, James. Just Above My Head. 1979. New York: Dell, 1980.

Baldwin is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve been getting into his later fiction more recently. I actually ordered this book several months ago, but it was out of stock, so it was nice to find a copy while browsing in person.

Everett, Percival. I Am Not Sidney Poitier. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2009.

I also really enjoy Everett’s work, and I Am Not Sidney Poitier is one of his well-known books, so I am excited to read it. I am moving across the country in a week, thus I decided when I went to Ken Sanders this afternoon that I would only look for books by Acker, Baldwin, and Everett instead of browsing indiscriminately because I already have a lot to pack as it is. But my search for work by these authors was successful in all three cases!

Incidentally, I met Sidney Poitier when I was seven at the Los Angeles airport. I got his autograph (which hung on the wall of my bedroom for years, though I sadly no longer have it), and my mother got her picture taken with him. He was very gracious about being stopped by his fans.

Penner, Christina. Widows of Hamilton House. Winnipeg: Enfield, 2008.

This book was recently recommended to me by a friend who knows about my interest in Mennonite literature. It’s a gothic mystery, which is not a subject I normally read, but it should be fascinating because of the Mennonite elements.

This and D’anna’s two books were purchased from amazon.com’s network of sellers.

D’anna, Lynnette. Belly Fruit. Vancouver: New Star, 2000.

—. vixen. Toronto: Insomniac, 2001.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently ordered a bunch of D’anna’s books because she is the rare Mennonite writer who writes openly about sex. Both of these books have tacky titillating covers, so we’ll see whether the stories live up to their billing.

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Thoughts on the U.S.A.-Honduras Match

I attended the U.S.A.-Honduras World Cup qualifier in Sandy, Utah last night. Although I’ve been a dedicated soccer fan for over twenty years, this was my first opportunity to attend a professional match, and it was a fantastic experience! I will attend another one as soon as possible. Here are some thoughts and observations about the night.

Even though Rio Tinto Stadium only holds 20,000 people (last night was a sellout, with 20,250 attending), it was extremely loud throughout the match. I loved this atmosphere, which doesn’t always come across when watching on television. There were four people two rows behind me yelling insults at Honduras in Spanish the entire match, which was fantastic. There were several rousing “U! S! A!” chants throughout the evening as well.

While Rio Tinto offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, the second deck where I was sitting (the only one, which is a bit unusual) faces west, thus the sun was in my eyes the entire match. It would make much more sense to have this section facing east.

When Jozy Altidore’s goal was called offside midway during the second half, the scoreboard did not show the replay, protecting the referee and linesman, but when Altidore scored the match-winning goal later on the scoreboard did show the replay. The stadium exploded when the ball went in the net, constant noise for about a minute. I was jumping up and down and screaming–the adrenaline just took over.

It was refreshing to be able to see the entire field and what all twenty-two players were doing at once rather than having my view limited by what the television producers chose to show. It becomes much clearer just how much of a team game soccer is. Similarly, the field feels much smaller live than it does on television.

Overall, it was a good result for the U.S., and a fair one based on the flow of the game. They lead the Hexagonal with thirteen points after six matches. Their next two matches are difficult ones, away to Costa Rica and home to Mexico, and while they have a good chance of taking all six points from those fixtures if they keep playing at their current level, realistically they could lose those two matches and still qualify for the World Cup because their final two matches are Jamaica at home and Panama away.

Here are a few photographs that I took at the match with my iPhone:

The two teams coming out onto the pitch at the beginning of the match.

The two teams coming out onto the pitch at the beginning of the match.

The second half kickoff.

The second half kickoff.

Second half action with the Oquirrh mountains in the background.

Second half action with the Oquirrh mountains in the background.

One side of the commemorative scarf that was handed out at the match.

One side of the commemorative scarf that was handed out at the match.

The other side of the commemorative scarf.

The other side of the commemorative scarf.

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My Latest Book Review

I just had a book review of Penelope Scambly Schott’s Lillie was a goddess, Lillie was a whore published in Your Impossible Voice, a new online literary journal. The first issue won’t officially be up until August, but the site is already publishing a few pieces as teasers. It looks like it will be an excellent venue for the discussion of contemporary literature, and I am thrilled to be involved!

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Good Writing on Reading Digitally and its Consequences

I’m a bit behind on my PMLA reading, and I was reading the January 2013 (128.1) issue this morning, which includes an excellent suite of essays on “Reading in the Digital Age.” I’ve written here about these issues before, especially about my concern that we retain less and our brains get less exercise when we read digitally rather than in print, and the frightening long-term effects this will have on society. Thus it was nice to discover that such a prestigious journal is paying close attention to the subject. Here are some of the highlights:

My favorite article in the group is Naomi S. Baron’s “Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media,” which reports the results of several surveys she conducted measuring both students’ and the general population’s attitudes about reading digitally versus reading in print. I like the article because the survey shows that even students who have grown up with computers all of their lives realize that they prefer reading in print once they are asked to think about it. Respondents appreciate the physicality of reading books, even textbooks that they are planning on selling back to the bookstore at the end of the semester (which is another problem to discuss another time). They also say that they retain information much better when they are interacting with print texts, in part because they get distracted in electronic environments. The article also shows that more and more people conceive of reading as a search for specific bits of information rather than as an exploration fueled by intellectual curiousity. I admit that sometimes I am guilty of this in my research, going straight to a book’s index to find the passages that are relevant to my topic, but I also enjoy reading for pleasure rather than purpose, and I have grown intellectually just as much if not more via the former kind of reading as the latter. Baron’s essay is necessary reading for anyone interested in the life of the mind and how it’s evolving, and I am going to assign it to my students this autumn.

Michael Cobb’s intriguing article “A Little Like Reading: Preference, Facebook, and Overwhelmed Interpretations” examines what sort of reading act occurs when we “Like” something on Facebook. I am addicted to Facebook, and am glad to see that it continues to draw serious academic analysis. One of the most profound conference presentations I’ve ever heard was a presentation on Facebook as a form of autobiography at the 2010 MLA Convention. Seriously engaging with Facebook rather than simply dismissing it as a waste of time is essential because of its ubiquitousness, and Cobb’s essay is a superb example of this engagement.

Jim Collins’s essay “Reading, in a Digital Archive of One’s Own,” which is pro-digital reading, is a thought-provoking piece in part about how both sides of the debate are represented by unhelpful caricatures and how the debate problematically takes place as “an exercise in nostalgia, grounded in a discourse of inevitable loss” (212), and in part about how one’s digital playlist is a form of autobiography just like one’s library. Collins makes a good point about how those of us who are defenders of print media need to integrate the realities of digital reading into our viewpoint, though I don’t think he pays enough attention to the foreboding realities of digital reading described in Baron’s essay.

N. Katherine Hayles’s essay “Combining Close and Distant Reading: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes and the Aesthetic of Bookishness” argues that many recent authors (she also mentions B.S. Johnson’s classic The Unfortunates) have expressed concern about the future of the book by creating books that play with books’ traditional physical form. She offers a helpful, data-ridden analysis of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes as an example of this trend.

Lisa Nakamura’s essay “‘Words with Friends'” Socially Networked Reading on Goodreads” is also quite good for many of the same reasons as Cobb’s. She examines Goodreads as an important source of data on contemporary reading habits, but also notes that is important to keep in mind that such seemingly-innocent social networking sites function because users consume their advertising. They are cogs of capitalism in disguise.

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Books Acquired Recently: More Canadian Mennonites Edition

D’anna, Lynnette. fool’s bells. Toronto: Insomniac, 1999.

D’anna is the pen name of Lynnette Dueck, a Canadian writer of Mennonite origin. A friend who knows that I am interested in the intersection between sexuality and literature recommended D’anna/Dueck’s work to me; apparently it is quite explicit, which is a rarity in Mennonite literature. I may end up writing about it as a result. I’ve ordered a bunch of her books from amazon.com’s network of booksellers, and this is the first one to arrive (i.e., get ready for several more Books Acquired Recently entries on her work in the near future!).

Jacobsen, Annie, with Jane Finlay-Young and Di Brandt. Watermelon Syrup. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier UP, 2007.

I acquired this novel because Brandt, one of my favorite poets, is listed as one of the authors, and I would love to read some fiction by her. As it turns out, she did not actually write any of the book. Jacobsen wrote it, but died before she could revise and publish it, so per her directions Finlay-Young revised it and had Brandt act as a consultant on the Mennonite issues in the book because Jacobsen had Mennonite ancestry and the novel includes several Mennonite characters. It looks interesting, but for different reasons than I first anticipated. I ordered it via amazon.com from Better World Books‘s United Kingdom branch; it was originally owned by a library in Chelsea.

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