Monthly Archives: April 2014

Books Acquired Recently

All of these books were bought with an eye toward my impending summer break, which begins in three weeks!

Ames, Greg. Buffalo Lockjaw. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

Greg Ames gave a reading from his novel-in-progress at Utica College this past week, and I enjoyed it to the point where I decided to buy a copy of his previous book. He has an engaging, DeLillo-esque writing voice that my students also found engaging.

Buell, Lawrence. The Dream of the Great American Novel. Cambridge: Belknap-Harvard, 2014.

This hefty tome received a good review in the New Yorker recently, and I decided to buy it because it looks like it could be helpful for my teaching of American literature. In looking through the table of contents, it is clear that Buell pays attention to ethnic minority writers; we shall see whether he does an equally good job of acknowledging queer writers as well.

Plett, Casey. Lizzy & Annie. Illus. Annie Mok. N.p.: Fireball, 2014.

This illustrated chapbook is a story from one of my favorite queer (and Mennonite!) writers, who also has a collection of short stories coming out from Topside Press this summer. Lizzy & Annie only cost $5.00, and you can buy it here (scroll down to the bottom right for purchasing information).

Wiebe, Rudy. First and Vital Candle. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966.

I’ve thought about reading this, Wiebe’s second novel, on and off for the past decade or so, and since I’ve been thinking a lot about Mennonite literature lately I decided to finally take the plunge. (However, rather famously among Mennonite literary circles, the book does not actually contain any Mennonite characters, which is partly why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it.) I was able to find a copy of the first Eerdmans edition in fine condition from one of’s independent booksellers; there are a few rips in the dust jacket, but the volume itself is in excellent shape.

The way this first American edition was marketed (it was published at the same time in Canada by a more prestigious secular publisher, McClelland and Stewart) is fascinating. The dust jacket includes several blurbs extolling the novel’s Christian aspects. Clyde S. Kilby writes that “[t]his novel stands very close to the top among evangelical novels of this century,” and Charles A. Huttar adds that “Mr. Wiebe is remarkable among Christian novelists for his craftsmanship.” I know that later in his career (which is still ongoing, as rumor has it that Wiebe will soon publish a sequel to his first [highly controversial] novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many), Wiebe would strongly object to being pigeonholed as a “Christian novelist” instead of simply a “novelist,” so I wonder what his reaction to these meant-to-be-laudatory words was.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., and Valerie A. Smith, eds. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. 3rd ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 2014.

I recieved an exam copy of these books from my local W.W. Norton representative. It took quite a while for Norton to update the first edition, so I am glad that they are now updating the book on a frequent basis. I am keeping my copy of the first edition, though, for sentimental reasons: I used it to study for my Ph.D. exams. This is one reason why I have so many books. I value them as pieces of my history, not just as sources of enjoyment or information.

Witkowski, Michal. Love Town. Trans. William Martin. 2010. London: Portobello, 2011.

I learned about this novel depicting the LGBT community in Communist Europe during the 1970s and 1980s from a colleague, and found a copy of it on sale from Better World Books for less than $4.00, so decided to buy it because my knowledge of queer literature outside of the U.S. and England is sorely lacking. The book has a pricetag from the Strand on it, which makes me happy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: NeMLA Edition

I have been at the Northeast Modern Language Association annual conference for the past few days. Normally this kind of convention offers excellent opportunities for book-buying. However, the conference has been a disappointment in this respect, as the selection at the bookfair was rather paltry. I only bought one book there.

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner Graphic Novel. Illus. Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo. New York: Riverhead, 2011.

I’ve heard that Hosseini’s novel by the same name is excellent, and have also heard good things about the illustrated edition. It was a steal at $5.00.

I then went to the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, which is a short walk from the conference’s main hotel in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I had heard that it was an excellent independent bookstore. While it is true that the store is large and has an inventory covering a wide variety of subjects, it is horribly organized. I was primarily interested in browsing the fiction section, and within this section the books were organized by the first letter of authors’ last names, but within each letter there was no organization whatsoever, not even to the point of putting all of an author’s books next to each other. For instance, in the D section, I saw books by Don DeLillo on at least three separate shelves. In the nonfiction sections, books were alphabetized by their titles rather than by their authors, which made browsing in any meaningful way close to impossible. The store, in short, was infuriating.

Nevertheless, I am such a book-buying addict that I acquired two volumes. I believe in supporting independent bookstores, even badly-organized ones.

Spark, Muriel. Open to the Public: New & Collected Stories. New York: New Directions, 1997.

I recently read some of Spark’s work for the first time and loved it, thus I was delighted to find a like-new hardcover copy of her collected stories for only $6.95.

Welsh, Lindsay. Necessary Evil. 1995. New York: Blue Moon, 2005.

I had not heard of this book or of Welsh before, but I noticed it on the shelf because it has Blue Moon’s distinctive cover design. The book was originally published by Masquerade Books, which published high-quality erotica in the 1980s-1990s. It was also only $6.95.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature