Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

Yesterday I once again visited my favorite place in the world, the Strand Bookstore at 12th and Broadway in Manhattan. I was recently remarking to a friend how when I lived within walking distance of the Strand about a decade ago it always seemed like I would go there and there would be a book specifically waiting for me, whether it was the book that I had gone there to look for in an exquisite edition, or a book that I didn’t know that I was looking for (as I would often go just to browse and see what caught my eye) that grabbed me and was somehow a perfect fit. The past few times I’ve gone to the store this hasn’t happened, and it has been depressing (though, of course, I’ve still enjoyed myself there) as a symbol of how both my relationship to the city and the store itself have changed (the Strand looks fantastic now, but I miss its old, badly lit grittiness before the renovations that were completed seven or eight years ago). But when I went yesterday, it happened again in three instances! It was tremendously exciting.

I eschewed a shopping cart when I entered the store, vowing that I would only buy as much as I could carry in one hand. I am proud that I had enough fortitude to stick to this vow, which is why I only bought five books.

Ashbery, John, and James Schuyler. A Nest of Ninnies. 1969. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2008.

I have been wanting to read this novel for quite a while because I am a big fan of the New York School poets and because I enjoyed Schuyler’s novel What’s for Dinner?, but it is a relatively minor work and thus I have never gotten around to it. But there was a stack of copies on one of the fiction tables at the back of the store on the first floor, and it was priced at only $5.95 new, so I had to have it.

Davis, Lydia. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. New York: Picador, 2009.

I have never read any of Davis’s work before, but recently read an article about her in the New Yorker that intrigued me, so I decided that I would begin looking for this collection the next time I was in a good (i.e., not Barnes & Noble) bookstore. Of course the Strand had a stack of this aesthetically pleasing volume right at the front of the store!

Robbe-Grillet, Alain. A Sentimental Novel. 2007. Trans. D.E. Brooke. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2014.

I have enjoyed the work of Robbe-Grillet’s that I’ve read, so I picked this book up while browsing and was immediately drawn to it by the beginning of its blurb: “In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet’s final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning that this adult fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities.” Sold! I read it on the train ride home and enjoyed it (on an academic level, you dirty-minded readers) for the most part. It is like a better version of Sade without all of the political diatribes.

Wallace, David Foster. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity. 2003. New York: Atlas-Norton, 2010.

I love David Foster Wallace, so I bought this book even though I am not a mathematics enthusiast. I appreciate learning about intellectual history, though, and am therefore hopeful and expectant that Wallace will make this subject fascinating to me. After I read his unfinished novel The Pale King, which is mostly about IRS agents, I was half-tempted to become an accountant, so I am confident that my investment in this volume will not have been in vain.

Whitman, Walt. Franklin Evans or The Inebriate: A Tale of the Times. 1842. Ed. Christopher Castiglia and Glenn Hendler. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

I love Whitman’s poetry, but have never read this, his only novel, which is supposed to be awful. I’ve been wanting to read it since one of my students did a presentation on it this past year, and when I saw it I knew I had to buy it immediately because I am acquainted with Chris Castiglia! He is a lovely man who teaches at Penn State. It is always exciting to buy a book by someone whom you know. Thus I will enjoy reading it even if the novel itself is terrible.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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