Monthly Archives: February 2015

Book Acquired Recently: Porn Archives

Dean, Tim, Steven Ruszczycky, and David Squires, eds. Porn Archives. Durham: Duke UP, 2014.

I received this book as a Valentine’s Day present. I saw an ad for it during the holidays (I think in Book Forum) and had put it on my wishlist. It interests me in part because I’ve read some of Tim Dean’s work before and really enjoyed it and in part because I am fascinated by how academics study pornography. Pornography itself is such an ephemeral genre (especially these days with so much of it only in digital rather than material form) that the problem of how to archive it becomes an arresting subject.

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Book Acquired Recently: David Peace’s The Damned Utd

Peace, David. The Damned Utd. 2006. Brooklyn: Melville, 2014.

I recently read Peace’s novel about Bill Shankly, Red or Dead, and enjoyed it enough that I decided to explore more of his work. The Damned Utd is about Brian Clough’s short tenure as manager of Leeds United. Clough is a figure who has long fascinated me because of his highly successful time as manager of Nottingham Forest, which resulted in a string of trophies that will probably never be repeated by a small English club again. I am excited that Melville House has published an edition of the book, since most soccer novels only get published in England, and thus are impossible for me to assign in my classes because the bookstore is unable to acquire enough copies. If The Damned Utd is, as a review from the Times claims, actually “the best novel ever written about sport,” I might decide to teach it sometime.

I purchased the book from

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Thoughts on Combining Personal Libraries

I just came across this excellent article by Alexander Chee (whose novel Edinburgh is fantastic, incidentally) about the issue of combining libraries when one moves in with a new romantic partner. This is a topic that I have thought a lot about over the years, and especially in the past few as I’ve gone through a divorce. My ex-wife and I combined our books on the shelves according to the classification system that I used for my books, which meant that sometimes she would have to ask me where one of her books was located. In other words, despite being combined, it never really felt like a shared library, but rather a situation in which I was graciously letting her books hang out with mine, and perhaps that is a symbol of why the relationship ultimately failed.

As I’ve been thinking about what I would like my future romantic relationships to be like, I’ve decided that were I to live with another person I would keep my library separate from theirs. On the surface, this may sound selfish or like I am incapable of a full commitment, but Chee eloquently explains why this is not the case, and why it is acceptable for each partner to keep their own copies of books that they have in common. He writes that

“When each of you owns one copy of a book, it does seem particularly problematic, as if the two of you should only have one copy of it. On the surface that seems to make sense. But the thought of selling my copy makes me feel a phantom pain, but from a future phantom limb—the literary equivalent of a premonition of amputation. I can only conclude I want my own copy not because I don’t feel sufficiently attached to the person I live with, but because I want to feel sufficiently attached to myself. …

“You don’t keep the doubles because you believe you may not stay together. You keep the doubles because the one you own, that’s your friend [Chee’s italics]. The one he owns, that’s his. To only have one, it would be like sharing an email address.

“Not everything can be shared. And that isn’t a crisis. It’s how it should be.”

I have previously written about how my books feel like they are a part of me because they are a physical documentation of my history. I appreciate how Chee acknowledges that this is the case for everyone who loves books. His naming of books as “friends” is spot on.

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Books Acquired Recently

July, Miranda. The First Bad Man. New York: Scribner, 2015.

I really enjoyed July’s short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, and thus probably would have bought this book eventually. However, what caused me to buy it immediately was Kaitlin Phillips’s review in the February/March issue of Book Forum. Phillips writes of the protagonist’s romantic difficulties “who needs compatibility when you have fantasy?,” which is an issue I have been thinking about a lot lately as I recover from my divorce. So I am hoping that the novel will, aside from being enjoyable, also offer some helpful advice on this topic.

Koestenbaum, Wayne. Hotel Theory. Brooklyn: Soft Skull, 2007.

—. Humiliation. New York: Picador, 2011.

I recently finished Koestenbaum’s My 1980s and found his writing style refreshing and catchy, and decided that I wanted to read more of his work. I bought these two books because they are on subjects that I find intriguing; the former because hotels are such exciting, odd, and depressing places (often all at once), and the latter because of my interest in BDSM.

Wallace, David Foster. The David Foster Wallace Reader. New York: Little, Brown, 2014.

Wallace is one of my favorite writers, and I am somewhat of a completist regarding his books. I already own much of this collection in various other volumes, but there are some essays of commentary on his work that are new and a few obscure pieces of Wallace’s own writing that I have not read before.

I purchased all four books from

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