Yesterday I had a ten hour layover in San Francisco on my way back from a conference (I must say that I was quite impressed with the San Francisco airport), so I decided to make a pilgrimage to the famous City Lights Bookstore. I’m glad I went because so much germinal literary history has happened at the store, and overall I was impressed with their selection of books (I was tempted to buy way more than I did; the fact that I had to carry whatever I bought in my backpack during the rest of my trip severely limited my shopping), but I must say that the visit was not the profound experience I was expecting it to be. This is in part because it is virtually impossible for mythologized spaces such as City Lights to actually live up to their idealized versions, but also in part because I realized that I find bookstores that only sell new books like City Lights does to be much less interesting than used bookstores or bookstores that sell both new and used books like the Strand. I don’t mean to be critical of City Lights, because it is an excellent, high quality independent bookstore, but my experience there felt sterile and cold in comparison to the experiences I have had at good used bookstores.
Delany, Samuel R. Phallos: Enhanced and Revised Edition. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2013.
Delany is one of my favorite writers and I wrote some about his 2004 novella Phallos in my dissertation. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he has published a revised, longer edition of the novel, as he has with a number of his most important texts (including The Motion of Light in Water and The Mad Man). City Lights has the largest selection of Delany texts I’ve ever encountered in a bookstore. I was also happy that one of the texts I bought at City Lights was by a queer author considering the important role San Francisco has played in the life of America’s LGBT community.
Komunyakaa, Yusef. Dien Cai Dau. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 1988.
I have been meaning to acquire this collection of Komunyakaa’s poetry about his experiences during the Vietnam War for quite a while, and decided to finally pounce when I saw it on the shelf. The poetry room was by far my favorite space in City Lights.
My birthday was also this past weekend (I used some birthday money to fund my shopping at City Lights), and I received the following book as a gift:
Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America: Written, Compiled, Researched, Typed, Collated, Proofread, and Run Through Spell Check by Leslie Knope, Deputy Director, Department of Parks and Recreation. New York: Hachette, 2014.
I and the person who gave me this book share a love for Parks and Recreation, thus I was quite pleased to receive it as a gift.