Tag Archives: Alexander Chee

Books Acquired Recently: AWP Edition

This morning I got back from the 2019 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Portland. It was a fantastic time! I saw some authors that I love and encountered some new writers whose work I cannot wait to check out.

As usual when I go to conferences, the bookfair was a highlight of the trip. AWP’s gigantic bookfair is legendary. It is, frankly, overwhelming, even for a hardcore bibliophile/book-buying addict such as myself. I acquired 17 books. I was able to get Awkward-Rich’s, Berggrun’s, Chee’s, Chen’s, Davis’s, Dawn’s, Dentz’s, and Tedesco’s signed. Note that all of the books except Chee’s are published by small independent presses, which are more important to support than ever. I bought most of the books from the publishers themselves, but I got Awkward-Rich’s, Chee’s, Chen’s, and Smith’s from the Powell’s display at the center of the fair. Powell’s handed out free commemorative tote bags and pins with purchases from their booth, both neat souvenirs.

I also bought a Walt Whitman Brooklyn Poets t-shirt–I couldn’t resist. I also wanted to get the Audre Lorde shirt, but they were a bit pricey ($25.60 each) so I will have to get it another time.

Awkward-Rich, Cameron. Sympathetic Little Monster. Los Angeles: Ricochet Editions, 2016.

Berggrun, Chase. Red. Minneapolis: Birds, LLC, 2018.

This book is an erasure poem created from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula.

Chee, Alexander. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays. Boston: Mariner Books, 2018.

Chen, Ching-In. The Heart’s Traffic: A Novel in Poems. Los Angeles: Arktoi Books, 2009.

Dangarembga, Tsitsi. This Mournable Body. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2018.

Davis, Todd. Some Heaven: Poems. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2007.

Dawn, Amber. How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013.

Dentz, Shira. the sun a blazing zero. New Orleans: Lavender Ink, 2018.

Hopkinson, Nalo. Report from Planet Midnight Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2012.

Jih, Tristan Allen, and Adam Vines. Day Kink: Poems. Greensboro, NC: Unicorn Press, 2018.

Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Wild Girls” Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2011.

Sato, Hiroaki. On Haiku. New York: New Directions, 2018.

Scenters-Zapico, Natalie. Lima:: Limón. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2019.

Smith, Danez. Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2017.

Soto, Christopher, ed. Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color. New York: Nightboat Books, 2018.

Tedesco, Adam. Mary Oliver. Fruita, CO: Lithic Press, 2019.

This is a book of poems about Oliver. Meta!

Tovar, Virgie. You Have the Right to Remain Fat. New York: Feminist Press, 2018.

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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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