Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis

Books Acquired Recently

Addiss, Stephen. The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters. Boston: Shambhala, 2012.

Yesterday I went to a poetry reading in Ithaca, New York, and stopped at two bookstores during the trip. I bought this book at The Bookery, a delightful, labyrinthine used bookshop.

Barnhart, Danielle, and Iris Mahan, ed. Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. New York: OR Books, 2018.

I also stopped at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, where I bought this new anthology and Brownstein’s memoir, which I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while since I love Portlandia. I kept seeing more and more books that I wanted to buy. It’s a dangerous place!

Brownstein, Carrie. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir. 2015. New York: Riverhead Books, 2016.

Carlson, Paula J., and Peter S. Hawkins, ed. Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1994.

My mother just retired and is working on downsizing. She just brought me some books from her library that I either had sentimental attachments to from childhood (Lewis’s, Moore’s, and Waybill’s) or thought sounded interesting. This one falls into the latter category. It’s a collection of fiction by a variety of authors dealing with finding God in the world.

Delany, Samuel R. The Atheist in the Attic Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2018.

I just recently discovered PM Press, a publisher of radical literature. Happily, they just published my favorite author’s latest book! It includes a novella and some essays. I bought it immediately from their website.

Lewis, C.S. A Grief Observed. 1961. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Moore, Joy Hofacker. Ted Studebaker: A Man Who Loved Peace. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1987.

Why do you get a Herald Press children’s book written about you? Because you died while doing mission work, of course!

Waybill, Marjorie Ann. Chinese Eyes. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1974.

The inscription in this book says that my parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was three.

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Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. The Mixquiahuala Letters. Tempe: Bilingual, 1986.

This is Castillo’s first novel, and wow have I missed out waiting this long to acquire and read it! I began reading the book this afternoon as soon as I unwrapped it from its shipping envelope (as C.S. Lewis writes in Surprised by Joy, there is really nothing like the happiness of receiving a package in the mail that one knows has a book inside), and not only is the writing up to Castillo’s usual beautiful standard, but it has a postmodern form as well! There is a note at the beginning of the table of contents which instructs readers not to read the book chronologically, and then gives them several options for how to read it depending on their personality type, as seen in these photographs:

“Dear Reader” / “For the Conformist”

“For the Cynic”

“For the Quixotic” / “For the reader committed to nothing but short fiction, all the letters read as separate entities. Good luck whichever journey you choose!”

I am reading the novel as a “cynic.”

I have enjoyed Castillo’s work for half a decade, but the new-to-me work that I have been reading the past few days has shown me that she is someone I must write scholarship about. It is wonderful to discover an author who fits my interests in ethnic literature, LGBT literature, and postmodern literature.

Delany, Samuel R. Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. Rev. Ed. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2012.

Samuel R. Delany is another rare author who fits my three primary scholarly interests. I have been looking for a copy of Starboard Wine‘s out-of print original 1984 edition for over two years without luck, and then found out a month ago that Wesleyan University Press, which has published or republished most of Delany’s literary criticism, was publishing a revised edition. It just came out, and I am very excited to finally have the chance to read it.

Both books bought on amazon.com.

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Some Thoughts on Edgar Allan Poe

Yesterday a friend of mine posted this hilarious cartoon on Facebook: http://i.imgur.com/rlEZr.png. Any time you can combine Edgar Allan Poe and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you have to do it. I’ve been thinking about the cartoon and chuckling all day, which in turn got me thinking about Poe in general, and how he keeps inserting himself into my life at random intervals. I enjoy his work, though I would not consider him one of my “favorite” authors, but my history with him is longer than my history with any other non-children’s author aside from C.S. Lewis. Here is a brief recounting of some of that history.

My first encounter with Poe was via his famous poem “The Raven.” I don’t remember when I discovered this poem—presumably in school—but I knew it by 1989 when it featured in the first Simpsons Halloween special, with James Earl Jones narrating and the Bart-headed raven saying “eat my shorts” instead of “nevermore.”

The second encounter with Poe which comes to mind is reading a book of his short stories for eighth-grade English. The stories were cool because of their creepiness, but I got a 72 (or maybe a 74? Anyway, pretty abysmal) percent on the exam that covered them, so didn’t revisit the book for years afterward because it was associated with bad memories. However, I still have it, and just now noticed that it is edited by Vincent Price! Classic. And only $4.95 new.

A third strong Poe memory comes from the tail end of my sophomore year of high school. I was in Stratford, Ontario on a school trip to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (which was a surreal experience, but that is a story for another post). The plays were in the evening, thus we were spending the day browsing Stratford’s shops. I came across a small bookstore and decided to go inside and look for a collection of Poe’s poetry. (Why Poe? Why poetry? I don’t remember my reasons; it was like an unexplainable craving.) This is the earliest instance I can remember of that lovely phenomenon of going into a bookstore wanting a specific book and finding it when you were not sure that you would (Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited are two other examples of this happy synchronicity that I have experienced). In this case, I didn’t even know whether the book I wanted even existed, but there it was, “The Raven” and Other Favorite Poems, for only $1.00.

My fourth major Poe memory, and really the last time I thought about him extensively until this weekend (I taught “Annabel Lee” this past semester, but made my students do the thinking about it), is from three or four years ago when I was playing chess with a friend and he observed that in successful attacks the threat of a crushing move is often stronger and more decisive than its actual execution. He compared this to the threat present in “The Purloined Letter,” where the threat of blackmail resulting from the stolen letter is so strong that those who look for it are out of their heads to the point where they miss that it is on the desk, out in the open. I suppose I must add Poe to that ever-increasing mental list of authors that I need to re-read.

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“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”

Here’s the video for U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_WDG8iLT1o

There’s not much to say about it other than that it’s a fantastic video: It’s animated! Bono reads The Screwtape Letters! Batman plays the cello! It was always a treat when it came on television, back when MTV still played videos.

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