Tag Archives: Chuck Palahniuk

Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copy Edition

The new semester begins on Monday. Over the past few months I have received desk copies of the following books for my courses (note that not all of the books I will be teaching are represented here).

For Written Communication II:

Darms, Lisa, ed. The Riot Grrrl Collection. New York: Feminist Press, 2013.

Heti, Sheila, et al. Women in Clothes. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2014.

This book is always a hit with students and is one of my favorite books ever. Everyone should read it.

For Introduction to Literature:

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. 1996. New York: W.W. Norton, 2018.

Rivera, Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. Riverdale, NY: Riverdale Avenue Books, 2016.

Samatar, Sofia. Tender: Stories. Easthampton, MA: Small Beer Press, 2017.

Schakel, Peter, and Jack Ridl, eds. 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.

I love poetry but it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to learn how to teach it effectively. Now that I do, I have made it a goal to assign a poetry anthology in all of my literature classes.

For American Writers After 1865:

Dove, Rita, ed. The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry. 2011. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Other Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 1987. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

 

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Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Birthday Edition

My birthday is this week and I have already received several books as gifts. There is no gift better!

Brady, Frank. Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall–from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness. New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2012.

I am a recovering chess addict who has always been fascinated by Bobby Fischer, the greatest American chess player ever. Brady’s first biography of Fischer, Profile of a Prodigy, is one of my favorite books ever, and I look forward to reading this sequel.

Castro, Jennifer, ed. All You Need is Love: Honoring the Diversity of Women’s Voices in Theology. Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Church USA, 2016.

I am friends with several of the contributors to this book, which collects essays from the 2014 Women Doing Theology conference. Mennonite theology needs all the help it can get from those on the margins, thus I am excited to see what ideas the book’s writers have to offer.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Haunted. 2005. New York: Anchor Books, 2006.

This is one of the few Palahniuk books that I have not read. His books are either brilliant or terrible.

Shigekuni, Julie. Unending Nora. Los Angeles: Red Hen Press, 2008.

Shigekuni gave a reading earlier this week at the local Barnes & Noble. She was very personable and chatted at length with the students present after the reading. I decided to buy this novel rather than a more recent one because a colleague told me that it involves autoerotic asphyxiation and I am always looking for new fictional representations of kink.

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Books Acquired Recently

It has been a good summer for book collecting, as the number of volumes on my “to read” shelf now is much larger than it was at the beginning of the summer. My latest batch comes mostly from a recent visit to the Strand, but I also received Lankevich’s and Lepore’s books as gifts from a friend, and bought Shawl and Campbell’s collection on amazon.com because Samuel R. Delany is one of my research interests.

Charyn, Jerome. Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. New York: Liveright, 2015.

I have not encountered Charyn’s work before, but as a native of the Bronx I am always on the lookout for good fiction about it, and Bitter Bronx‘s blurb (well-written blurbs are so important, and so rare) makes it sound like the stories are well-rooted in their place, which is a literary theme I have been studying recently.

Clowes, Daniel. Ghost World. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1998.

I have been wanting to read this graphic novel since I saw the film version, and have considered buying it on a number of occasions, but other books always took precedence. However, there was a stack of them at the Strand on one of the second floor tables at a discounted price ($13.49 as opposed to the $14.99 cover price), and I decided it was time.

cummings, e.e. Erotic Poems. Ed. George James Firmage. New York: Liveright, 2010.

I enjoy cummings’s work, in large part because of its frankness about the body, thus when I came across this slim volume it was too tempting to resist. It also includes some of cummings’s erotic drawings.

Lankevich, George J. New York City: A Short History. New York: New York UP, 2002.

Despite being a native of New York City and somewhat of a history buff I know relatively little about the city’s history. I am about two-thirds through the book and it is quite good thus far. It was first published in 1998 and then an expanded version was published in 2002 after 9/11. However, the pre-9/11 chapters were not revised, and there are several instances where other significant events in the city’s history happened on September 11 (laws being signed, and so on), and it is fascinating to read these passages that make no comment on how significant that date would later become. It is also interesting to wonder about the timing of these seemingly coincidental occurrences. It reminds me of the occult concept of ley lines. Are there such a thing as ley dates?

Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman. New York: Vintage, 2015.

I enjoy Lepore’s writing for the New Yorker, and Wonder Woman is my favorite superhero, so I was quite excited to receive this book.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Beautiful You. 2014. New York: Anchor, 2015.

When Palahniuk is on, his fiction is brilliant, and when he is off, it is gimmicky and mediocre, so I’m always a little nervous to acquire one of his books, but the blurb on this one was intriguing enough (it is about sex toys) to convince me to buy it.

Shawl, Nisi, and Bill Campbell, eds. Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany. Greenbelt: Rosarium, 2015.

This festschrift for Delany includes both essays and fiction, which is an appropriate mixture considering the diversity of his own oeuvre.

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Summer Will Show. 1936. New York: New York Review, 2009.

I have been wanting to read this novel since reading about it in a feminist literature course back in 2004, and have often searched for it in used bookstores to no avail. I happily discovered this NYRB edition on one of the fiction tables at the back of the Strand (I actually gasped aloud when I saw it). This is what I love about the Strand: while I always find excellent books that I wasn’t looking for, I always also seem to find a book that I am looking for in a way that feels like it was put right there for me to find it.

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Books Acquired Recently

Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. 1968. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Survivor. 1999. New York: Norton, 2010.

After my post yesterday about needing to support local businesses I decided to stop by the Central Book Exchange on my walk home from the office. I purchased two books that I have been meaning to read. I’ve read relatively little Native American literature, and nothing of Momaday’s, so buying House Made of Dawn is one step toward rectifying this issue.

On the other hand, I’ve read lots of Palahniuk, and hadn’t been planning on reading more of him for a while because, while when he is at his best (Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, and maybe Pygmy depending on when you ask me) he is excellent, when he isn’t (Choke, Snuff) he is boring and his attempts to shock the reader feel arch and immature. But one of my students this semester wrote an essay on Survivor that made the novel sound intriguing because it is in backwards order (i.e., page 1 is the last page). As regular readers of my blog know, I am a sucker for postmodern fiction, including that which takes a non-linear form (this is one of the reasons why I love Invisible Monsters, and Invisible Monsters Remix even more so), and I am especially interested in contemporary examples. Thus when I found a used copy of Survivor in excellent condition I had to buy it.

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Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix

Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix is a fantastic printed object that deserves space in the canon of American postmodern fiction. It is the 1999 version of Invisible Monsters in its original intended form, which asks the reader to jump back and forth throughout the volume, kind of like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book from the 1980s. For instance, the end of the introduction instructs the reader to “jump to Chapter Forty-one,” where the novel begins. The end of that chapter directs the reader to another chapter, eventually culminating in the final chapter near the middle of the volume, which is marked “The End” in place of further direction.

However, this chapter sequence only covers the chapters from the original novel. There are around ten (I’m too lazy to go back and count!) new chapters interspersed throughout the book, some that extend the story of the novel and some that describe its original composition and how the idea for the Remix came about. If one has not been paying attention to which chapters have been read, it is easy to miss these new chapters. But the introduction suggests marking each read page with an X, which is what I did, and then I went through the book looking to check if there were any unread pages, thus discovering the new chapters. There are three sequences of new chapters that loop back on themselves, so the reader could begin with any of the chapters in the sequence and still encounter all of the chapters (e.g., I began the first sequence with chapter three because it was the first unread chapter that I discovered, and the last chapter I read in the sequence directed me back to chapter three, so even if I had begun with a different chapter in the sequence I still would have gotten to all of its chapters).

Two of the new sequences involve pages that are printed backwards so that the reader must use a mirror to read them.

Pages 16-17 of Invisible Monsters Remix.

A close-up of page 16 of Invisible Monsters Remix.

 

Palahniuk acknowledges that readers “older, than, say, twenty-two” will hate this gimmick (104), but I love it! I appreciate books that try to stretch the limit of what a physical book can be, which is why I like the Remix so much. It combines elements of previous postmodern texts such as B.S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Even if one is not a fan of Palahniuk, the Remix is worth reading because of how it tries to break through the novel’s conventional generic form.

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Books Acquired Recently

Palahniuk, Chuck. Invisible Monsters Remix. New York: Norton, 2012.

I am teaching the first edition (1999) of this novel in my Introduction to Literature course this coming semester, which gave me an excuse to buy the Remix (it is essential research!), a version of the novel in its original form along with commentary by Palahniuk. Invisible Monsters is a fun book—I couldn’t put it down the first time I read it—and I am looking forward to experiencing it in a different incarnation.

Steinbeck, John. The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. 1976. New York: Penguin, 2008.

I have been looking for a copy of this book for around fifteen years in used bookstores. Steinbeck is an excellent storyteller and one of my favorite writers to read for fun, thus I’ve always thought that his retelling of the Arthurian legend would be worth reading. I did not realize that Penguin had reissued it, but discovered a new copy of the book (along with Palahniuk’s) when browsing in Dolly’s Bookstore in Park City, Utah, which I visited for the first time yesterday. I continue to be very impressed with the number of high-quality bookstores in Utah. It has the best bookstore scene I’ve ever encountered outside of New York City.

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Books Acquired Recently

Acker, Kathy. Pussy, King of the Pirates. New York: Grove, 1996.

I really enjoy Acker’s work because of its combination of postmodern form and explicit sexuality. I was wanting to read more of her fiction this summer and saw that Hume’s book has a section on Pussy, King of the Pirates, so I decided to acquire it and read it before beginning Hume.

Hume, Kathryn. Aggressive Fictions: Reading the Contemporary American Novel. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2012.

I bought this book because, aside from sounding fascinating in general (it discusses numerous writers/texts that I like: Acker, Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Chuck Palahniuk, American Psycho…) it has a section on Samuel R. Delany’s novel Hogg, which is generally ignored by critics. It always surprises me a) how often people write about Delany (they just tend not to write about his sex books), and b) how many literary critics have not heard of him at all, as he is a major voice in numerous fields. These two facts seem to contradict one another, but my guess is that most literary critics who have heard of Delany feel compelled to write about him as I do. He is becoming more and more canonical, and deserves to be so.

Both books bought on amazon.com.

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