Tag Archives: David Foster Wallace

Books Acquired Recently

Adler, Renata. Speedboat. 1976. New York: New York Review, 2013.

Fox, Paula. Desperate Characters. 1970. New York: Norton, 1999.

I was recently reading The David Foster Wallace Reader, which includes a few syllabi from Wallace’s creative writing and literature courses. The syllabi are the best written, most thought-provoking ones I have ever encountered, and it is inspiring to see how Wallace took even this most mundane of genres seriously as a writing task. The syllabus for his contemporary American fiction course included several texts that I have not read before, including Adler’s and Fox’s, which I bought right away because if Wallace thinks they are important, they are.

Human, Charlie. Apocalypse Now Now. London: Titan, 2015.

A few weeks ago a colleague and I were discussing how Apocalypse Now constantly gets referenced in pop culture, and she mentioned this South African novel as an example. Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite films, so I decided to buy Human’s book to see what he does with it. It’s fascinating to have an African text dialogue with the film because the film itself is a retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

These three texts were purchased from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Swartley, André. Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl. Newton: Workplay, 2014.

Swartley and I were in college together and we recently reconnected at a conference. He sent me a review copy of this novel, the sequel of which will be coming out this fall. Up until recently examples of U.S. Mennonite fiction were few and far between, but happily the field has been flowering as of late, and it is exciting to have Swartley play a role in this resurgence.

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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 amazon.com.

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Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

Yesterday I once again visited my favorite place in the world, the Strand Bookstore at 12th and Broadway in Manhattan. I was recently remarking to a friend how when I lived within walking distance of the Strand about a decade ago it always seemed like I would go there and there would be a book specifically waiting for me, whether it was the book that I had gone there to look for in an exquisite edition, or a book that I didn’t know that I was looking for (as I would often go just to browse and see what caught my eye) that grabbed me and was somehow a perfect fit. The past few times I’ve gone to the store this hasn’t happened, and it has been depressing (though, of course, I’ve still enjoyed myself there) as a symbol of how both my relationship to the city and the store itself have changed (the Strand looks fantastic now, but I miss its old, badly lit grittiness before the renovations that were completed seven or eight years ago). But when I went yesterday, it happened again in three instances! It was tremendously exciting.

I eschewed a shopping cart when I entered the store, vowing that I would only buy as much as I could carry in one hand. I am proud that I had enough fortitude to stick to this vow, which is why I only bought five books.

Ashbery, John, and James Schuyler. A Nest of Ninnies. 1969. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2008.

I have been wanting to read this novel for quite a while because I am a big fan of the New York School poets and because I enjoyed Schuyler’s novel What’s for Dinner?, but it is a relatively minor work and thus I have never gotten around to it. But there was a stack of copies on one of the fiction tables at the back of the store on the first floor, and it was priced at only $5.95 new, so I had to have it.

Davis, Lydia. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. New York: Picador, 2009.

I have never read any of Davis’s work before, but recently read an article about her in the New Yorker that intrigued me, so I decided that I would begin looking for this collection the next time I was in a good (i.e., not Barnes & Noble) bookstore. Of course the Strand had a stack of this aesthetically pleasing volume right at the front of the store!

Robbe-Grillet, Alain. A Sentimental Novel. 2007. Trans. D.E. Brooke. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2014.

I have enjoyed the work of Robbe-Grillet’s that I’ve read, so I picked this book up while browsing and was immediately drawn to it by the beginning of its blurb: “In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet’s final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning that this adult fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities.” Sold! I read it on the train ride home and enjoyed it (on an academic level, you dirty-minded readers) for the most part. It is like a better version of Sade without all of the political diatribes.

Wallace, David Foster. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity. 2003. New York: Atlas-Norton, 2010.

I love David Foster Wallace, so I bought this book even though I am not a mathematics enthusiast. I appreciate learning about intellectual history, though, and am therefore hopeful and expectant that Wallace will make this subject fascinating to me. After I read his unfinished novel The Pale King, which is mostly about IRS agents, I was half-tempted to become an accountant, so I am confident that my investment in this volume will not have been in vain.

Whitman, Walt. Franklin Evans or The Inebriate: A Tale of the Times. 1842. Ed. Christopher Castiglia and Glenn Hendler. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

I love Whitman’s poetry, but have never read this, his only novel, which is supposed to be awful. I’ve been wanting to read it since one of my students did a presentation on it this past year, and when I saw it I knew I had to buy it immediately because I am acquainted with Chris Castiglia! He is a lovely man who teaches at Penn State. It is always exciting to buy a book by someone whom you know. Thus I will enjoy reading it even if the novel itself is terrible.

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Books Acquired Recently

Arthur, Anthony. The Tailor-King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster. New York: St. Martin’s, 1999.

Queer Mennonite literature has been the primary focus of my scholarship over the last year and a half. I keep discovering more and more of it, and as I do, I realize that it is a much larger, longer-tenured tradition than I first thought, as is the queer Mennonite tradition in general. As I have been thinking about the deep-rootedness of queerness in the Mennonite community, I’ve begun to wonder about the Münsterites, a group of radical Anabaptists that practiced polygamy and took over the city of Münster in Germany in 1534. Present-day Mennonites disown the Münsterites because of their sexual transgressions as well as their use of violence, and as a result of this bias I know very little about the group. I am interested in learning more about their sexual rebelliousness, so I bought this book, which is the standard popular account of the group’s brief history.

Lipsky, David. Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. New York: Broadway, 2010.

I am a huge fan of David Foster Wallace’s work, but I just recently found out that this book existed. I am very excited to read it, as it sounds like a Wallace-esque work (think “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”) about Wallace himself.

Scholder, Amy, Carla Harryman, and Avital Ronell, eds. Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker. London: Verso, 2006.

I’m only slightly less obsessed with Kathy Acker’s work than I am with Wallace’s, and I will be teaching Acker’s novel Blood and Guts in High School later on this semester, so I am in the process of reading criticism on Acker’s work. I acquired this book as a part of that endeavor.

All three books were purchased from independent sellers on amazon.com.

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Books Acquired Recently

Doyle, Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. 1888 and 1890. Mineola: Dover, 2003.

Frederic, Harold. The Damnation of Theron Ware. 1896. Mineola: Dover, 2012.

I just recently heard of Harold Frederic (Utica College’s student literary society is named after him), who was from my new town of Utica, New York, and is buried less than a mile from my apartment. His major novel, The Damnation of Theron Ware, takes place in Utica, so I decided to buy it (and hopefully read it in the next week or two) as a part of my continuing investigations of the area. If I enjoy it there is a good chance I will include it in my American Literature After 1865 course next semester.

I have also been meaning to buy A Study in Scarlet for a while because it takes place in my just-now former state of Utah. I look forward to seeing how a British author depicts the bizarre realities of pre-statehood “Deseret.”

As an aside, note that for Doyle’s book the name of the volume itself is “A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four,” therefore according to MLA formatting only the “and” is italicized because the volume’s title should be italicized, but of course in italicized titles that include book titles (i.e., in this case, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four) the normally italicized titles must receive another form of emphasis since the entire title of the volume is already theoretically italicized. I understand the logic of this, but it just looks weird. I would much prefer if the “and” were the only word not italicized. I am all for MLA style’s attention to detail, but certain elements of it drive me up a wall.

As a second aside, Dover books are fantastic. I often assign them in my classes when I can because they are so inexpensive. Most people are familiar with Dover as a result of their editions of classic literary works, but they publish a wide-ranging list, including several significant chess books such as Frank Brady’s Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy and Hans Kmoch’s Pawn Power in Chess. The protagonist in Nicholson Baker’s novel The Fermata is in the process of writing a history of Dover as his M.A. thesis, and I’ve always wished I could read it. Baker himself would be the perfect person to write such a history because of his love of print culture, and especially print culture ephemera.

I’ve been reading David Foster Wallace’s essays for the past week-and-a-half, which is why this post is so footnote-y.

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Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

I spent a few days this week in New York City, which of course involved my usual trip to the Strand. I have been shopping at the Strand since 2002, and it always brings me joy even though their renovations over the past decade have taken away some of the store’s character. But I was able to recognize a few of the workers who have been there since I first began going, and I love that feeling of continuity.

There are only a few weeks left before the beginning of the new semester, so I probably won’t read many of these books for a while (I hope some of them aren’t still sitting on my to-read shelf when next summer rolls around!), but they were all irresistible.

Acker, Kathy. Blood and Guts in High School. New York: Grove, 1978.

—. In Memoriam to Identity. New York: Grove, 1990.

—. Literal Madness: Three Novels: Kathy Goes to Haiti, My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Florida. New York: Grove, 1987.

I love Acker’s work, and her books are hard to find in stores so it was a no-brainer to buy these three, which were all in almost perfect condition.

Ballard, J.G. The Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard. 1978. New York: Picador, 1995.

Ballard is a writer who, like Acker, always makes me see so-called taboo subjects in a new light. I’ve been wanting to read more of his work for a while.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. 2006. Boston: Mariner, 2007.

I really enjoy Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip, and have read excellent reviews of Fun Home.

Houellebecq, Michel. The Map and the Territory. Trans. Gavin Bowd. 2011. New York: Vintage, 2012.

I first bought one of Houellebecq’s books the last time I was at the Strand and really enjoyed it. I almost bought The Map and the Territory when it first came out in hardcover, and found the paperback for a good price.

Munro, Alice. Dear Life. 2012. New York: Vintage, 2013.

This is another recent book that I nearly bought in hardcover when it first was released. I’ve read several of its stories in the New Yorker and really enjoyed them.

Piazza, Mike, with Lonnie Wheeler. Long Shot. New York: Simon, 2013.

As a serious Met fan it was only a matter of time before I bought this book. I got a used copy in excellent condition for half the cover price.

Wallace, David Foster. Both Flesh and Not: Essays. New York: Little, 2012.

—. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. 2005. New York: Back Bay, 2007.

—. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments. 1997. New York: Back Bay, 1998.

I adore Wallace’s fiction and have been wanting to read more of his nonfiction. I’ve read a lot about Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Both Flesh and Not is a recent collection of Wallace’s nonfiction that did not make it into either of his collections while he was still alive.

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Books Acquired Recently

Binnie, Imogen. Nevada. New York: Topside, 2013.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I ordered this book from the publisher (Topside Press is a fantastic new venture dedicated to publishing transgender literature) after reading a glowing review of it by Casey Plett. I am excited to read it soon, perhaps this weekend.

Gregg, Melissa, and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds. The Affect Theory Reader. Durham: Duke UP, 2010.

I bought this book because I only have a vague idea of what affect theory is about. It sounds fascinating.

This and Grafton’s book were bought on amazon.com.

Grafton, Anthony. The Footnote: A Curious History. 1997. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1999.

I am totally addicted to footnotes, and have been since I was an undergraduate. I decided to break down and buy Grafton’s history of the form after recently reading some criticism on David Foster Wallace’s use of them. I prefer footnotes to endnotes, but MLA style calls for endnotes, so that’s what I normally use. But footnotes are much more user friendly.

Lehman, Joanne. Driving in the Fog. Georgetown: Finishing Line, 2013.

I heard about this chapbook of poems from a friend who knows Lehman and pre-ordered it from the publisher several months ago (Lehman is a Mennonite, which is why the book sounded interesting to me). Then I promptly forgot about it. It was thus a nice surprise to receive it in my mailbox yesterday!

Schott, Penelope Scambly. Lillie was a goddess, Lillie was a whore. Woodstock: Mayapple, 2013.

I received a review copy of this collection of poetry from Your Impossible Voice, a new online literary journal that I’ll be writing some reviews for. It is exciting to be a part of the early days of a new publishing venture! Schott’s book is about Lilith, Adam’s first wife, and one of my favorite mythological figures (her story didn’t make it into the Bible because she insisted that she be on top during sex). I am looking forward to reading it.

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