Tag Archives: Don DeLillo

Books Acquired Recently

Abramović, Marina. Walk Through Walls: A Memoir. New York: Crown Archetype, 2016.

Abramović is my favorite artist, and I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it via her Facebook page. I love how she inserts her body into her work, insisting that art is always in some way autobiographical. I am excited to see how she handles the genre of written autobiography. Judging from the dust jacket blurb, the book is more properly spoken of as autobiography rather than as memoir, as its subtitle claims, but memoir is so marketable these days that it is understandable (though not necessarily justifiable) why the publisher would choose to mislabel it.

This and Smith’s book were purchased from amazon.com.

Atwood, Margaret. Hag-Seed: “The Tempest” Retold. London: Hogarth, 2016.

I recently received this book, which is signed by the author, as a gift. Hogarth has a series of retellings of Shakespeare’s plays by contemporary authors. This is a genre Atwood has worked in before, and I enjoy the writing of hers that I’ve read, so I am optimistic that the book will be an enjoyable one.

Johnson, E. Patrick, ed. No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

Johnson’s anthology Black Queer Studies is an essential book in both the queer and African American literary critical canons, and a book that has had a significant impact on me as a scholar. Therefore, when I first heard about No Tea, No Shade, a follow-up collection, I ordered an examination copy from the publisher immediately.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.

I have loved Smith’s fiction since I first read White Teeth in a graduate school course eleven years ago. She is one of a select group of authors whose books I buy immediately without question (Nicholson Baker, Di Brandt, Samuel R. Delany, Don DeLillo [though he might be off the list now because his last book was so poor], Jonathan Safran Foer, Jeff Gundy, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, and Miriam Toews), and thus I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Vacation Edition

I have acquired sixteen books over the past two weeks, most as a result from visiting various bookshops during my recent vacation to England and Scotland, which was an amazing trip! The rundown of these books is below, with the books separated into sections based on where they were bought. The sections are listed in chronological order.

Hatchard’s, London, England

IMG_0321

Hatchard’s is the oldest bookshop in London, having opened in 1797. It was walking distance from my hotel and it was an awe-inspiring experience to be in a space that has been used for the same purpose for over 200 years.

Clare, John. Major Works. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

I have been looking for a selection of Clare’s works since reading about his escape from a lunatic asylum in a book on psychogeography about a year ago. This volume has a large selection of his poetry as well as some of his prose, which is what I am most interested in.

Kureishi, Hanif. Something to Tell You. 2008. London: Faber, 2009.

Kureishi is one of my favorite British authors and thus I thought it would be appropriate to buy one of his books while I was in England.

Topping & Company, Bath, England

IMG_0343

This was a fantastic bookstore, my favorite on the trip. Bath is a lovely little city.

Bashō, Matsuo. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. Tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa. London: Penguin, 1966.

I really enjoy Bashō’s haiku, thus when I discovered this slender volume on the shelf I thought it presented a good opportunity to read some of his prose. I also like the idea of buying a book about travelling whilst travelling.

Lee, Hermione. Biography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

I am considering doing some scholarship on memoir and thought this little book would be helpful for understanding some of the theoretical issues surrounding the genre.

Peter Bell Books, Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the things that impressed me about Edinburgh was its large number of bookshops–I discovered seven of them just wandering about a half-mile radius from my hotel. All but one of these (Blackwell’s below) were independent stores, tiny holes-in-the-wall. This included Peter Bell Books. Its website (linked to above: “We have been bookselling in Edinburgh since 1980, and are reliable and professional in our business dealings.”) is a good digital manifestation of the shop itself.

Spark, Muriel. The Bachelors. 1960. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963.

IMG_0399 (1)

I was hoping to buy an old British Penguin paperback because I love their design, and this book fit the bill. I love the little notice on the back cover letting buyers know that it “is not for sale in the U.S.A.” I paid £4.00 for it, more than its original price of three pounds and six shillings (it’s so old that they were still using shillings!).

Blackwell’s, Edinburgh, Scotland

It made me happy that all of Edinburgh’s small bookshops are able to coexist with this larger chain shop.

London, Jack. The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

The shop was having a two-for-one sale on Oxford World’s Classics, so this is the book that I got for free.

Zola, Émile. The Ladies’ Paradise. 1883. Tr. Brian Nelson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

I have never read any of Zola’s work despite his importance to the genre of the novel. I recently read a bit about this particular book and thought its portrayal of urbanization and gender sounded interesting, so I decided to buy it.

Oxfam, York, England

Butler, Bryon. The Official Illustrated History of the FA Cup. London: Headline, 1996.

There was an Oxfam used bookshop just down the street from Yorkminster Cathedral, which is one of the sites I visited during the trip. I found this coffee table book and decided to buy it because Manchester United were playing in the FA Cup final later in the day and I thought buying it would bring them luck, and it did! It cost £3.45.

WHSmith, Gatwick Airport, London, England

Ferguson, Alex, with Michael Moritz. Leading. 2015. London: Hodder, 2016.

Despite all of the other better bookshops on the trip it was still impossible to resist a quick walk-through of the airport bookstore, and I ended up purchasing this book because it was half-price.

The Strand, New York City

On the morning after arriving back in the U.S. I stopped at the Strand, my favorite bookstore, before taking the train back to Utica.

DeLillo, Don. Zero K. New York: Scribner, 2016.

I am incredibly excited to read DeLillo’s new novel because he is one of my favorite authors. I exclaimed with delight when I saw it on one of the front tables.

Heti, Sheila. How Should a Person Be? 2012. New York: Picador, 2013.

I love Women in Clothes, the book that Heti co-edited about women’s experiences with clothing, but have never read any of her writing itself. A stack of How Should a Person Be? was on a table labelled “The Future of Fiction” and I decided it was time to check it out.

Mukherjee, Neel. The Lives of Others. 2014. New York: Norton, 2015.

I read Mukherjee’s first novel, A Life Apart, in England and loved it. I decided that I will teach it in one of my courses this coming fall, and thus that it would be helpful to read The Lives of Others sometime this summer to give me more context for his work.

Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2015.

I read a review of this book in the New Yorker a few months back and it sounded fascinating for three reasons: it deals with queer issues, it blends genres, and, as noted above, I am thinking about doing some scholarship on the memoir genre and thought it would be helpful to read this book since it is all the rage. Nelson has also published a book about one of my favorite poets, Frank O’Hara, that sounds interesting, so she seems like a fascinating person.

Amazon.com

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

I am currently working on a bibliography that I plan to submit to a journal that uses Chicago Style, which I am not familiar with, so I decided to buy this book to help with the project. I am also seriously considering switching to Chicago Style as my primary style because I am not fond of the new version of MLA style (note that I am still using the older version of MLA style to format the entries for the books in this post).

Darling, Ron, with Daniel Paisner. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life. New York: St. Martin’s, 2016.

Like many Mets fans I am obsessed with the 1986 team and will buy any book associated with them. This book promises to offer a fascinating perspective on the team. Many people forget that Darling started game 7 (and did not pitch well, leaving trailing 3-0) because Sid Fernandez ended up being the pitching hero and there are all of the iconic images of Jesse Orosco throwing his glove into the air after the final out. Even though the Mets scored eight runs, everyone talks about how the pitching was what won the Mets the game, and I look forward to reading Darling’s analysis of why this is the case.

The last of the sixteen books is

Pashley, Jennifer. The Scamp. Portland: Tin House, 2015.

Pashley gave a reading with several other authors in Utica last night that was quite enjoyable. I have her two excellent short story collections and decided to buy her recent novel in part because I like her writing and in part because it is important to support local authors and independent presses.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Literature, Sports

Books Acquired Recently

All of these books were bought with an eye toward my impending summer break, which begins in three weeks!

Ames, Greg. Buffalo Lockjaw. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

Greg Ames gave a reading from his novel-in-progress at Utica College this past week, and I enjoyed it to the point where I decided to buy a copy of his previous book. He has an engaging, DeLillo-esque writing voice that my students also found engaging.

Buell, Lawrence. The Dream of the Great American Novel. Cambridge: Belknap-Harvard, 2014.

This hefty tome received a good review in the New Yorker recently, and I decided to buy it because it looks like it could be helpful for my teaching of American literature. In looking through the table of contents, it is clear that Buell pays attention to ethnic minority writers; we shall see whether he does an equally good job of acknowledging queer writers as well.

Plett, Casey. Lizzy & Annie. Illus. Annie Mok. N.p.: Fireball, 2014.

This illustrated chapbook is a story from one of my favorite queer (and Mennonite!) writers, who also has a collection of short stories coming out from Topside Press this summer. Lizzy & Annie only cost $5.00, and you can buy it here (scroll down to the bottom right for purchasing information).

Wiebe, Rudy. First and Vital Candle. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966.

I’ve thought about reading this, Wiebe’s second novel, on and off for the past decade or so, and since I’ve been thinking a lot about Mennonite literature lately I decided to finally take the plunge. (However, rather famously among Mennonite literary circles, the book does not actually contain any Mennonite characters, which is partly why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it.) I was able to find a copy of the first Eerdmans edition in fine condition from one of amazon.com’s independent booksellers; there are a few rips in the dust jacket, but the volume itself is in excellent shape.

The way this first American edition was marketed (it was published at the same time in Canada by a more prestigious secular publisher, McClelland and Stewart) is fascinating. The dust jacket includes several blurbs extolling the novel’s Christian aspects. Clyde S. Kilby writes that “[t]his novel stands very close to the top among evangelical novels of this century,” and Charles A. Huttar adds that “Mr. Wiebe is remarkable among Christian novelists for his craftsmanship.” I know that later in his career (which is still ongoing, as rumor has it that Wiebe will soon publish a sequel to his first [highly controversial] novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many), Wiebe would strongly object to being pigeonholed as a “Christian novelist” instead of simply a “novelist,” so I wonder what his reaction to these meant-to-be-laudatory words was.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: NeMLA Edition

I have been at the Northeast Modern Language Association annual conference for the past few days. Normally this kind of convention offers excellent opportunities for book-buying. However, the conference has been a disappointment in this respect, as the selection at the bookfair was rather paltry. I only bought one book there.

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner Graphic Novel. Illus. Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo. New York: Riverhead, 2011.

I’ve heard that Hosseini’s novel by the same name is excellent, and have also heard good things about the illustrated edition. It was a steal at $5.00.

I then went to the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, which is a short walk from the conference’s main hotel in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I had heard that it was an excellent independent bookstore. While it is true that the store is large and has an inventory covering a wide variety of subjects, it is horribly organized. I was primarily interested in browsing the fiction section, and within this section the books were organized by the first letter of authors’ last names, but within each letter there was no organization whatsoever, not even to the point of putting all of an author’s books next to each other. For instance, in the D section, I saw books by Don DeLillo on at least three separate shelves. In the nonfiction sections, books were alphabetized by their titles rather than by their authors, which made browsing in any meaningful way close to impossible. The store, in short, was infuriating.

Nevertheless, I am such a book-buying addict that I acquired two volumes. I believe in supporting independent bookstores, even badly-organized ones.

Spark, Muriel. Open to the Public: New & Collected Stories. New York: New Directions, 1997.

I recently read some of Spark’s work for the first time and loved it, thus I was delighted to find a like-new hardcover copy of her collected stories for only $6.95.

Welsh, Lindsay. Necessary Evil. 1995. New York: Blue Moon, 2005.

I had not heard of this book or of Welsh before, but I noticed it on the shelf because it has Blue Moon’s distinctive cover design. The book was originally published by Masquerade Books, which published high-quality erotica in the 1980s-1990s. It was also only $6.95.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copies Edition

DeLillo, Don. End Zone. 1972. New York: Penguin, 1986.

I’ll be teaching this novel in my Literature in Focus: Teens and Twenty-Somethings course next semester. The course only includes books with youngish protagonists. End Zone is the story of a college football team in Texas, and I am including it in the course with the hope that it will help some of the student-athletes who don’t read for fun realize that there is literature out there that speaks to their experiences. The novel is the best (and, frankly, one of the only) novel about American football by far. It is fascinating to me that there haven’t been more books written on this subject, considering that Americans are obsessed with it (and, of course, DeLillo does an excellent job exploring football as a metaphor for the American psyche). Perhaps this is because of football’s brutish nature. It appeals to a different mindset than a sport like baseball does, which has inspired a literary tradition almost as rich as the game itself.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939. New York: Penguin, 2006.

This has been one of my favorite novels since I first read it in high school, and I am finally going to teach it for the first time, in my American Literature After 1865 survey. Its length is right on the edge of what is possible to teach to undergraduates without them losing interest, but I think that the compelling storyline and the richness of Steinbeck’s prose will keep them engaged.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Sports

Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copies Edition

Today I received all of my desk copies for the upcoming semester. I’ll be teaching semester one of the first-year composition course, American Literature to 1865, and American Literature Post-1945. It should be a fun semester toggling back and forth between the two American literature extremes! It will make a fascinating contrast.

I already have copies of most of these books, just not the editions that are currently in print, hence the necessity of acquiring the ones listed below.

Bottini, Joseph P., and James L. Davis. Utica: Then & Now. Charleston: Arcadia, 2007.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans. 1826. New York: Penguin, 1986.

DeLillo, Don. Falling Man. 2007. New York: Scribner, 2008.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories. New York: Dover, 1992.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories. New York: Penguin, 1999.

McClatchy, J.D., ed. The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry. 2nd ed. New York: Vintage, 2003.

Nelson, G. Lynn. Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling. Novato: New World, 2004.

Poe, Edgar Allen. The Complete Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Volume I of II). N.P.: Digireads.com, 2012.

Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories. 1959. New York: Vintage, 1993.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. 1982. Orlando: Harvest, 2003.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. 1855. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton

I just finished reading Salman Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton, which is primarily about the years after the fatwa was issued against his life in 1989 in response to the publication of The Satanic Verses. Rushdie writes eloquently about his most depressing emotional moments during the thirteen years when he had to live under police protection, but he also offers beautiful, inspiring tributes to all of the people (especially his protection team and many of his fellow writers) who supported him, as well as offering the book as an impassioned defense of free speech. Happily, most writers were both privately and publicly supportive of Rushdie, including Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Buford, Martin Amis, and Kurt Vonnegut, though a few–including, sadly, Roald Dahl–were not. Shamefully, The Satanic Verses‘ publisher, Viking-Penguin, refused to issue a paperback of the novel, though they kept the hardcover in print. Many bookstores (including many stores in the U.S., who took out an ad in the New York Times when the novel was published here to say that they would stock it), courageously made the book available to the public even though several were bombed by religious fundamentalists.

Joseph Anton is a masterpiece, and is necessary reading for anyone who cares about literature. It should finally persuade the Nobel Prize committee to award Rushdie their literature prize. It is over 600 pages long–Rushdie’s joyful prolixity surfaces once again–but every page is compelling and intense. I found that I was only able to read about seventy-five pages of it per day because it got me so worked up, but this visceral reaction is a testament to Rushdie’s gifts as a writer. He is a hero for anyone who truly cares (i.e., not most American politicians) about freedom.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature