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Books Acquired Recently

I had a robust book-acquiring month in October as a result of several factors that happened to coincide: I went to a conference, I was making up book lists for next semester, I had a friend publish a book, I read some interesting book reviews, and so on. Unless otherwise noted, all of these books were acquired via amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Brown, Box. Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. New York: First Second, 2014.

I read a review of this graphic biography on grantland.com and it sounded fantastic, so I bought it immediately, as Andre was a major figure in my childhood as a result of his heart-wrenching feud with Hulk Hogan and his role as Fezzik in The Princess Bride.

Fisher, MFK. The Gastronomical Me. 1954. New York: North Point, 1989.

I discovered this book when doing research for a seminar on obsession that I am teaching next semester, and decided to check it out.

Fowles, John. The Collector. 1963. New York: Back Bay, 2010.

I have read Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman and enjoyed it, and then read about this novel in a list of books about obsession while doing research for the above-mentioned seminar. It sounded intriguing and I was able to find a cheap copy online, so I bought it.

Goldsmith, Kenneth. Sports. Los Angeles: Make Now, 2008.

I recently read an article about Goldsmith, a poet whom I had not previously heard of, in the New Yorker. He sounds like another one of the many, many writers (Hemingway, Faulkner, et al.) who are horrible people but write interesting work. This book is about baseball, so I thought I would check it out.

Hinojosa, Felipe. Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2014.

A few weeks ago I attended a Mennonite education conference at Bluffton University, and Hinojosa was one of the keynote speakers. I bought his book from the campus bookstore since I myself am a Latino Mennonite, but do not know very much about the history of this subgroup outside of those from New York City.

Nathan, Jesse. Cloud 9. Portland: Dikembe, 2015.

Nathan is a friend of mine, and I am excited to read his new chapbook of poems. I got an email from the publisher advertising it (presumably they got my email address from Nathan) for only $8.00, which is a steal considering that for a chapbook it’s quite lengthy–40 pages.

Perloff, Marjorie. Unoriginal Genius: Poetry By Other Means in the New Century. 2010. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2012.

I read about this book in the same article I read about Goldsmith’s book. I have been reading a lot of poetry for fun lately and thought that this book might give me some ideas for new poets to check out. Perloff is a controversial figure, but I must admit that I have enjoyed the work of hers (especially her book on Frank O’Hara) that I’ve read.

Shteyngart, Gary. Super Sad True Love Story. 2010. New York: Random, 2011.

I had heard of this book and was familiar with its distinctive, colorful cover from advertisements in the New Yorker several years ago, but never bothered to read what it was about. A friend recently recommended it to me and it sounded interesting enough to purchase.

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Books Acquired Recently

Cecconi, Mike. This is My Inside Voice. Utica: VBLP, 2015.

Cecconi is a regular reader at the Tramontane Cafe’s poetry nights here in Utica, which I frequent occasionally. His chapbook came out a few months ago, and I finally got around to purchasing it (only $5.00!). I read it last night and it is fantastic.

Plimpton, George. The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. New York: Macmillan, 1987.

I enjoy Plimpton as a writer, and I have read the shorter version of this novel about the Mets’ mysterious pitching phenom several times. After seeing grantland.com’s recent short documentary on the story I decided to buy the novel, which I found from one of amazon.com’s independent sellers for $0.15!

Wright, David. The Small Books of Bach. Eugene: Wipf, 2014.

This book of poems (which is not by the David Wright that plays third base for the Mets) is inspired by Bach’s music. I rarely like collections of poems that are about a single subject, but I’ve read Wright’s previous work and enjoyed it, so I decided to buy this volume. It was especially enticing because Wipf & Stock offered it on their website for only $8.00.

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Books Acquired Recently: Post-Holiday Edition

I ordered a number of books with some holiday cash, and they have been trickling in through the mail recently.

Gundy, Jeff. Somewhere Near Defiance. Tallahassee: Anhinga, 2014.

Gundy is one of my favorite poets, and he was kind enough to send me a review copy of his new collection. I look forward to reading it soon!

Munce, Alayna. When I Was Young and in My Prime. Roberts Creek: Nightwood, 2005.

I read about this novel and Weier’s novel in Robert Zacharias’s book on Canadian Mennonite literature, Rewriting the Break Event, and they both sounded fascinating.

Newmahr, Staci. Playing on the Edge: Sadomasochism, Risk, and Intimacy. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2011.

I have been wanting to read more theorizing on BDSM, and found Newmahr’s and Weiss’s books. I am interested to see how they compare to some of the less-academic work I’ve read on the subject.

Shoemaker, David. The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling. New York: Gotham, 2013.

I enjoy Shoemaker’s frequent grantland.com columns on pro wrestling, thus decided to buy his new book. Wrestling fascinates me because it explicitly centers around narrative, and this narrative gets influenced by its audience. In this way it is quite literary even though it obviously also appeals to people who are not interested in the literary at all.

Taormino, Tristan, et al., eds. The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure. New York: Feminist, 2013.

I recently heard about this book on a “Top Ten Feminist Books of 2013” list. I appreciate Taormino’s other work, and this collection includes work by a number of writers I enjoy such as Susie Bright, Betty Dodson, Nina Hartley, and Lorelei Lee.

Torres, Justin. We the Animals. 2011. Boston: Mariner, 2012.

I received this novel as a desk copy for one of the courses I am teaching this semester. It is an excellent book. I had the privilege of meeting Torres a few years ago when he read at the college where I was working, and he is a sweet, gracious person.

Weier, John. Steppe: A Novel. Saskatoon: Thistledown, 1995.

Weiss, Margot. Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality. Durham: Duke UP, 2011.

Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers. 1925. New York: Persea, 2003.

One of my students is writing about this novel in her Master’s thesis this semester, so I am going to read it in support of that project. It takes place in the lower east side of New York City, which is close to where I used to live. I am excited to see how the book depicts the neighborhood.

With the exception of Gundy’s and Torres’s books, all of these books were acquired from independent sellers on amazon.com.

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Pro Wrestling as Narrative

There’s an excellent interview with WWE executive Triple H on grantland.com that explains how WWE storylines get generated, and how they play out during live events. I loved to watch wrestling as a kid, and while I no longer watch it, I still enjoy reading about it. This may sound odd, but reading about it gives me the same kind of light pleasure one would get from reading a cheap bit of genre fiction. Triple H says that “everything we do is storytelling,” and as someone who is vitally concerned with how narrative works, of course I respond to this element. I have a friend who still watches wrestling, and when people find out and say to him “Why do you watch wrestling? It’s fake” (which is inaccurate: it’s staged, not fake. There are often real injuries.), he says “Yeah, but so is Shakespeare.” It’s a snarky-yet-profound statement.

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Books Acquired Recently: Last Names Beginning With K Edition

Keogh, Theodora. The Other Girl. 1962. N.P.: Olympia, 2009.

I read a number of Keogh’s books last summer and have been wanting to read more of them, but hadn’t had the time. I plan to rectify that this summer.

Klosterman, Chuck. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined). New York: Scribner, 2013.

Klosterman is one of my favorite writers because he thinks in ways that I have never encountered before about a wide range of subjects, including sports and all facets of pop culture. He’s one of the few authors whose books I buy automatically whether they sound interesting to me or not because they inevitably are, and this one sounds quite fascinating. Klosterman writes essays considering a long list of villains, mostly men. Some of the ones I am most excited to read are those on Nancy Botwin (from Weeds), Michael Stipe, Ice Cube, Al Davis, Darth Vader, and Patrick Bateman (from Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho). You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Both books bought on amazon.com.

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Books Acquired Recently: English Soccer Novels Edition

King, John. The Football Factory Trilogy: The Football Factory, Headhunters, England Away. London: Vintage, 2000.

Sampson, Kevin. Awaydays. London: Cape, 1998.

I recently ordered these two books used from English bookshops via amazon.com. Sampson’s book is autographed, which is a nifty bonus, especially considering that I only paid $0.02 for it (both books originally retailed for £9.99).

Virtually no fiction about soccer is published in the United States (I remember reading one or two children’s novels on the subject as a kid), but I recently read Graham Parker’s interview of Sampson on grantland.com and decided that his work sounded exciting. When looking online for his book, I came across King’s as well. The only novel I’ve ever read that is even nominally about soccer is B.S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates, so I am looking forward to reading further in the field. I love English soccer, and these two books will be an enjoyable way of feeding my craving for it during the summer offseason.

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The Environmental Issue With Digital Media

Steven Hyden has a fascinating article on grantland.com today about how digital downloads of music are quickly becoming a thing of the past as they are replaced by services such as Spotify. He notes that, while record aficionados will continue to buy physical objects (and one could also make this argument for those of us who prefer real books to their bastardized e-book cousins), no one will be nostalgic about downloading songs because no physical object changes hands. As Hyden writes, “[p]eople continue to buy vinyl records because they enjoy the process of buying and playing vinyl records;” there is no equivalent of this experience with digital files. Or, to put it in Marxist terms, buying a record (or a book!) is one of the most prominent examples of a commodity fetish.

Hyden’s explanation of the changing way we consume recorded music makes sense, but what his article (and similarly, all of the articles extolling the virtues of e-readers) fails to discuss are the consequences of having all of one’s music in digital form when we run out of fossil fuels in twenty or thirty years. All of that data becomes meaningless if there is no electricity (or so little that it is needed for more basic tasks such as cooking or heating the home) to run the computer or charge the iPod. I suppose this might also be a problem when trying to run a CD player (though it won’t when trying to read a real book as long as there is a window nearby!). But my point is that, while the Digital Age is an exciting one, we do not talk nearly enough about its environmental impact and how we will adjust when the energy that powers it is no longer as available as it is now. This is why physical libraries/archives are so important.

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