Tag Archives: Kathy Acker

Books Acquired Recently

Kraus, Chris. After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e), 2017.

Acker is one of my favorite postmodern novelists and I was thus very excited to hear about this new authorized biography of her. It immediately jumped up to the top of my to-read list. I bought it and Watson’s novel from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Mount, Nick. Arrival: The Story of CanLit. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2017.

As a result of my interest in Mennonite literature, which includes numerous Canadian authors, I have been slowly building an interest in Canadian literature in general over the past decade or so. I found out about Mount’s new book on the rise of Canadian literature as a cultural force beginning in the 1960s when I went on House of Anansi Press’s website to check where they are located since they have recently stopped listing their location in their books. I bought it directly from the website and began reading it as soon as it arrived. It’s quite enjoyable thus far.

Watson, Sheila. The Double Hook. 1959. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2008.

As part of my reading in my above-mentioned explorations of Canadian literature, I read an article about Watson’s archive, which includes some correspondence about the writing of this novel. The article made the novel sound interesting, so I decided to read it for myself.

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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: 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

Acker, Kathy. Bodies of Work. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1997.

—. Don Quixote. New York: Grove, 1986.

I love Kathy Acker, and have been meaning to read Don Quixote for quite a while now. I picked up Bodies of Work, a collection of her non-fiction, because it was only a dollar. It is in terrible shape; large chunks of pages are falling out, but all of the pages are there, so I’ll get the book re-bound. Normally I don’t buy books in bad condition, but I made an exception in this case because I love how Acker’s mind works.

These along with the Baldwin and Everett were purchased at Ken Sanders Rare Books.

Baldwin, James. Just Above My Head. 1979. New York: Dell, 1980.

Baldwin is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve been getting into his later fiction more recently. I actually ordered this book several months ago, but it was out of stock, so it was nice to find a copy while browsing in person.

Everett, Percival. I Am Not Sidney Poitier. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2009.

I also really enjoy Everett’s work, and I Am Not Sidney Poitier is one of his well-known books, so I am excited to read it. I am moving across the country in a week, thus I decided when I went to Ken Sanders this afternoon that I would only look for books by Acker, Baldwin, and Everett instead of browsing indiscriminately because I already have a lot to pack as it is. But my search for work by these authors was successful in all three cases!

Incidentally, I met Sidney Poitier when I was seven at the Los Angeles airport. I got his autograph (which hung on the wall of my bedroom for years, though I sadly no longer have it), and my mother got her picture taken with him. He was very gracious about being stopped by his fans.

Penner, Christina. Widows of Hamilton House. Winnipeg: Enfield, 2008.

This book was recently recommended to me by a friend who knows about my interest in Mennonite literature. It’s a gothic mystery, which is not a subject I normally read, but it should be fascinating because of the Mennonite elements.

This and D’anna’s two books were purchased from amazon.com’s network of sellers.

D’anna, Lynnette. Belly Fruit. Vancouver: New Star, 2000.

—. vixen. Toronto: Insomniac, 2001.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently ordered a bunch of D’anna’s books because she is the rare Mennonite writer who writes openly about sex. Both of these books have tacky titillating covers, so we’ll see whether the stories live up to their billing.

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Books Acquired Recently

Aldrich, Nelson W., Jr., ed. George, Being George: George Plimpton’s Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals–and a Few Unappreciative Observers. New York: Random, 2008.

I am fascinated by George Plimpton as a sort of public intellectual who was one of the last of his kind. However, this fascination hasn’t arisen as a result of his writing, but as a result of his various film and television appearances (e.g., in Good Will Hunting, in Ken Burns’s Baseball, and on the The Simpsons [His appearance as a crooked spelling bee promoter/hotplate salesman is priceless, but unfortunately I can’t find it on YouTube. His final line is “Now I’ll go back to doing whatever it is that I do.” Exactly.]). I decided that it is time for me to learn more about him and his writing, so I bought Aldrich’s oral history of Plimpton’s life and Plimpton’s oral history of Truman Capote (who also fascinates me).

Beachy, Stephen. Boneyard. Portland: Verse Chorus, 2011.

One of my favorite poets, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, recommended this novel to me because of my interests in LGBT literature and Mennonite literature. Intersections between the two are extremely rare, but I am so glad that she introduced me to Beachy’s novel because I just finished it tonight and it is amazing! One of the top five novels I’ve ever read, probably (top ten for sure). It is as though Kathy Acker were male and an ex-Mennonite, and decided to write about her/his Mennonite baggage. It has immediately become the next work that I will write scholarship on.

Plimpton, George. Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

Apparently this got excellent reviews. It’s slightly thicker than Aldrich’s book.

Sullivan, Nikki. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York UP, 2003.

I’ll be teaching a literary criticism and theory course next semester and am starting to look at potential textbooks. Sullivan’s book has gotten good reviews and is supposed to be accessible, so I thought I would check it out.

All bought on amazon.com.

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Giannina Braschi’s Yo-Yo Boing!

The Puerto Rican-American writer Giannina Braschi’s 1998 novel (this is the best term I can think of for it, though it is only a novel insofar as that term is now so all encompassing, like a giant, shaggy literary beast somewhere between Cookie Monster and Grendel that devours everything in its path) Yo-Yo Boing! (translated into English by Tess O’Dwyer) is a gripping pastiche of a book that is all about voice rather than plot. The bulk of it is a dialogue between unnamed voices, sometimes between two fairly recognizable personas (a woman and man), sometimes between two indestinct personas that are apparently different than the first two (gender unclear), sometimes between at least three personas that are different than all of those which have come before (at least two of them are women). But the rapid-action dialogue is interesting no matter who is speaking. The dialogue meanders from discussions of poetry to discussions of Puerto Rican politics to discussions of academic politics to discussions of bodily excretions, circling back through these topics several times. The last line is “God, who is dead!”, so the book falls firmly into the postmodernist anti-universal narrative camp. The style is like a Puerto Rican Kathy Acker mixed with some James Joyce mixed with some Ernest Hemingway mixed with just a dash of Samuel R. Delany. This hodgepodge might alienate many readers, but I really enjoy it, and look forward to reading more of Braschi’s work.

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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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