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Books Acquired Recently: Ithaca Book Sale Edition

Today I attended the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Book Sale in Ithaca, New York, for the first time. It is a huge semi-annual used book sale with ridiculously low prices (most of the books I bought–both hard- and softcover–were $0.25, and the mass market paperbacks [Amis, Knowles, and Zelazny] were $0.10, so eleven books for $2.30 plus tax). It was quite well attended by both adults and children, so much so that at times it was difficult to maneuver through the aisles, kind of like the Strand used to be before they renovated it about ten years ago.

My esoteric tastes combined with my already sizable library mean that used bookstores/used book sales are generally hit-or-miss experiences, so I was pleasantly surprised about how many books I found to buy. Some I bought because of the price, and some (the queer ones and some of the poetry) I would have happily paid much more for. I was also somewhat depressed thinking about all of the former owners of these books, wondering what happened to them to cause them to get rid of these books, and how a lot of them are probably dead. I also thought about what it would be like to be an author and to find one of your books for sale for such a low price. Both lines of thought are terrifying if you think about them too much.

Allison, Dorothy. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1994.

I’ve encountered intriguing references to this collection of personal essays before, and was excited to find a copy of it.

Amis, Kingsley. One Fat Englishman. 1963. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1966.

How could I not buy a Penguin paperback with this title?

Berg, Stephen, and Robert Mezey, eds. Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969.

As I have written here before, I am obsessed with poetry anthologies. I have the sequel to this seminal (my gendered word choice is intentional: Denise Levertov and Sylvia Plath are the only women included) anthology, The New Naked Poetry, and was happy to find a first edition of its predecessor, albeit without a dust jacket.

Forest, Katherine V. Curious Wine. 1983. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, 1993.

I was very happy to discover that the book sale had an entire section of lesbian fiction (though not a corresponding gay fiction section) marked as such. There was an entire shelf of Naiad Press (R.I.P.) editions and I was tempted to buy the whole thing but thought it was important to leave them for others who might also be interested because I know I wouldn’t have time to read them all before the next book sale in May. So maybe I’ll buy them then if they are still around. But I decided to pick up Forest’s classic that, as its back cover says, had over 100,00 copies in print at the time this tenth anniversary edition was published.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

I enjoy Goodwin’s interviews in Ken Burns’s Baseball documentary and thus decided to buy her memoir about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. In the documentary she identifies herself as now being a Red Sox fan, a switch which is a) justifiable because when a team abandons their city is perfectly acceptable for their fans to abandon them, and b) one that has paid dividends over the past 15 years. I wonder how she felt when the Dodgers and Red Sox met in the World Series two years ago, and how she feels about their matchup again this year?

Inés de la Cruz, Sor Juana. Selected Works. Trans. Edith Grossman. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014.

This book is in basically new condition, a complete steal!

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. 1959. New York: Dell, 1961.

I thought to myself, “I’ve enjoyed the previous Knowles novels I’ve read, so of course I’ll pick up this pulp paperback (original price $0.50) that is in lovely condition.” Then I got home and realized I was thinking of John Fowles! So we’ll see what I think of Knowles.

Millet, Catherine. The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Trans. Adriana Hunter. New York: Grove Press, 2002.

I remember reading a review of this book when it first came out in English, and have encountered references to it here and there in the years since, so I was happy to find a copy of the hardcover in very good condition.

Schulman, Sarah. People in Trouble. 1990. New York: Plume, 1991.

Another find from the lesbian fiction section.

Strand, Mark, ed. The Contemporary American Poets: American Poetry Since 1940. New York: Meridian Books, 1969.

See my comments about being obsessed with poetry anthologies above. It’s always fascinating to see which poets have lasted and which ones have not.

Zelazny, Roger. Lord of Light. 1967. New York: Avon Books, 1969.

I’ve been wanting to broaden my reading of speculative fiction and found a copy of this Hugo Award-winning book in excellent condition. One of my favorite authors, Samuel R. Delany, speaks highly of Zelazny, so I am excited to encounter his work for the first time.

 

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Books Acquired Recently

Alvarado, Leticia. Abject Performances: Aesthetic Strategies in Latino Cultural Production. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

I am beginning to work more with Latinx literature in my scholarship, and thus have been working to build my library of criticism and theory in the field. This book looks relevant to that task, so I bought it directly from the publisher.

Hughes, Langston. I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey. 1956. New York: Hill and Wang, 1964.

A colleague gave me this and the Hughes and Bontemps anthology because she was de-accessioning some books and knows that I am interested in African American literature. I was very happy to receive them, partly because I love preserving old books and partly because, in the case of I Wonder as I Wander I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time and in the case of the anthology I am obsessed with poetry anthologies. The autobiography is stamped “The African-Caribbean Bookstore, 2319 E. 71st Street, Chicago, IL, 60649, (312) 288-0880” (which is apparently no longer in existence according to a quick Google search) and the anthology is inscribed “P.S. Kipp, Feb. 1963.”

Hughes, Langston, and Arna Bontemps, eds. The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949: A Definitive Anthology. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1949.

This anthology, which is in excellent condition, was ahead of its time in that it includes poetry from all over the world rather than just from the U.S. Unfortunately, only one poet from Africa is included, which indicates just how unexplored African literature was at the time, but there are numerous poets from Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Kitano, Christine. Birds of Paradise. Spokane, WA: Lynx House Press, 2011.

Kitano gave a poetry reading at Utica College last week, and I decided to buy her first collection because she said it has a lot of poems about ghosts, and it was the third time in less than a week that ghosts had come up for me, which felt significant because of the rule of threes. I had dinner with her and her husband after the reading and she seems like quite a nice person.

Morales, Ed. Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture. London: Verso, 2018.

I received a promotional email about this book several weeks ago and ordered an exam copy immediately. It came in the mail at the end of last week and I hope to begin reading it later today.

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Books Acquired Recently: Albany Book Festival

Yesterday I went to the first Albany Book Festival. It was an enjoyable event with a mix of panels, author signings, and authors selling their books, many at reduced prices. I ended up spending about $85.00 total for the seven books I acquired, so about $12.00 per book, which is not bad. I had heard of Whitehead, Ostriker, and Dentz before (and was able to have them sign their books), and discovered the other authors as a result of the event. Parks’s and Whitehead’s books are fiction, Dentz’s is a mixed-genre memoir, and the rest are poetry.

Amador, Nico. Flower Wars. Austin, TX: Newfound, 2017.

Dentz, Shira. door of thin skins. Fort Lee, NJ: CavanKerry Press, 2013.

Gette, M.J. The Walls They Left Us. Austin, TX: Newfound, 2016.

Lynch, Michael. Underlife and Portico. Boston: Aforementioned Productions, 2013.

Ostriker, Alicia Suskin. Waiting for the Light. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.

Parks, Robin. Egg Heaven: Stories. Albany, NY: Shade Mountain Press, 2014.

Whitehead, Colson. Zone One. 2011. New York: Anchor Books, 2012.

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Books Acquired Recently

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Mennonite speculative fiction writer Sofia Samatar recently, including reading through lots of her interviews (a list of them is on her website). Interviewers often ask her about books she’s read lately and I’ve almost always never heard of them, so I try to buy the ones that sound interesting or helpful for my own work. These three books are examples of this gleaning.

Martin, Douglas A. Acker. New York: Nightboat Books, 2017.

I like Kathy Acker’s writing, and this book is blurbed by Maggie Nelson and Wayne Koestenbaum, two queer writers whose work I enjoy, so I am especially excited to read it.

Valente, Catherynne M. Palimpsest. New York: Bantam Books, 2009.

The premise of this novel is apparently that you have to have sex in order to enter the city where it takes place.

Zambreno, Kate. Heroines. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012.

This book is about the wives of famous authors. I’m always interested in books that investigate the margins.

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Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. Sapogonia: An Anti-Romance in 3/8 Meter. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.

I’ve read most of Castillo’s earlier work, but somehow this novel slipped my notice, perhaps because it is now out of print. I decided to read it as part of my research for the paper I am writing on her novel Give It to Me.

This and Groff’s book were bought from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Groff, Lauren. The Monsters of Templeton. New York: Hyperion, 2008.

I recently heard about the Mennonite writer Lauren Groff, and bought this book in order to investigate her work.

Miller, Todd. Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2017.

Earlier this summer I went to to Arizona and Sonora on a learning tour about the border, and we met with Miller to talk about his writing on the relationships between border issues and climate change. This conversation made me decide to buy his book. I read it over the weekend and it is quite sobering. He says that our civilization is dying, and I think he’s right. The problem is that no one in government seems to realize it.

This and Wiebe’s book were bought from amazon.com.

Wiebe, Katie Funk. You Never Gave Me a Name: One Mennonite Woman’s Story. Telford, PA: DreamSeeker Books, 2009.

Wiebe is an important Mennonite writer in the older sense of the term (i.e., someone who wrote in service to the church, often for church periodicals, rather than someone who writes literature as art, a definition that is not meant to disparage the former kind of writing but simply to note that it is very different from what the term “Mennonite writer” means now), and I’ve known her name since I was a child because my mother had several of her books, but I’ve never actually read any of her work. I decided to purchase her autobiography to get a better sense of her life and her writing.

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Books Acquired Recently: Lauren Groff Edition

I recently heard about the author Lauren Groff, who is of Mennonite background even though she does not apparently identify as Mennonite. Well, we Mennonite literary critics name Mennonite writers as such whether they like it or not, so guess what, Lauren Groff, you’re a Mennonite writer! Don’t try to fight it! Join the dark side! We have baked goods.

Anyway, I bought her books from amazon.com because of the Mennonite connection.

Groff, Lauren. Arcadia. 2012. New York: Hachette Books, 2015.

—. Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories. 2009. New York: Hachette Books, 2015.

Weirdly, this reprint is also a hardcover rather than a paperback.

—. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead Books, 2015.

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Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. Black Dove: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me. New York: Feminist Press, 2016.

I am currently writing about Castillo and bought this memoir-in-essays as part of my research. I read it in one sitting yesterday and it is fantastic. Everyone should read it.

Kauffman, Rebecca. Another Place You’ve Never Been. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2016.

—. The Gunners. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2018.

I just heard about Kauffman from a former professor of mine. She was raised Mennonite in Ohio and thus fits in with my primary research area, Mennonite literature. I look forward to reading her books.

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