Tag Archives: MLA

Books Acquired Recently: MLA Edition

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Last week I went to the annual Modern Language Association (MLA) convention, which was in Philadelphia this year. It was my third time attending MLA, and as usual one of the highlights of my trip was going to the Book Fair. It seemed like there were fewer publishers there this year, but I still managed to come away with ten books! All of the publishers had sales, and I actually got four of the books (Cisneros, Hass, Karr, McCloud) for free.

Cisneros, Sandra. A House of My Own: Stories from My Life. 2015. New York: Vintage Books, 2016.

Random House was giving out free books in exchange for signing up for their email list, and this patchwork memoir was the most intriguing of the books eligible for the offer.

Cruz, Ariane. The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography. New York: New York University Press, 2016.

BDSM is one of my major scholarly interests and it excites me how there are more and more academic studies of it being published.

Cvetkovich, Ann. Depression: A Public Feeling. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

I adored Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings when I read it earlier this semester, so I decided to check out this newer volume.

Gillot, Alain. The Penalty Area. Trans. Howard Curtis. New York: Europa Editions, 2016.

This lovely little novel that I’ve already finished is about a French youth soccer team. Happily, not only is it about soccer, but chess also plays a significant role.

Gray, Mary L., Colin R. Johnson, and Brian J. Gilley, ed. Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies. New York: New York University Press, 2016.

I have read very little on rural queer experience, and bought this new reader in order to help remedy this lack.

Hass, Robert. A Little Book on Form: An Exploration Into the Formal Imagination of Poetry. New York: Ecco, 2017.

I love both Hass’s poetry and his writing about poetry, and was thus excited to see that he has this new book (which, at over 400 pages, is not “little”) out.

Hoang, Nguyen Tan. A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.

I have been trying to read as much work at the intersection of race/ethnicity and queer theory as possible recently, but have not yet read anything about the Asian queer experience.

Karr, Mary. The Art of Memoir. 2015. New York: HarperPerennial, 2016.

I have been writing more and more creative nonfiction lately, but without reading much theory on how to do so. I thought reading this book would be helpful as I continue to pursue this writing.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: William Morrow, 1993.

It is terrible that I still haven’t read this classic text even though I have taught graphic narratives in a number of courses. But there’s nothing like the impetus of getting it for free!

Rabinowitz, Paula. American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.

I love pulp paperbacks and was thus very excited to find this history of them and their influence.

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Books Acquired Recently: More Mennonites Edition

I’ve spent the entire summer reading, thinking, and writing about Mennonite literature, which I have come to realize is now my primary field of study. As a part of this studying I’ve been reading a lot of Mennonite literary criticism, which has been tremendously enriching. The one problem with reading literary criticism, though, is that there are always books cited that I haven’t read before which sound interesting, so of course I have to buy them. These two books were acquired as a result of this process.

I have mentioned before how I strongly dislike the new MLA formatting, and most Mennonite studies journals use Chicago Style, so I have decided to start using Chicago Style in all of my writing, including here.

Vermette, Katherena. North End Love Songs. Winnipeg: The Muses’ Company, 2012.

Vermette is of mixed Mennonite and First Nations heritage, which makes her one of the very few Mennonite writers of color. Her work is thus right in my scholarly wheelhouse. This poetry collection was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, so it should be a good read.

Weaver-Zercher, David L. “Martyrs Mirror”: A Social History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

Thieleman J. van Braght’s Martyrs Mirror is the ur-text of Mennonite literature, and is a book that has fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. It remains an influential book in both the field of Mennonite literature and Mennonitism as a whole. I was thus especially excited to hear about Weaver-Zercher’s book, which is a history of both van Braght’s book itself and how readers have interacted with it.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Books Acquired Recently: Mennonites Plus One Edition

My recent book-buying binge has included a number of Mennonite authors. Aside from the Wes Funk books, which I ordered from Laird Books in Regina, Saskatchewan (and who provided excellent customer service), I acquired all of the Mennonite-related books from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Birdsell, Sandra. Agassiz: A Novel in Stories. Minneapolis: Milkweed, 1991.

I haven’t read much of Birdsell’s work though she was one of the influential Mennonite writers at the beginning of the “Mennonite miracle” in Canadian writing during the 1980s. I decided that this summer would be a good time to remedy this lack.

Funk, Wes. Cherry Blossoms. Regina: Your Nickel’s Worth, 2012.

—. Dead Rock Stars. Illus. Kevin Hastings. Regina: Your Nickel’s Worth, 2015.

—. Wes Side Story: A Memoir. Regina: Your Nickel’s Worth, 2014.

I recently heard about Funk’s work. It is apparently explicitly queer, which is exciting because queer Mennonite literature is a major research interest of mine. I bought copies of all of his books that I could find (there’s one more that I haven’t been able to find anywhere).

Janzen, Jean. Elements of Faithful Writing. Kitchener: Pandora, 2004.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I haven’t read much of Janzen’s work, but am trying to remedy that. This book is one that gets cited often in metacritical discussions of Mennonite literature, and thus feels essential for me to read.

Waltner-Toews, David. One Foot in Heaven. Regina: Couteau, 2005.

I love Waltner-Toews’s poetry and am excited to read some of his fiction.

Yaguchi, Yorifumi. The Wing-Beaten Air: My Life and My Writing. Intercourse: Good, 2008.

I also really enjoy Yaguchi’s poetry, and look forward to reading this memoir.

The “plus one” referred to in the title of this post is the new Modern Language Association style manual, which I received free because I am an  MLA member:

MLA Handbook. 8th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2016.

Once I get a chance to read this I will have to write a post about how I feel about the changes, but just flipping through it and seeing some of the different formatting I am flipping out, and not in a good way. Double-plus ungood. I will have to decide whether or not to use the new formatting for my citations in future posts.

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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.

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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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Good Writing on Reading Digitally and its Consequences

I’m a bit behind on my PMLA reading, and I was reading the January 2013 (128.1) issue this morning, which includes an excellent suite of essays on “Reading in the Digital Age.” I’ve written here about these issues before, especially about my concern that we retain less and our brains get less exercise when we read digitally rather than in print, and the frightening long-term effects this will have on society. Thus it was nice to discover that such a prestigious journal is paying close attention to the subject. Here are some of the highlights:

My favorite article in the group is Naomi S. Baron’s “Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media,” which reports the results of several surveys she conducted measuring both students’ and the general population’s attitudes about reading digitally versus reading in print. I like the article because the survey shows that even students who have grown up with computers all of their lives realize that they prefer reading in print once they are asked to think about it. Respondents appreciate the physicality of reading books, even textbooks that they are planning on selling back to the bookstore at the end of the semester (which is another problem to discuss another time). They also say that they retain information much better when they are interacting with print texts, in part because they get distracted in electronic environments. The article also shows that more and more people conceive of reading as a search for specific bits of information rather than as an exploration fueled by intellectual curiousity. I admit that sometimes I am guilty of this in my research, going straight to a book’s index to find the passages that are relevant to my topic, but I also enjoy reading for pleasure rather than purpose, and I have grown intellectually just as much if not more via the former kind of reading as the latter. Baron’s essay is necessary reading for anyone interested in the life of the mind and how it’s evolving, and I am going to assign it to my students this autumn.

Michael Cobb’s intriguing article “A Little Like Reading: Preference, Facebook, and Overwhelmed Interpretations” examines what sort of reading act occurs when we “Like” something on Facebook. I am addicted to Facebook, and am glad to see that it continues to draw serious academic analysis. One of the most profound conference presentations I’ve ever heard was a presentation on Facebook as a form of autobiography at the 2010 MLA Convention. Seriously engaging with Facebook rather than simply dismissing it as a waste of time is essential because of its ubiquitousness, and Cobb’s essay is a superb example of this engagement.

Jim Collins’s essay “Reading, in a Digital Archive of One’s Own,” which is pro-digital reading, is a thought-provoking piece in part about how both sides of the debate are represented by unhelpful caricatures and how the debate problematically takes place as “an exercise in nostalgia, grounded in a discourse of inevitable loss” (212), and in part about how one’s digital playlist is a form of autobiography just like one’s library. Collins makes a good point about how those of us who are defenders of print media need to integrate the realities of digital reading into our viewpoint, though I don’t think he pays enough attention to the foreboding realities of digital reading described in Baron’s essay.

N. Katherine Hayles’s essay “Combining Close and Distant Reading: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes and the Aesthetic of Bookishness” argues that many recent authors (she also mentions B.S. Johnson’s classic The Unfortunates) have expressed concern about the future of the book by creating books that play with books’ traditional physical form. She offers a helpful, data-ridden analysis of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes as an example of this trend.

Lisa Nakamura’s essay “‘Words with Friends'” Socially Networked Reading on Goodreads” is also quite good for many of the same reasons as Cobb’s. She examines Goodreads as an important source of data on contemporary reading habits, but also notes that is important to keep in mind that such seemingly-innocent social networking sites function because users consume their advertising. They are cogs of capitalism in disguise.

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