Tag Archives: Muriel Spark

Books Acquired Recently: AWP Edition Plus One

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AWP:

I just attended the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) conference for the first time this past week. It was a fantastic conference, and one of the best things about it was the huge book fair. There was so much literature to choose from that it became an overwhelming task. I thus developed the following buying strategy: I would stop at publisher tables that looked interesting and ask them if they had any queer texts. If they did, I would consider those texts. I came away with some exciting-looking books by authors that I mostly have never heard of before (and therefore some of the books do not have annotations).

Cho, Tom. Look Who’s Morphing. 2009. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014.

Cho presented at the same panel as Sassafras Lowrey did (mentioned below). I made a note to look up his work because he discussed the work of Tom of Finland, which I care deeply for. When I went to buy Lowrey’s book I happily discovered Cho’s book right next to it on the table.

Gaydos, Rebecca. Güera. Oakland: Omnidawn Publishing, 2016.

Guzman, Dena Rash. Joseph. Oakland: Hologram Press, 2017.

I attended a poetry reading including Guzman on Thursday morning and she had copies of her new collection for sale. I enjoyed listening to her, bought the book, and discovered that it is even better than it seemed to be at the reading!

July, Miranda. It Chooses You. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2011.

I love July’s work and was excited to get this book for only $10.00.

Lowrey, Sassafras. Lost Boi. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015.

I heard Lowrey speak at a panel, and ze said that this novel was on sale at the book fair. After hearing hir speak I wanted to read hir writing immediately. I’m halfway through the novel (a BDSM-inflected retelling of Peter Pan) and it is amazing! When I got home this afternoon I went online and ordered the rest of hir books.

Mondrup, Iben. Justine. Translated by Kerri A. Pieroe. Rochester, NY: Open Letter, 2016.

Parzybok, Benjamin. Sherwood Nation. Easthampton, MA: Small Beer Press, 2014.

Ratzlaff, Keith. Dubious Angels: Poems After Paul Klee. Tallahassee, FL: Anhinga Press, 2005.

Ratzlaff is a Mennonite poet who I had dinner with on Friday night (there were a number of Mennonite writers and literary critics at the conference who all got together for dinner). He mentioned that his books were available at the book fair and I got this volume on sale for $5.00. I finished reading it this morning and quite enjoyed it.

Plus One:

Spark, Muriel. The Comforters. 1957. New York: New Directions, 2014.

Last night I visited Kramer Books with a friend. While browsing their fiction section I came across a book by Muriel Spark (who I love) that I haven’t read yet and decided to buy it.

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Books Acquired Recently

Although I have more than enough books on my “To Read” shelf for the rest of the summer, I’ve acquired five new books over the past week.

Klosterman, Chuck. But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past. New York: Blue Rider, 2016.

I love Klosterman’s writing. I didn’t realize he had a new book out, but it was displayed on the very first shelf at RiverRead Books in Binghamton (where I also bought Spark’s novel) when I walked in. I decided to buy it right away. It was probably my record for quickest time picking a book to buy in a bookstore–about five seconds.

Lander, N [sic] Maxwell. Carnal Anomaly. Berkeley: Threel Media, 2016.

I received this and Niffenegger’s book as anniversary presents from my partner. Carnal Anomaly is a collection of BDSM-themed photographs, some of which are very extreme. I look forward to perusing it.

Niffenegger, Audrey. The Night Bookmobile. New York: Abrams, 2010.

I don’t know much at all about this graphic novel, but it involves books so I am assuming I will enjoy it!

Ruth, John L. Branch: A Memoir with Pictures. Lancaster: TourMagination, 2013.

John Ruth is one of the most important Mennonite storytellers of the past fifty years, and his influence is still felt throughout the field of Mennonite studies. I have been wanting to buy his memoir since I read a review of it a few years ago, but it has been difficult to track down (amazon.com doesn’t even have it!). I was finally able to find a copy on the website of Masthof Bookstore, a Mennonite publishing venture that I was previously unaware of.

Spark, Muriel. Memento Mori. 1959. New York: New Directions, 2014.

I love Spark’s writing and when I saw this paperback on the shelf I picked it up immediately.

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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.

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.

 

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Books Acquired Recently: Holiday Edition

I’ve acquired a number of books over the past few weeks. Most of them (the ones without their provenance listed) have been gifts, though a few I’ve bought for gifts to myself to read over the semester break.

Ballard, J.G. Cocaine Nights. 1996. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998.

Ballard is an author that I love to read in my spare time because of his fiction’s cynical view of society, which I tend to share. I’ve never attempted a systematic investigation of his oeuvre (which is rare for authors that I enjoy as much as I enjoy him), but I buy one of his books every once in a while when I come across them and am never disappointed.

This and the books by Cha, Rechy, Rhys, and Walker were acquired with a gift certificate that I received to DogStar Books in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung. Dictee. 1982. Berkeley: U of California P, 2001.

I remember reading about this book, which is classified as poetry, in a book about postmodern fiction at some point. It has all sorts of visual elements–photographs, facsimiles of handwriting, drawings–that I love in text-based books. My knowledge of Asian American literature is also lacking, so I am excited to read it.

Keogh, Theodora. Street Music. 1952. N.p.: Olympia, 2009.

I love Keogh’s fiction because of its subtle queer bent, but haven’t had the time to read any of her novels in a while, thus I was glad to receive this as a gift.

Kuper, Simon. Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe’s Darkest Hour. New York: Nation, 2012.

Growing up in the 1990s as a soccer fan in the U.S. I always felt the lack of available books on soccer history (and especially European soccer history) keenly. I am happy that with the sport’s recent rise in popularity here this lacuna is being filled.

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Rev. ed. New York: TCG, 2013.

Angels in America is my favorite play, and I teach it often. I just recently discovered that a revised edition has been published, which, frankly, worries me (what if Kushner’s meddling with the play is along the lines of George Lucas’s with Star Wars?). However, it is an essential enough text that reading the new version at least once is a necessity.

This and Miller’s Eyes at the Window were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Mass, AJ. Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots. New York: Rodale, 2014.

Mass used to be Mr. Met. I read an excerpt of this memoir when it came out a few months ago and enjoyed it, so decided to put it on my wish list.

Miller, Evie Yoder. Everyday Mercies. Milton: Big Girl, 2014.

I’ve been asked to review this novel for Mennonite Quarterly Review. I had heard of Miller, but have not read any of her fiction before. It is good to see more Mennonite writers from the U.S. working in the genre.

—. Eyes at the Window. Intercourse: Good, 2003.

I bought this book to read to get a sense of Miller’s work before I read Everyday Mercies.

Rechy, John. Bodies and Souls. New York: Carroll, 1983.

I have enjoyed the couple of Rechy’s novels that I have read, and he is a foundational queer Latino writer, so I was excited to buy this book when I found it in my browsing at DogStar.

Rhys, Jean. Jean Rhys: The Complete Novels. New York: Norton, 1985.

I have been wanting this volume since 2005 when I saw a graduate school classmate’s copy during a discussion of Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. I have looked for it in used bookstores since then and was thrilled to finally find a copy. I have grown a fondness for twentieth century female British-ish writers (Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing, etc.) over the past year or so, and look forward to reading Rhys’s corpus as a furthering of this interest.

Walker, Alice. In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women. San Diego: Harcourt, 1973.

I wrote about this excellent book in my dissertation, but did not actually own a copy. I’ve been looking for it in used bookstores recently and was happy to find a copy in very good condition for only $4.00.

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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

Gundy, Jeff. Songs From an Empty Cage: Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism, and Peace. Telford: Cascadia, 2013.

Jeff Gundy is one of my favorite poets, and he is also a friend of mine, so I buy anything he publishes. But I am especially excited about this book, which investigates the intersection between poetry and the transcendent. Gundy is one of the few active theorists in the small field of Mennonite literature, and to have him publish a new book of theory is a major event.

Spark, Muriel. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Driver’s Seat, The Only Problem. New York: Everyman’s, 2004.

I was recently reading Patricia Waugh’s Metafiction, which discusses several of Spark’s novels in an engaging enough way that I decided I needed to read some of Spark’s work. I was happy to discover that Everyman’s Library has a volume of her fiction. I find the volumes in this series aesthetically delightful, especially their ribbon bookmarks. Note that, as I discuss in my post from 12 September 2013, because the title of the volume consists of titles of books, only the commas within the volume’s title get italicized.

Timms, Rachel, and Laurence Hayes. Whatever You Want: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel. New York: Regan, 2003.

I recently read about the phenomenon of adult (and yes, this term does have a double meaning in the present instance) Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. I enjoyed this type of book as a boy, and as someone who studies formal developments in fiction I am eager to see what kind of reading experience Timms and Hayes’s book offers.

All three books were purchased on amazon.com.

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