Tag Archives: New York City

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Ingraham, Garrett. This is a Microphone Stand. Utica: VBLP, 2015.

Ingraham is the co-owner of the Tramontane Cafe in Utica and a regular reader at the weekly Utica Poets Society open mic. His chapbook of poems was released last week and I bought a copy for $5.00. Upon flipping through it I discovered that it includes a number of photographs and illustrations along with the poetry, which is a feature that I wish more books of poetry would emulate.

Mirskin, Jerry. In Flagrante Delicto. DuBois: Mammoth, 2008.

Mirskin gave a poetry reading at Utica College yesterday and I really enjoyed his work. Aside from the good poems, he was wearing an attractive, simple, peach-colored button-down short-sleeve shirt. Also, he was born in the Bronx like me, so it was an easy decision to buy one of his books.

Yanagihara, Hanya. A Little Life. New York: Doubleday, 2015.

I recently read a review of this novel, which is one of the nominees for this year’s Booker Prize. It sounds interesting and I haven’t read any recent British literature in a while, so I decided to buy it. It is lengthy enough that I probably won’t be able to read it until the holiday break after the semester.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

It has been a good summer for book collecting, as the number of volumes on my “to read” shelf now is much larger than it was at the beginning of the summer. My latest batch comes mostly from a recent visit to the Strand, but I also received Lankevich’s and Lepore’s books as gifts from a friend, and bought Shawl and Campbell’s collection on amazon.com because Samuel R. Delany is one of my research interests.

Charyn, Jerome. Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. New York: Liveright, 2015.

I have not encountered Charyn’s work before, but as a native of the Bronx I am always on the lookout for good fiction about it, and Bitter Bronx‘s blurb (well-written blurbs are so important, and so rare) makes it sound like the stories are well-rooted in their place, which is a literary theme I have been studying recently.

Clowes, Daniel. Ghost World. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1998.

I have been wanting to read this graphic novel since I saw the film version, and have considered buying it on a number of occasions, but other books always took precedence. However, there was a stack of them at the Strand on one of the second floor tables at a discounted price ($13.49 as opposed to the $14.99 cover price), and I decided it was time.

cummings, e.e. Erotic Poems. Ed. George James Firmage. New York: Liveright, 2010.

I enjoy cummings’s work, in large part because of its frankness about the body, thus when I came across this slim volume it was too tempting to resist. It also includes some of cummings’s erotic drawings.

Lankevich, George J. New York City: A Short History. New York: New York UP, 2002.

Despite being a native of New York City and somewhat of a history buff I know relatively little about the city’s history. I am about two-thirds through the book and it is quite good thus far. It was first published in 1998 and then an expanded version was published in 2002 after 9/11. However, the pre-9/11 chapters were not revised, and there are several instances where other significant events in the city’s history happened on September 11 (laws being signed, and so on), and it is fascinating to read these passages that make no comment on how significant that date would later become. It is also interesting to wonder about the timing of these seemingly coincidental occurrences. It reminds me of the occult concept of ley lines. Are there such a thing as ley dates?

Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman. New York: Vintage, 2015.

I enjoy Lepore’s writing for the New Yorker, and Wonder Woman is my favorite superhero, so I was quite excited to receive this book.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Beautiful You. 2014. New York: Anchor, 2015.

When Palahniuk is on, his fiction is brilliant, and when he is off, it is gimmicky and mediocre, so I’m always a little nervous to acquire one of his books, but the blurb on this one was intriguing enough (it is about sex toys) to convince me to buy it.

Shawl, Nisi, and Bill Campbell, eds. Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany. Greenbelt: Rosarium, 2015.

This festschrift for Delany includes both essays and fiction, which is an appropriate mixture considering the diversity of his own oeuvre.

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Summer Will Show. 1936. New York: New York Review, 2009.

I have been wanting to read this novel since reading about it in a feminist literature course back in 2004, and have often searched for it in used bookstores to no avail. I happily discovered this NYRB edition on one of the fiction tables at the back of the Strand (I actually gasped aloud when I saw it). This is what I love about the Strand: while I always find excellent books that I wasn’t looking for, I always also seem to find a book that I am looking for in a way that feels like it was put right there for me to find it.

2 Comments

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: Road Trip Edition

I just got back from a two-week road trip through Pennsylvania and New York to visit some family and friends, and did some book shopping along the way, all at independent bookstores. Here is what I acquired:

Ashbery, John. Breezeway. New York: Ecco, 2015.

I have always enjoyed Ashbery’s work, and his newest book has gotten good reviews, and I’ve been craving some poetry lately, so I thought I would pick it up. I bought it, Gessen and Squibb’s anthology, and Koch’s book at my favorite place in the world, the Strand.

Gessen, Keith, and Stephen Squibb, eds. City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis. New York: Farrar, 2015.

One of the things I love about going to the Strand is finding amazing books that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered, and this book looks like it will be another instance of that tradition. It is a collection of essays about the current status of various American cities (some large, like Los Angeles, and some relatively small, like Syracuse) and how they have coped with the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash. I am fascinated by both halves of this topic, thus the decision to buy the book was an instant one.

Holmes, Safiya Henderson. Madness and a Bit of Hope. New York: Harlem River, 1990.

I haven’t heard of Holmes before, but her book caught my eye because of the name of the publisher. It has a blurb by June Jordan, who has been an important poet for me, and even though it is signed (“To: Nancy Thank you so much for being here snow & all Safiya ’92”) I was able to buy it for only $5.00 from the Rose & the Laurel Bookshop in Oneonta, New York.

Koch, Kenneth. On the Edge: Collected Long Poems. New York: Knopf, 2007.

I really enjoy Koch’s work and think that his longer poems are some of the best in the American tradition. I’ve been wanting to buy this book for a while: I first discovered it at the Strand several years ago, but didn’t buy it, and have regretted it ever since. Happily, on this visit they had a copy in pristine condition, much better than the original one that I had considered buying.

Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. New York: Harper, 2015.

Like everyone else interested in American literature, I am in a tizzy about Lee’s new novel, in which Atticus Finch is apparently not nearly as sympathetic as he is in To Kill a Mockingbird. I am horrified that Go Set a Watchman might destroy the experience of To Kill a Mockingbird for me, but of course have to read it anyway. I bought my copy at The Green Toad Bookstore in Oneonta, New York.

Sexton, Anne. Selected Poems of Anne Sexton. Ed. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George. 1988. Boston: Houghton, 2000.

I’ve enjoyed Sexton’s poems that I have encountered in anthologies and in the one collection of hers that I’ve read, Transformations. As noted above I’ve been in a poetry-reading mood lately, so when I found a copy of this book in excellent condition for a good price ($9.50) at Winding Way Books in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I decided to buy it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Gornick, Vivian. The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir. New York: Farrar, 2015.

I haven’t read Gornick’s work before, but I read a review of this memoir about her walks exploring New York City and ordered it immediately afterward because I have been getting more and more interested in walking as a political and literary act. One notices so much more when walking than when driving a car, or even riding a bike. I must also say that the book itself is very aesthetically pleasing (as books published by FSG tend to be). It and Trible’s book were purchased from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.

I read parts of this book in a Feminist Theology course back in college, and it completely changed how I viewed the Bible. I talk some about that experience in an essay that I am currently writing, and decided to buy a copy of the book partly as an exercise in nostalgia and partly to help get the creative juices flowing as I think about telling difficult stories.

Williams, William Carlos. In the American Grain. 1925. New York: New Directions, 1956.

I have read about this collection of essays, but have never actually read it. I came across this lovely “New Directions Paperbook” in excellent condition at Yesteryear Antiques and Collectibles in Syracuse, and it only cost $1.00 so I decided to buy it. I enjoy Williams’s poetry and look forward to encountering him in a new genre.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: City Lights/Birthday Edition

Yesterday I had a ten hour layover in San Francisco on my way back from a conference (I must say that I was quite impressed with the San Francisco airport), so I decided to make a pilgrimage to the famous City Lights Bookstore. I’m glad I went because so much germinal literary history has happened at the store, and overall I was impressed with their selection of books (I was tempted to buy way more than I did; the fact that I had to carry whatever I bought in my backpack during the rest of my trip severely limited my shopping), but I must say that the visit was not the profound experience I was expecting it to be. This is in part because it is virtually impossible for mythologized spaces such as City Lights to actually live up to their idealized versions, but also in part because I realized that I find bookstores that only sell new books like City Lights does to be much less interesting than used bookstores or bookstores that sell both new and used books like the Strand. I don’t mean to be critical of City Lights, because it is an excellent, high quality independent bookstore, but my experience there felt sterile and cold in comparison to the experiences I have had at good used bookstores.

Delany, Samuel R. Phallos: Enhanced and Revised Edition. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2013.

Delany is one of my favorite writers and I wrote some about his 2004 novella Phallos in my dissertation. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he has published a revised, longer edition of the novel, as he has with a number of his most important texts (including The Motion of Light in Water and The Mad Man). City Lights has the largest selection of Delany texts I’ve ever encountered in a bookstore. I was also happy that one of the texts I bought at City Lights was by a queer author considering the important role San Francisco has played in the life of America’s LGBT community.

Komunyakaa, Yusef. Dien Cai Dau. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 1988.

I have been meaning to acquire this collection of Komunyakaa’s poetry about his experiences during the Vietnam War for quite a while, and decided to finally pounce when I saw it on the shelf. The poetry room was by far my favorite space in City Lights.

My birthday was also this past weekend (I used some birthday money to fund my shopping at City Lights), and I received the following book as a gift:

Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America: Written, Compiled, Researched, Typed, Collated, Proofread, and Run Through Spell Check by Leslie Knope, Deputy Director, Department of Parks and Recreation. New York: Hachette, 2014.

I and the person who gave me this book share a love for Parks and Recreation, thus I was quite pleased to receive it as a gift.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Ellis, Will. Abandoned NYC. Atglen: Schiffer, 2014.

This book is a collection of images from Ellis’s website of the same name. He goes around New York City photographing spaces that have been abandoned. This is an extremely fascinating topic considering how space is at such a premium in the city. It is difficult to believe that there are lots of empty spaces that exist without being reclaimed or developed.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. No Exit and Three Other Plays. New York: Vintage, 1989.

I must embarrassingly admit that I have never read Sartre before. This week I am covering a class for a colleague and they are reading No Exit, so I bought this book to help facilitate my teaching of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

The All-Star Game and Baseball Fandom

The All-Star Game is tomorrow in Minnesota. I have loved this game since I became a baseball fan, and still try to watch it every year. Honestly, I make more of an effort to watch it than to watch the World Series some years, depending on who is playing. I love the pageantry of the All-Star Game, how each player wears his own uniform (it is a travesty that this year they will wear league caps instead of their own caps), how the players get introduced individually along the baselines before the game, how the ballpark is festooned with red, white, and blue bunting. I love how, even though it is an exhibition game, the players clearly take pride in playing in it and trying to win it.

In thinking about how I grew to love the All-Star Game as a boy, I realize that part of my fanaticism for it resulted from the rarity of, not just that game itself, but televised baseball in general when I was growing up in the 1980s. My family did not have cable, so there would usually only be two or three games on per week that I was interested in watching: NBC’s Game of the Week on Saturday (I would watch no matter who was playing; I remember being crushed one April Saturday in 1988 or 1989 when there wasn’t a game because both games that NBC was going to show were cancelled due to weather. One was in Chicago, with the Cubs getting snowed out, and the other game was rained out. I still remember Marv Albert in the studio saying “No game today” like a death-knell.) and the Mets on WWOR channel 9 on Sunday. Sometimes the Mets would also be on Friday night (though I couldn’t watch the entire game because I had an early bedtime), and if I got desperate the Yankees would usually have one or two games a week on WPIX channel 11 (it is still incredibly weird to me that WPIX now televises the Mets). During the postseason it did not get much better because, even though all of the games were on network television, I was usually only able to watch the first half hour or so before bed.

As result of this limited television exposure, my baseball fandom took a much different form than it does now. I learned much more about the game from print media—especially from the newspaper and statistics on the backs of baseball cards—than from television, whereas now the ratio is switched. These days I almost never watch baseball aside from the Mets during the regular season because I am now fortunate enough to have cable and they are on SNY nearly every night (and my cable package even shows the games when they are on WPIX). Every once in a while I might watch a bit of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball to close out the weekend, but, unless the Mets are playing, I no longer watch Fox’s nationally-televised game on Saturdays. (A necessary aside: one reason I do not watch regular season baseball on Fox is that Joe Buck is their play-by-play announcer, and he is pedestrian at best. In hindsight, I realize that I was lucky to grow up in an era when Vin Scully was the national play-by-play man for NBC and Al Michaels was the primary play-by-play man for ABC’s postseason telecasts. It kills me that an entire generation of fans has grown up with Joe Buck as the voice of baseball. No wonder young people are not drawn to the game!) These viewing habits mean that I follow the Mets closely, but the rest of MLB much less so until the pennant races heat up in September. As a kid, aside from my favorite Mets I was also a fan of other good players such as Ozzie Smith or Tony Gwynn (R.I.P.), but now, although I appreciate the feats of players such as Miguel Cabrera in a general way, I do not feel any connection to them, and whereas I liked and respected Mike Schmidt growing up because I viewed him as a baseball player rather than as a divisional rival, that viewpoint has flipped and I have nothing but hatred for present-day Phillies like Chase Utley and Cole Hamels.

Thus the All-Star Game is the one time during the summer when my baseball gaze widens to observe the game in all its glory. I root for the National League, I hope the Mets’ representative (Daniel Murphy this year) gets a hit, and I remember why I fell in love with the sport in the first place: it is fun to watch, and it is a national language that, at its best, brings us all together.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports

The Uni Watch Fifteenth Anniversary Party

Last Tuesday I went down to New York City for Uni Watch’s fifteenth anniversary party. I’ve written here before about how I love Uni Watch because of its attention to the tiny details of material culture, thus it was exciting to meet its creator, Paul Lukas, and some fellow fans. I have always wanted to go to a Uni Watch party, and this was the first time that I was living close enough to one to go to it. I had been planning to wear my New York Cosmos Johan Cruyff jersey, but a few weeks ago I found a vintage Harry M. Stevens vendor’s shirt from Shea Stadium on Etsy.com for only $10.00, so I wore that instead. I am delighted that, as Lukas says in his write-up of the event here (scroll down to the second half of the post) (as is par for the course for me, in the close-up photograph of the shirt that is linked to in the article I am doing something weird with my arms), the shirt was his “favorite item of the entire gathering.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports

Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

Yesterday I once again visited my favorite place in the world, the Strand Bookstore at 12th and Broadway in Manhattan. I was recently remarking to a friend how when I lived within walking distance of the Strand about a decade ago it always seemed like I would go there and there would be a book specifically waiting for me, whether it was the book that I had gone there to look for in an exquisite edition, or a book that I didn’t know that I was looking for (as I would often go just to browse and see what caught my eye) that grabbed me and was somehow a perfect fit. The past few times I’ve gone to the store this hasn’t happened, and it has been depressing (though, of course, I’ve still enjoyed myself there) as a symbol of how both my relationship to the city and the store itself have changed (the Strand looks fantastic now, but I miss its old, badly lit grittiness before the renovations that were completed seven or eight years ago). But when I went yesterday, it happened again in three instances! It was tremendously exciting.

I eschewed a shopping cart when I entered the store, vowing that I would only buy as much as I could carry in one hand. I am proud that I had enough fortitude to stick to this vow, which is why I only bought five books.

Ashbery, John, and James Schuyler. A Nest of Ninnies. 1969. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2008.

I have been wanting to read this novel for quite a while because I am a big fan of the New York School poets and because I enjoyed Schuyler’s novel What’s for Dinner?, but it is a relatively minor work and thus I have never gotten around to it. But there was a stack of copies on one of the fiction tables at the back of the store on the first floor, and it was priced at only $5.95 new, so I had to have it.

Davis, Lydia. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. New York: Picador, 2009.

I have never read any of Davis’s work before, but recently read an article about her in the New Yorker that intrigued me, so I decided that I would begin looking for this collection the next time I was in a good (i.e., not Barnes & Noble) bookstore. Of course the Strand had a stack of this aesthetically pleasing volume right at the front of the store!

Robbe-Grillet, Alain. A Sentimental Novel. 2007. Trans. D.E. Brooke. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2014.

I have enjoyed the work of Robbe-Grillet’s that I’ve read, so I picked this book up while browsing and was immediately drawn to it by the beginning of its blurb: “In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet’s final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning that this adult fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities.” Sold! I read it on the train ride home and enjoyed it (on an academic level, you dirty-minded readers) for the most part. It is like a better version of Sade without all of the political diatribes.

Wallace, David Foster. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity. 2003. New York: Atlas-Norton, 2010.

I love David Foster Wallace, so I bought this book even though I am not a mathematics enthusiast. I appreciate learning about intellectual history, though, and am therefore hopeful and expectant that Wallace will make this subject fascinating to me. After I read his unfinished novel The Pale King, which is mostly about IRS agents, I was half-tempted to become an accountant, so I am confident that my investment in this volume will not have been in vain.

Whitman, Walt. Franklin Evans or The Inebriate: A Tale of the Times. 1842. Ed. Christopher Castiglia and Glenn Hendler. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

I love Whitman’s poetry, but have never read this, his only novel, which is supposed to be awful. I’ve been wanting to read it since one of my students did a presentation on it this past year, and when I saw it I knew I had to buy it immediately because I am acquainted with Chris Castiglia! He is a lovely man who teaches at Penn State. It is always exciting to buy a book by someone whom you know. Thus I will enjoy reading it even if the novel itself is terrible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature