Tag Archives: pornography

Books Acquired Recently

Del Rio, Vanessa, and Dian Hanson. Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2016.

I have come across a number of references to Vanessa Del Rio’s acting over the years. If I recall correctly, I first saw some of her work in an exhibit at the Museum of Sex in New York City. One of my favorite queer authors, Samuel R. Delany, writes fondly of her in Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.  Recently, I was reading Juana María Rodríguez’s Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings, and she cites Vanessa Del Rio, which is Del Rio’s autobiography, quite favorably, so I decided to buy it. I love Taschen’s high-quality books of photography, and have enjoyed several of Hanson’s books that they have published about sexuality, so I anticipate that Vanessa Del Rio will be an enjoyable, educational read.

Peterson, Zoey Leigh. Next Year for Sure. New York: Scribner, 2017.

I read a review of this novel about polyamory on Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian and it sounded quite fascinating, so I decided to buy it. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a novel that investigates being poly as a central theme before, so it is exciting to come across this book!

Wiebe, Rudy. A Voice in the Land: Essays By and About Rudy Wiebe. Ed. W.J. Keith. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1981.

Rudy Wiebe is the most prominent North American Mennonite writer. His influence on the field of Mennonite literature cannot be understated. In my research about his work I’ve often seen A Voice in the Land cited, but have never actually read it. I finally decided to do so.

All three books were purchased from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: MLA Edition

img_0482

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Lin-Greenberg, Karin. Faulty Predictions. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014.

Lin-Greenberg gave a reading of her short stories at Utica College this afternoon, and I enjoyed it enough that I decided to buy her collection. She seems like a good person and her stories do a great job picking out quirky moments in regular people’s lives, so I look forward to reading the book.

Tarrant, Shira. The Pornography Industry: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

I read a review of this book in the New Yorker a few weeks ago and decided to buy it because it gives an overview of the rapidly-changing pornography industry, which is one of my research interests. It vexes me that even though pornography is a part of so many people’s lives (e.g., the old joke that surveys show that 90% of men look at porn and that 10% of men are liars!) and is a major economic industry very few people take it seriously as an object of public discourse. This needs to change, and I’m glad that such a prestigious publisher as Oxford University Press realizes that fact. I bought the book from one of amazon.com’s independent booksellers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

André Swartley’s Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl

André Swartley’s 2012 novel Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl won a 2013 Dante Rossetti award for Young Adult (YA) Fiction, and with good reason. It is an engaging story about some important issues not only within the Mennonite community, but within American society at large (throughout this piece I treat the novel explicitly as Mennonite fiction because Swartley is a Mennonite and the book has Mennonite characters, and there is a dearth of annoying “this is who Mennonites are and what they believe” explanations that one finds in some Mennonite fiction [the tiny bit of this that we get is that Mennonites are pacifists, but this explanation is very basic; there is no theological discussion of why Mennonites are pacifists, or that some early Anabaptists weren’t pacifists, and so on], so it seems that Mennonite readers are the book’s intended audience). The book straddles that nebulous line between “Young Adult” fiction and what I suppose one could call grown-up fiction; it’s like John Green for the MYF set (which I mean as a compliment: John Green is fantastic). I am not a fan of the concept of the YA genre (i.e., the books themselves are not the problem, but how they are categorized is) in general because I don’t think it takes teenage readers seriously enough and because oftentimes it seems like it’s only defined by the age of its characters, but whether Swartley intends the book to be YA or not, it’s worth reading by both teens and adults (and perhaps especially adults with teenagers) alike.

Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl is the story of the title character and his classmate from a fictional Mennonite high school in Iowa (perhaps modeled off of Iowa Mennonite School in Kalona), Autumn Springer, as they begin a summer of voluntary service in Germany. Hijinks ensue, there are some compelling action movie-type action scenes as well as some compelling emotional scenes, and the growth that the two main characters go through feels earned and plausible.

Although they do not begin the book as friends, Leon and Autumn develop an immediate kinship with each other as “outcasts” (29). NOTE: THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SOME MILD SPOILERS. Leon is one because he is a stereotypical nerd (which I don’t mean negatively, as I am also one), and Autumn is one because she is the star of a pornographic website that has made her a millionaire (however, N.B., she is not the “fantasy girl” of the title, though in some ways the title fits her character as well). This fact is what makes Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl a refreshing and important addition to the corpus of Mennonite fiction, and especially U.S. Mennonite fiction, which is in general less racy than that from north of the border. Leon’s struggle to confront his own sexism is a journey that many more Mennonites, both men and women, need to take (and the book does a good job describing the double-standard paradox of men [including Mennonite men] simultaneously consuming pornography while condemning the models in it as “sluts” [e.g., 95]), and Autumn’s refusal to feel sorry for her actions and continued lack of shame about her body is an essential corrective to traditional Mennonite/societal attitudes toward the physical in general and the erotic in particular. The novel’s discussion of disability is another element that has received too little attention in Mennonite literature. END OF SPOILER ALERT.

The novel contains a few deficiencies, mostly of a factual nature. People from Lancaster, Pennsylvania do not say “yous [sic]” like some people do in other parts of the state (33). The idea of one of the American characters, Hat, being allowed to teach soccer to German children old enough to be playing on “varsity” and “junior varsity” teams is highly implausible (36). It is likewise implausible that Leon, who has suffered from extreme chronic arthritis for two years, would not have tried acupuncture before it is introduced to him in the book. We are given the explanation that his mother felt it was too “unorthodox” for him to try (156), but this explanation comes too late in the narrative and does not seem to fit with her willingness to let him play video games constantly (in other words, she is your basic mainstream, reasonably worldly Mennonite, and while there is certainly some distrust of nontraditional medicine in this group I do not think it would be enough to justify how heartless she comes off as being for denying Leon acupuncture after either he or a doctor first suggests it). Finally, the novel’s ending is much, much too neat (this is often the case in Young Adult fiction, but still), which is frustrating because one of the book’s strengths is its tackling of issues with no easy answers, but then the easy answers occur anyway.

However, despite these few issues Leon Martin and the Fantasy Girl is well worth reading. The characters and the issues they deal with are compelling enough that the fact there is a sequel coming out this October is a welcome one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Keri, Jonah. Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos. 2014. Toronto: Vintage, 2015.

I enjoy Keri’s writing for ESPN.com, and have been thinking about buying this book since it came out last year. I was always intrigued by the Expos as a kid because of their odd-sounding name (What is an “Expo?” I know the answer now, but it was an inscrutable question when I was six), the fact that they played in Canada, and their unique uniforms (especially their multicolored caps with the clever M-e logo). They were one of the few teams (the Kansas City Royals are another) who actually had decent-looking powder blue road uniforms because the color went with their overall color scheme. They played the Mets often, and were the National League East team that I disliked the least. I saw them play several times at Shea Stadium, and I remember that at one of these games (in 1990, I think, or maybe 1989) the Mets eliminated them from playoff contention. After the game my friend Stefan and I went and waited outside of the player’s entrance hoping to get some autographs, and Andres Galarraga (who seems like a glaring omission from Keri’s delightfully long subtitle) came out wearing an absolutely hideous sweater and an utterly downtrodden look on his face that epitomized “the agony of defeat.”

I decided to finally buy the book in preparation for my upcoming trip to Montreal for the Women’s World Cup semifinal. The match will be played at Olympic Stadium where the Expos used to play, and it will be helpful to know some of the history of the space before I experience it. I purchased the book at my local Barnes & Noble.

Roche, Charlotte. Wetlands. 2008. Trans. Tim Mohr. New York: Grove, 2009.

A friend recently recommended this book to me and I decided to buy it right away because it sounds like it fits right within my interest in transgressive sexual stories. The front cover advertises that there have been “Over One Million Copies Sold Worldwide,” so I am not alone in this interest. Apparently the main character likes to eat her various bodily secretions. This theme leads to some interesting quotations from the various review excerpts reprinted inside the front cover. Here are a few of my favorites:

From the Los Angeles Times: “A slimy swim, but one worth taking.”

From The Guardian: “If you ever wondered what you’d be like if you weren’t shy, polite, tolerant, modest, sexually repressed, logical, and constrained by modern standards of hygiene, this may be the book for you.”

From Time Out New York: “[Reading Wetlands] left us with that not-so-fresh feeling.”

I purchased the book from one of the independent booksellers on amazon.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Sports

Books Acquired Recently

Coverley, Merlin. The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker. Harpenden: Oldcastle, 2012.

Dorsey, Candas Jane. Black Wine. New York: Tor, 1997.

—. Machine Sex and Other Stories. London: Women’s, 1990.

I bought these three books (all from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers) as a result of reading Greg Bechtel’s collection of short stories Boundary Problems. Many of Bechtel’s stories are infused with psychogeographical themes, which is a topic that Coverley has written about at length. As a result of my interest in psychogeography I have thought about reading The Art of Wandering in the past, and decided that this summer would be a good time to do so.

Similarly, I have been wanting to read some of Dorsey’s fiction since I read an article by her on Samuel R. Delany’s work called “Being One’s Own Pornographer” about five years ago. One of Bechtel’s stories has a quotation from this essay as an epigraph, which I took as a kind of sign that it was time for me to explore Dorsey’s work.

Tytell, John. Writing Beat and Other Occasions of Literary Mayhem. Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 2014.

I was randomly sent an exam copy of this book by the publisher. I am excited to read it soon because I enjoy the Beats and because I am hoping to do lots of writing this summer and the book looks like it offers some helpful meditations on the subject.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature