Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Books Acquired Recently

Agüeros, Jack. “Dominoes” and Other Stories from the Puerto Rican. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1993.

—. Sonnets from the Puerto Rican. Brooklyn: Hanging Loose Press, 1996.

I recently finished reading Roberto Márquez’s anthology Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times, and discovered through it a number of writers whose work I would like to read more of. I purchased Agüeros’s books and the Morales’s book as a start to this curriculum.

Butler, Isaac, and Dan Kois. The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of “Angels in America.” New York: Bloomsbury, 2018.

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is my favorite play (though I must say that I hate the revised version that came out in 2013, which is clunky in comparison to the original), so I bought this oral history about the play’s history as soon as I heard about it.

Morales, Aurora Levins, and Rosario Morales. Getting Home Alive. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1986.

This is a book of poetry by a mother (Rosario) and daughter (Aurora). When I received the book I happily discovered that it is signed by Aurora.

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

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Books Acquired Recently

Kasdorf, Julia Spicher, and Michael Tyrell, eds. Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn. New York: 2007.

Kasdorf is one of my favorite poets/literary critics, and a friend, and this is the only one of her books that I had not had. Used copies are now available for a reasonable price from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers (which is where I also acquired Rotella’s book). When I received it in the mail I discovered that it is inscribed by Tyrell (I have a fair number of books with inscriptions that I acquired used, and they always make me sad even though I am excited to have the author’s autograph. Why did the person mentioned in the inscription get rid of the book? Did they forget it was inscribed? Did they die? Did they have to cull their library due to financial hardship? None of the possibilities are good.), so I will have to get it inscribed by Kasdorf at some point to complete the set!

Rotella, Alexis. Beards and Wings. Cairnbrook: White Peony, 1985.

I recently read some of Rotella’s haiku in an anthology and really enjoyed them, and thus decided to buy one of her collections. Many of them are out of print, as is this one, but I was able to find a used copy for a little over $2.00.

Vega, Marta Moreno, Marinieves Alba, and Yvette Modestin, eds. Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora. Houston: Arte Publico, 2012.

I was given this collection of essays and poetry by a friend. It looks fascinating, and there are several essays about the Puerto Rican experience that I am especially excited to read.

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Books Acquired Recently

Oyer, John S., and Robert S. Kreider. Mirror of the Martyrs. Intercourse: Good, 1990.

I bought this book to use in my continuing research on the Martyrs Mirror. My research of late has been especially focused on the illustrations by Jan Luyken, which are one of the main subjects of Oyer and Kreider’s book.

Santos-Febres, Mayra. Sirena Selena. Trans. Stephen Lytle. New York: Picador, 2000.

I’ve been reading some Puerto Rican history lately, and this novel has been mentioned as an important recent piece of Puerto Rican literature, which is a field that I am woefully unversed in. I was able to find a new copy of the first edition for less than $4.00.

Both books were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independents sellers.

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Thoughts on the New Site Photo

About a month ago, I changed the cover photograph (to appropriate the Facebook term) of this blog, but I didn’t provide an explanation for the photo, so I thought I would do so now. I decided that it was necessary to have a photo of books from my personal library rather than continuing to use the WordPress photo (which was nice but generic) that had been there since the blog’s beginning. I then decided that I wanted the photograph to be authentic–a picture of the books as they are on the shelf instead of a hand-picked collection of my favorites–and I also wanted it to be visually interesting, if not also aesthetically pleasing. These criteria soon led to the decision that, although I primarily read fiction and it is my favorite genre, the photograph would have to be of one of my nonfiction shelves because I tend to have multiple books by fiction writers (when I like an author, I often read more [if not all] of their work, and because I am a book-buying addict I acquire the books rather than getting them from a library), and I wanted the photo to include as many different authors as possible. The photograph that I chose does include multiple books by two authors, but this is better than a picture of, say, a shelf that solely consists of works by Samuel R. Delany or Philip Roth. I settled on a photograph of the second shelf of my “general nonfiction” section, which includes a selection of books that do a pretty good job of representing the values, subjects, and ideas that are most important to me.

Here is a bit about each book in the photograph:

A History of Modern Latin America–This is one of my old college textbooks. I keep it around mostly for sentimental reasons. If I ever need to look up the date of Peru’s independence, it would be easier to do so online than to flip through the book, but it is important to me to have my Latino heritage (I am half Puerto Rican) represented in my library.

Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver–I used this book in two chapters of my dissertation, and it was one of the books that gave me the idea for my dissertation, so it is very important to me even though there is a good chance that I might never read it again.

Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl–Dahl’s two memoirs are vivid, engaging reads, especially Going Solo, which tells of his experiences in the R.A.F. during World War II. It is one of the best adventure stories I have ever read.

Heavenly Breakfast, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, The Motion of Light in Water (original edition), and 1984 by Samuel R. Delany–Delany is my favorite author, and I have all of his books except for The American Shore (which is quite rare). They are split between three shelves: one in the fiction section, which is all Delany, one at my office that contains all of his literary criticism, and the shelf in the photo with his other nonfiction.

Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany–This is a memoir by two of Samuel R. Delany’s aunts. I bought and read it because of my love for his work, but the book is quite good in its own right.

Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane Di Prima–This is one of my favorite memoirs because I love reading about late-1950s/early 1960s New York City. I was happy that a Penguin paperback with its instantly-recognizable orange-and-white design made it into the photograph.

Sex for One by Betty Dodson–This is an excellent book about the importance of masturbation and sexual fantasy. Perhaps it belongs in the “gender studies” section of my library, though I’ve had it in “general nonfiction” for a while.

Autobiographies by Frederick Douglass–Douglass is one of my favorite African American authors to teach, so it makes me happy that his book made it into the photograph, albeit just barely. This edition was published by the Library of America, whose books I love.

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Giannina Braschi’s Yo-Yo Boing!

The Puerto Rican-American writer Giannina Braschi’s 1998 novel (this is the best term I can think of for it, though it is only a novel insofar as that term is now so all encompassing, like a giant, shaggy literary beast somewhere between Cookie Monster and Grendel that devours everything in its path) Yo-Yo Boing! (translated into English by Tess O’Dwyer) is a gripping pastiche of a book that is all about voice rather than plot. The bulk of it is a dialogue between unnamed voices, sometimes between two fairly recognizable personas (a woman and man), sometimes between two indestinct personas that are apparently different than the first two (gender unclear), sometimes between at least three personas that are different than all of those which have come before (at least two of them are women). But the rapid-action dialogue is interesting no matter who is speaking. The dialogue meanders from discussions of poetry to discussions of Puerto Rican politics to discussions of academic politics to discussions of bodily excretions, circling back through these topics several times. The last line is “God, who is dead!”, so the book falls firmly into the postmodernist anti-universal narrative camp. The style is like a Puerto Rican Kathy Acker mixed with some James Joyce mixed with some Ernest Hemingway mixed with just a dash of Samuel R. Delany. This hodgepodge might alienate many readers, but I really enjoy it, and look forward to reading more of Braschi’s work.

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