Tag Archives: Salt Lake City

Books Acquired Recently

Acker, Kathy. Bodies of Work. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1997.

—. Don Quixote. New York: Grove, 1986.

I love Kathy Acker, and have been meaning to read Don Quixote for quite a while now. I picked up Bodies of Work, a collection of her non-fiction, because it was only a dollar. It is in terrible shape; large chunks of pages are falling out, but all of the pages are there, so I’ll get the book re-bound. Normally I don’t buy books in bad condition, but I made an exception in this case because I love how Acker’s mind works.

These along with the Baldwin and Everett were purchased at Ken Sanders Rare Books.

Baldwin, James. Just Above My Head. 1979. New York: Dell, 1980.

Baldwin is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve been getting into his later fiction more recently. I actually ordered this book several months ago, but it was out of stock, so it was nice to find a copy while browsing in person.

Everett, Percival. I Am Not Sidney Poitier. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2009.

I also really enjoy Everett’s work, and I Am Not Sidney Poitier is one of his well-known books, so I am excited to read it. I am moving across the country in a week, thus I decided when I went to Ken Sanders this afternoon that I would only look for books by Acker, Baldwin, and Everett instead of browsing indiscriminately because I already have a lot to pack as it is. But my search for work by these authors was successful in all three cases!

Incidentally, I met Sidney Poitier when I was seven at the Los Angeles airport. I got his autograph (which hung on the wall of my bedroom for years, though I sadly no longer have it), and my mother got her picture taken with him. He was very gracious about being stopped by his fans.

Penner, Christina. Widows of Hamilton House. Winnipeg: Enfield, 2008.

This book was recently recommended to me by a friend who knows about my interest in Mennonite literature. It’s a gothic mystery, which is not a subject I normally read, but it should be fascinating because of the Mennonite elements.

This and D’anna’s two books were purchased from amazon.com’s network of sellers.

D’anna, Lynnette. Belly Fruit. Vancouver: New Star, 2000.

—. vixen. Toronto: Insomniac, 2001.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently ordered a bunch of D’anna’s books because she is the rare Mennonite writer who writes openly about sex. Both of these books have tacky titillating covers, so we’ll see whether the stories live up to their billing.

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Random Friday Thoughts

I taught my final class of the school year on Wednesday, and for the past two days have just been relaxing and letting my mind wander. It hasn’t hit me on a visceral level yet that I don’t have to teach another class until late August, but my brain is already going on all sorts of tangents. Here are a few that are rattling around this afternoon:

Sometimes I have dreams that people have statistics for their lives just like athletes have sports statistics. Usually these dreams center around me having a low “life average” (akin to a baseball batting average), somewhere below .250. I’m always very worried about this in the dream until I realize that there’s no such thing as life averages. But it would be kind of interesting if there were. It would be fascinating to compare oneself to other people numerically like it is possible to compare one athlete to another. For instance, basketball-reference.com has something called “Similarity Scores” on each player’s page (scroll down to the bottom to see Patrick Ewing’s) that compares the player to other players (past and present) with similar statistics. If it were possible to do this in real life, it would be helpful because then one could see if one’s life was headed in a good direction or not based on those with similar life arcs.

I bought a regular-sized candy bar at the college bookstore this afternoon that cost $1.25. I realize that the bookstore is not the cheapest place to buy such an item, but even so, it points to how candy bar prices have exploded over the past decade or so. For all of my teens and into my twenties it was common to be able to find candy bars on sale for $0.50, and sometimes even less. Nowadays it is hard to find one for less than $0.75 even at stores that claim to have “low prices” (at least in Salt Lake City, and this was the case when I lived in Illinois, too).

Conversely, I also bought a pack of two Bic red pens for $0.99. What a deal! A pleasing quality product for under a dollar. Good office supplies are always exciting. The way things are going, though, they are an endangered species.

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Books Acquired Recently

Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. 1968. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Survivor. 1999. New York: Norton, 2010.

After my post yesterday about needing to support local businesses I decided to stop by the Central Book Exchange on my walk home from the office. I purchased two books that I have been meaning to read. I’ve read relatively little Native American literature, and nothing of Momaday’s, so buying House Made of Dawn is one step toward rectifying this issue.

On the other hand, I’ve read lots of Palahniuk, and hadn’t been planning on reading more of him for a while because, while when he is at his best (Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, and maybe Pygmy depending on when you ask me) he is excellent, when he isn’t (Choke, Snuff) he is boring and his attempts to shock the reader feel arch and immature. But one of my students this semester wrote an essay on Survivor that made the novel sound intriguing because it is in backwards order (i.e., page 1 is the last page). As regular readers of my blog know, I am a sucker for postmodern fiction, including that which takes a non-linear form (this is one of the reasons why I love Invisible Monsters, and Invisible Monsters Remix even more so), and I am especially interested in contemporary examples. Thus when I found a used copy of Survivor in excellent condition I had to buy it.

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Book Acquired Recently: Stephen Beachy’s Some Phantom/No Time Flat

Beachy, Stephen. Some Phantom/No Time Flat. 2006. Portland: Verse Chorus, 2013.

I received this diptych of novellas in the mail from amazon.com yesterday, and read Some Phantom immediately and No Time Flat this evening. Both are excellent; I read the first one (which I greatly enjoyed in part because it takes place in Salt Lake City) and thought “Wow, the second one can’t be as good,” but I was wrong.

Some Phantom is about a woman running from an abusive relationship who ends up in Salt Lake City, gets a job as a teacher’s aide, and becomes obsessed with one of her students. The city’s geography is an essential element of the story–sparse, dry, malevolent. It reminds me a lot of the austerity of Janet Kauffman’s writing, even though she virtually never writes about urban environments. Beachy does a fantastic job depicting the exciting seediness of the stretch of State Street between approximately 700 and 1900 South.

No Time Flat involves some of the searing themes from Beachy’s best novel, Boneyard: illicit gay sex, much of it involving bondage, and the thin line between pain as pleasure and pain as violence. It reads as serious fiction, but it arouses like the best pornography, too. The experience of reading it is still too fresh for me to be articulate about it other than to say that I highly recommend it.

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Books Acquired Recently

Burton, Betsy. The King’s English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller. Salt Lake City: Gibbs, 2005.

The King’s English is a bookstore in my neighborhood that I have patronized frequently during my time living in Salt Lake City. It is probably the best bookstore which sells exclusively new books that I’ve ever been to–I always find something fascinating that I wasn’t looking for. Burton’s book is a history of the store’s first quarter century. I’ll be moving this summer to take a new job, and have been acquiring various mementos of my favorite places in the city. This purchase is a part of that saying goodbye.

Penner, Jessica. Shaken in the Water. Tipp City: Foxhead, 2013.

I received a review copy of my good friend Jessica Penner’s new novel, and I am hoping to get a review of it published in an academic journal. I’ve read a few excerpts of it previously which were quite good, so I am looking forward to reading the whole thing. You can buy it here.

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Books Acquired Recently: Massachusetts Writers Edition

Espada, Martín. The Trouble Ball. 2011. New York: Norton, 2012.

Espada gave a reading at my college this past Thursday, and I also had the privilege of having him speak in one of my classes. He is everything a writer should be: passionate, activist, happy to talk about his work, non-elitist. His poems are fun to read because they are vivid and engaging. The reading was one of the best I’ve ever been to, so buying his latest collection was an obvious decision.

One thing that I did not know about Espada is that he is a huge baseball fan. The Trouble Ball‘s title poem is about his father’s first visit to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and he is also working on a collection of essays about baseball and Latinos for Bloomsbury Press. I asked him who he roots for, and he said that he grew up a Mets fan, but switched to the Red Sox in 1986 because he was living in Massachusetts. Bill Simmons explains here why sports bigamy is wrong; Espada was immediately punished for his when the Mets defeated the Red Sox that year in one of the greatest World Series ever. But he and I both hate the Yankees, so he’s alright in my book. He also mentioned enjoying minor league baseball, and was happy to hear that Salt Lake City has a AAA team. Espada said his favorite baseball moment was game seven of the 2004 American League Championship Series when the Red Sox defeated the Yankees (he also made mention of the ninth inning of game four when Boston’s comeback began), and his second favorite moment was when Puerto Rico beat the USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Stoner, Kay. Strange Bedfellows: A Cautionary Tale for Times of Global Change. Bolton: Kay Stoner, 2010.

I first encountered Stoner’s work in Mennonot (she has a poem on page 16 of issue 2 and an article beginning on page 10 of issue 3, both of which may be accessed here), and found her to be an exciting pro-LGBT voice. I wanted to read more of her work, and uncovered the self-published novel Strange Bedfellows after doing some googling. It looks fascinating: Stoner claims that she dreamt it (shades of Coleridge!), and it includes images of some of her artwork to supplement the narrative.

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Book Acquired Recently: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Amis, Kingsley. Lucky Jim. 1953. New York: New York Review, 2012.

I first became interested in acquiring this novel after reading a post about it at A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff. Shortly thereafter, I saw that New York Review Books had just come out with a new edition. I love NYRB’s books because they are elegantly designed with a minimalist aesthetic that pleases me.

This evening I was shopping at my local independent bookstore, The King’s English, because a colleague had given me a gift certificate as thanks for doing some proofreading. While it is always satisfying to go to a bookstore with a purchase in mind and find the book on the shelf straightaway, I also love going book shopping with nothing particular in mind, letting the store’s selection lead me to something unexpected. The King’s English is a fabulous bookstore for this activity. I always find something there that excites me; it is the best new book independent bookstore I have ever been to. I was browsing their fiction section when I came across Lucky Jim, and immediately decided that it would be my purchase for the night. The store had both the NYRB edition and the Penguin Classics edition, and while I love Penguin Classics even more than I love NYRBs, and both copies were virtually the same price (the Penguin was $15.00 and the NYRB was $14.95), the Penguin’s spine was a little worn, so I went with the newer NYRB.

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Books Acquired Recently: Melville

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick: A Norton Critical Edition. 1851. Ed. Hershel Parker and Harrison Hayford. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2002.

I am thinking about teaching Moby-Dick in a literary criticism course in the spring, so I requested an exam copy of the Norton edition because it includes some critical essays on the novel. The first Norton rep I ever had (in Illinois) was super-stingy with exam copies, thus it always fills me with glee when my current rep here in Utah always happily fulfills my requests. This is the fifth different printing of the novel that I have acquired. If I teach it I’ll use either this edition or the Penguin edition. The Penguin edition is much more aesthetically pleasing with its classic black cover (see Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine for more on the beauty of Penguin paperbacks), but my students might find the Norton more useful.

—. Pierre, or the Ambiguities. 1852. Ed. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1995.

I’ve been looking for a copy of Pierre for a while in various used bookstores (i.e., it’s been on my radar for a while, but it hasn’t been an urgent need) because its portrayal of sexuality sounds intriguing. This evening I was at the Central Book Exchange in Salt Lake City looking for something else that they didn’t have, but they did have an almost new copy of Melville’s novel. There is some underlining (In ink! The previous owner was clearly a philistine.) in the first chapter, but otherwise it is in excellent condition.

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Books Acquired Recently

Smith, P.D. City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.

I love cities! I am interested in how they are planned, how they function, and how they shape their inhabitants. I have recently begun to integrate this amateur interest into my literary scholarship, focusing on works/writers that are somehow urban. So when I heard about Smith’s book I decided it would provide me with some helpful background knowledge for this new interest.

Bought on amazon.com.

Smith, Zadie. NW. New York: Penguin, 2012.

I love Smith’s fiction, especially White Teeth and The Autograph Man, thus her new novel was a must-buy. My local bookstore, The King’s English, happened to be having a 35%-off sale yesterday, so it was a perfect time to pick NW up even though I won’t have time to read it for at least a month.

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An Odd Typewriter

Yesterday I was at one of my favorite non-bookstore stores in Salt Lake City, the vintage shop Unhinged, when I came across a nifty green typewriter.

Where is the 1?

Upon taking a closer look, I discovered that, though it was completely intact, it didn’t have a 1. I have never seen a qwerty keyboard without all ten numerals on it before. (Incidentally, “qwerty” is one of 23 words with a q and no u that are legal in Scrabble, as is its plural, “qwertys.”)

This post is really just an excuse to use the word “qwerty.”

I suppose that the makers of the typewriter thought they were being efficient by saving space in their exclusion of a 1, since the sans serif “I” seems to match the font of the other numbers.

The “I” does double duty.

However, this would really mess up one’s typing technique. Instead of hitting the 1 in its usual place, one must hit an uppercase “I” instead. I bet that this model resulted in an abnormally high rate of typing errors, frustrating secretaries and students everywhere. But because I could just appreciate the typewriter as an object instead of having to use it, discovering its oddity made my night.

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