Tag Archives: Samuel R. Delany

Books Acquired Recently: Ithaca Book Sale Edition

Today I attended the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Book Sale in Ithaca, New York, for the first time. It is a huge semi-annual used book sale with ridiculously low prices (most of the books I bought–both hard- and softcover–were $0.25, and the mass market paperbacks [Amis, Knowles, and Zelazny] were $0.10, so eleven books for $2.30 plus tax). It was quite well attended by both adults and children, so much so that at times it was difficult to maneuver through the aisles, kind of like the Strand used to be before they renovated it about ten years ago.

My esoteric tastes combined with my already sizable library mean that used bookstores/used book sales are generally hit-or-miss experiences, so I was pleasantly surprised about how many books I found to buy. Some I bought because of the price, and some (the queer ones and some of the poetry) I would have happily paid much more for. I was also somewhat depressed thinking about all of the former owners of these books, wondering what happened to them to cause them to get rid of these books, and how a lot of them are probably dead. I also thought about what it would be like to be an author and to find one of your books for sale for such a low price. Both lines of thought are terrifying if you think about them too much.

Allison, Dorothy. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1994.

I’ve encountered intriguing references to this collection of personal essays before, and was excited to find a copy of it.

Amis, Kingsley. One Fat Englishman. 1963. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1966.

How could I not buy a Penguin paperback with this title?

Berg, Stephen, and Robert Mezey, eds. Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969.

As I have written here before, I am obsessed with poetry anthologies. I have the sequel to this seminal (my gendered word choice is intentional: Denise Levertov and Sylvia Plath are the only women included) anthology, The New Naked Poetry, and was happy to find a first edition of its predecessor, albeit without a dust jacket.

Forest, Katherine V. Curious Wine. 1983. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, 1993.

I was very happy to discover that the book sale had an entire section of lesbian fiction (though not a corresponding gay fiction section) marked as such. There was an entire shelf of Naiad Press (R.I.P.) editions and I was tempted to buy the whole thing but thought it was important to leave them for others who might also be interested because I know I wouldn’t have time to read them all before the next book sale in May. So maybe I’ll buy them then if they are still around. But I decided to pick up Forest’s classic that, as its back cover says, had over 100,00 copies in print at the time this tenth anniversary edition was published.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

I enjoy Goodwin’s interviews in Ken Burns’s Baseball documentary and thus decided to buy her memoir about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. In the documentary she identifies herself as now being a Red Sox fan, a switch which is a) justifiable because when a team abandons their city is perfectly acceptable for their fans to abandon them, and b) one that has paid dividends over the past 15 years. I wonder how she felt when the Dodgers and Red Sox met in the World Series two years ago, and how she feels about their matchup again this year?

Inés de la Cruz, Sor Juana. Selected Works. Trans. Edith Grossman. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014.

This book is in basically new condition, a complete steal!

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. 1959. New York: Dell, 1961.

I thought to myself, “I’ve enjoyed the previous Knowles novels I’ve read, so of course I’ll pick up this pulp paperback (original price $0.50) that is in lovely condition.” Then I got home and realized I was thinking of John Fowles! So we’ll see what I think of Knowles.

Millet, Catherine. The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Trans. Adriana Hunter. New York: Grove Press, 2002.

I remember reading a review of this book when it first came out in English, and have encountered references to it here and there in the years since, so I was happy to find a copy of the hardcover in very good condition.

Schulman, Sarah. People in Trouble. 1990. New York: Plume, 1991.

Another find from the lesbian fiction section.

Strand, Mark, ed. The Contemporary American Poets: American Poetry Since 1940. New York: Meridian Books, 1969.

See my comments about being obsessed with poetry anthologies above. It’s always fascinating to see which poets have lasted and which ones have not.

Zelazny, Roger. Lord of Light. 1967. New York: Avon Books, 1969.

I’ve been wanting to broaden my reading of speculative fiction and found a copy of this Hugo Award-winning book in excellent condition. One of my favorite authors, Samuel R. Delany, speaks highly of Zelazny, so I am excited to encounter his work for the first time.

 

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Books Acquired Recently

Addiss, Stephen. The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters. Boston: Shambhala, 2012.

Yesterday I went to a poetry reading in Ithaca, New York, and stopped at two bookstores during the trip. I bought this book at The Bookery, a delightful, labyrinthine used bookshop.

Barnhart, Danielle, and Iris Mahan, ed. Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. New York: OR Books, 2018.

I also stopped at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, where I bought this new anthology and Brownstein’s memoir, which I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while since I love Portlandia. I kept seeing more and more books that I wanted to buy. It’s a dangerous place!

Brownstein, Carrie. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir. 2015. New York: Riverhead Books, 2016.

Carlson, Paula J., and Peter S. Hawkins, ed. Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1994.

My mother just retired and is working on downsizing. She just brought me some books from her library that I either had sentimental attachments to from childhood (Lewis’s, Moore’s, and Waybill’s) or thought sounded interesting. This one falls into the latter category. It’s a collection of fiction by a variety of authors dealing with finding God in the world.

Delany, Samuel R. The Atheist in the Attic Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2018.

I just recently discovered PM Press, a publisher of radical literature. Happily, they just published my favorite author’s latest book! It includes a novella and some essays. I bought it immediately from their website.

Lewis, C.S. A Grief Observed. 1961. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Moore, Joy Hofacker. Ted Studebaker: A Man Who Loved Peace. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1987.

Why do you get a Herald Press children’s book written about you? Because you died while doing mission work, of course!

Waybill, Marjorie Ann. Chinese Eyes. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1974.

The inscription in this book says that my parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was three.

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Books Acquired Recently

Burkholder, J. Lawrence. Recollections of a Sectarian Realist: A Mennonite Life in the Twentieth Century. Ed. Myrna Burkholder. Elkhart, IN: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2016.

I did a paper on Burkholder, who was a rebel Mennonite theologian at Harvard (he got his Ph.D. at Princeton) before becoming president of the Mennonite-owned Goshen College, when I was an undergraduate. Burkholder was kind enough to meet me for lunch to discuss it. At the time, I thought his ideas were much too liberal, but now I appreciate his thought a lot more. I decided to buy this memoir after reading a fascinating review of it in Mennonite Quarterly Review. I purchased it online from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary bookstore. The rest of the books were bought from amazon.com.

Cantú, Francisco. The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border. New York: Riverhead Books, 2018.

I bought this and Luiselli’s book as background reading for a writing retreat on the Arizona/Sonora border that I’ll be on next month.

Delany, Samuel R. Heavenly Breakfast: An Essay on the Winter of Love. 1979. Whitmore Lake, MI: Bamberger Books, 1997.

I have the original 1979 Bantam edition of this book, but decided to buy the newer (though still over twenty years old! I can’t believe 1997 was that long ago already.) edition because I’ll be writing an essay on it later this summer and using the newer edition (which is still available new on amazon even though I think the publisher is out of business) will be more accessible for readers.

Luiselli, Valeria. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2017.

Pérez, Hiram. A Taste for Brown Bodies: Gay Modernity and Cosmopolitan Desire. New York: New York University Press, 2015.

I would like to do more work on queer Latinx literature and bought this book because it relates to that intersection.

Rivera, Gabby. America: The Life and Times of America Chavez. Vol. 1. New York: Marvel, 2017.

I loved Rivera’s novel Juliet Takes a Breath and have been meaning to read this comic by her for a while. The book contains the first six issues of the eponymous comic. I must say that this volume is of lesser production quality than other Marvel omnibuses I have bought. The cover is quite flimsy.

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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.

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Book Acquired Recently: In Search of Silence: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany

Delany, Samuel R. In Search of Silence: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany: Volume 1, 1957-1969. Ed. Kenneth R. James. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2017.

This mammoth tome (660 pages) arrived in the mail today. Delany is one of my favorite writers, and his work has had an immeasurable effect on my thinking. I am especially fond of his personal writing and am thus excited to read these excerpts from his journals. The book is part of a proposed series of selections from his journals throughout his life; at the current pace it will take at least five volumes to complete the set. My only hesitancy about it is that it is edited by someone other than Delany (who is normally very meticulous about the presentation of his work), and I am not sure what this portends. I hope that it does not mean that Delany is not well enough to do the task himself.

I bought the book from amazon.com. It is the first book in my collection with a 2017 copyright date.

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Books Acquired Recently

Abramović, Marina. Walk Through Walls: A Memoir. New York: Crown Archetype, 2016.

Abramović is my favorite artist, and I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it via her Facebook page. I love how she inserts her body into her work, insisting that art is always in some way autobiographical. I am excited to see how she handles the genre of written autobiography. Judging from the dust jacket blurb, the book is more properly spoken of as autobiography rather than as memoir, as its subtitle claims, but memoir is so marketable these days that it is understandable (though not necessarily justifiable) why the publisher would choose to mislabel it.

This and Smith’s book were purchased from amazon.com.

Atwood, Margaret. Hag-Seed: “The Tempest” Retold. London: Hogarth, 2016.

I recently received this book, which is signed by the author, as a gift. Hogarth has a series of retellings of Shakespeare’s plays by contemporary authors. This is a genre Atwood has worked in before, and I enjoy the writing of hers that I’ve read, so I am optimistic that the book will be an enjoyable one.

Johnson, E. Patrick, ed. No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

Johnson’s anthology Black Queer Studies is an essential book in both the queer and African American literary critical canons, and a book that has had a significant impact on me as a scholar. Therefore, when I first heard about No Tea, No Shade, a follow-up collection, I ordered an examination copy from the publisher immediately.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.

I have loved Smith’s fiction since I first read White Teeth in a graduate school course eleven years ago. She is one of a select group of authors whose books I buy immediately without question (Nicholson Baker, Di Brandt, Samuel R. Delany, Don DeLillo [though he might be off the list now because his last book was so poor], Jonathan Safran Foer, Jeff Gundy, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, and Miriam Toews), and thus I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.

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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.

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