Tag Archives: Utah

Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. Give It To Me. New York: Feminist, 2014.

I read the first draft of this book when Castillo and I were colleagues at Westminster College for a semester and loved it. It is sexy, humorous, and scandalous. I bought it as soon as I found out it had been released.

This, Plett’s, and Samatar’s books were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment. Boston: Shambhala, 2010.

I have been struggling to stay in the present recently and was feeling the need for some guidance about how to do so. I came across this book in the “Eastern Religions” section of my local Barnes & Noble and decided to buy it in part because it sounded like what I was looking for and in part because I have had a number of friends recommend Hanh’s writing to me. I have read the first few chapters, which have been fantastic.

Larkin, Philip. Collected Poems. Ed. Anthony Thwaite. New York: Farrar, 2004.

I’ve been meaning to read Larkin for quite some time, and have not read any poetry for a while, so earlier this week when I was in the campus bookstore checking to see whether the books for my courses had come in and I saw that one of my colleagues has assigned this book for one of his courses I bought it.

Pashley, Jennifer. The Conjurer. Syracuse: Standing Stone, 2013.

I received this as a belated holiday gift. I really enjoyed Pashley’s other collection of stories, States, so I am eager to read this one.

Plett, Casey. A Safe Girl To Love. New York: Topside, 2014.

I was super-excited to buy this book, as I have read and enjoyed several of Plett’s short stories. I read through it in one sitting last night. It is excellent writing, though emotionally draining (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive characteristics).

Samatar, Sofia. A Stranger in Olondria: Being the Complete Memoirs of the Mystic, Jevick of Tyom. Easthampton: Small Beer, 2013.

I recently heard about this book via my alma mater Goshen College’s alumni magazine. Samatar is also a Goshen grad. Very little Mennonite literature (Goshen is a Mennonite school and Samatar was raised Mennonite) is written in the fantasy genre, so this is an important addition to the field.

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Books Acquired Recently: Salt Lake City Edition

I am visiting Salt Lake City for the holidays, and over the past few days I’ve visited two of my favorite bookstores in the city, The King’s English, where I bought Lessing’s novel, and Central Book Exchange, where I bought Kosinski’s and Poe’s books.

Kosinski, Jerzy. The Painted Bird. 1965. New York: Bantam, 1972.

I recently read Kosinski’s National Book Award-winning novel Steps, which is quite good and made me want to read more of his work. When I found this copy of The Painted Bird on sale for only $5.00 in good condition, I bought it without hesitation. The colored edging that publishers used to put on the pages of mass market paperbacks (yellow in this case, though blue, green, and red were also frequently used) to preserve the books continues to do its job. I have numerous paperbacks from the 1960s and 1970s that are still in excellent condition as a result of this practice. It is a shame that publishers no longer do this (the most recently published book I recall seeing this edging on is the hardcover of John Updike’s Terrorist). It is sad that publishers build planned obsolescence into their products.

Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook. 1962. New York: Perennial, 1999.

I have been meaning to read this novel for years because I’ve enjoyed the other Lessing novels that I have read, and finally decided to buy a copy when I saw it on the “Staff Picks” shelf at The King’s English.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. 1838. Ed. Harold Beaver. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.

I have been on the lookout for a copy of this novel for two reasons: 1. a colleague of mine recently told me that it was one of the most influential books on her life, and 2. I taught some of Poe’s short stories this past semester, and decided that it would be helpful for me to read his only novel in support of this teaching in future courses. I was especially excited to find the Penguin edition because of my love for Penguin paperbacks.

As the photograph of the book shows, this edition was published as a part of The Penguin English Library rather than as a Penguin Classic, but it has the distinctive orange Penguin spine, and the classy embossed Penguin price tag! The book originally sold for $3.95, and I paid $4.00 for it. It is a high-quality edition: there is even a photograph of Poe on the inside of the front cover!

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Books Acquired Recently

Doyle, Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. 1888 and 1890. Mineola: Dover, 2003.

Frederic, Harold. The Damnation of Theron Ware. 1896. Mineola: Dover, 2012.

I just recently heard of Harold Frederic (Utica College’s student literary society is named after him), who was from my new town of Utica, New York, and is buried less than a mile from my apartment. His major novel, The Damnation of Theron Ware, takes place in Utica, so I decided to buy it (and hopefully read it in the next week or two) as a part of my continuing investigations of the area. If I enjoy it there is a good chance I will include it in my American Literature After 1865 course next semester.

I have also been meaning to buy A Study in Scarlet for a while because it takes place in my just-now former state of Utah. I look forward to seeing how a British author depicts the bizarre realities of pre-statehood “Deseret.”

As an aside, note that for Doyle’s book the name of the volume itself is “A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four,” therefore according to MLA formatting only the “and” is italicized because the volume’s title should be italicized, but of course in italicized titles that include book titles (i.e., in this case, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four) the normally italicized titles must receive another form of emphasis since the entire title of the volume is already theoretically italicized. I understand the logic of this, but it just looks weird. I would much prefer if the “and” were the only word not italicized. I am all for MLA style’s attention to detail, but certain elements of it drive me up a wall.

As a second aside, Dover books are fantastic. I often assign them in my classes when I can because they are so inexpensive. Most people are familiar with Dover as a result of their editions of classic literary works, but they publish a wide-ranging list, including several significant chess books such as Frank Brady’s Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy and Hans Kmoch’s Pawn Power in Chess. The protagonist in Nicholson Baker’s novel The Fermata is in the process of writing a history of Dover as his M.A. thesis, and I’ve always wished I could read it. Baker himself would be the perfect person to write such a history because of his love of print culture, and especially print culture ephemera.

I’ve been reading David Foster Wallace’s essays for the past week-and-a-half, which is why this post is so footnote-y.

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Thoughts on the U.S.A.-Honduras Match

I attended the U.S.A.-Honduras World Cup qualifier in Sandy, Utah last night. Although I’ve been a dedicated soccer fan for over twenty years, this was my first opportunity to attend a professional match, and it was a fantastic experience! I will attend another one as soon as possible. Here are some thoughts and observations about the night.

Even though Rio Tinto Stadium only holds 20,000 people (last night was a sellout, with 20,250 attending), it was extremely loud throughout the match. I loved this atmosphere, which doesn’t always come across when watching on television. There were four people two rows behind me yelling insults at Honduras in Spanish the entire match, which was fantastic. There were several rousing “U! S! A!” chants throughout the evening as well.

While Rio Tinto offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, the second deck where I was sitting (the only one, which is a bit unusual) faces west, thus the sun was in my eyes the entire match. It would make much more sense to have this section facing east.

When Jozy Altidore’s goal was called offside midway during the second half, the scoreboard did not show the replay, protecting the referee and linesman, but when Altidore scored the match-winning goal later on the scoreboard did show the replay. The stadium exploded when the ball went in the net, constant noise for about a minute. I was jumping up and down and screaming–the adrenaline just took over.

It was refreshing to be able to see the entire field and what all twenty-two players were doing at once rather than having my view limited by what the television producers chose to show. It becomes much clearer just how much of a team game soccer is. Similarly, the field feels much smaller live than it does on television.

Overall, it was a good result for the U.S., and a fair one based on the flow of the game. They lead the Hexagonal with thirteen points after six matches. Their next two matches are difficult ones, away to Costa Rica and home to Mexico, and while they have a good chance of taking all six points from those fixtures if they keep playing at their current level, realistically they could lose those two matches and still qualify for the World Cup because their final two matches are Jamaica at home and Panama away.

Here are a few photographs that I took at the match with my iPhone:

The two teams coming out onto the pitch at the beginning of the match.

The two teams coming out onto the pitch at the beginning of the match.

The second half kickoff.

The second half kickoff.

Second half action with the Oquirrh mountains in the background.

Second half action with the Oquirrh mountains in the background.

One side of the commemorative scarf that was handed out at the match.

One side of the commemorative scarf that was handed out at the match.

The other side of the commemorative scarf.

The other side of the commemorative scarf.

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Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Mennonite/Mostly Canadian Edition

I’ve been thinking and writing about Mennonite literature a lot lately, and this latest round of book-buying includes some of the earliest novels published in the field. It also includes one of the more recent works of Mennonite fiction and a book by someone with a Mennonite-sounding name (Kroetsch), though to my knowledge he has no Mennonite ties. Aside from Flamethrowers, all of the books take place in Canada.

Friesen, Gordon. Flamethrowers. Caldwell: Caxton, 1936.

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Flamethrowers is to my knowledge the earliest literary novel by a Mennonite published in the United States. It, like Kliewer’s book (and arguably like Wiebe’s), is rather critical of the community. I bought it from one of amazon.com’s booksellers. Hossack’s, Kliewer’s, and Wiebe’s books were also purchased via this method.

Hossack, Darcy Friesen. Mennonites Don’t Dance. Saskatoon: Thistledown, 2010.

I try to keep up on writing by as many contemporary Mennonite writers as possible, and just heard about Hossack’s short story collection from a friend. This person passed along the rumor that the publisher insisted on the title rather than on Hossack’s choice because books with “Mennonite/s” in the title sell better, especially in Canada where Mennonites are seen more as an ethnic group than as a religious one.

Kliewer, Warren. The Violators. Francestown: Jones, 1964.

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This is another early example of U.S. Mennonite fiction. I am tickled by the juxtaposition between the cover’s bucolic illustration and the book’s violent title.

Kroetsch, Robert. The Stone Hammer Poems: 1960-1975. 1975. Lantzville: Oolichan, 1983.

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I bought this at Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, which is an excellent new-and-used independent bookstore. I’ve been wanting to investigate non-Mennonite Canadian literature more, and Kroetsch is an author in this category whom I’ve heard of, so I decided to buy his book. It is a lovely aesthetic object.

Wiebe, Rudy. Peace Shall Destroy Many. Toronto: McClelland, 1962.

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I already have the 1964 Eerdmans paperback edition of Peace Shall Destroy Many, which is the most important early piece of Mennonite literature, but I wanted a copy of the McClelland and Stewart hardcover edition because of its unique back cover, pictured here. The front cover of both the hardcover and first paperback printing has a white background with red lettering for the title and author’s name, and black lettering for the controversial plot description (Wiebe was the editor of a church newspaper at the time, not a “theologian.” He strongly objected to this description, but the publisher insisted on it). The back cover’s reversal of these colors is striking and foreboding. I acquired this copy for only $7.00 even though it is signed by Wiebe.

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Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

On New Year’s Day I visited the Strand Bookstore at the corner of 12th Street and Broadway in New York City. The Strand is my favorite place in the world; visiting it is a necessary experience for any book lover able to afford a trip to New York. I used to live within walking distance of it, and visit every time I am in the city. I hadn’t been to it since February 2011, which was the longest amount of time I’d been away since I first shopped there. I bought so much that I couldn’t fit it all in my suitcase and had to ship most of the books to myself. I was waiting for all of them to arrive here in Utah before writing about them.

Baker, Nicholson. The Everlasting Story of Nory. 1998. New York: Vintage, 1999.

Baker is one of my favorite writers, and this is the only one of his novels that I didn’t have. I read it on the plane home yesterday and it was a light, fun read, though not as good as his other books.

Calvino, Italo. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler. 1979. Trans. William Weaver. Orlando: Harcourt, 1981.

This book was recently recommended to me by a colleague.

Danielewski, Mark Z. The Fifty Year Sword. New York: Pantheon, 2012.

I really enjoy the infusion of visual elements in Danielewski’s writing (which itself is so-so). This book is stimulating as an object: it includes Danielewski’s usual printed flights of fancy, and its dust jacket is riddled with pinholes that make the book look like it has chicken pox.

Houellebecq, Michel. Platform. 2001. Trans. Frank Wynne. New York: Vintage, 2004.

I’ve been meaning to read Houellebecq for a while because of my interest in fiction about sex. This was (perhaps surprisingly) the only one of his books in stock.

Hughes, Langston. Not Without Laughter. 1930. New York: Scribner, 1995.

I love Hughes’s poetry, but haven’t read any of his fiction, thus I was happy to buy this volume when I saw it on sale for only $5.95.

Pamuk, Orhan. The Museum of Innocence. 2008. Trans. Maureen Freely. London: Faber, 2010.

I recently read about this book, which has a corresponding museum curated by Pamuk in Istanbul.

Wallace, David Foster. Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. 1999. New York: Back Bay, 2000.

—. Girl With Curious Hair. New York: Norton, 1989.

—. Oblivion. 2004. New York: Back Bay, 2005.

I love Wallace’s writing, and was happy that the Strand had all three of his short story collections in stock.

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Visiting Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty

Today with three friends I visited Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a piece of land art near Corinne, Utah, that was built on the shore of the Great Salt Lake in 1970. It was an amazing experience! I had seen numerous pictures of the Jetty in art history textbooks, but it was wonderful to get to experience it for myself. The scenery surrounding the piece is beautiful (the sky is amazing in many of the photographs below), though it is made even more sublime by the presence of Smithson’s work, which is made out of natural materials while simultaneously epitomizing the artificial. The Jetty would still be a fascinating landscape if it had somehow appeared organically out of the lake, but I appreciate it more because it is, in fact, an intentional something, because it is art, because it is artificial. It makes the lake–which is impressive-sounding until you actually see it and realize that it is this weird, uncategorizable entity of liquid death, neither lake nor sea–more interesting. It is in the lake, but not of it. Anyone who has the chance to see it should. It is a worthwhile trip, one of the most exciting things I’ve done in years.

What follows are some selected photographs of the Jetty that I took while exploring it. They move in chronological order from arriving in the small parking lot just above the piece through walking onto the Jetty and around it to the extent possible (the innermost swirl was enough underwater to be unwalkable, though it was still visible) to walking back toward the parking lot. At the beginning of the day it was overcast, but several hours later when we returned to the car it was wonderfully sunny, as can be seen in the final photograph.

The Spiral Jetty from the parking lot in the morning.

 

The Jetty on the way down the hill toward it.

 

At the beginning of the Jetty.

 

The center of the Jetty as viewed from the beginning. Note how the lake reflects the sky.

 

Walking along the Jetty. Note that this is its widest point, and it is actually much narrower than it looks in aerial photographs.

 

Another view of the center of the Jetty.

 

The Jetty viewed from within its first spiral.

 

Sean standing at the center of the Jetty.

 

The Jetty in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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