Like most Real Americans, I like to go to the bookstore on my birthday. At my favorite spot, I picked up Djuna Barnes’s Ladies Almanack, which intrigued me with its weird shape, odd typeset, strange conceit, and wonderful opening line: “Now this be a Tale of as fine a Wench as ever wet Bed.” Oh, and illustrated by Barnes too:
Sheppard Lee by Robert Montgomery Bird: This one looks fascinating. NYRB’s blurb:
Robert Montgomery Bird’s Sheppard Lee is a scathingly humorous and utterly original novel out of Andrew Jackson’s America, the story of an incorrigible loafer who inadvertently discovers the power to project his soul into dying men’s bodies and to take over their lives. So gifted, Sheppard Lee sets off in pursuit of happiness, only to find himself thwarted at every turn. In growing desperation he shifts from body to body, now a rich man and now poor man, now a madman and now a slave, a bewildered spirit trapped in the dark maze of American identity.
Also: Evaristo Carriego, a study of the poet by Jorge Luis Borges.
And The Bark Tree, also translated as Witch Grass. I don’t know if this is the right starting place for Queneau, but it was a nice used New Directions edition, so, hey.