Birthday, 1942 by Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)
This blog is ten years old today. So here are ten sets of ten somethings.
Just a picture of ten random books, which in no way should be thought of as a real list, okay?:
Ten great books I read in 2016:
- JR, William Gaddis–a reread that topped the list of nine books that I said I wanted to reread in the Biblioklept Ninth Anniversary Post Spectacular
- Collected Stories, William Faulkner
- A Temple of Texts, William Gass
- Quiet Creature on the Corner, João Gilberto Noll
- The Franchiser, Stanley Elkin
- The Dick Gibson Show, Stanley Elkin
- Marketa Lazarova, Vladislav Vančura
- A Manual for Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin
- The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa
- Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novel Quartet, which I guess actually counts as four novels, but whatever
Ten books I want to read soonish:
- There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden, Leon Forrest, a novel I’m actually reading now so I’m not sure if it counts
- Bear, Marian Engel
- The Tunnel, William Gass
- The Last Days of Louisiana Red, Ishmael Reed
- 99 Stories of God, Joy Williams
- Antigonick, Anne Carson
- Vineland, Thomas Pynchon
- The Lime Twig, John Hawkes
- The Magic Kingdom, Stanley Elkin
- The Passenger, Cormac McCarthy—drop the album, Cormac!
Ten reviews of books (perhaps underrated or under-remarked upon, at least–the books, I mean, not the reviews) by authors whose last names begin with B:
- U.S.!, Chris Bachelder
- Sandokan, Nanni Balestrini
- The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard (specifically, “The Subliminal Man”) J.G. Ballard
- The Hospital Ship, Martin Bax
- Gargoyles, Thomas Bernhard
- 2666, Roberto Bolaño (hell yeah it’s underrated)
- Two Serious Ladies, Jane Bowles
- First Love and Other Sorrows, Harold Brodkey
- Lenz, Georg Büchner
- X’ed Out, Charles Burns
Ten books I aim to re-read sooner rather than later:
- Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
- The Pale King, David Foster Wallace
- 2666, Roberto Bolaño
- Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
- The Confidence-Man, Herman Melville
- The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson
- Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy (2015 is the first time I didn’t reread it)
- Native Son, Richard Wright
- The Earthsea Cycle, Ursula K. Le Guin (hopefully with my daughter, who’s just a bit younger than this blog, and with whom I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books way.too.long.).
Thanks for reading/viewing/etc.
Want to celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday (Shakes would be 446 today)? Sure you do. And, undoubtedly, you wish to do so in the geekiest way possible, right? Check out Geekosystem’s post, The Five Geekiest Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday.
So today Biblioklept turns a healthy one year old. When I wrote that very first post about A Raisin in the Sun, I had no inkling of the vast riches on my horizon. Ahhh…simple youth. Them were the days, etc. etc. etc.
I’ll celebrate this momentous occasion by recounting my recent trip to my favorite used book sellers, where I loaded up on more than I can possibly read in 2007. Eidetic readers may recall my last book buying spree: I’m happy to report I read 5.5 out of 7 of the books bought on that trip (I’m only counting half of The Portable Faulkner): that’s almost 79%! Not bad. Because that’s what reading’s all about: percentages and stats. Like baseball.
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
I’ve been dipping into the select chapters of FW included in The Portable Joyce for a few years now. I’m currently enrolled in a Joyce seminar but we won’t be reading more than a sentence or two of the book. My professor described it as a “vortex, a black hole from which no one returns.” He said this with a smile and meant it in good humor but maybe he has a point. The book is possibly probably incomprehensible unless you’re someone like, say, Terrence McKenna or L. Moholy-Nagy (whose graphic organizer for FW appears below) or Joseph Campbell.
I recently listened to a series of lectures given by Joseph Campbell on Joyce; Campbell suggests that FW is the dream that happens after Molly and Leopold Bloom fall asleep at the end of Ulysses. Campbell also posits that Joyce has a final book planned that would finish the four book cycle that began with Portrait; he thinks that the book would be very simple and clear and probably short, and would be thematically based on the mother-as-ocean. Campbell’s lectures are brilliant, beautiful, human, and humorous, and best of all, they are enlightening. Besides explicating the book as a whole, he also guides his audience through select sentences of FW in ways that make you go “!!!” Brilliant stuff.
You and I both know that I will probably never read this book in its entirety. That’s okay. It’s a vortex of fun.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
I almost bought this book in the central train station in Rome two summers ago; I bought Eugenides’s somewhat disappointing novel Middlesex instead, because my wife had more interest in it. I’ve actually started the book already (despite having a ton of Joyce and Joyce-related academic crap to read); it’s pretty good. I’ll probably finish it if I can keep up this pace.
Gun, With Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Mr. Lethem around the ‘klept. This is supposed to be a mystery novel involving memory-annihilating drugs and thug kangaroos. My plan is to read this over the Thanksgiving break.
Vanished Splendors: A Memoir, Balthus (with Alan Vircondolet)
As with most of the books that I end up buying in labyrinthine used books stores, I found this by mistake. For some reason it was mixed in with children’s hardback picture books. Balthus is one of my favorite painters of all time, so of course I had to buy his memoir. The chapters are short, vague, and achronological, making this a book that you can just pick up and read at random (kinda like Finnegan’s Wake).
Nightfall: Country Lake, David Cunningham and Whistling Thorn, Helen Cowcher
If I wasn’t so lazy I’d go heat up the ole scanner and show you some of the beautiful images in these “children’s books.” I find that lots of children’s “picture” books tend to be condescending or just plain stupid, and finding good ones is not easy. I spent over 40 minutes plumbing through dusty boxes before coming across these two. David Cunningham’s gentle and dark-hued watercolor depictions of a lake at night are deep and soothing, as is the simple text that accompanies the illustrations. Cowcher’s Whistling Thorn details the evolution of acacia, giraffes, and rhinos. Lovely stuff.
Slow Century, Pavement (DVD)
I never look at the used DVDs; I have a Netflix account, library card, and a program called DVDShrink, so if I want to own a DVD it’s a pretty simple operation. Still, there are rare cases where I want the packaging, usually music films like Sonic Youth’s Corporate Ghost DVD. Like the Balthus book, I happened across this two-disc Pavement film among the children’s books. I’d seen it before: the hour long documentary is really good, and the videos are excellent. The concerts…well, I dunno. I’m not really into that kind of thing, unless Martin Scorsese and The Band are involved.
From said documentary: Pavement destroys Lollapalooza in West Virginia:
I think that’s it for this recent trip.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a book theft in our birthday edition, so here goes.
There really isn’t much to this story, and I’m actually deeply ashamed of this one. No irony, no joke. Most of the book thefts I discuss on this site are books that I’ve borrowed and never returned or books that I’ve purloined that no one was going to read anyway. This one is a straight-up theft from an indie book store. Ouch.
When I was a young stupid college freshman (note the defensive tone)–it was my first semester in fact–I had to go to a certain Gainesville book store to buy my course texts. They seemed outrageously overpriced and I was outraged, despite the stipend the state of Florida was giving me as part of my scholarship to buy books (I thought of this as beer money). In order to “get even” with these high prices, I not-so-subtly swiped a copy of Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark: I simply picked it up after I’d paid for my course texts, walked out of the store with it, got on my bicycle, road home, and never read it. That was about ten years ago. Mea culpa. I’ve never done anything like that since, and, like I said, I feel bad about it now, so bad that every time I pick up the book to give it a shot, a small shudder of shame creeps through me and I put it down.
So there you go: new books and a book theft. Here’s to another year of cranky commentary with elitist overtones.
If this was the type of blog where I wrote about my personal life, the type of blog where I bared my naked soul to the keen scrutiny of all the world (wide web), the type of blog where I tried to express the ineffable internal in so many 0s and 1s–; if this were that type of blog, I might start this post with a litany of clichés and truisms about how the birth of my daughter Zoe this Sunday, 3 June, was easily the bestest, most significant thing to ever happen to me; how the birth of my daughter made me the happiest man in the etc., how beautiful and alert and cute and adorable etc., life-changing and dramatic, etc.; I might even post a sugary photo of her like this one–
–to justify all these wild claims.
But of course, this is all hypothetical; this is not a blog about how happy I am with our new addition, or how great my wife is at being a mother, or how lovely our little Zoe is–this is a blog about books and pop culture. So maybe I should link Zoe’s birthday, 3 June, with some famous people also born on that day: these include beat poet Allen Ginsberg, exiled dancer Josephine Baker, and game show host/CIA assassin (?) Chuck Barris. Zoe wasn’t the only person to have a birthday in the Biblioklept clan this week–I switched a digit just yesterday. Famous people who were also born on 7 June include libertine painter Paul Gaugin, American poet Gwendolyn Brooks, professional drunk Dean Martin, and Florida writer Harry Crews, whose novel a Feast of Snakes, out-Bukowskis Bukowski. But by far the coolest person to be born on 7 June (sorry Mr. Martin) is Prince (I’m not going to wiki-link to Prince. If you want to know about Prince, go buy Purple Rain, or Sign ‘O’ the Times, or 1999, or Diamonds and Pearls. Also, if you know-not the glory of Prince, hang your sorry head in shame (philistine)). On my birthday, I always wonder: “What is Prince doing for his birthday? Is he having a great time? I bet he’s doing some really awesome stuff!” It makes me happy. What can I say.
I guess some of my friends knew that I’d be tuckered out from the week’s excitement, so they sent me plenty of cool links, kind of doing my blog-job for me. Check it out:
–Watch the first episode of The Flight of the Conchords when you have a spare half hour. If you don’t find this hilarious, there is probably something wrong with your soul (thanks to Damon for the link)
–Treat yourself to an awesome mix tape, courtesy of Speck. My favorite track: “The Return” by Antares (those who don’t love spaced-out psychedelic prog jamz need not apply)
–Listen to this BBC Radio 4 story on Roger Linn, inventor of the drum machine