Foucault’s Pendulum — Umberto Eco

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Go here to see a Foucault Pendulum at work.

Snagged as part of the same cache from the Shinjuku-nishiguchi school that yielded Kinski Uncut. Not really a theft–I traded a VHS tape of a six-hour Cosby Show marathon into the book trade for these books.

Foucault’s Pendulum is a detective story fertile with semiotic pranks–a ludic maze of meaning, history, and logic. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code basically rips off Eco, keeping some of the gnostic speculation, and dumbing down both the plot and the writing. Steal from the greats, I guess…

Something I love about this book is that it was a huge bestseller and I always find meet people who’ve read it (or find out that people I know have read it). Have you, gentle reader, read this book?

I loaned the book to RP a few years back; perhaps he’ll consider loaning it to you.

Moby Dick

Another one courtesy of the Andrew Jackson High School Library. Not really a straight up theft; it was a remainder that the librarian gave to me.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, right up there with Infinite Jest, King Lear, and The Fortress of Solitude. Everyone should read this book before they die.

Blue (Moby Dick), Jackson Pollock. 1943.

Swamp Man

This one is kind of a double-library theft

The librarian at the high school I teach at keeps a pile of books from the public library system that are mistakenly returned to our school library. I couldn’t help but notice Donald Goines’ Swamp Man on top, with it’s strange, somewhat homoerotic cover. I knew right away that I was going to take it. This book was due back to the Regency Square Library,  October 13th, 2000.

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Written in 1974, Swamp Man taps into that whole 70s-creepy-shenanigans-rape-in-the-woods-Deliverance vibe. In the backwood swamps of Mississippi, George Jackson hunts down the evil racist crackers who have kidnapped and gangraped his sister Henrietta, killing them off one at a time, swamp man-style.

Goines, a former heroin addict, started writing in prison, cranking out 16 books in five years. He was shot to death in 1974.

Kinski Uncut

 

I took this from the book swap at my NOVA school in Shinjuku. I swapped in a video tape of a Nick at Nite Cosby Show marathon. This was immediately disappeared to great controversy. 

I later found out Kinski Uncut actually belonged to one of the Japanese students at Shinjuku-nishiguchi, who had given it to a teacher there. I didn’t know who Klaus Kinski was but I loved the pink cover. Also, at the time I consumed just about anything written in English. Since then I’ve seen him in a number of films, including his famous turn as the titular character in Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God.

Kinski Uncut (the punning title recalls the South Park movie) is actually a really cool, twisted autobio about a true weirdo. Kinski describes the destruction of his family, his POW internment in post-WWII Germany, acting out Goethe on tavern tables, trying to kill Werner Herzog, not getting the respect he deserves…and fucking lots and lots of different women. Kinski doesn’t seem to be able to not have sex with women, and if his claims in this book are true, he puts Wilt Chamberlain to shame.

I suspect that Ricotta Park, a notorious biblioklept, may be in current possession of this book.

Cosmos

The biblioklept in question with this one was a certain C**** **ll***, who worked at a book store in the mall. He kindly tore the cover in half and gave me the book gratis. I had to read it for my high school chemistry class. It turned out that I loved this book, to my surprise. My current copy is my wife’s. She also had to read the book for school. Hers has a cover.

Carl Sagan had mad science skillz. Sagan hypothesizes aliens as floating gas clouds, waxes on the multiverse theory, explains Einstein’s theory of relativity, discusses the possible effects of time travel on human history and answers a host of other “big questions.” Also, everything you ever wanted to know about Ptolemy, Kepler, and Brahe.

Cosmos is actually based on a multi-part TV special that starred Sagan, making it the only non-franchised book-based-on-TV-show that I’ve read. To my knowledge. Everyone should read this book, or at least read parts of it.

Pissing in the Snow

…and Other Ozark Folktales. (ed. Vance Randolph)

What a great book. I procured this from one of those free boxes they sometimes have at the library…curiously it’s not a library edition.

An excerpt:

1. Pissing in the Snow

Told by Frank Hembree, Galena, Mo., April, 1945. He heard it in the late 1890’s. J.L. Russell, Harrison, Ark., spun me the same yarn in 1950; he says it was told near Green Forest, Ark., about 1885.

One time there was two farmers that lived out on the road to Carico. They was always good friends, and Bill’s oldest boy had been a-sparking one of Sam’s daughters. Everything was going fine till the morning they met down by the creek, and Sam was pretty goddam mad. “Bill,” says he, “from now on I don’t want that boy of yours to set foot on my place.” “Why, what’s he done?” asked the boy’s daddy.“He pissed in the snow, that’s what he done, right in front of my house!”But surely, there ain’t no great harm in that,” Bill says.“No harm!” hollered Sam. “Hell’s fire, he pissed so it spelled Lucy’s name, right there in the snow!”“The boy shouldn’t have done that,” says Bill. “But I don’t see nothing so terrible bad about it.”“Well, by God, I do!” yelled Sam. “There was two sets of tracks! And besides, don’t you think I know my own daughter’s handwriting?”