Thursday, July 14, 2005


Shortly, I'll post an account of the trip, but for now here is the list of what we picked up.



Fear and Trembling/The Book on Adler by Soren Kierkegaard – I’ve never read any Kierkegaard and this handsome Everyman Library edition seemed a good place to start.

In Siberia by Colin Thubron – I’ve read this fascinating travel book before, but had checked it out of the library and now need my own copy for a super secret project I’ll be completing in the next couple of weeks. The stark beauty catalogued by Thubron is unbelievable. (Admittedly, Liz Williams tells me that in her journeys through Central Asia, she didn’t find nearly the number of dour, sad people Thubron seemed to attract, so, as always, we’re getting the author’s filter on the region, and his filter is generally tinged with sadness.)

Life in Feejee: Five Years Among the Cannibals by A Lady (aka Mary Wallis) – This account of Mary Wallis’ travels to Fiji from 1844 to 1849 under the auspices of her powerful husband, a ship’s captain, looks really interesting. At first I thought it would be a lark—a crappy, Western-centric view of the place I spent my childhood in, but I’ve dipped in here and there, and it looks like it could be something more than that. The cannibal part is not an exaggeration—the teachings of quite a few missionaries were assimilated in a rather direct way...

Masterclass: Scenes from a Fiction Workshop by Paul West – This looks like a fascinating and revealing look at West’s fiction workshop over the years. It’s not exactly a writing book, but I have a feeling it will be instructional and useful to me in my writing and in my teaching of writing.

Men’s Fitness Magazine’s Complete Guide to Health and Well-Being by Joe Weider with Kevin Cobb – Yeah, I know, boring, but we bought it, so it gets listed.

Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame edited by Robin Robertson – I think the title says it all. I’m a sucker for a good disaster story, so long as nobody gets hurt, and this has tales from Chuck P., William Boyd, Margaret Atwood, Janice Galloway, and many others. This is definitely a good one to take on our next mini-vacation. Another UK/Canada remainder.

Notes from New Zealand: A Book by Travel and Natural History by Edward Kanze – New Zealand has a ton of odd animals, including them flightless parrots that eat yer tires off yer car. So I couldn’t resist this one. I imagine there’s a story or two for me in this book.

Pocket Billiards: Fundamentals of Technique & Play by Bogdan Pejcic & Rolf Meyer - Er, we’ve become addicted to pool, so Ann acquired a few books on the subject.

Siberians, The by Farley Mowat – A heartfelt and sometimes moving account of Mowat’s journey through Siberia (and Lake Baikal!) in the late 1960s.

Tainted Life by Marc Almond – I’d heard great things about the Soft Cell singer’s autobiography, so when I found it at the San Marcos Bookstore, I had to pick it up. Their version of Tainted Love is still one of my favorite songs of all time.

Taste of Dreams, The: An Obsession with Russia and Caviar by Vanora Bennett – Jeanette Winterson calls this book “Sexy, intelligent, the best mix of facts and desire.” So it must be good. But, seriously, it looks like a great book about the state of 1990s Russia.

The 72 Names of God: Technology for the Soul by Yehuda Berg – A beautifully designed book that incorporates the many Hebrew names of G-d. The Hebrew letters in the different combinations are said to bring diverse sources of power to the speaker (or reader) of those names. It is touted as a self-help book but can also be viewed as an art book. Ann picked this up.

The Grotesque in Art and Literature by Wolfgang Kayser – We first encountered grotesques (Bosch-like fantastical figures often done as doodles by goldsmiths and silversmiths in medieval times) at an exhibit at the British Museum, but they had no literature about grotesques. This book is the kind of thing we’ve been wanting for a long time. A detailed and careful discussion. I imagine it’ll lead to some story ideas, too.

Trick and Fancy Shots in Pocket Billiards Made Easy by Jimmy Caras – This is a really old book from the 50s, and kind of quirky.

Underworld of the East by James S. Lee – This long lost classic of drug literature follows the author through his insane Far East travels. Looked pretty interesting.

War Against Cliche, The: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis – Amis has taken so much crap for Yellow Dog, his Stalin book, and his autobiography that people tend to forget that he wrote Money and London Fields (both amazing), and that his nonfiction is often insightful and penetrating. I have some of his previous nonfiction collections, but this looks more definitive. Another UK/Canada trade paper remainder.

Willie Mosconi on Pocket Billiards by Willie Mosconi – Another book on pool, because we suck and we want to get a little better.

Workouts with Weights: Simple Routines for the Home by Stephanie Karony – Yeah, another boring weightlifting book, but Ann has recently taken up weightlifting and this has some great advice in it for her.


Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights – The talented and forceful Tamar Yellin has insisted I read this novel for a long time now. Chamblin’s had a ton of Everyman Library editions, which I love even though they’re not very collectible. I thought a nice EL edition would do the trick.

Celine, Guignol’s Band – I’ve never read any Celine, so why not start with something that has “Guignol” in the title. Besides, the description on the back mentions an “underworld” and “magicians and arsonists.” Seems like it would be difficult for this book to be boring.

Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness – Another Everyman Library edition, of a novella that I like to pair with Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for full effect.

Dudman, Clare, Wegener’s Jigsaw – You’ve already heard me go on and on about this novel, under its US title of One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, so I won’t go on about it again, except to say it’s a tragedy that there was even one remaindered title of this UK available. Every copy should have sold immediately upon entering the chain bookstores.

Keating, H.R.F., The Bad Detective – One of Keating’s stand-alone detective novels featuring a, you guessed it, bad detective. This is not the book the Harvey Keitel movie of the same name was based on. But it did win a Cartier Diamond Dagger Award, so I thought I’d pick it up.

Limon, Martin, Slicky Boys – This is one of those great Soho Crime reissues. I don’t even know what this one is about. I just have a soft spot for the Soho Crime series. I’ll pick them up without knowing a thing about them I’m so silly. I think it’s set in Korea.
Machen, Arthur, The Hill of Dreams – Machen’s classic, in a Wildside Press edition. It’s actually quite a good edition—never know it was print-on-demand.

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, Love in the Time of Cholera – Another Everyman Library edition. Haven’t read this novel. Always nice to have a handsome edition of a classic.

Murakami, Haruki, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World; Dance Dance Dance; A Wild Sheep Chase; The Elephant Vanishes – Lovely, pristine used Vintage trade paperbacks of all of the Murakami I have not yet read! How could I pass that up?

Ness, Patrick, The Crash of Hennington – I’m about 80 pages into this imaginative and sprawling novel set in Hennington, an imaginary city much like our own modern cities...except for the rhinoceros herd that charges through it from time to time, the mysterious stranger just returned, and a few other insane things—like a wound that never heals but never gets worse, to name only one. T.C. Boyle is quoted on the back: “Recreates the world as we know it, infusing it with a charm and whimsy that brings to mind Calvino, and, of course, the Ionesco of Rhinoceros. This is a true changeling of a book, both funny and subversive.” I agree so far, except that it’s a lot more earthy than Calvino, a lot less stylized. If it holds up, it’s one of my favorites of the year, although first published in 2003.

Ortese, Anna Maria, The Iguana – A desolate group of lost noblemen on a mysterious island; a phantasmagoria; a grand delusion. Okay, I’m sold. Especially since this is one of the few novels to have “redeemed the honor of Italian literature since World War II.”
Richardson, Maurice, The Exploits of Engelbrecht – I already have this lovely collection of Engelbrecht’s adventures, but the shock of seeing a Savoy book in a used bookstore in Florida made it imperative I buy it. Besides, there’s a recent Dartmouthian who goes by the initials M.C. who needs to read it.

Stewart, J.I.M., The Oxford Quintet (The Gaudy, Young Pattullo, A Memorial Service, The Madonna of the Astrolabe, Fully Term) – Stewart wrote under the name Michael Innes for his detective fiction, much of which is stunning. So I thought I’d give his mainstream literary novels a try. Innes at his best has that classic English wit, so that’s what I’m hoping for here. Besides, I’m a nut for university novels. (Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool is a great one.)

Voinovich, Vladimir, The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin (translation by Richard Lourie) – I never fail to pick up Russian authors I’ve never heard of before, especially a war satire about the Red Army.

Graphic Novels

I’m going to be brief in my descriptions of the graphic novels because I need to get back to novel edits. Apologies.

Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean (15th Anniversary Edition) – Classic dark knight Batman graphic novel. Being easily confused by pretty shiny things, I picked this up even though I have the original. But the cover on this version is different. So I thought it was something new. Cause “15th Anniversary Edition” is in tiny type. Oh well.

Ascwind by Keith Arem and Christopher Shy – Pretty. Shiny. Cool greens. Cool art style. Full color. Must buy. Does story suck? It does seem to involve some sort of vampires. But what hell—it’s so darn pretty.

Cerebus Vol. 1 by Dave Sim – I’m told the series devolves into sexism and ranting, but that the first few volumes are good. It seems like a poor man’s version of the wonderful Bone by Smith, but I could be wrong.

Icaro by Moebius and Jiro Taniguchi – Ann’s already read this since we bought it and she indicates it’s a bit of a disappointment. I’ve skimmed bits and it looks a bit simple compared to Moebius’ work with Jodorowsky.

Megalex Book #1: The Anomaly by Jodorowsky and Beltran – I’ll forgive a lot of hoo-haw and nonsense for a great graphic style and a visionary tale. I’m sure Jodorowsky will deliver more visionary mumbo-jumbo for my brain to feast on.

Technopriests Book #2: Rebellion by Jodorowsky and Zoran Janjetov – Ah, the technopriests. My favorite Jodorowsky next to the Incal. More cool, weird, insane far future SF stuff stuff.

The Metabarons #2: Aghnar & Oda by Jodorowsky and Gimenez – Hell if I know what Jodorowsky is on about half the time, but his continuing visionary SF graphic novels for Humanoids Publishing are so outrageous and insane they put a lot of current SF to shame regardless.

Coro Coro Comics - We found this manga in Japanese with insanely drawn characters and cute little animal things. The image at the top of this entry is from a Coro Coro manga. Ann's going to use the pages as eye candy, slipped into correspondence with her students.


At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Paul M. Jessup said...

I'll read through the rest of the list in a second- but I just have to tell you I *love* Kierkegaard. His writings on anxiety paint the psychological portrait of almost every character I write.

Weirdness is, I just mentioned two writers in my blog ( that introduced me to Kierkegaard: Dostoevsky and Herman Hesse. I guess you could say these books and his philosophy completely challanged my worldview.

At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm looking forward to reading it!

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

You'll have to let me know how you like the Marc Almond book. Janet is a big fan of his solo work, as well as Soft Cell, and it would make a great present if it doesn't suck.

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'll definitely let you know! And it's on my list of books to read right after I finish the novel I'm reading right now.


At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

/me reads over the rest of the list....

The Grotesque in Art and Literature sounds interesting. Care to post some pics of some of the Grotesque's you've acquired? I've never heard of these things before.

Heart of Darkness is a book my wife loved to death but I, for some reason, didn't like. I guess I just wanted the main character to actually kill Kurtz. I have no idea why- because that would change the whole purpose of the novel.

BTW- if you liked Heart of Darkness, Kierkegaard will fit right in. A lot of what Conrad talks about comes from Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling.

Guignol’s Band sounds really interesting. I might pick it up. Arkham Asylum is easily one of the best comics ever to come out of D.C. I just love the whole concept.

At 4:08 AM, Blogger Tessa said...

Heh. I made a point of memorising how to speak Palahniuk some time ago. ;p

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Tribe said...

"I just have a soft spot for the Soho Crime series. I’ll pick them up without knowing a thing about them I’m so silly."

You ain't the only one...I love Soho Crime!

At 4:45 PM, Blogger David said...

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