A new occasional feature here, based on an idea borrowed from Nick Hornby's column in The Believer, a magazine I want to like and occasionally try to. Documenting the last two weeks:
A larger than normal haul in the last two weeks, what with the Little Professor's closing sale coinciding with a delivery from Amazon.
Charles Simic, Sixty Poems
Zadie Smith, Changing my Mind
Modern French Poets, Fowlie, ed.
Tony Hoagland, Donkey Gospel
Dean Young, The Art of Recklessness
Hayden Carruth, Reluctantly
Paul Eluard, Love, Poetry
Dean Young, The Art of Recklessness. Oh, I'd been waiting for this book to be released for so long. Part of the Graywolf Press "The Art of" series of tiny books. I think that tiny books are going to save print literature because they are so pleasant to have in a pocket or hold open in your hands which now feel like giant hands. Young's book is just one long manifesto, complete with outbursts of capitalized words and a somewhat tangled, digressive argument that convinces through its fervor, wide-ranging poetic illustrations, but, somehow, its even-handed clarity, too. Like his poetry, it makes you brace yourself a little before diving in--it's like I want to be "up" for the intellect I'm about to try to follow, and following requires re-reading for me. Without any section breaks or chapters, it feels a little to me like the way David Lynch releases his films on DVD as a single "track" to discourage experiencing it in fragments. I'm only halfway through and can't really comment on the book itself yet, but my reaction is a little mixed so far.
Zadie Smith, Changing my Mind. Essays. Read a interesting short one about her take on Middlemarch. Learned that it frequently named England's "favorite novel" when polls about such things are conducted. Must be one really literate country, that one. If I were to conduct a personal poll, I think it would be in my top five.
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas. This book is so easy to put down, but when I spend a little time with each new section of a story in it, I inevitably become engrossed and finish it. So creative, this one, and disorienting just because of how different the interlocking narratives are, but they're also all familiar genres, and that helps you re-settle yourself every time it changes from one to another. The title of this book may be my favorite thing about it, but the stories are good fun, too. Not sure how the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix) are going to be able to recreate it.
Brian Jacques, Mossflower. Reading this to the kids right now. A fair bit of killing, but lots of cuteness, too, and some big words, and plenty of opportunities to read funny British accents.
Tony Hoagland, Donkey Gospel. He's so fun. Like eating popcorn.