Monday, April 29, 2013

The review on GoodReads that made me cry today

I think I was about 14 pages in before I said to myself, "wow, Patricia Highsmith was a talented writer."


To die—takes just a little while—

Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.  
“Hope” is the thing with feathers / To die — takes just a little while
Fascicle 13, Sheet 2, Pages 2–3. Dickinson, Emily, 1830–1886. MS Am 1118.3 (46b–c)

"On Ovid," Anne Carson

I see him there on a night like this but cool, the moon blowing through black streets. He sups and walks back to his room. The radio is on the floor. Its luminous green dial blares softly. He sits down at the table; people in exile write so many letters. Now Ovid is weeping. Each night about this time he puts on sadness like a garment and goes on writing. In his spare time he is teaching himself the local language (Getic) in order to compose in it an epic poem no one will ever read.

-- Plainwater

Fragment 1, Mimnermus

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What I'm (actually) reading

What I'm reading (or at least, what I just bought!)


Does anyone else have the urge to say "And now off with you to the bet din!" when clicking on the "Convert books" button in Calibre? No? Just me then? OK.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


From the time he was eighteen, he would spend at least an hour a day working on his book. He kept it in a box that once held blank paper. He would sit in a park or at a table in the library, composing one paragraph each day. He had more than two hundred carefully handwritten pages but was still on chapter five.

- A Certain Slant of Light, Laura Whitcomb

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Women Dwight Garner Doesn't See

Dwight Garner wrote a heartwarming little essay in the NYTBR about packing up picture books he used to read to his children -- heartwarming, that is, if you're not a feminist bitch like me. It just gave me heartburn.

VIDA count!

His recommendations:

HANS DE BEER “Little Polar Bear”
TOMIE DE PAOLA “The Knight and the Dragon”
JULES FEIFFER “Bark, George”
NEIL GAIMAN AND DAVE MCKEAN “The Wolves in the Walls”
ARTHUR GEISERT “The Giant Ball of String”
STEVE GOODMAN AND MICHAEL MCCURDY “The Train They Call the City of New Orleans”
PEGGY RATHMANN “The Day the Babies Crawled Away”
MAURICE SENDAK “In the Night Kitchen”
MARK ALAN STAMATY “Who Needs Donuts?”

For those of you playing along at home: that's fifteen books, seven female authors. The numbers go down even further if you filter the list:  one solo female author, one female duo, three coed collaborations. Even better -- he brags about how great Eden Ross Lipson's book recs were. Surely she might have recommended more books by women? (Some of his omissions just baffle me personally. No Stone Soup? No Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs? No Curious George? Do kids even know who Curious George is anymore?)

"Someday my kids will open these boxes, gasp with delight, and eagerly read them to their own."

Or they might gasp with something other than delight -- surprise at the missing women.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Elliott Bay

Elliott Bay, once again, did not have the book I went there expressly to buy from them (this time: The H.D. Book).

.....they did, however, have the Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht and several other books I really, really -- needed. Yes, needed, even with about 8700 books in this house. (And that's not including my husband's books.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

oh dear

Piled up in the To Be Read No Really I Want To Read These NOW Dammit pile:

Plainwater, Anne Carson
Summer, Edith Wharton
Jacob's Room (annotated ed.), Virginia Woolf
Moods, Louisa May Alcott
The Rover, Aphra Behn 
Glenarvon, Caroline Lamb
A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr

What I will probably spend the afternoon reading instead:

Deservedly Dead: A Shirley McClintock Mystery, B J Oliphant

AUGH. //facedesk

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of AnxietyMonkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel B. Smith
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The first quarter or so of this book is very funny, describing his severe anxiety in general. It becomes markedly less funny and dangerously boring when the author talks at great length about how he went to college and was basically saved by reading Philip Roth (ugh). Even though he keeps insisting his own family is nothing like Roth's, he winds up blaming a great deal of his problems on his mother (she's too anxious herself, the atmosphere at home was too chaotic, &c &c). He says his father's anxious too, but his father never appears in the book.

More seriously, then he goes on to detail a terrible article he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly in 2001 about ECT. I remember that article, and the controversy about it, even though that was over ten years ago. I bought this book on Kindle so there was nothing on the cover flaps or back that might have warned me this is the same author (I'd be curious if there's anything on the hard copy that might connect him with the article). If I'd known, I might not have even bought the book. That article represented a terrible low for the Atlantic's journalism in general and psychiatric journalism in particular. No, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, I know about pro-ECT books written by people who claim they benefited from ECT (I own several). This is deadly serious. I detest Peter Kramer's book about Listening to Prozac, for his shallow and superficial emphasis on cosmetic psychopharmacology, for the same reasons. It's why I detested Frey's "memoir." These are diseases that kill people, and the suffering experienced by people with mental illness demands the most scrupulous research and writing, the best possible thought. Claiming you were victimized by mentally ill people who have actually gone through ECT because they made you feel bad -- I have absolutely no respect for that.

If you want to read a memoir about severe anxiety which starts off very amusingly, descends into boring autobiography and then is infuriatingly defensive ("I hadn't killed anyone or knocked anyone up. I hadn't even acted maliciously"...."I was a junior editor twenty months out of college. All I'd wanted was to write and be published")* -- then get this from the library.

His (shitty) article -

People respond -

Liz Spikol -

Linda Andre's book detailing how she felt he mispresented her in the article -

*This reminded me of the infamous defense the same magazine mounted when the internet blew up about a writer who wanted to get, gasp, paid for his work -- "a young journalist in her first week on the job was part of the collateral damage" -- well why the fuck are the "young journalists" fresh out of college fucking up? Because they're cheap labour, that's why, and until someone outside your magazine calls them on it, this kind of incompetence can just slide. Because you're not willing to pay for quality.

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Readsday, just under the wire!

....or not. I guess it might depend on which wire you're using.

What did you just finish reading?
Food Rules, by Michael Pollan, and Pandora's Lunchbox, by Melanie Warner, different books on the same topic that were both disappointing. Salt Sugar Fat sent me on a reinventing-diet kick (helped along by my slow-burning chronic pancreatitis suddenly going "HOLY FUCK WOULD YOU LISTEN TO ME"), and I was expecting Food Rules to help me with that, but this "book" is maybe about seventy pages in hardback plus nearly every facing page is an illustration -- and on the Kindle those illustrations are shrunk, so it's even shorter. The prose is like a cross between calendar notes and a blog post. I was so dissatisfied with it I got Amazon to suck it back out of my e-reader for a refund (which hasn't posted yet, altho they debited my bank account immediately when I bought it. WTG, Amazon!).

Pandora's Lunchbox wasn't that bad, but it was just sort the moment you're chewing through the last half of your TV dinner or fast-food burger and realize it doesn't actually taste that good. Her over-reliance on the "soccer mom" audience for her writing and her would-be witty snarking are both just tiresome after a while. Unlike Salt Sugar Fat, I had a hard time remembering anything from this book after finishing it.

What are you reading now?
The apparent grandaddy of all Your Shitty Food Is Poisoning You literature, Michael Pollan -- I'm in the middle of The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006) and reluctantly got In Defense of Food (2008) after I read reviews saying Food Rules (2009) was based on it. I appreciate all the work he's done and the important topics his writing brings up, but a lot of the time his style is just too fucking twee to believe, like an ecological version of an Anthropologie catalogue. You can read along with some of my would-be witty snarking here. Since I'm apparently finding the first two sections a lot more tedious than most people did, I'm dreading the final third of the book where he apparently kills his very own dinner by wrestling a steer to the ground by the horns, or something. 

What do you expect to read next?
Probably In Defense of Food,  altho I might need a break from Pollan's goddamn prose style. I might go for either an Anne Carson or the new ebook by a friend of mine, A Cup of Smoke (check out that go-jus cover).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Thousand Miles up the Nile

ODNB Life of the Day - Amelia Edwards!

In 1873 Amelia Edwards and Lucy Renshawe, dissatisfied with the weather in central France, set off for Egypt. It was a journey that changed the course of her life. She became so fascinated with Egypt that it dominated her thinking and her work for the next two decades. With other tourists whom they had met in Cairo the two women hired a dahabiyah and sailed to Wadi Halfa, accompanying friends met on the crossing from Italy. While at Abu Simbel the party discovered, excavated, and described in detail a previously unknown small temple with a painted chamber. Amelia Edwards and Lucy Renshawe also visited Syria, crossed the Lebanese ranges to Damascus and Baalbek, and travelled on to Constantinople (Amelia B. Edwards MS 546). On her return to England she read extensively about ancient Egypt and consulted such specialists as Dr Samuel Birch and R. S. Poole on matters of historical and archaeological detail. She was also ‘led step by step to the study of hieroglyphical writing’ (Edwards, A Thousand Miles, xiii). With this knowledge and her own experiences she wrote her very successful A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1876), illustrated from her watercolours. Praised by reviewers for its ‘brilliant descriptions of scenery and the exactness of its information’ (Bristol Mercury, 16 April 1892) and as ‘a delightful, gossiping book’ (The World, 6 Feb 1877), it is still recognized as ‘one of the great classics of the history of the Nile’ (Crewe). She regarded it as the most important of her books and the one for which she hoped to be remembered (Amelia B. Edwards MS 477). 

spectres, spectres

Beautiful poetry by Russell Atkins, h/t the lovely lycanthropia.

is it suffering or goodness / that makes them holy

They smell of old fur coats
stored for a long time in the attic.
When they move they ripple.
Two of them passed here yesterday,
filled and vacated and filled
by the wind, like drained pillows
blowing across a derelict lot,
their twisted and scorched feet
not touching the ground,
their feathers catching in thistles.
What they touched emptied of colour.

Whether they are dead or not
is a moot point....

- from "Saints," Margaret Atwood

“She seemed just like me.”

TM: How do you think she’s been unfairly portrayed?

EW: Depressed, pathological, humorless. Neurotic — well, she probably was neurotic. Competitive. Delusional — ambitious in a delusional way. And then later on, as sort of like a nagging wife. And then on another level, I think that she’s also diminished because of the way she looks. It’s not like she was some great beauty, but she fit in with the cultural standards of the time. Somehow, we always have a problem with a woman who’s a writer who also wears make-up and likes lipstick. That’s always been included as part of her pathology. People pathologize everything with Plath and that’s always rubbed me the wrong way.

- When Sylvia was a Millie: An Interview with Elizabeth Winder

Amazon says my copy of this JUST shipped and I am SO EXCITED. I'm really hoping it'll be what I thought Mad Girl's Love Song would be like.

"The future arrived a little while ago"

The ancient Greeks learned about the hero’s journey from Homer’s narratives. We’ve gotten decades of Homer Simpson, who “remains in a suspended, infinite present,” while his audience moves from one satirical pop-culture reference to the next. Citing “Forrest Gump” as a film that failed to combat late-20th-century feelings of discontinuity and “Pulp Fiction” as one wild enough to usher in a new era, Mr. Rushkoff moves on to what came next: the video game open-ended structure that keeps TV drama in the eternal present. About “Game of Thrones” he says, “This is no longer considered bad writing.”
- Janet Maslin reviewing Present Shock

You can go shave your back now

Wow, Tumblr, I can honestly say that returning after a hiatus to make a Fringe appreciation post and then finding myself called an "idiot" on a semiliterate "I hate the Fringe fanbase" blog does not endear you to me.

Hugh C. Howey

Hey, remember the self-published guy you never heard of who was quoted in every single goddamn trad news story about Amazon gobbling up GoodReads as "the marriage of two great friends" or something like that? He's a sexist asshole!

Good catch on that one, mainstream media!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Once upon a time a man had a front lawn"

The lesson that Google seems to be teaching us — probably
inadvertently — is that we can’t trust it to hang on to our data for
any length of time. Don’t get too attached to any Google product,
because there’s no telling when it might go away.

For that matter, don’t get too attached to any cloud-based service,
especially those you’re not paying for. None of Google’s services
belong to you, unless your name is Larry Page or Sergey Brin. Even
those that you might pay for, such as Google Apps for Business, don’t
belong to you; you’re just renting time on Google’s servers.

Ditto for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Yelp. The same goes for — even if you pay $36 per year for the privilege of using an
otherwise Twitter-like service, you still have no lasting claim on it.
Anything you use online could disappear tomorrow, taking all of your
status updates, likes, and online relationships with it.
 -- Dylan Tweney

statue of C.S. Lewis in Belfast (Wikimedia)

what I'm reading

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

amor fati

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'
My formula for human greatness is amor fati: that one wants to have nothing different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely to bear the necessary, still less to conceal it—all idealism is mendaciousness before the necessary—but to love it.
- Nietzsche (epigraph to Atkinson's Life after Life)


Readsday! Been forgetting about this for a while now apparently, holy shit WHOOPS. Got distracted by xposting GR reviews, I think.

What did you just finish reading?
Life after Life, Kate Atkinson, which was pretty amazing, even if she let the whole Hitler thread just kinda.....fizzle out. (Can threads fizzle?) A dud. A little reminiscent of Night Watch by Sarah Waters, and even Woolfian -- I don't think this is at all a coincidence, given the (terrific) character actually named "Miss Woolf." The characters were great and the pre-War, WWII and post-War settings were beautifully done. There is the problem of where to end a story of eternal recurrence, which she doesn't quite fix, but it was very good. It reminded me a bit of the pageant of English history at the end of Between the Acts, too. The breathless "What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?" blurb is really quite misleading, it's not Groundhog Day. More like a kaleidoscope - same material, unending patterns - or something like the Mandelbrot.

What are you reading now?
Not quite sure yet - I might go back to Anne Carson, whose work I am carefully rationing out to myself so I won't gobble it all and then be immediately bereft. I can't say much about her except "gorgeous" and "holy shit WOW" and "brain being rewired," especially by "The Glass Essay" and "Gender of Sound."  So far I have Nox, Plainwater, Red Doc, Eros the Bittersweet, Grief Lessons, Decreation, If Not, Winter, and Economy of the Unlost. Hoarding.

What do you expect to read next?
See above (why am I always writing these when I am between books? arrrgh). Maybe another Ian Rankin, for fun.

ETA: I wound up reading Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids, by Maia Szalavitz, no real idea why, except I needed to read it at some point for research and it bobbed to the top of my Kindle. It's really fucking depressing. Just came across this gem, tho: "She and her best friend found identical black pleather vests at the mall. Lulu also bought black pleather pants to match, her friend purchased a skirt of the same material, and they planned to wear Capezio shoes, skinny ties, and white shirts to complete their look." Insta-flashback to 1984. However, Lulu Corter wound up being "held in a New Jersey program called KIDS for thirteen years: from age thirteen to age twenty-six." That is going to be horrifying reading.

ETA 2: Finished that (a shattering but quick read) and am now on to The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo, the gift of a friend, which is very well-written and witty and completely enjoyable.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"I like, I need, to shape things"

Once I understood how much I admired novels, the layered, complex truths novels offer, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do. The conflicting perspectives that a novel requires are precisely what fundamentalism forbids.
- Anouk Markovits interviewed by David Green, Haaretz-International Herald Tribune

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits (GoodReads xpost)

I Am ForbiddenI Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

Well shit, I was totally not expecting that twist at the end. KAPOW.

I gobbled this up in one evening and -- I don't think it's a novel per se? (yeah I know that is such a useless categorization when you have books like the Odyssey and David Markson) -- it was more like a very long tale by a storyteller, or a collection of them. It had a real fairytale atmosphere, even though it was about horribly modern's a real hybrid. These aren't even criticisms. Obviously the book knocked me on my ass and parts of it are beautiful and nearly all the characters are amazing. It reminded me a little bit of Briar Rose by Jane Yolen except the focus was all on the women.

I do think there was one big structural problem with the book -- up to A's leaving the family it's pretty much a day-by-day chronologically intact novel with minute psychological observations, and after that, BOOM, major time skips, and the chapters are much shorter -- the wedding, then five years! then ten years! then R's birth! then ten years! then R getting married! then J's birth! and so on. I can see why; I mean, if the entire story was written in the style of that first half, it would fill about four volumes. WWII and the Holocaust are pretty much giant lacunae (which fits the general theme) because those would completely drown out the other story.

I think this narration -- X begat Y begat Z -- is also deliberately Biblical, and totally in keeping with the idea of survival at any cost, the survival of generations, of Jews -- how do you survive as a Jew? How does Judaism survive? At what point do you stop being Jewish because of the terrible things you have to do to live? Is it even possible to make a bargain with God? -- it's easy to imagine the Rebbe or Josef thinking Just this once, and I'll confess what I did later....later....later.... and "later" never comes because confessing what you did would destroy the result, the reason why you did it.

Anyway, it's beautifully written and mesmerizing and gripping and even if the structure's wonky and there's some first novel-itis there, I'd buy anything else this author wrote unseen in a heartbeat. HEAR THAT AMAZON

View all my reviews

Friday, April 5, 2013

Resurrection Men (Inspector Rebus, #13) by Ian Rankin (GoodReads xpost)

Resurrection Men (Inspector Rebus, #13)Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin

Sadly disappointing....somehow, this book never lived up to its brilliant premise: Rebus, a walking nightmare of an employee, throws a mug of tea at his female boss and ex-lover and gets sent to a combination boot camp for recruits/rehab center for cops on their last chance. But really he's there undercover, trying to secretly investigate a ring of dirty cops....without revealing his own secrets about a cold case they've been assigned by surprise. Or is his boss trying to get rid of Rebus once and for all? Is he setting up innocent men or being set up himself? (It can't be a coincidence that a book whose plot depends so much on modern art is all about being framed....) One cop is known as "the Glasgow Rebus" which is what inspires our antihero to get set up in the first place. Does he want to smash the mirror and bring his double to justice, or join him in finally going all the way over the line? Like I said, brilliant.

But the story somehow just dies, unlike Rebus's beloved Saab, less than halfway through and I had to struggle to finish it, like chewing a bite of meat that in your mouth suddenly turns out to be all gristle. There's one sparking moment when Rebus and his double/nemesis Cafferty face each other in a tiny interview room, but the will-he nill-he ambiguity that should suffuse the pages is just....absent. Often these books read like novelizations of screenplays to me (yes I realize it's the other way round): good actors could bring the implicit tensions to life with eloquent voices and faces, but flat prose can't do it.

I did like Siobhan very much, and her prickliness caused by the way she constantly has to keep charming and soothing the men in her workplace in order to get them to just do their jobs and work with her, but also turn them down when they keep trying to bag her, and the cautious empathy she and her female boss have for each other. A subtheme of this book is women working with men, working for men, being seen as men's possessions, and there's one terrifying moment when the sexualized violence threatens Siobhan herself. But a few moments aren't enough to redeem the whole book.

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"He came after Homer and before Gertrude Stein"

I went off to Elliott Bay YET AGAIN and this time they had one copy on the shelves of Autobiography of Red, not displayed anywhere near the hardback face-out copies of Red Doc. I snatched it up.

Bespectacled Bookstore Clerk Guy: "You were in here looking for Anne Carson before...."
Moi: "Yes, you have one copy!"

 He then praised Beauty of the Husband as his favourite Carson, which I hadn't read. I in turn told him about Antigonick, which he hadn't read. Amazon got no money. A good exchange.

(I also got a copy of Plainwater.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Standing in Another Man's Grave (Inspector Rebus, #18) by Ian Rankin (GoodReads xpost)

Here we go, my very first crossposted GoodReads review. TAKE THAT, AMAZON!....haaaaah yeah. Well, I wanted a place to archive these anyway, and since nobody at LibraryThing answered my (plaintively repeated) question about whether or not I could export just reviews over there, here you go, lucky reader (or maybe this blog has two).

Standing in Another Man's Grave (Inspector Rebus, #18)Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin

Well, maybe if I say "fuck" a lot in this review Amazon won't seize it and lead it to an evil digital dungeon. ....wait, I say "fuck" all the time anyway.

A very enjoyable way to kill an afternoon. Not a good entry point for anyone not familiar with the series, but hell, it's the eighteenth book. For the rest of us, it's a nice installment.

Rankin, never very good with female characters, serves us up a weepy stalker in this one. I was hoping Rebus would drown her in a bucket of her own tears, but I hoped in vain. The book earns a major DING and DING again from me for making Siobhan and a high-ranking female colleague have a bad case of the Stupids, i.e. they're Not Rebus. (This is why people call me a bitch feminist.) (Then again, to be fair to Rankin, everyone in a series like this is Stupid because they're Not Rebus, so.) Major bonus points for Rebus just being Rebus. The murder and indeed the motive are really glossed over, and the romanticization of the Scottish Thugs 4 Lyf continues, but it's awesome to see Rebus just being Rebus again, which is sometimes all you want in a series.

Some dude named Fox whom I also wanted to drown in a bucket apparently visits from a less successful series Rankin is trying to launch, but fortunately only for four-five chapters total. Remember the Bond movie where Judi Dench dressed down -- which one was it then, Timothy Dalton? -- at the beginning and then he went on Bonding his way all over the movie anyway? It's like that. Fox is foiled, of course, not just by being a berk but by Not Being Rebus. The supposed theme of the book is dinosaurs of the past dying off and a newer generation moving up and moving on, except, well, Rebus. He half-heartedly cuts back on Silk Cuts and trades his IPA for Irn-Bru, but his poor physical shape is emphasized throughout the novel, his heart banging alarmingly at times. It doesn't matter, though: the most unkillable character in modern literature, after the immortal vampire, is the murder dick. I think when Christie died, at the end of his series Poirot was something like eighty-five and yet still looked forty. Twitter and cell phone snaps enter the picture, but what solves it is good old-fashioned flatfoot footwork by Rebus, because, well, what else are you reading the series for?*

The musical selection is, as always, pretty great and the title mondegreen is woven in very well. If the publishers could wrest rights away from the music industry to include a CD or soundtrack link in each book they'd make a mint. (I seem to remember Rankin had a book playlist on a while ago? but I doubt it still works.) I predict this book will be amazing to American readers because Rebus damnear puts a girdle round Scotland in forty minutes, and here that wouldn't get you halfway through Montana. Rebus' enduring, dangerous, manipulative-on-both-sides relationship with Cafferty is very good. It'd be great to see another book where they really clash.

Nobody would call Rankin a great writer (well, I wouldn't take them seriously if they did) but certain images are haunting: the rained-on full grave at the beginning, a pale hand barely visible at night reaching out of a shallow grave deep in a forest, ghosts of missing and dead girls haunting CCTV footage and cell phones....Despite the indefatigable nature of Rebus, whatever immortality he has depends on his fictional status: his unreality. Whereas for the rest of us, whatever's making us stand in or just above the open grave, death sooner or later shoves us all down into it. And that's not even a crime.

*Colin Dexter cemented his curmudgeonly status once and for all by killing off Morse, which I applaud intellectually but I've only been able to read that book and see that series (in which John Thaw was phenomenal) just the once.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

books read in April 2013

Fiction is in red.

56. Standing in Another Man's Grave, Ian Rankin
57. Resurrection Men, Ian Rankin
58. Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption, Christopher Kennedy Lawford
59. The Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson
60. I Am Forbidden, Anouk Markovits
61. Glass, Irony & God, Anne Carson
62. Life after Life, Kate Atkinson
63. Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids, Maia Szalavitz
64. The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen, Susan Bordo
65. Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-Earth, John Garth
66. Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, Melanie Warner
67. The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan
68. Scotch Verdict: The Real-Life Story That Inspired "The Children's Hour", Lillian Faderman (WONDERFUL)
69. So Much Pretty, Cara Hoffman (basically R-rated Jodi Picoult)
70. Tiger, Tiger, Margaux Fragoso
71. Food Rules, Michael Pollan
72. Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953, Elizabeth Winder
73. Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, Daniel B. Smith
74. Dead in the Scrub, B.J. Oliphant
75. Deservedly Dead, B.J. Oliphant
76. Death and the Delinquent, B.J. Oliphant
77. Rage Against the Dying, Becky Masterman
78. Music: What Happened?, Scott Miller
79. The Other Child, Charlotte Link
80. A Certain Slant of Light, Laura Whitcomb
81. Plainwater, Anne Carson
82. Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, Dan Fagin

2013 booklist 

"Now that you own publishing, what are you going to do with it?"

We're facing a new digital Dark Age. One where every bit of human knowledge is owned and locked down in DRM protected silos and only released when its corporate owners are paid. One where the profit motive governs every human transaction, where knowledge is power and power is money and knowledge only goes to those who can pay and we spiral in to a cycle of human ignorance that drags us back down in to the intellectual squalor of the dark ages.

- "An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

if there's a way out it will be / step by step through the black

Transcendental musical experiences that are not wearing out: the last verse of "Riding with the Ghost" ("I put my foot to the floor to make up for the miles I've been losing / I've been running out of things I didn't even know I was using") and the last thundering two minutes of "Farewell Transmission" with the wailing guitars and crooning chorus and drums all dying out to the final repeated commands: "Listen!.....Listen!.....Listen!" and then the music stops.

(Dammit, Jason.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

"mine mine mine"

I was looking through my reviews on GoodReads to see which ones I wanted to xpost here after the Amazon debacle, and this amused me:


On this day, in 2002, I quit drinking. One of the hardest things I ever did (see also: quitting smoking). And every time I wake up, I'm still grateful I was able to do it.

no longer on the map

Once her critical descent started, Maud's (L.M. Montgomery's) loss of status would continue steadily until her death. Not until near the end of the twentieth century, long after she was dead, would literary critics dismantle and discredit the norms that the entire generation of academic critics had worked so hard to establish in the 1930s, norms that pushed popular fiction -- and almost all women's writing -- completely out of the canon and off the map of literary culture.
 -- Mary Henley Rubio, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings