Friday, August 19, 2005

More books

I've really had the chance lately to do quite a bit of reading. I finished "Oh the Glory of it All" and I thought it was actually pretty good. I still have a hard time feeling sorry for guys like Wilsey and Eggers who are basically loaded with cash when their tribulations occur, but I guess everyone still feels pain and unloved sometimes.

[For some reason Blogger does not give me the "add a link" buttons in Safari (as it does for you windows users on IE)--I only get the spellcheck and add a picture buttons, and usually I take the time to type in the links, but screw it, if you are interested in these books, you probably know how to find them.]

Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen by Larry McMurtry
I love it that McMurty is really our only great novelist to simultaneously be an antiquarian book dealer. His personal reminisces on the book trade are interesting and, since I don't plan on being a great novelist, inspiring. I'd love to someday own a used book store. In fact, McMurtry compares herding books to herding cattle--neither are very profitable, but they sure beat a 9-5 desk job. It's just great to read a true bibliophile talk about books (this is one reason I like Nick Baker, too).

Metropolis by Elizabeth Gaffney
Just getting started on this, but I like it so far. It reminds me a lot of a combination of "The Crimson Petal and the White" and another book I recently read: "New York Sawed in Half".

We have a great Half Price Books store here in Austin (on Lamar Blvd at Koenig, I think) that has a pretty impressive rare books room and even takes out a chunk of antiquarian books that never sell and mark them down with the other used bargains. There I bought a 1965 copy of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for like $2.00. The stories in it are pretty tight, concise, Arthur Conan Doyle-esque "mysteries" -- really enjoyable pulp.

I've also started cataloging all of my books at home in Excel and it's taking a while. I don't have them all on shelves yet so I doubt I will finish the catalog until I can get inspired enough by seeing their spines on the shelf. I have considered what would be the best way to "put" this catalog online and I think no one wants to see a long list of all my books sorted alphabetically by author and then I thought it might be cool if I could take some hi-res pictures of the books on the shelves and then you could basically look at my home library, but 1) I do not have a digital camera, 2) I do not have a scanner anymore, and 3) I'm still not sure it's worth the effort.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Still Getting Used to Seeing "News" Stories Like This

"A local community library has been dealing with censorship questions. At issue: a magazine targeted toward homosexuals and whether it should be pulled from the shelves of the Wells Branch Community Library.
Library officials say they received a complaint about the magazine "Out.""

""The magazine's not coming out of the library. I would like to see them put in a place where minors don't have access, so it's up to parents. Do I want my child looking at magazines promoting homosexuality or not?" said Phil Pringle, Wells Branch Community Library Board member."

They want to treat "Out" magazine as a porno. Contrast this to my previous place of residence (NYC's West Village) where our State Representative was an openly gay woman and our State Senator is HIV positive. Suffice it to say that no one in Greenwich Village was pushing to get "Out" pulled from the library. In fact, part of my job at NYU was working with Out in placing ads for our books and renting their mailing lists. The gay rights movement has much to accomplish in Texas--even in Austin.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Books on the nightstand

I'm starting to realize that I'm a better reader of blogs than writer of blogs. I am lazy. I have been reading a lot lately, though. Here are a few things I've finished or almost finished

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Great book. There is almost no plot, but Bellow's descriptions of Ravelstein are so compelling and interesting that I couldn't put this down. Ravelstein himself comes off as cultlike and larger-than-life, constantly spouting insights into the academic community and the unexamined life.

Yesterday's Perfume by Cherie Nutting with Paul Bowles
This is a large, coffee-table book mainly consisting of Nutting's photos of Bowles and scenery around Morocco. Her own story of her relationship with Bowles is interesting and a bit weird, but I'm a sucker for stories about the real-life Bowles. I got this for like $9 at Book People.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
This has pretty much been my everyday book for the past three weeks. I finished it last night. Jordan and I first heard about this book on NPR (The Diane Rheem Show) and I bought it because the author made it sound so cool. It's a little bit like The Da Vinci Code, except about Dracula, and it's written by a woman. I really respect Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Kostova was emphasizing the literary aspects of her novel so I gave it a shot, and it's riveting, but it's not exactly literary. There is a lot about Ottoman history and the medieval rulers of what is now Romania and Hungary, but for anthropological details about agrarian vampire folklore, I much prefer Carlo Ginzburg and non-fiction. Still, it's a good novel. Kind of a weak ending, but it clips along at a nice pace up until the end.

Oh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey
This is a memoir blurbed by Dave Eggers and George Saunders, and Wilsey is a staple of the McSweeney's community over there in San Fran. The few snippets I read in the library seemed good enough so I checked it out. I'm still in the first third of this now and waiting to see if Wilsey's life is different or similar enough to hold my interest. Like Eggers he can slip into the too-self-indulgent pretty quickly.