Monday, June 30, 2014

Half-way book list

Here are all the books and chapbooks I read in the first half of the year. I did a lot of reading this month especially, thanks to airplane travel and vacation. 
Best novel was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Best discovery was Emily Bludworth de Barrios' chapbook. Best whatever was Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things. All ladies! #readwomen2014

1. Apocalypse Theory: A Reader by Kristy Bowen (Jan 4)
2. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (Jan 26)
3. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Feb 8)
4. My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Feb 18)
5. The Book of Beginnings and Endings by Jenny Boully (Mar 5)
6. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarque (Mar 22)
7. Dick Wad by Deena November (Mar 22)
8. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Mar 3)
9. Sum of Every Lost Ship by Allison Titus (April 6)
10. Trench Talk by Julian Walker and Peter Doyle (April)
11. The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell (April 24)
12. let us now praise the empty parking lot by Jason Heroux (April 27)
13. The Son by Philipp Meyer (May 10)
14. The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (May 27)
15. The Sick Rose by Richard Barnett (May 29)
16. Ah Xian Skulpturen/Sculpture by Dieter Brunner (Jun 3)
17. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë  (Jun 6)
18. Smoke and Mirrors by Toni Clark (Jun 8)
19. Sea/Words by Crystal Gibbons (Jun)
20. A Wicked Apple by Susan Slaverio (Jun 8)
21. The Grotesque by Philip Thomson (Jun 8)
22. Art & Love: An Illustrated Anthology of Poetry, ed. Kate Farrell (Jun 9)
23. Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (Jun 11)
24. Everything, Vol. 1 by Lynda Barry (Jun 11)
25. Extraordinary Power by Emily Bludworth de Barrios (Jun 15)
26. The World of the Brontës by Jane O’Neill (Jun 16)
27. The Brontës, ed. Harold Bloom (Jun 17)
28. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (Jun 18)*
29. The Best American Crime Writing, ed. Otto Penzler (Jun 19)
30. Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, etc., eds. Hamby & Kirby. (Jun 30)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Give my errands to Broadway

In an omnivorous sign, the governor slammed Congress for rejecting the bill.

Authorities step up efforts against cigarette smudging.

All your toddlers have been updated. 

Who will pay my spirit bill? 

The treatment will benefit patients not edible for surgery. 

They were mobbed by yellow churchgoers when Harkins encouraged attendees to greet those near them.

Sickly government on the verge of another crisis 

For decades sharpness tempted fate on Everest for clients' goals and the survival of their families

Monday, June 23, 2014

thy bed of crimson joy

I was recently reading two books that presented the face and body as landscape. The first was a book I ordered on the Chinese artist Ah Xian, who imbues the traditional sculptural bust with the look of Chinese pottery; the second was “The Sick Rose” by Richard Barnett, a book of medical illustrations from before the days of color photography.

It was only coincidence that I read these beauties at the same time, and yet they spoke clearly to each other. Both books offered corporeal images intricate and exquisite, but one was kind of dreamy and impossible, and the other vivid and all too gruesomely real.

I suppose that, in the imagination, breaking out in a rash or weeping sores could be like sprouting the flowers native to your homeland.

I prefer to wake up plain. 

I don’t have any particular reason to mention this now, except with a beach vacation approaching, I was thinking today of mix-n-match bikinis, and the notion of swapping one look out for another that might fit a body just as well brought this juxtapositional reading/art experience to mind. I'm not much for the grand display of my own design and intricacy: my favorite beachwear is the cover-up. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jet Lag Headache II

Books inveigle a way to my suitcase, and that’s hardly the half of it. 

Weighing each lengthwise, I make an assessment foolishly generous. 

This far along I think of friends who’ve been burdened with cleaning out the houses of the deceased. 

A task to menace one’s mania for things. 

Fondness is a cramp that makes love to a library. 

When I start a new document, I nix the header and implement jettison. 

Where to I don’t know. Acreage elsewhere, beyond the space my brain has to give.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


On my one visit to New York this trip I went to the 9/11 Museum. It opened just a few weeks before I flew over, and the hype - if you can call it that - penetrated as far as Germany. So I put it on my list. 

But once in the states I got the feeling some people considered it kind of tasteless, a sort of polished ‘disaster tourism.’ I worried it was going to make a spectacle of people’s pain. I also worried it would be an excuse for jingoism. Still, I had a ticket, and off I went.

And I was impressed. The museum itself is solemn and gorgeous, almost like a sophisticated archeological dig. Its giant artifacts of catastrophe most resemble Anselm Kiefer sculptures, delivered by the dada of disaster. The interactive memorial room offers a biography for each victim, with as much added info as loved ones wanted to provide. It was all laid out beautifully. 

To me the most enthralling part was the wall projections in which (mostly) survivors recounted their steps that day, stories both chilling and very moving. There are also phone calls from the dead. There’s a large, meandering area with a timeline along the walls, also offering artifacts and various media. It is informative and grimly fascinating. 

In the end I didn’t budget enough time for the museum. After nearly four hours I had to rush through the final rooms, which did look kind of Americanaesque, and for all I know veered into we’re-the-greatestism, but I just did a quick nod-and-thank-you through that part, still wanting to visit the Strand bookstore and get to my dinner date on time!

At $24 a ticket it was worth seeing. And it was a gorgeous day in New York.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Two days in Dickson City

We coast the desolate stretch from parking lot
to parking lot, without needing
to use the street.

Past the motel dumpster, a slash
through a bent arrow warns against right turns

but there is no road right, just thicket
you’d have to be whacked or half-asleep to think

What will we leave behind to represent us:
the sinkhole that swallowed south of here

the sagging powerlines that crisscross, aloft,

as if this piece of Pennsylvania
were held together with string

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Welfare Mothers

The last couple years when I visit my mother I go on what I call my library suicide mission, where I go to the library and load up on stuff I’m going to force myself to read before I leave. I love going to the library because, wow, they’ve got stuff you never imagined. Here’s what I took and some things I didn’t.

Everything by Lynda Barry
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
American Hybrid
The Brontes by Harold Bloom
The World of the Brontes by Jane O’Neill
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Funeral Customs Around the World
Tiny Whittling
Practical Electrical Skills
Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society
Nothing by Stephen King (though I was tempted by 11/22/63)
Nothing for Dummies
Nothing by Stephen Hawking
So Fat, Low Fat, No Fat
My Sister from the Black Lagoon
Welfare Wifeys

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cashier encounters

T: Would you like to have a Talbot’s card?
M: No, thanks.
T: Are you sure? You’d save 10% on top of the 30% you’re saving now.
M: I don’t live in the country.
T: Where do you live?
M: I live in Germany.
T: That’s so cool!

B: Would you like to apply for a Bloomie’s card?
M: No, thanks.
B: You’d be invited to special sales.
M: I don’t live in the country.
B: Where do you live?
M: Germany.
B: You don’t have any accent!

J: Would you like to have our J. Crew card?
M: No, thanks.
J: Are you sure? We’d email you when there’s a sale.
M: I don’t live in the country.
J: Where do you live?
M: Germany.
J: Oh, wow! What’s the weather like there now?
M: Right now it’s warmer than it is here.
J: I’m going to Italy in October. Do you think it’ll be good weather there when I go?
M: Yes, it will be good.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

B for Beguile

I finished The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and enjoyed it inordinately. I have now traveled the Brontë trinity from A to E and hope to read Villette (C) and Agnes Grey (A) this year, too.

In looking at my own volumes of Brontë books and those on Amazon etc. my only disappointment is the very unimaginative book covers the Brontë books are slapped with. About 85% of the time it’s a dim 18th century painting of a woman in a cloak or voluminous dark dress. I’ve also seen a couple goth cartoonish covers, and some that look like Harlequin Romances. Yuck all around. There must be more to these stories than clothing and landscapes.

For Jane Eyre I found the Penguin Drop Cap series of hardcovers, which uses the author’s last initial in fancified, illustrated typeface. I do like that. It’s bold. You can see the cover Of Jane Eyre and the 25 others classics in the series at this link. Unfortunately I don’t need another copy of Jane Eyre. Or do I?

Penguin makes a gimmick of it and suggests you check out your initial, and the author quote on the back of the book. Mine would be S for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Too bad I’m not a Steinbeck fan. 

My favorite design among these is the D for Dickens’ Great Expectations, which I’ve read twice, followed by the Q for Ellery Queen's The Greek Coffin Mystery, which I’ve never read. Can an elegant Q convince me?

While I’m at it I also like E, G, J and L! It looks like the whole alphabet would cost more than $500 new, so better just to spell your name, or your favorite four-letter word.

If I had an e-book reader I could have started Villette this morning, since it's free on e-format at Amazon. In fact I do have a Kindle on my home computer and downloaded it, but I won't be schlepping that with me on a plane to New Jersey tomorrow. No, as usual when I'm about to embark on a trip, I'll be lugging a many-million page tome, this time Juliet Barker's family biography The Brontës. 1158 pages, not counting the introduction and middle bit of illustrations.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


I took a day off for my son’s 16th birthday but for some time I was home alone since it’s not yet a national holiday. I went to the store and bought kid food, including chocolate milk, strawberries and a box of cornflakes. This box didn’t seem to be half-smashed, which is usually the case, but full of hale and whole flakes. So I sorted through in search of Jesus’ face, or Mary’s, or any remnant of the saints, prophets or apostles, or even George Fox or Ron L. Hubbard, but none appeared.
Instead I found:

Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen
Fang, molar, incisor 
Gene Simmons’ tongue
Deformed heart
Coat hook
Oyster and pearl
Schnitzel with mushrooms
Van Gogh’s ear

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Week went by

Ate: Squid, lamb, celery, carrots, croissant, licorice, bread, cheese, apricot jam
Drank: Tonic water with lime

Laughed at: Jar of peanut butter that warned “this product contains nuts”
Realized: Books are the best bug-killers

Disliked: Carrying my 50 lb. dog up the street to the vet. She refused to budge, realizing our destination.
Liked: Mom arrived for a visit

Watched: Maleficent, which my husband hated
Saw: The Würzburg fortress

Reading: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 
Listened to: Hair soundtrack

Received: A compliment on my headphones (“Coole Kopfhörer!)
Threw out: Hoarded postcards

Learned: Coeval
Bought: Chocolate cake mix

Fail: Over-explained
Victory: Established proper antecedent, pre-publication!
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