Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm going to stop buying books. . .

Well, maybe not, but I ought to!

Last year there were a lot of changes at the university library including a new book distributor, one that provides us with books that come shelf-ready. Between the budget crisis from the previous year and a focus on filling the faculty's needs, there were long months on end with slim literary pickings on the new books shelves for the likes of me.

Things are much improved now; while there are quite a few worthy books from last year that the library still doesn't have, spotting Charles Baxter, Gryphon, on the shelf last week--just out last month--gives me hope that the lag between publication and purchase isn't to be as great as it's been in the past.

Coming home with me Friday afternoon were:

Joan Silber's The Art of Time in Fiction. Baxter is series editor for the Art of collection, and I thoroughly enjoyed his own contribution, The Art of Subtext, back in 2007.

J. Robert Lennon's Pieces for the Left Hand. Stories of the flash fiction variety.

Barbara Comyns's Who was Changed and Who was Dead. I read Our Spoons Came from Woolworths years back, so I know what a treat this will be. The first sentence: "The ducks swam through the drawing-room windows."

Michael Austin's Useful Fictions: Evolution, Anxiety, and the Origins of Literature. According to the flap, a useful fiction is "a simple narrative that serves an adaptive function unrelated to its factual one."

Anne Carson's An Oresteia. I'm going to listen to all of you and read The Orestia first, but I wanted it on hand nonetheless.

Anthony Trollope's The Fixed Period. This is Trollope's sole venture into dystopian territory, written after he'd presumably read Erewhon.

Louise Penny's The Brutal Telling. C. has been raving about the follow-up to this mystery, Bury Your Dead, which she wants to Kindle-loan to me. But the reviews at Amazon lead me to believe I ought to read this one first.

Percival Everett's Wounded. It's about a horse-trainer in Wyoming and it's been compared to Cormac McCarthy and Walker Van Tilburg Clark. This just might be my choice for C.B.'s western challenge in the spring.

Charles Baxter's Gryphon. New and selected stories.

Joe Sacco's Palestine. A landmark work of comics journalism, according to the cover blurb.

Tomorrow: the books I've bought since the first of the year.


  1. I am going to rave about Louise Penny as well. I have followed her since her first in the series, "Still Life' and just watched her grow in stature from book to book. However, you absolutely have to read 'The Brutal Telling' before 'Bury Your Dead' and if you asked me I would say go back and read all six of them in the correct order or you will miss quite a lot.

  2. I can't recommend The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead more. And you are correct, reading The Brutal Telling first, will enhance Bury Your Dead.

  3. Just wanted to say that I met Percival Everett when I was a high school student at a writer's conference. Everybody else there was much older than he was (in his twenties then, perhaps?)--so this newly famous writer actually spent time talking to me. An amazing experience. I've enjoyed his writing ever since. Have you looked at his book yet?


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