Sunday, July 18, 2010

pile of reading

A Single Hurt Color poems by Andrew Demcak
Goss 183 Casa Menendez Press, Bloomington IL
This is Andrew’s third book of poems. I bought it from him where he works as a children’s librarian at the Piedmont Branch of the Oakland Public Library. A few blocks away is the Kaiser Hospital where Kent was having surgery. I’d gotten an Oakland library card when Kent had his first surgery back in March. But I didn’t check anything out at the time. So this second time I was stuck in the neighborhood I made sure to check something out. Oakland library puts you on probation, see. When you first use your card you can only check out one item. Only once you’ve returned the item can you check out more and then up to whatever the limit is, which I forget. I checked out Assembly Required: notes from a deaf gay life, a collection of essays by Raymond Luczak, which I sat at a table to read. When I looked up I saw Andrew was at his desk, so I went over to talk with him. We met when he worked for the Berkeley library a few years ago. Having read his first book already I wondered if Andrew had a copy of his second book with him – I’d buy it! Andrew dithered a moment then went to look in the back room, emerging a moment later with A Single Hurt Color. “You can have it,” he said. “You don’t have to pay anything.” I gave him a ten dollar bill. Andrew wanted to give it back to me. I said, “Buy a drink or something.”

The Golden Ass: the transformations of Lucius translated by Robert Graves from Apuleius
Farrar Straus & Giroux, NY
I’ve barely started this.

Postmodern American Poetry edited by Paul Hoover
W.W. Norton, NY
I’m a bit past half way. Have been reading this anthology off & on for months.

American Hunks by David L. Chapman & Brett Josef Grubisic
Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver
Can’t say as I’m a huge muscle fan, but there’s a charming retro quality to this exhibition of Chapman’s collection of male hunk photos and drawings. It’s interesting watching the evolution of the depiction of the crafted male body over the 19th and 20th centuries. Chapman says he has no taste for the body builder form from the 70s to the present as those bodies display the unnatural effects of chemicals like steroids. Indeed, none of the photos in the book show off the hugely distorted bodies we’ve come to expect in contemporary body builder competitions.

Almost Human: a journey into the world of baboons by Shirley C. Strum
Random House, NY
I like reading naturalists’ accounts of animal watching. There are always such good stories among the nonhuman. At the point in the book I’m reading Strum is having to deal with human encroachment on the baboon troops. Though the land is marginal for agriculture the Kenyan government begins to settle farmers there. The baboons ignore the farms at first but when drought makes wild food scarce they notice the crops.

Worse Than War: genocide, eliminationism, and the ongoing assault on humanity by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Public Affairs, NY
Can’t read much of this book at a sitting, mainly because it’s depressing to read accounts of atrocities. Plus, it’s long.

A Garden of Peonies translations of Chinese oems into English verse, by Henry H. Hart
Stanford University Press, Stanford CA
Good quality translations from 1938. “The yellow leaves / Fall to the earth, / And the green moss / Is wet with dew.”

NEWAVE! the underground mini comix of the 1980s edited by Michael Dowers
Fantagraphics Books, Seattle WA
My brother David produced a number of mini comics back in the 80s. I even wrote scripts for some of ‘em. None, unfortunately, appears in this anthology. (Though David is mentioned.) Though I tried to keep an eye out for mini comics most of these are unfamiliar. The subtitle declares “of the 1980s” but the anthology starts in the 70s so it may be that much of the work in it originally appeared before I was even aware of mini comics.