Tuesday, January 27, 2015

pile of reading

The Reenactments by Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn wrote a memoir, focused mostly on his father, called Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. I loved the title. Finally read it and thought it very good. The book was turned into a movie, Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro. I’ve seen maybe half a minute of it on TV. The Reenactments is an essay about having a movie made about your life, including the really bad parts. Among other things Nick Flynn tries to figure out if seeing an actress portray his mother committing suicide will help him heal from that tragic and traumatic real life event. He never really has, he says. We revisit many stories covered in Flynn’s first memoir, often from a slightly different angle.

Poetry v. 203, no.4, January 2014
Several years ago I read a year’s worth of Poetry and came away thinking the magazine was quite unreadable. A few more recent issues edited by Christian Wiman fell into my hands. Upon reading them I found the magazine greatly improved. Wiman has also been replaced. Changes, changes. Maybe it’s time to give Poetry another go? I ordered up the January through April issues from the Berkeley Library Main Branch. I’m working my way through January. The editor, Don Share, seems to have decent taste. It’s a little early to pass judgment, but passing judgment isn’t really necessary, is it? Inevitable, I suppose. But necessary?

What Light Can Do: essays on art, imagination, and the natural world by Robert Hass
Robert Hass was one of my teachers at UC Berkeley. He went on to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate and win lots of awards. This collection is a motley. I enjoy Hass’ voice but all the essays are not equally interesting.

Notes on the Mosquito: selected poems by Xi Chuan, translated by Lucas Klein
In the What Light Can Do collection Robert Hass talks about recent poetry in mainland China. One of the poets he singles out is Xi Chuan and I liked the lines he quoted.

Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century poetry of witness edited by Carolyn Forche
Lots of downer poetry. Still, I’ve slipped in a few bookmarks and poems from this anthology may show up in my year end list.

Mixed Up: a zine about mixed race queer & feminist experience
I picked this up on an expedition to a zine shop in the Mission.

A Short History of Laos by Grant Evans
I enjoyed A Short History of Cambodia. This book is in the same series, though by a different author. We’re considering a visit to Laos.

Mouth poems by Lisa Chen
Lisa Chen was a classmate in a Robert Hass poetry workshop at Cal. I found she had a book so here I am reading it.

The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
A science fiction novel about traveling back in time to help yourself out.

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