The Singular Pilgrim: travels on sacred ground by Rosemary Mahoney
This is a library discard I grabbed before it got boxed up for donation. I’m reading it on my work breaks. And quite enjoying it. Mahoney is good at description and evoking place. I’m currently in the chapter on Varanasi, the holy city in India where human bodies are cremated and the ashes scattered in the sacred Ganges River. Mahoney is impressed by how polluted the river is. The last passage I read has her walking up to a man who is emptying garbage from plastic bags directly into the river. There are signs forbidding this activity but he’s hardly the first person Mahoney has seen flouting such rules. Anyway, Mahoney walks up to him and tells him to stop it. Stop throwing garbage in the river. He pauses, perplexed and a little intimidated by the foreign woman. “Not even the electric wires?” he says.
The Bridge: the life and rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick
I’ve been eyeing this biography on the shelf at the library where I work. After David Maraniss’s Barack Obama: the story left us hanging as young Mr Obama heads off to law school, I’ve wanted a biography that brings me a little closer to the present. Remnick’s The Bridge was published a year into Obama’s presidency, so maybe this will serve. Like the earlier book this is a fatty, clocking in at 586 pages. So I haven’t been in a hurry to commit. Now that I have checked it out, I guess I’m still not in a hurry to commit. I’m a big 14 pages in. Am I in love with Barack Obama? He seems to me rather cold. But I’m curious about him, where he came from, how he got to the White House. He’s done some good things there, and yet … there seems to be so much more he could have done. He still has a little time.
Moonshot: the indigenous comics collection edited by Hope Nicholson
This won an award and the theme piqued my interest so I ordered it from the library. Not far enough in to have many thoughts on it.
From the Other Side of the Century: a new American poetry, 1960 - 1990 edited by Douglas Messerli
Douglas Messerli’s Sun & Moon / Green Integer Press has been home to much avant garde or innovative writing. I read his anthologies of non-U.S. poets and enjoyed them so brought home a nice used copy of From the Other Side of the Century when I had opportunity. At more than 1100 pages I figure I will be reading it for a while. I’m coming up on a fourth the way through and the reading has been pretty good. Yet I connected more frequently with Messerli’s non-U.S. poets anthologies than here.
Selected Poems by W. H. Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson
This is one of those books I got well into then put aside for several months. I got hung up in a long take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. After finishing some other books I took on completing the Tempest section and both liked and struggled with the task. I’m now on to Auden’s 1946 “Phi Beta Kappa Poem.”
A Longing for the Light: selected poems by Vicente Aleixandre, edited by Lewis Hyde
Having just read an anthology of 20th century poets of Spain and having been favorably impressed, I looked on the shelf at the Central branch to see what individual poets’ collections the library owned. I pulled this one. Aleixandre has appeared in my personal anthology so I ought to read more. “If you could only see what suffering / the moon displays without trying.”
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon edited by Ivan Morris
Sei Shonagon was a contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji. Both women lived in Japan and were members of the imperial court about a thousand years ago. Shonagon recounts anecdotes and makes lists of personal likes and dislikes. The reader is immersed in an unfamiliar but not incomprehensible world of art and etiquette and mild intrigue. It’s a book I sometimes forget I’m reading.
Oakland Review #2, edited by Paul Corman-Roberts and J de Salvo
My friend Tim Donnelly has poems in this issue and I picked up a copy at a reading in Oakland last week. I also handed one of the editors an envelope full of my own poems in hopes that, you know …
Poems for the Millennium, volume 4: the University of California book of North African literature edited by Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour
Another fat anthology. I’ve enjoyed earlier volumes of the Poems for the Millennium series and there hasn’t been much North African or Arabic literature in my diet (partly because there isn’t a lot in translation and partly because I haven’t been much fond of it). This volume wasn't easy to find.
Bird Dream: adventures at the extremes of human flight by Matt Higgins
I watched a video on youtube of a man leaping from an airplane in one of those full body wingsuits and coming in for a water landing on a lake. All other wingsuit videos ended with the daredevil deploying a parachute for landing. The video looked pretty authentic. But I wasn’t certain. Then I came across Bird Dream in the library. The book seems to be about the very feat I watched the video of. Other books keep supplanting it in the gotta-read-now category but maybe I’m ready this time? It looks like something I want to read.