Books Read :: May-June 2013

A squirrel and a bird are having a conversation outside of my window. They don't sound too angry yet, it hasn't escalated, but they don't sound happy, either. Now, they stopped. Here are the books I read, and a little bit about them, in May and June 2013:

Double Game by Sophie Calle
I had this shelved under "fiction" because I received it during my Birthday Book Club in 2012 from a fiction writer, LaTanya McQueen. It's a beautiful object of a book, with ribbon to tie its illustrated hardcover binding together, semi-glossed pages, and pictures galore. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I chose "fiction". In reality, I need a sort of "art book" section on my shelves-- though art books tend to be taller and more "cofeetablebook"-like, this would definitely classify itself as an art book. The "double game" is Sophie Calle removing herself sharing the reality of a fiction written about her and then reinventing herself as a character Paul Auster based on her in a novel-- then taking it a step further and living her life as an art project written for someone else, become a character rather than living as one based on her. I read the whole book cover to cover, though some of her projects/assignments are more mundane than others, and enjoyed thinking about how acting in these ways must have illuminated aspects of humans, other humans and the self, as characters in ways you normally wouldn't concern yourself with contemplating.

& Parts by Amelia Bentley
I picked up this chapbook during a Damask Press reading at Penn Book Center when I myself read with Amelia and Jacob A. Bennett. Firstly, Damask puts out absolutely stunning chapbooks-- the quality that goes into them makes them quite worth of their cover price. For the BoogFest this year, I'm curating the small press panel, and I am lucky to have Toby from Damask speaking on "The Book as an Object". The talent that went into the poetry involved in this chap is no less than the quality of its appearance. Amelia's writing is more conceptual at times than what I usually read, but always grounded in an approachable reality and most often doing interesting enough things with language, that I enjoy it and recommend it.

Snowflake/Different Streets by Eileen Myles
I saw Eileen read at Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery near South Street in Philly earlier this year, during a small freakout I had that lasted a few weeks-- nothing serious, I was just having a lot of feelings that didn't work well together. The reading was part of the calm down in a way-- it made me realize how important focusing on the things that are important to you should be. To be a poet in the sense that Eileen is a poet is something you work for, is something that you, your brain, language, time, feelings, and paper work for. These poems felt at time like notes-- like notes left on a fridge in someone's house that you could read while you were waiting for them to come downstairs; like notes left to yourself on your phone that you never go back and read; like notes you take during class not because you're not paying attention but because suddenly what you're learning made you think of/remember something important from an angle you never looked at it from before.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Geoff's mom gave me this book for Christmas, and I read it as my "big classic" for the summer. I am glad I read it--I mean, there's no way I would have read 1000+ pages unless I enjoyed it. And  there's a big long "three hour" speech at the end I skimmed because I had gotten the message that it delivers by reading the book-- I didn't need the speech like some of the characters did. I wrote a review on my GoodReads of the book that you can read for more of what I thought of this book.

Don't's for Wives by Blanche Ebbutt
This was a gift I received (Geoff received one "for Husbands" also) as a wedding present that I read during our honeymoon, while encouraging Geoff to read his also. Some of the advice is still extremely relevant (the book was published originally in 1913 and now is being sold, it's my impression, as a sort of funny gift for newly modern married couples); some of the advice is very, very dated. When what's being said is relevant, it's insightful; when what's being said is dated, it's dated enough, for me, to be amusing. I enjoyed this little book.

The Last of the Real Small Farmers by Idiots' Books
The last stop on our honeymoon was Chestertown, MD, where we visited a bookstore I'd been in before and loved called BookPlate-- the collection is well curated, and the owner (I believe he was the owner) is extremely nice and generous with his attention. There was a shelf next to the check out filled with small press books, mostly by one particular small press, Idiots' Books. I picked up this title by them -- they seem to write adult books that could be mistaken for children's books, and publish them in the format of a magazine-- they come out every two months, and you can subscribe to the press like you would a periodical. The books are usually written & illustrated by the same people-- those who run the press-- though it looks like they have had guest writers/artists in on some issues. I was glad I picked up one of their titles, and I was also glad I picked up this one. I think a subscription to them would be a great gift for someone.

I Don't Know I Said by Matthew Savoca
This was my last June book, a Publishing Genius title I read. I subscribed to PubGen this year, and I receive all of the books they put out in the mail. I picked this one up because I knew I wanted to read a PGP title, as they are the press featured in the d.a. levy lives kick-off at the BoogFest in August, and I happened to pick this one probably because its cover was so bright. My favorite part of reading this book was when Geoff asked what I was reading, and I said "I Don't Know I Said", and he was really, truly confused. When I registered his confusion, I showed him the book cover, and he probably said something like, "oh." I also wrote a review of this book for GoodReads that you can read.

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