First, I got another clump of Vintage Contemporaries for my monthly reading series. I'm now at the point where there's only four books left in the crucial 1984-1988 timeframe, so I'm nearly completely organized for at least one book to read a month for the next three years. (Some of you may understand why I find that comforting; I pity the rest of you.)
Those books are:
- James Crumley's One to Count Cadence, his first novel, a realistic fictionalized account of his time as a soldier in Vietnam. I had a copy of this pre-flood (this very edition), but never managed to read it.
- Jill Eisenstadt's From Rockaway, which looks like a very '80s novel about sensitive young people growing up in a world tougher than they are. I could be wrong; that's why I'll read it.
- Kaye Gibbons's Ellen Foster, about which I know basically nothing.
- Barry Hannah's Airships, a hugely influential collection of stories originally published in the mid-70s. This was talked about a lot when I was in college, but I managed to avoid it then. I've probably spent too much of my life trying to avoid things, honestly.
- Denis Johnson's Fiskadoro, which I think is a modern white-man-among-the-heathens novel. (Though I'm not sure how far Johnson deformed the definition of "heathens," which could make all the difference.) It's the kind of book that has lots of quotes to say how wonderful it is and not a whisper about the plot and characters.
- Susanna Kaysen, Asa, as I Knew Him, a slim novel with the bold line "the voice of a new generation" on the cover. Kaysen is probably best-known for the memoir Girl, Interrupted, which came out a decade later (though it was about her time in a psychiatric ward in the late '60s).
- Jerzy Kosinski's Steps, a late '60s novel from the author of Being There -- and who I think was a fairly major literary figure while he was alive, though he seems to have dropped off precipitously since.
- Joy Williams's Taking Care, a book of short stories
- Joy Williams's Breaking and Entering, which was an original in this series and seems to be her second novel. Williams's is not a name I've heard in literary circles for these past twenty years; I wonder what happened to her? (I'll have to look into it when I read her books.)
Yes, I know the whole thing is still available online, and I might read the first half online. But I like to pay for things I enjoy, so as to keep them coming. And I like having books on my shelves. Someday there will be a vast John Allison Library, including all of his oddly interlinked series, with a loving large-format concordance and all of those little fiddly bits, but I don't want to wait that long.