Saturday, May 28, 2016

Incoming Books: Last Weekend

Last weekend, The Wife and I went off for a romantic weekend -- meaning, a weekend away from the kids -- in trendy bucolic New Hope, PA. The town was so impressed, they had a fireworks display on Friday night -- well, actually, that was because it was also Pride Week, but we pretended it was for us.

One of my favorite leisure-time activities is puttering through bookstores, so of course I came back with a stack of things, from two side-by-side used bookstores in Doylestown, from a new comics shop in New Hope, and from the local library sale (because who can pass up a bargain?). And those books were:

Vox by Nicolson Baker -- I've read a number of his novels, and I like the way he turns really tiny moments into full stories. And I could have had as many copies of this phone-sex novel as I wanted back in the '90s, when my employer sold it and it was around the office for close to a decade. But I was embarrassed then, and I'm probably still embarrassed now. But I may read it, eventually.

The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey -- this is one of two Booker winners from Carey, one of the great names in modern Australian literature. I read his novel Jack Maggs (because of the Dickens connection) around 2002, and his short travel book Wrong About Japan (because it was short), and I keep thinking I should read more by him.

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M Coetzee -- I know nothing about this one, or about Coetzee (whose name I've heard, but I'm not even sure if "J.M." is male or female, and I'm deliberately not looking it up). It's slim, and looks fabulistic in an interestingly literary way, and it was cheap.

The Translator by John Crowley -- I'm behind on reading Crowley, but, luckily for me, Crowley is an incredibly slow writer, so it's not that far behind. This is a historical novel, without supernatural elements (I think), and is now about a decade and a half old.

Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl -- this is the first half of the two-volume autobiography of Dahl's young life, along with Going Solo. I read the young-man book last year, and I guess I'll get to the pre-adult book sometime soon.

The Great Cat Massacre by Robert Darnton -- Picked up because of that magnificent title, and kept because it was cheap (that library sale) and because it's a book about oddities in French history by, I just noticed, possibly the preeminent expert in pre-Revolutionary France.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby -- I've enjoyed Hornby's books for a long time, despite a nagging sense that they're more lightweight than they should be, the literary equivalent of Twinkies. This one seems slightly deeper, being the story of a working girl in '60s London.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan -- But no one can ever accuse McEwan of being lightweight at any time. This is his most recent book, I think, and I found a new-looking paperback in a used-book store, which is a nice thing.

West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan -- A novel about the last days of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood, I think -- "last days" could be stretching the case -- by a writer who I keep wanting to read more of.

The Complete Poems by Christina Rossetti -- It's huge, and don't know if I will realistically get to it at any time before the sun cools. But there's a great glaring portrait of Rossetti on the cover, I've always liked her better than her brother, and I want to read more poetry.

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh -- I read all of Waugh's novels in the '90s, when I was young and heartless and happy. Now that I'm old and bitter and grumpy, I should try another run at them. (Though I did like them a lot the first time around -- I'm more worried that his casual cruelties will pain me more this time.) This one was his first book, so where better to start?

Orlando by Virginia Woolf -- I haven't read as much Woolf as I want, though I love Mrs. Dalloway way back when and the bits I've read since then. Since the movie is old and untimely now, I can read this novel in peace.

Kyle Baker, Cartoonist -- A self-published collection of Baker's gag cartoons and short strips, as I recall. I had this the first time around, and was happy to buy it again cheaply; Baker is good at the funny stuff and I really loved the expressiveness of his line before he started working electronically.

As Naughty As She Wants To Be! by Roberta Gregory -- Gregory is a strongly feminist comics-maker, coming out of the old underground tradition and maybe the counterweight to Robert Crumb. And I've only seen a few short strips of hers here and there. This is a bigger dose, reprinting work from her Naughty Bits comic -- which title, I understand, is descriptive, but it's not the kind of naughty bits that the usual (read: young and male) audience is looking for.

Jar of Fools by Jason Lutes -- Lute's first big story, which I read as collected into floppies and then in book form -- and then lost to the flood. So I got a new copy.

Fallout by Jim Ottaviani and various artists -- The story of the Manhattan Project, told in comics by the master of science comics. The topic is interesting, and I have to admit I feel a puckish glee in the title, given the video game I've been playing obsessively for the past five months.

Popeye, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 by Roger Langridge and various artists -- More reprints of the Langridge-written recent Popeye series (is it even still running? I'm totally out of the loop on Wednesday Crowd stuff these days), which I expect will be just as much fun as the first book.

The Question: Poisoned Ground by Dennis O'Neil, Denys Cowan, and Rick Magyar -- Second volume reprinting the excellent series about the costumed hero with no face from the late '80s. I guess I'll try to find the others, and re-read the series to see if my description above is actually still true.

Mage: The Hero Defined by Matt Wagner -- A big book reprinting a major story by Wagner, long-awaited sequel to his first major comics story and supposedly the middle of a trilogy. (The Hero Denied, coming, we hope, sometime in the next decade or two.)

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