Saturday, September 01, 2012

Incoming Books: Week of September 1

I was on vacation this past week, so of course I had to find time to get over to the Montclair Book Center (an excellent used/new bookstore near me in the wilds of Jersey) and buy some books. There also was a sale from the Library of America, so I got a few things from them. And then there were some books from a certain online seller named after a massive, all-encompassing onrush of water. These, then, are the new books this week that I paid money for:

First, from a mighty river of South America:
Paterson by William Carlos Williams -- it's one of the great poems in the English language, and I needed to read it again. (And my last copy got lost in the flood.) I'm already one Part in as I type.

Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys by Steven M. Barrett -- my younger son (Thing 2) is rather competitive and something of a completionist (not unlike his father, yes). So this is to give him a task for this year's vacation -- finding stuff while we're in the World of Walt.

To The Ends Of The Earth is a Paul Theroux travel book that I thought collected short pieces -- like Fresh Air Fiend, which I've been reading slowly for several years now. I was wrong; it's selections from several longer books. I don't know why anyone would want to read chunks of Great Railway Bazaar, Old Patagonian Express, Kingdom by the Sea, Riding the Iron Rooster and Sunrise with Seamonsters instead of just picking one of them, but some people are just weird, I suppose. And I now have a disposable Theroux book to press on someone if ever the need arises.

Then from the equally mighty Library of America:
The Devil's Dictionary, Tales, and Memoirs by Ambrose Bierce -- I've been complaining for several years that the LoA needed to do Bierce, so I was very happy to see that they did. This book contains what looks to be all of Bierce's short stories -- which fall into three rough categories: ghost stories, Civil War stories, and tall tales; all of which are dark, gory and cynical -- plus The Devil's Dictionary and the writings Bierce collected as Bits of Autobiography for his 1909-12 Collected Works. I'd have preferred at least two volumes of Bierce -- adding in Write It Right and selections of his journalism and letters -- but this is the core of his work. Bierce is, to my mind, the greatest half-unknown American writer. (But the greatest half-unknown American work is Frank Norris's amazing novel McTeague.)

Kurt Vonnegut's Novels & Stories 1963-1973: the LoA has done two Vonnegut volumes so far (though I do wonder if they'll continue and do his later, lesser books) -- this one and another collecting novels and stories from 1950 through '62. This one has both Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five in it, and I intermittently think I should re-read some Vonnegut (particularly since I don't think I've read any of his major novels as an adult).

And, since I was buying stuff from LoA already, I also got A.J. Liebling's The Sweet Science and Other Writings -- I had a copy of Just Enough Libeling pre-Deluge, and I have a feeling there will come a day when I suddenly want to read some Liebling.

Last, books I picked up by hand in a real bookstore, like an old-fashioned person: 
Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis -- it's his new novel, it's been getting good reviews, and there was a time when I fanatically read everything Amis wrote. (I think the horrible Night Train cured me of that, but House of Meetings was strong, so he's half-won me back.)

The Garden State by Gary Krist -- I still have vague thoughts about collecting the '80s Vintage Contemporaries, and this is a collection of stories I've heard about for twenty-plus years without ever actually reading. (I also keep misremembering that it was the source of the movie of the same name, but I don't think it actually was.)

The Receptionist by Janet Groth -- Groth was the receptionist at the New Yorker offices for 21 years -- 1957-78, so not recent years -- and this is her memoir of that time, with the expected focus on vaguely thrilling and/or titillating stories about the boldfaced names of the literary world. 

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan -- Thing 2 asked for this, since it's the new book in a series he's been reading. (He's still on a tear through mostly YA fantasy -- just read The Phantom Tollbooth without even my forcing it on him, and working through the "Dark Is Rising" books as well.

Railsea by China Mieville -- this is also officially a YA book, but it's for me. Yes, I still haven't read last year's Embassytown, maybe because it looked more "worthy" -- i.e., like spinach -- but it's on the shelf. And this one might well lap it.

The Pornographers by Akiyuki Nosaka -- I have to admit it:  I picked this one up entirely because of the title (which means it did its job). It's a Japanese novel from the late '60s, which is about a pornographic film company -- and what I have is a Tuttle edition, printed in 2006, only for sale in Japan.

The Afterlife Diet by Daniel Pinkwater -- This is Pinkwater's only novel for adults, and I got to thinking about Pinkwater recently. In particular, I was thinking that I don't have any of his books anymore (they were all lost in the flood), and so I'm going to correct that as quickly as possible.

And one of the biggest losses from last year's flood was about three shelves of P.G. Wodehouse books, in the wonderful Overlook Press editions. I'm rebuilding those as I can, and I got four more this time out: Cocktail Time (an Uncle Fred novel from 1958), Big Money (a standalone 1931 novel), Quick Service (a 1940 novel about ham and marriage, which I read a year before I began this blog), and Heavy Weather (the classic 1933 Blandings novel about Gallahad's memoirs).

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