Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recent Favorite Books, Part 4

Part 3, 2, and 1! And for color-lovers.

1. Bluets, Maggie Nelson
Along the lines of Dept. of Speculation, Autoportrait, Remarks on Color, or Speedboat (or, for that matter, Ongoingness or 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write, listed below) (just for the first time noticing my obsession with this form), this is a collection of fragments of intense noticing. I am obsessed with the color blue, and the book made me train my eyes on blueness with new delight. I really recommend this one.

"I have been introduced to a man who had one of his front teeth replaced with lapis lazuli, solely because he loved the stone, and to another who worships blue so devoutly that he refuses to eat blue food and grows only blue and white flowers in his garden, which surrounds the blue ex-cathedral in which he lives" (6).

2. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, by Sarah Manguso
This volume is even slimmer than the quite slim Bluets. I wish it had gone more in-depth into the many ideas it just sketches out--what it's like to get older, what it's like to spend less and less time describing in your journal the things that would have sent you into rapturous longwindedness before--anyways, this book more suggested than enlightened. 

"Now I am old enough to know what I'll never accomplish. I will never be a soldier, a physicist, a thousand other things. It feels like relief.

"Sometimes I feel a twinge, a memory of youthful promise, and wonder how I got here, of all the places I could have got to" (60).

3. Stoner, John Williams
The entire life of an assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri. This book put me in a trance and I delayed dinner to finish it.

"After the cold, the heat inside the building was intense. The grayness outside trickled through the windows and glassed doors on either side of the hall, so that the yellow tiled floors glowed brighter than the gray light upon them, and the great oaken columns and the rubbed walls gleamed from their dark. Shuffling footsteps hissed upon the floors, and a murmur of voices was muted by the great expanse of the hall; dim figures moved slowly, mingling and parting; and the oppressive air gathered the smell of the oiled walls and the wet odor of woolen clothing. Stoner went up the smooth marble stairs to Archer Sloane's second-floor office. He knocked on the closed door, heard a voice, and went in" (17).

4. Lost! A Ranger's Journal of Search and Rescue, Dwight McCarter and Ronald Schmidt
True stories of deadly mishaps in the Appalachian Mountains. 

"Old timers will tell you that a one dog night is 32 degrees and above. This is to say, one dog on top of you during the night. A two dog night is around 20 to 32 degrees. This means, a dog on either side of you. A three dog night is below 20 degrees, when you need one dog on either side and one on top!" (140).

5. 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write, Sarah Ruhl
Yesss, this is a good one. An extremely approachable book that I see myself forcing on my mom. I was lucky enough to see Sarah Ruhl give a reading of some of these tiny essays at Brooklyn College, and she was hilarious, thoughtful, and so original. I love her slanted way of viewing the world, and her goodwill for humankind. As you can see from this photo, I splurged on the hardcover, which I almost never do.

"I would be interested in seeing a short series of plays, all called "Untitled." So that the eye might be redirected and the play might become ever more interior and private, with no recourse to a title that might restrict meaning. Titles by their nature imply that the play's architecture is like a bull's-eye (and some are) with the point being in the center. Sometimes the point is in the margins, or in the experience of throwing the dart" ("On Titles and paintings," 14). 

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