Wednesday, May 11, 2005

2005 Reading

Since I'll probably only be reading li sci books for the next year, it seems like a good time to inventory books I've completed in the last 5 months (list doesn't include all the books I've picked at in little bits in that time).

Mansfield Park- Jane Austen
A curative companion for the week spent in bed with the flu, and since my reading is slim in the pre-mod dept., a welcome diversion.

Devil in the White City-Erik Larsen
A compelling read, very fictionesque in craft, though it's non-fic and meticulously researched re: of the making of the 1893 Columbian Exposition and the exploits of murderer H.H. Holmes. As an architecture and Chicago history nerd, I was much more engrossed in the Burnham and Olmsted half of the book.

In Contact- Jesse Seldess
A handsome chapbook published by Bronze Skull will be gathered into the forthcoming bookbook by Kenning Press.

Eight Short Stories-Virginia Woolf
Happily making my way through her ouvre.

Home: A History of an Idea- Witold Rybinski

A fascinating study of the history and evolution of concepts such as privacy and domesticity. Written by an architect, he's also going back through periods in Western tradition that affected room configuration, furniture design and development and the innovations like plumbing and ventilation systems that are now commonplace. Spends last few chapters of the book railing against 20th century furniture design for its failure to marry aesthetics with comfort, i.e. the homely La-Z-Boy, the Wassily chair that cuts off leg circulation.

Airport Music- Mark Tardi
Another jewel from Bronze Skull. The implied reference is no doubt Midway airport, the environs around which do not, for me, evoke Brian Eno's blissful soundtrack, but Tardi's poems are concerned with the grit beyond, actual and metaphysical, rather than sanitized spaces within. However, his precision and parataxical wit forge their own beauties there.

Blood Money- Dashell Hammet
I don't read many crime novels, so it was a special pleasure to catch up with one so full of dated diction and gum-shoe swagger.

The Sleep That Changed Everything-Lee Ann Brown
Reading Lee Ann Brown makes me want to write a lot and experiment with material/techniques outside of my usual. Her plangency/fervor fevers poem upon poem.

Of The Frame-E. Tracy Grinnell
An e-chapbook on Duration's website. Existential with room to breathe. One's reference point for making meaning is turned over thoughtfully, elegantly.

The False Sun Recordings-James Wagner
Started this book ages ago when he came to town to read and just returned to it recently as I found myself writing "translation" poems. Wagner's writing is sonically dense, inventive and playful as he employs this method at times throughout the book.

Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo- Carole Maso

Carole Maso rekindles my belief in the potency of beauty, a typically tired and cliched stance, in art and writing. Her writing is full of empathy and the beauty she finds in the world 10,000 things in spite of the sufferings of her characters strikes a highnote of humanity.

Around Sea-Brenda Iijima
Another book that I've purposefully spent years reading because one is present in its process whenever reading...the scope of its wordhorde, the exhaustive exploration of place (sea) that too many poets evoke in a brisk, readymade gesture.

Bus-Roberto Harrison
Language must proliferate in air around Bob while he brushes his teeth every morning. His output is astonishing, and this lengthy chapbook makes the claim that it was written in a single bus trip, albeit tri-state. Bob's writing never feels contrived, is always pulsing with imperative force.

Oh-Cole Swensen
Travels through the topic of opera in deft arcs from the perspective of listener, incorporating at times text from various libretti. As I'm always negotiating the influence of music on my writing, it's instructive to see how others attempt to synthesize a polyphonic, durational artform with language on a silent page.

The To Sound-Eric Baus
Echoic, image-laden and surreal. "The Garden of Earthly Delights" for the post langpo set.

The DaVinci Code-Dan Brown
Now that I've read this book I have one thing in common with the people at work. That intriguing strands of art, etymology, history and the occult hold up the plot make the contrived dialogue and wooden craft forgivable. Furthermore, I enjoyed it.

Devotional Cinema-Nathaniel Dorsky
Already written about at length in this blog.


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