Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Miscellaneous Debris, 2007

Well, over the course of 2007 I've read and half-read a bunch of different things, whether it was a beach book or a volume I kept in the car to read in snatches at red lights. So here's my chance to list all the stuff I couldn't get to posting earlier in the year:

Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon -- I read this in late-June/early-July on the beaches of Puerto Villarta, around the same time I was reading Stephen King's The Stand. Both books are apocalyptic in nature, but The Stand has aged far better. I didn't care much for Alas, Babylon.

Joe Meno, Hairstyles of the Damned -- This was a fun little romp with some familiar faces, bringing me back to my old digs on the Southwest Side of Chicago ... mix tapes, punk rock, Haunted Trails, Evergreen Plaza, and adolescent angst. A fun read, especially for natives of the area!

Naguib Mahfouz, Palace of Desire -- Part II of The Cairo Trilogy. I only got about halfway through this book before my interest waned and I moved on to more pressing reads ... like Dickens. Truth be told, I found Palace Walk (i.e., Part I of the trilogy) much more engaging.

Albert Camus, The Plague -- Here's another one of those books that has taken me far too long to get around to reading! And what a magnificent representation of modern man and his ongoing spiritual dilemma. Great stuff ... though it did make me want to shower more frequently than usual ...

Peter Gay, Savage Reprisals: Bleak House, Madame Bovary, Buddenbrooks -- This is a solid (and concise) piece of literary criticism that explores the ways in which each of the aforementioned novels contains a little world of Reality all its own, and how that Reality contrasts with the Realism of the 19th Century novel form. Now I just gotta read Buddenbrooks ...

Barry Miles, Hippie -- A glorious celebration of the '65 - '71 counterculture movement, focusing on the music, the fashions, the celebrities and public figures, the War, the Flower Power, etc. Tons of great interviews and photos make this a groovy volume for the coffee table!

Zak Smith, Gravity's Rainbow Illustrated -- Although it also goes by the more unwieldy title of Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, this is less a literary work and more a collection of Smith's artwork. Next time I read the Pynchon novel, I plan to keep the Smith artwork nearby to enhance the reading.

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By -- This was an excellent book that identifies and examines the various ways in which metaphor is ingrained within our social consciousness, manifesting itself in verbal expressions on a daily basis. It reminded me of just how subtle the device of metaphor is/can be ... and why we ought to pay closer attention to its power.

Noga Arikha, Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours -- I scored a copy of this book and read it early in the fall, mainly in preparation for the next time I had to teach Hamlet. I'm strangely fascinated by medical practices of the past, and this is a compelling look at 2,500 years of medical treatment that essentially ended with the discovery of the germ.

Until next time!

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