What I’ve Been Reading
July 25, 2011 in gewgaws
Information sharing comes up, in the course of my job, as a source of contention. My peers in the industry see the importance of being part of an information sharing network, but at a certain point, it becomes a question of how much you can consume while still doing your job.
I’m hopeless at this. I consume and consume with a bottomless thirst. Fortunately, my particular role in publishing rewards knowing “what’s up,” or this’d be a serious issue. In my personal life, I sometimes despair that I’m so much more of a consumer than a producer. In my more glib moods, I reassure myself that the world needs more people to consume what the rest of the world is intent on producing, talent or no.
Whether or not I’m doomed, I do come across a fair bit of interesting reading. Allow me to share the highlights of what I’ve consumed in the past 48 hours:
- The House Next Door’s enthusiastic and careful reviews of every single Harry Potter movie
- moment’s moving essay about the Roma
- Geoff Dyer’s first column in The New York Times Book Review, which is just as brilliantly flabbergasting as I’d hoped
- The Hairpin’s gleeful recounting of Elizabeth Taylor’s affair with Eddie Fisher
And that, folks, is what it’s like to live inside my head right now.
You Are What You Read
March 16, 2011 in gewgaws
Over at the tk reviews blog, I have a post up on what our childhood bookshelves reveal about us. In my case, the results are mixed.
“My Usual Neurotic Museum Experience”
February 25, 2011 in gewgaws
I am loving this essay by Timothy Aubry in Paper Monument about the acute discomfort that some of us generally-educated-in-the-arts-but-not-all-that-knowledgeable-about-anything folks feel when we’re in a museum. The strongest bits come near the end, when Sorin refers to that semi-ironic, gently distant pose adopted by art viewers who don’t know how to articulate their appreciation, which is reliant upon “the role that youthful irreverence plays as a defensive default pretense.” Or you could go the route of the author, who opts for the inscrutably blank face. Yep, been there. Looking at art in public is hard! I’m gonna go read a monograph.
(photo credit: Ray Sorin)
You Mean I Won’t Find the Meaning of Life by Reading as Many Books as Possible? Ugh, Forget It.
February 18, 2011 in gewgaws
At twenty I imagined I would spend my middle age reading books that I didn’t have the patience to read when I was young. But now, at forty-one, I don’t even have the patience to read the books I read when I was twenty. At that age I plowed through everything in the Arnoldian belief that each volume somehow nudged me imperceptibly closer to the sweetness and light.
—Geoff Dyer in an excerpt from his forthcoming Otherwise Known as the Human Condition
Pouring One Out
February 15, 2011 in gewgaws
I found out from reading William Pollitzer’s dry but informative anthropological study, The Gullah People and Their African Heritage, that pouring one out for your fallen homies is a practice that can possibly be traced back to African funereal traditions: “At the ‘settin’ up’ or wake, bread and coffee are usually served to the mourners . . . each of them pours some on the group for the spirit of the deceased, as done among the Efik, the Ashanti, the Dahomeans, and other West African people.”
How coffee became, in popular culture, a 40, neither Pollitzer nor I can begin to speculate.
Airing out the Blog
February 3, 2011 in gewgaws
Hello again, friends. It’s good to be back. I went on a blogging strike last spring to protest my husband’s negligence in updating this blog’s back-end, and nine months later, I’ve emerged victorious. There’s still some housekeeping to be done (the About Me section is busted, sorry), but I’m re-dedicating myself to the task of commenting speciously on the things I’ve been reading.
Until I get the first post up and running, here’s a sampling of what I’ve been up to in the past year:
- Attempting to respond to every short story I read
- Attempting to mix cooking and blogging
- Impersonating a senior
Tearing Down Our Idols
November 16, 2009 in gewgaws, the literary conversation
Here‘s a great essay by Garth Risk Hallberg at The Millions about the myth of Robert Bolaño, and how everyone—the publisher, the reader, the blogger, and the reviewer—are complicit in its construction. It’s interesting to see such a vivid example of a community turning against its construction—by which I mean the myth, not the man:
If the Bolaño backlash augured by The New Yorker’s “Book Bench” materializes, it will not be because readers have revolted against the novel (though there are readers whom the book leaves cold) but because they have revolted against a particular narrative being told about it.
Tangentially, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which we rebel against our own constructions, especially vis-a-vis (and I say this with a cringe) The Office. I watched the wedding episode the other night, and I can’t stand to watch the saccharine wordplay between Jim and Pam anymore. On the other hand, aren’t I (and my ladypeers) responsible for Jim and Pam’s success? Didn’t we ask for this nerdy-romance plotline? If so, why does it disgust me so?
Literary Rock Stars
November 10, 2009 in gewgaws
Upon coming up from the cafeteria, the elevator doors opened on our floor, and a co-worker and I get out. Orhan Pamuk gets on. When the elevator doors had closed, both of us start shrieking:
An editor passes by and sees us in the midst of our hysteria. “Who was that? A rock star?” she asked. “Nope,” we replied. “It was Orhan Pamuk.”
[Edit] It has been been brought to my attention that we did not, in fact, wait until the doors were closed before shrieking. To which I say, “Oops.”
Where Have You Been!?
October 15, 2009 in gewgaws
I can answer that, I swear.
For the past month, my friend Meredith and I have attempted to read short stories. Exclusively. Our thoughts and occasional moments of despair are chronicled here.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!
This is why I want an iPhone
June 3, 2009 in gewgaws
Many more here: Poolga.