Category Digressions

Madame Bovary, Sasha Martinez

Regarding longing

Consider the peculiar dangers of provoking desire through the books one reads; how words on a page can remind you of a longing you thought you’d long ago calmed, or tease you into considering the weight of someone else’s gaze, or galvanize you into crossing a once interminable distance to take the wrong person’s hand in yours and confess a wanting. Consider this unflinching definition of desire, brought forward by Siri Hustvedt via the very first line of an essay: “Always a hunger for something, and it always propels us somewhere else, toward the thing that is missing.” (And, here, remind yourself of Anne Carson declaring, “Desire moves. Eros is a verb.”) See yourself armed—first with your library, and then perhaps (of course) with your longings. And then, please, consider yourself in a reality where you moved, arms laden with the books that compelled you. [Continue reading?]

The cost of this

The cost of this

I’ve been turning a thought over and over in my hands for the past several weeks, holding it up against the light when my arms can bear the weight. Just thinking—navel-gazing, really, and a little mopily. About the writing I do about books, for books—here, in this space, and elsewhere online, and (to a lesser extent) what appears of me in traditional print. It’s an exhaustion-borne thought, I know this—but I don’t know how it got to this point, that it can actually calcify into a whole thought, or when it started brewing. It’s a declaration, one that’s (upsettingly) more assured than most of the sentences that’s sprung whole in my mind: I want to stop writing about books, because I want to stop trying to justify myself. [Continue reading.]

OFFILL — Dept. of Speculation

The devastations of Jenny Offill

There is nowhere to cry in this city, Jenny Offill writes. And also: But she is tired all the time now. She can feel how slowly she is walking, as if the air itself is something to be reckoned with. But, then, also: There’s that moment, you know, for most people, where you decide you want to wake up in the world one more day. [Continue reading.]

IMG-20131002-02407

Girl ahoy, reading comic books

I was supposed to write just about Brubaker’s The Man Who Laughs, but then it kept swerving into a rant about “the barriers of entry” in comic book reading. So here’s that indulgent swerve. See, barriers have an amazing way of reminding you that they existed for you because a) you’re a girl, and b) you got into comics way too late to ever catch up. So, to me, even if the barriers have been tiptoed past or crashed into—out of sheer will, or through a surfeit of giddiness—those barriers keep haunting; they’re like your very own Greek chorus dispensing aphoristic helpings of an inferiority complex. Hell and damnation. [Continue reading.]

GREY — The Juliette Society

Neither porn nor romance

But Sasha Grey absolutely did not write an erotic romance in The Juliette Society; it’s more dangerous, for one, and follows more faithfully the tradition of erotica. That is: Grey’s book isn’t a romance with graphic sex scenes, which usually [tediously] involved forays into a poorly conceived BDSM culture. Sasha Grey isn’t a hanger-on of James’ [utterly frustrating] success—I am arguing that Sasha Grey, with The Juliette Society, was writing under the house of Anaïs Nin, even of Pauline Réage. [Continue reading.]

ex01 _ The Batman Shelf

Bat-crazy

I don’t take lightly the whole “Books That Changed Your Life” tag, y’all—but The Dark Knight Returns changed my fucking life. This book caused the very landscape of my reading to change—the bowing bookshelves that hold my growing collection [!] of comic books can attest to that. TDKR barreled its way through a barricade I had unintentionally built around a whole genre of literature, gave me new great things to fall in love with, and has since ensured that I will spend my last days at the poorhouse. Vengeance! Justice! Human decency! Badass machinery! Angst parties! Story lines that do not condescend, that bring everything good about the novel into a glossy book-as-object! The artistry that goes into each page, how threaded with thought these books are! And, as I’ve been saying for months now: Nothing fucking beats an aging Batman in a rearing stallion! [Continue reading.]

PROUST — Days of Reading

“Merely the noblest of distractions.”

“For myself,” Marcel Proust writes, “I only feel myself live and think in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from my own, of a taste the opposite of mine, where I can rediscover nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is exhilarated by feeling itself plunged into the heart of the non-self.” I feel immensely giddy that I am allowed a more literal interpretation: I am in the mad throes of love with my room. The good books are better, and the blows are softened when I’m with the books that don’t like me so much. I’m savoring every moment I have in this room, and I’m looking forward to the days and nights-into-days of reading that it will host. Sure: The detritus will find a way to rise, inch across my desk and on the floor; the books will ever so surely contrive a disarray; Real Life will intrude and I’ll be too weary to even try to stop it. But—and, yes, almost a chant of mine now—I will keep reading, I will immerse myself in what Proust rather earnestly dubs as “merely the noblest of distractions”—for as long as the floors gleam, for as long as I have a clear view of every book in the room, for as long as that red chair will hold me. And even after, of course—of course. [Continue reading.]

LARMonth 2014

Glorious, bibliophilic purpose

Am really thankful to Ana and Iris for launching Long-Awaited Reads Month again for this year—because there’s nothing like kicking off the year burdened with glorious bibliophilic purpose. I’m enamored by the whole point of the project—to read that book you’ve always told yourself you’d read, that book you’ve always wondered about, or that book that’s been on your shelves forever. It’s a great push, too, and there’s an added weight—a kind of optimism—attached to every #LARMonth read under your belt. No pressure, of course, Sasha. None at all. [Continue reading.]

Hello, 2014

“Into whatever crazy beauty awaits.”

I flung myself at 2013, sans resolutions and a clear plan and a manual for living and an image of a better self that would’ve been my beacon throughout the year. I suppose I could do the same this year. As with the past year, this 2014: I am certain I am going to be miserable, I am going to make fantastic mistakes, I am going to seize whatever tantalizes me with happiness. I’m going to make art, and I’m going to keep chiding people into making their art. I am going to love as boundlessly and as stupidly as I always have. I’m going to buy more books than time and my finances will allow. I’m going to be Batman. I am going to stay up all night doing nothing but dread the coming morning, I am going to stay up all night reading and loathing the coming morning. I am going to say no, I will screech my thousand-times-yeses at the top of my lungs. I am going to be kind, I will forget to take care of myself, I am going to create even bigger messes, I am going to be brave, I am going to treat everyone like it’s their birthday. I am going to keep making friends with my sadnesses, and I will strong-arm them into hanging out with my joys. I am going to write more, and I will think of giving up writing. I will say “Ah, fuck it!” way too many times. I am going to take more pictures and drink more coffee and smoke more cigarettes and buy more lipstick and love the people I love in the most approximating-creepy way; and I will drag that starlight into whatever crazy beauty awaits, and I will be fierce and I will struggle for calm, and I will end every day curled around a book or the man I love or both, why not both. [Continue reading.]

MACLEAN — No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

Because I deserve December

Seems rather telling re what kind of reading year 2013 has been, I know, but: For December, I am going to read books that I really want to read. That is: I’m going to read books I’ve been saving up as treats. So out trot the Anna Campbells and the Sarah MacLeans, the Stephen Kings […]