Books

2010 SUMMER READING LIST

We asked friends and colleagues to contribute THE five books.

Peter Orlovsky (1933-2010) From the Diaries 1960

Yes, Peter Orlovsky, as he walked down the lower Third Avenue, gesticulating with his arms freely, and with his blue-striped farmer’s shirt, in a large step, and singing, just to himself, somewhere deep in himself, a very high high note, a voice that seemed to be coming from some very strange inner voice, very personal, very fragile.

ART TRIPPIN’ THROUGH CHINATIME: CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A MARKET

One might refer to Barbara Pollack’s exegesis on the art world in China according to what some Americans understand as a straight-talkin’ book. Whether it’s understood that way in China is up for grabs, I suppose, depending on the reader.

MEMOIR: YIN & LANG

Michael Gottlieb’s recently-published Memoir and Essay arrives at a moment when the alternative literary memoir of the late 20th century has been dominated for several years by a multi-volume West Coast project called The Grand Piano, an exercise of collective literary autobiography by 10 of its Bay Area practitioners.

FICTION: DUSTJUNKIES AND DUSTJACKETS

The novels of China Miéville are comparable to the iPhone pics which occasionally dot his blog, rejectamentalist manifesto; they are highly designed, made out of the most up-to-date stuff, but they are taken pointing downwards, at the innards of a trash-choked gutter.

FICTION: GETTING CARRIED AWAY

Sasha Fletcher’s whimsical first novel(la), the extravagantly titled when all our days are numbered marching bands will fill the streets & we will not hear them because we will be upstairs in the clouds, is like a bird that visits, flutters, migrates south, circles back, sings again, and finally vanishes in the clouds.

FICTION: CROSSING PATHS

There are a few reasons you should read Brando Skyhorse’s The Madonnas of Echo Park this year. Timeliness is one of them—Madonnas is partly about Mexican immigrants and illegal workers trying to make it in Los Angeles.

FICTION: LARGE AND SIMPLE

"She knows that words have the power to make things true if they’re said right.” Or written right. In The Reapers are the Angels, text flows with a providential force that delivers the story from the temporality of the flesh—and the flesh-eating—into high-stakes biblical territory, where the dramas of the living (and living dead) take their cue from the Word of the Lord, that quirky, time-tested author narrating in the sky—or living and writing in New York.

POETRY: WASTE TO WITT

Procedures regularize, give to an experience a repeatable form. In Joan Retallack’s new collection of works written between 1980 and 2010, Procedural Elegies/Western Civ Cont’d, meaning is located in formal construction.

FICTION: OUR LOTS OF LITTLE

Anxiety suffuses much of Life of a Star, Jane Unrue’s lapidary bloodletting, and much of it is borne from the narrator’s bemoaning of language’s limitations, memory’s imprecision, romance’s sudden changes, and the seeming impossibility of love.

POETRY: THE COOKED AND THE RARE

When Robert Lowell accepted a National Book Award in 1960, he conflated contemporary American poetry into an arbitrary division: the cooked and the raw. Pinning the dry academic formalism against the hopheaded, overheated eruptions of the Beats, he was doing more than cartooning actual tendencies and aesthetic divides.

TOKENS

The book jacket of A Life on Paper calls Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud “France’s own Kurt Vonnegut.” But during my brooding, meandering tour through this first English collection of his work, it was not Vonnegut’s glee that Châteaureynaud showed me.

RAPID TRANSIT

A balance between breeziness and brazenness keeps these poems edgy as Maureen McLane transforms landscape into “inscape.” Searching for resolution in isolation, she inhabits a “loafing groove.”

Table of Contents

Books

ADVERTISEMENTS
close

JUL-AUG 2010

All Issues