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Behold, Life (and Books)

Ian Mathers has said hello in the way that blogs talk, and asked me to fill out this book-related thing, which, even though this blog is mostly about music in some way or another, I'm more than happy to do.

Total number of books I've owned: Now, probably as few as 50, not counting books in storage (which seem a little ridiculous to count since they're kinda out of commission for the time being). Over time, it's really hard to say. I love 'em and leave 'em, more or less.

The last book I bought: Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle. I finished Flow My Tears and ran like thirsty dog to dish to get another. Purchased with Beckett's Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, which are still reverberating pretty hard in my soul after finishing them over year ago.

The last book I read: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick. I've always been really suspicious of Dick and the whole "science fiction" tag, but I realized that it's too good to resist, and not all that science fiction-y in the end. I was a dork and slept on it for a long time because I was afraid. Same thing happened with short pants, and look how happy and aerated I am now!

Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

Borges, Labyrinths. This writing is absolutely inexhaustable to me. If I'm ever in the mood for an old fashioned abstract mental workout, I read about 12 pages and then stare into the heavens for an hour or so.

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49. If I'm ever feeling uneasy, I just focus on this book, which made me realize the fragile and hilarious folly of the world at work. True existential comedy. It seems both lame and required that I mention the fact that the W.A.S.T.E. trumpet is tattooed onto my chest.

Joyce, Ulysses. I always find comfort in the fact that Joyce drank too much and his wife Nora told him to write books people could understand. Joyce was an observer, not a participant. In a way, the observations are incredibly private and indecipherable, but on the other hand, the scope of this book is absolutely astonishing and heartbreaking. Don't know what to say, other than that it will probably stay important to me for a long time.

Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus. Well, maybe this doesn't belong here in my rational processing of the question, but I did think of it before almost anything else. An art (I guess?) book from the 70's. It's an entire fictional world in pictures. Conceptually, thrilling, and really funny/playful. It's somewhat indescribable, so I won't waste a whole lot of time. Sadly, it's almost impossible to find. I don't even have a copy, but periodically retrieve it from a select library when I feel the urgin'.

Beckett, Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. These haven't been around in my mind as long as Lot 49, the Borges, or the Codex, but I'd be wrong not to mention it. I think about death too much, so reading these probably did more harm than good. Meditative, bleak, but somehow hysterically funny. It's like soul food to me.


Blogger Ian said...

I long to pare down to 50 or so books - I've gotten better at loving and leaving them, but every time I cull I just buy new ones later. And I live five minutes from the goddamn library. You'd think I would learn.

Having a Lot 49 tattoo isn't lame - I'm seriously tempted myself, although I'm not sure exactly what I would get. That book is easily one of my favourites, but have you read any of his other stuff? I've got V and the Slow Learner collection under my belt, and I'm hoping to re-tackle Gravity's Rainbow at some point... be interested to know what you thought of any of those.

I'm sure you could tell I'm a big Dick geek already (Flow My Tears is _awesome_ - have you read Ubik or the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch?), but don't sell that "science fiction" stuff short yet. Yeah, 99% of it is crap, but 99% of everything is. Try some Gene Wolfe, I think you'd like him.

Borges and Beckett, on the other hand, are authors I've been meaning to read. Are the ones you mention the place to start? There's a particular Borges short sotry (I think) I want to read - I read about it years ago, so it's hazy, but it was about a playwright in prison who writes a play about his own life or something, and then it goes all weirdly metaphysical.

Ulysses I just have to try again some other time. I'll make it eventually.

2:46 AM  

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