Recent Acquisitions

Books, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Sociology, Theory and Criticism, Translation March 20, 2014

As would any serious readerly person, I treat my books like real estate.

Or is it a bad thing to treat one’s books like real estate? Either way, I like to look at my shelves the way an Austen character might look on the prospect of a mansion–you know how that is.

OK, I have to say this before I forget it: I’ve been bingeing on BBC televised versions classics for the past couple of days in order to get over the trauma of yet another academic term as a doctoral student. The best thing about these shows is how all the characters say RRUHM for “room.” Apparently it’s some sort of old-fashioned British thing, like the way they used to say GUHLANT for “gallant.” Such beauties.

Onto far more important things, I only bought two books in February, but they were both so excellent, and strangely of similar sizes and colors even.


Teresa Carmody. Claudette Sartiliot.

Teresa Carmody is a super talented PhD peer and co-founder of Les Figues Press. I don’t know how much you can tell this from my scan, but the book is narrow and long. It feels very different in my hands. I like.

The Claudette Sartiliot is an utterly random discovery. I looked up “discourse of flowers” in the library’s search engine, figuring that someone must have written a measly essay or two on the subject, and turns out there’s a whole book. It’s out of print and rather exquisite. Hardback with actual dead flowers in the mix.


I’ve bought a ton more books in March, but the most memorable experience was visiting Fahrenheit, a second hand bookstore in Denver, with a lovely friend.

Much serious thinking is involved in preparing oneself for a (good) secondhand bookstore, and most of it involves believing in chance and not being a jerk when you can’t find the three very specific items you wanted to buy. I like responding to some material, sensuous thing, and it’s amazing how much you can tell from a thin spine. The first book I pulled off a self was called Indian Nocturne by a writer I hadn’t heard of before, Antonio Tabucchi. Granted, it said NDP on the spine and I tend to trust their curation. But look:

[epigraph to the book]

Those who sleep badly seem to a greater or lesser degree guilty: what do they do? They make the night present.
Maurice Blanchot

[first sentence of author’s note]

As well as being an insomnia, this book is also a journey.

And the third page of the book consists of an “Index of the Places in this book” and while I haven’t been to the specific sites mentioned (the hotels especially), I have been to all the major locations mentioned (Bombay, Madras, Mangalore, Goa) and have family connections with them all.

It’s very hard to not believe the world revolves around me when something like this happens (I also have insomnia).

The remaining three books were purchased mostly based on my already wanting to read them, the fact that there was a visual story going on when you put all four together, and the Nabokov is a first edition out-of-print book.


Antonio Tabucchi. Jean Toomer. Geoffrey Hill. Vladimir Nabokov.


The following are books that I’ll be reading in the coming ten weeks or so, for school. Some of them I already owned, some I didn’t. Mostly I’m thrilled by how great they look together.

Walter Benjamin. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Tr. Harry Zohn. 1968.

Walter Benjamin. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Tr. Edmund Jephcott. 1978.

William Bronk. Life Supports: Collected Poems. 1997.

Thalia Field. Bird Lovers, Backyard. 2010.

Susan Howe. Souls of the Labadie Tract. 2007.

Susan Howe. That This. 2010.

Kevin Lynch. The Image of the City. 1960.

Lorine Niedecker. Collected Works. Ed. Jenny Penberthy. 2002.

George Oppen. New Collected Poems. Ed. Michael Davidson. 2002.

Lisa Robertson. Nilling: Prose Essays on Noise, Pornography, The Codex, Melancholy, Lucretius, Folds, Cities and Related Aporias. 2011.

Richard Sennett. The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities. 1991.

Yona Wallach. Let the Words: Selected Poems. Tr. Linda Stern Zisquit. 2006.

William Carlos Williams. Paterson. Ed. Christopher McGowan. 1992.

Ed. Dana Gioia, David Mason & Meg Schoerke. Twentieth-Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry. 2004.

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