Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday reading [non-cloth-bound!]

Just read the NYT profile of Jaimy Gordon, which has this horribly enticing bit:
Her first novel, “Shamp of the City-Solo,” set in a parallel universe and written in an exuberant prose style that owes as much to the 17th century as to the 20th, is about a young man who so hungers for fame that he travels to a metropolis known as Big Yolk to take part in a great rhetorical contest.

Even though Gordon -- who doesn't sound likable, even if one sympathizes with her desire to see her books in an airport -- herself describes it as "an underground classic," and the title does nothing for me, I'm fond enough of Rabelais and The Unfortunate Traveller and their kin to have bumped Shamp to the top of my reading list. Fortunately UIC has a copy...

[While on books I should pass on two recommendations -- Devin Johnston's Creaturely (via seventydys on twitter) and Peter Hessler's Country Driving (via Yglesias). They're about animals and China respectively; I haven't read either but am a fan of Johnston's poems.]

I was also reminded of some ways in which I'm a philistine:
Mr. McPherson [is] the kind of publisher who sometimes seems more concerned with how his books look than how they sell. “Lord of Misrule,” for example, has a full cloth cover and a stitched binding, which is practically unheard of these days. 

This bores and annoys me; in fact I wish someone would issue the sorts of books I read as mass-market paperbacks; I have very mixed feelings about this brand of "authentic" retro hand-crafted crap. There's art and then there's prettiness and I'd rather have the one without the other. Cloth bindings remind me of Pope's Timon -- "His study: with what authors is it stored? / In books, not authors, curious is my Lord."

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