Friday, May 25, 2012

Tangled Book Reviews: Free Books!

It is my pleasure to announce that The M Half of the M-n-J Show will be the next recipient of Creative is a Verb. In a highly scientific randomization, I took all of the names of people who commented that they'd like the book and put them in a coffee mug. I then drew them one at a time and numbered them according to the order in which I pulled them out. Since there were six names, I rolled the dice. (A die, to be more accurate.) And I rolled a two. That was M Half's number. So the book will be winging its way to Austin over the weekend. Enjoy the book, M Half! And for the rest of you, I guess you'll just have to read her blog to find out when you'll get another chance at it.

Speaking of winning free books, Darren Cormier is a writer I discovered by accident while Googling a David Foster Wallace quote. He has a book coming out soon called A Little Soul: 140 Twitter Stories. The way this man can pack a whole story into 140 characters is utterly amazing. For the release of his book, he is going to send a free copy to the 140th person to "Like" his Facebook page. So go on and give him a like. Even if you don't win a copy of the book, you still win. You get to encourage a fellow writer and he publishes a new Twitterstory every Sunday so you get to read these little nuggets of goodness anyway.

And should you find yourself at everyone's free book mecca - the library - here are a few things I've been reading lately:

Two of my favorite authors: David Shields and Jonathan Lethem both have new books out. Our library currently holds neither of them. Jerks. So, I've contented myself with reading Lethem's The Ecstasy of Influence, Nonfictions, etc. which is relatively new, but not about the Talking Heads. So, you all know I how I love nonfiction, right? Lethem is one of the few writers who captivates me with his fiction, too. If you are new to his work, check out Motherless Brooklyn or Chronic City. Both are incredibly imaginative books with prose that just blows the mind. It takes me a long time to read his books, because I have to stop and savor different turns of phrase over and over. Motherless Brooklyn is more straightforward fiction and Chronic City has a bit of magical realism and fantasy about it. Both are fantastic reads, fully absorbing and intricate without sacrificing pace.

While I love Lethem's fiction, I am of course a sucker for the non. Ecstasy is a a collection of essays and articles that range all over the place, but there's a sort of central theme of writing and the nature of fiction and appropriation and influence in art. Lethem's nonfiction is as intense as his fiction, with the same attention to detail and expression. His primary literary influences are sci-fi, a genre that frequently confounds me, so sometimes the references are hard to follow. The upside of this is that my to-read list is growing and my husband might faint to see me check J.G. Ballard out of the library. "Sure, I've been telling you to read Crash for years, but if Jonathan Lethem tells you to..." What's fascinating, though, is that through Lethem's defense of sci-fi, a genre that is often considered sub-literary, I see my own prejudices are based on very little actual knowledge and want to give some of the classics a shot. I will probably still tease the Chief Lou for reading his "romance novels for boys", though.

It is also because of Lethem that I picked up Italo Calvino's Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, because I am a sucker for nonfiction. I am nosy and fascinated by the things that great writers write about themselves. I like to see the "real lives" of writers - especially writers like Calvino and Lethem who write such surreal fiction. I've only just started the Calvino, but it promises to be interesting. In just the first selection he explores why he chose to settle in Turin against Italian literary tradition and how his choice of home is both a reflection of and inspiration for his writing style. I can't wait to read more.

But the sun is shining today and the bike paths are calling. The Hooligan and I are about to venture out to the post office to send one book on its way across the Rocky Mountains, and then to the library to harass the Powers That Be about their egregious oversight in not having Jeff, One Lonely Guy available, especially considering Shields is a local author. I will harass them gently, though. It is an amazing thing, the library. I will revel a bit in the smell and the stacks and stacks of books. These millions of words that people throughout history have taken the patience and the madness and the "wasting of time" to write down and share so that we can, for free, bring these pieces of brilliant minds into our homes, enjoy them and share them.

We will probably eat cupcakes, too. 


  1. Your Fridays sounds wonderful. Congrats MHalf! Have fun!

  2. I hope you enjoy the library! You have nicely reminded me why I am leaving the place I currently work to become a library assistant, so thank you. 1 week left to work :-/

  3. I like Neal Stephenson for my science fiction. His girl with the dragon tattoo characters are delightful, antidisestablishmentantarinism desciples.... i always wanted to write that word,...desciples i mean...spell checker is telling me i spelled it wrong... and peopled with wonderfully gross good guys. It is easy to make a bad guy but someone who can craft a bad guy who who have sympathy for is a real nose to the book keeper. And he has his science right.

  4. Tag, you're it Sorry just sharing the love ;-)

  5. Yay! I'm so excited that the travelling book is winging it's way onward! Thank you passing it on.

  6. Thanks, TL! I'm pretty excited to take this book for a spin!

  7. Thanks for the plug, TL! And the 140th 'like' contest is still alive, too!
    And now I have another David Shields book to add to my list. Halfway through 'Reality Hunger: A Manifesto' and I don't want it to end. Wish I had it digitally so I could rearrange the snippets in random order.

    1. You're welcome for the plug, happy to do it. Good luck with the book. It's marvelous.
      My copy of "Reality Hunger" is rather dog-eared and marked up, but I think if I started rearranging things in random order, I would never get anything else done. I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with David Shields' work.


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