Monday, October 1, 2007

Lit Chick Meme!

My super-bud BFF MPJ tagged me, and it's been a bit since I've played the meme-game. This one is about books! Yay!

Total Number Of Books?

I'm not sure...there's probably around 750...there's 7 bookshelves, but some of the shelves are holding art supplies, and there are books in places that aren't where they're supposed to be. The best books are all around the floor by my bed most of the time. I like books! I move them with me, all up and down the East Coast, back and forth across the ocean, much to the chagrin of whatever addict I have harnessed into my service at the time. It's miserable...boxes and boxes of books. I just can't let them go. I'm not satisfied by library books. I need to be able to tear them all up and write in them or cherish them and keep them pristine and with virgin spines. I don't like borrowing folks' books for this reason, too...I need them to be mine.

Last Book Read?

It depends on how you count. I'm usually reading a few at the same time. The last book I finished was Lolita. You might ask, what the fuck was I doing reading that head-fuck? A friend loaned it to me, freaking me out and making me think he knew all kinds of secret things about me. I started reading it and couldn't put it down and couldn't stand it and couldn't stop it. It was awful.

I'm knee deep in a few things right now...there's all kinds of 12 step and self-help shit, as that's where I am in my life right now...I'm also reading Eat Pray Love, like everybody else in America. It's quite good. I also keep re-reading bits and pieces of Written On The Body by Jeanette Winterson.

Last Book Bought?

Eat Pray Love. I bought one for myself and one for a very special friend who was having a hard time.

Five Meaningful Books?

This question is a little weird. I bet I'm supposed to offer wisdom or truth or show off what an intellectual I am. What I'm going to reveal, instead, is that I'm a real sucker for beauty. The thing that unifies my favorite books is that they are so intricately constructed, so beautifully worded. It's like every word is carved and plated in gold. Reading words put together like these is more like drinking or bathing or rubbing lotion on sore skin. It's what I hope to be able to do as a writer...make something so beautiful, so true, that it makes the reader speechless.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.

And here's why:
“Reverie intrudes at intervals.

She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation.

In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes, each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoiced. How they'd loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?

Sometimes she wants to put a match to him, have done with him, finish with that endless, useless longing. At the very least, daily time and the entropy of her own body should take care of it- wear her threadbare, wear her out, erase that place in her brain. But no exorcism has been enough, nor has she tried very hard at it. Exorcism is not what she wants. She wants that terrified bliss, like falling out of an airplane by mistake. She wants his famished look.

The last time she'd seen him, when they'd gone back to his room- it was like drowning: everything darkened and roared, but at the same time it was very silvery, and slow, and clear.

This is what it means, to be in thrall.”
Written On The Bodyby Jeanette Winterson

And here's why:
"I've tried to get you out of my head but I can't seem to get you out of my flesh. I think about your body day and night. When I try to read it's you I'm reading. When I sit down to eat it's you I'm eating. When he touches me I think about you. I'm a middle-aged happily married woman and all I can see is your face. What have you done to me?"
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I read this one while I was watching my first marriage fall apart. It's about a marriage falling apart. It was kind of hard to read, but it's so breathtakingly beautiful. I wish I could read Japanese. The translation is lovely, though, and there's so much imagery and surreal dreamscapes and spiritual excavations. It's amazing.

The Complete Poems Of Anne Sexton

Nothing gets me all revved up to be a tragic poetess like a good dose of Anne Sexton.
A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.
Four Quartetsby T.S. Eliot

It makes me think about god, poetry, love, time, risk, truth, beauty...and those rhythms are unmatched in English.

And I won't copy MPJ by listing the hundreds of other favorites I'm leaving off, including Shakespeare's collected works, which I've just got to say because I can't not mention it. If I had to be trapped on an island with only 5 books, I'd be hard pressed not to include it...but damn. The five above are so gorgeous...I might trade Murakami for Shakespeare, just because it's a translation. Is it normal that considering which 5 books I'd take with me to my deserted island is making me very anxious? Oh, and what about Jack Kerouac, and that Desolation Angels that taught me to think of myself as a poet and to fall in love with tragedy...goddamn it. I'm stopping this now...

Now, that was fun! I will not tag this time, but I hope more of you do this. It's a fun game. Actually...wait...I'm tagging the Cuntfaces. Every one of you.


Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Yay! Geeky book memes are fun! And now I have some reading to do, because I haven't read some of what's on your meaningful list. My currently-in-progress books are scattered around my bedroom too. I don't even know where they all are.

That anxiety about "pick the books you would take if stuck on a desert island" was completely hitting me too. It's why I had to list everything I was NOT putting on the list -- like, "Oh, no. I'm not sure yet. Don''t make me leave these yet."

It's funny that you mention a Japanese author together with Shakespeare, because it was a Japanese movie (Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood -- which is based on Macbeth) that first helped me appreciate and fall in love with Shakespeare. Go figure.

Oops! I'm hogging the comments. Stupid books!

Honeybell said...

Oh, I love this post!! Thanks for the new recommendations, I adore Anne Sexton and Margaret Atwood. I also insist on owning my own books . . . I read them to pieces. Have you checked out Shelfari? If you'd like to join let me know & I'll send you an invite.

(I decided it was time for me to start commenting instead of just lurking!)