Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I've just had the best weekend of my life, which involved large amounts of good food and cake, Broadway, large stuffed animals, and of course books! I really have very spectacular friends, and the BEST significant other that anyone could ask for (sorry for the cheese, but its true).
I'll be reporting on my book acquisitions shortly.
Posted by CC at 10:28 PM
Friday, February 23, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Sometimes book covers just grab me. Like this one:
I love it. Especially the bags under the bear's eyes. The bags are great.
The Bear Went Over The Mountain is William Kotzwinkle's satire of the merry world of the publishing industry. In the book, a bear finds a manuscript in the woods, and becomes an overnight sensation, courted by publishers, tv hosts, and presidents.
After reading a couple of reviews, I don't know if it's my thing. But the cover is great. Just look at his expression. I love it!
Posted by CC at 4:13 PM
Thanks to LibraryThing, I was able to figure out just exactly how many books in my collection fit into these two categories (a whopping 109 volumes). You can check it out by clicking on the link above to view my library. You can click on the tags "unread" and "unfinished" to see the names.
What really surprised me was the number of unfinished books on my list. I have no idea how I managed to pick up and put down 42 books in the past two years.
It is only a small source of comfort that out of those 42 volumes, 19 are of the short story/anthology variety. Still, the number highlights the fact that I can be a capricious reader. What I read, when I read, how much I read, and how I feel about what I am reading may all depend on my mood.
I always have at least 2 or 3 books going at the same time. This is something that I do rather instinctively; probably a habit learned in youth, when I always checked out more than I could possibly read, and thus, had to double up just to avoid paying mind-blowing library fines.
(When I was 11 or 12, I once had 75 children's books checked out at the same time. Not an exaggeration since my mom rather made it a point to show me the rucksack that she had to use to take the books back.
I'm not sure how the library allowed me to get away with having 75 books out, but it was a small town and I believe this was before they started putting my picture up at the library to discourage me from trying to check out the entire children, mystery, and sci-fi sections of the library.
I had to eventually wander up to the adult Non-Fiction section, where I developed an early delight for logic puzzles due to a couple of rocking good books written by the mathematician Raymond Smullyan.)
I usually chose books to read simultaneously based on how I group them mentally. Groupings include: popular literary novels with black and white covers, books I associate with the word squid, books written by authors who look like they might be able to give Vin Diesel a run for his money in a fist fight.
It's all very arbitrary.
I tend to go through reading material rapidly for weeks before slowing down to a snail's pace, and then nothing at all. Usually during this latter period, I'll watch mind-numbing amounts of TV to kill off the brain cells that might have been created by any previous reading.
Another pattern that seems to hold is the ordering of books at the height of my reading frenzy. Sadly, my new year's resolution to staunch the flow of new books has been all but flung out the window. In Part II of my post, I'll tell you what books I've purchased recently.
Posted by CC at 2:37 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
First let me point out that I should have published this post in August of 2006. I'll be surprised if Evil Monkey hasn't put out a contract on my life. Although if Evil Monkey is truly evil, he will have put a contract out on our cat's life. I think that would piss me off more. Is that strange?
So on August 19, 2006 Cindy and I hosted a private Shriek movie release party. In attendance was a group of our friends, most of whom hadn't read any Vandermeer before. You can imagine the looks on their faces at the exact moment they realized they would not be eating anything that did not contain mushrooms; except for the milkshakes. The only "milkshake" recipes we could find when using "mushrooms" as the search term involved "sticky icky". Go figure.
Everyone that sent an RSVP arrived by 8:3o PM. Once our friends got comfortable Cindy and I went through our introduction of the festivities and kicked the celebration off by holding our first drawing for Vandergoodies (the drawing involved us distributing scraps of paper with numbers from ranging from 1-12, and then me drawing a bingo number from a bag). The first prizes we gave out were one bottle of Smashing Todd's Wartime Stout, an Ambergris specialty brew, a copy of The Church's new album "Uninvited, Like the Clouds", and a Bantam copy of City of Saint's and Madmen, in which we included a bookplate signed by Jeff. A more complete list of awesome Vandergoodies includes:
- A stack of bookplates signed by Jeff Vandermeer
- Three bottles of Smashing Todd's Wartime Stout, an Ambergris specialty brew
- Extra Smashing Todd beer labels
- Two copies of The Church's new album, "Uninvited, Like The Clouds"
- A copy of ParaSpheres (please see below post)
- Two paperback copies of City of Saints and Madmen, courtesy of Bantam (much obliged)
- Shriek coasters
After the first drawing, and after everyone had at least one plate of food and a beer, we screened Jeff Vandermeer's introduction for the Shriek movie release parties, followed by the "Rough Introduction to Ambergris", which got a lot of giggles for the scandalous typeset it discusses. Before screening the Shriek movie we held a second drawing and gave out the remaining Smashing Todd's beers, the second copy of "Uninvited, Like the Clouds" and the second copy of City of Saints and Madmen, also including a signed bookplate.
I forgot to mention that during the time leading up to the screening of the Shriek movie, we had The Church's soundtrack to Shriek playing in the background, which made for good party music.
We screened the Shriek movie, which according to most accounts was trippy, and managed to evoke suspense while relying mostly on voice acting, photography, lighting effects and some archival footage. Some of our friend's couldn't get into the lack of live action shots to correspond to the voice acting and narration, but overall the movie seemed to have made our friends more curious in the war between the Greycaps and Ambergris' human inhabitants (personally I think the fungal mines cinched it for the guys). Interesting detail that stuck in my mind: I don't know if it was done on purpose, but if you watch Janet Shriek's eye closely it seems as though the movement of her eye unsettles the iris, causing it to swirl out of place and spill over onto the sclera, and gravitate back into place when eye movements end. Or am I just crazy?
Promotional materials that came along with the Vandergoodies left with our guests in small bags at about 1:00 AM. All in all the movie party was a success and we can proudly announce that it has led at least three of our friends to start reading Vandermeer.
In case you're not familiar with Jeff Vandermeer and/or Ambergris, the fictional location in which City of Saints and Madmen, and Shriek: An Afterward are situated, Jeff has uploaded his "Rough Guide to Ambergris" to Youtube (watch out for the sexy typeset):
For more Shriek news and information please visit:
Please click on the picture of Shriek's cover to purchase it from Amazon!
Posted by David U. at 12:01 AM
Monday, February 19, 2007
Couple of updates:
I finally paid for a life-time membership with LibraryThing, so I will be obsessively cataloging my books in the upcoming weeks. Woohoo!! Once I'm done, I will post a link to it, so all five of you that read this can see my library =). If you have a LibraryThing account, be my friend! I promise I won't bite.
I'm currently reading ParaSpheres: Extending Beyond the Spheres of Literary and Genre Fiction. This is one of my favorite anthologies of 2006, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a solid sample of fiction of the fantastic. (The picture on the cover is from one of my favorite artists, Michael Parkes. I will do another post on him sometime in the future.)
Of the many talented authors I have read so far in this collection, the one that stands out to me the most is Leena Krohn. ParaSpheres features 3 stories from her (she is that talented). Ms. Krohn is a prolific and prize-winning Finnish author. Only one of her novels has made it into English translation: Tainaron: Mail From Another City. Amazon.com gives an excellent summary, and if anyone is interested in an excerpt, leave me a comment and I'll send you a link to chapters of the book.
I am also highly anticipating the release of Leena Krohn's novel, Pereat Mundus. Omnidawn, the same publishers that put out ParaSpheres will be releasing this sometime in Spring 2008. This novel written in 36 chapters will contemplate a variation of apocalyptic futures. If the three spectacular stories from this novel included in Paraspheres is any indication, this will be some of the best fiction published in 2008.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I'm taking a hiatus from leisure reading, to reread those couple of novels that I'm suppose to review for Blogcritics.org
So I'll be taking a little time on this post to gripe about my favorite subject: my inability to find people in this city that are interested in genre-defying sci-fi/fantasy (new wave fabulist, slipstream, new weird, fantastic fiction, and so on and so forth).
I understand partially the reason why I can't find people who like this stuff is my inability to coin a term that describes it properly. I guess that's the whole point.
Finally, last year, I went to a meeting run by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society in an attempt to meet people who had read some of my favorite authors. The group was great: fun, warm, and intelligent; but when someone pulled out a list of things wrong with the science of a particular novel, I knew that I wouldn't necessarily find what I was looking for here. I keep on thinking, there has to be one other person in my city that loves what I read. I keep my fingers crossed that I will meet that person. =)
Posted by CC at 1:28 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007
Lately I've been dreaming about secret rooms again. A recurring dream that I have, in which suddenly and inexplicably, I discover rooms I've never seen before in a house that I have lived in for years.
In my dreams, this discovery never disconcerts me and I wind my way through a corridor leading to these rooms as if nothing about this is peculiar. I feel déjà vu, as if I've always known that these rooms existed, even though they do not.
The rooms are usually lavish and expansive but in a run-down sort of way. The word that comes to mind is haunted.
Often this mysterious section of the house looks lived in, but as if it was suddenly abandoned. Clothes thrown haphazardly on the sofas slip to the ground. Tea-cups sit on coffee tables leaving behind blemishes in the wood. I usually feel a mixture of elation at the discovery, and dread because I'm afraid that the tenants will suddenly appear again and find me here---trespassing.
Last night's dream was a variation on this theme.
I'm living in an apartment with my parents, and find in the back of the apartment, a set of rooms that I've never seen before. I explore these rooms and my cat comes with me.
The rooms themselves are vague in my memory until I reach a messy bedroom with beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Late afternoon sunshine streams through the partially open blinds and a glance outside reveals a well-kept neighborhood lined with tall trees. The cat explores this room, and together we discover a door.
The door is ornate. There is a panel of opaque glass outlined in cast iron in the upper portion of the door. It looks as if someone is behind the door. But I know this is not true, because there is a large gap between the door and the floor as if someone had cut off the bottom of the door. I know there is no one behind the door, because I do not see their legs.
I hesitate, standing there gazing at the door. And the cat makes the decision for me, as she saunters through the opening.
As I open the door, I am faced with a stairs leading down, and a hallway to my left. I hear footsteps coming up the stairs and I realize that I am not alone.
I grab the cat and retreat into the safety of the bedroom. I close the door and bolt it and it dawns on me that that I did not have to unbolt it before ---which means that it has always been unlocked.
This disturbs me, but it is not the source of my unease, for all my attention is focused on the large gap between this door and the floor. Large enough for my cat to escape from the comfort of my arms, and large enough for a person to crawl through. This gap fills me with horror.
Posted by CC at 11:50 AM
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
I hate this messy, temperamental winter, without even the magic of snow. Mama U. thought the whole city smelled like pee; I couldn't agree more.
This Monday leaves me wondering what Chicago is like, I mean it can't get much uglier than this, can it? But then again they don't call us The Windy City.
Everyone looks so miserable and pinched. Wondering if people who live in colder climates are just a little more masochistic than people who live somewhere warmer?
Posted by CC at 11:41 AM
Saturday, February 03, 2007
One of the Christmas presents I received last year from Cindy, was this great book on animals from a continental philosophy perspective, Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life. I haven't managed to read most of the essays; continental philosophy is the kind of writing that I have to wade through very slowly and patiently, constantly looking up references and terminology (although the prose is much more colorful than the mostly dry and straightforward analytic writing, typically). I'll post more about the essays and the book in general soon but for know I'll leave you with a quotation included in the essay "Animals, Becoming" by Lynda Birke and Luciana Parisi.
of armies and people in the world,
listen to the piteous cries
from the slaughterhouse at midnight."
(Ancient Chinese verse)
Friday, February 02, 2007
Mama U. is in town, so we're going to wine and dine her and show her the city! And maybe just maybe, I'll try my rusty non-existent Spanish with her.
There will probably be very little going on here until after the weekend, so check back then =).
Posted by CC at 2:00 PM
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I attacked Middlesex with much gusto earlier this month, having just finished Atonement, a book that has reinstated my faith in general critical opinion.
Two chapters in, I realized that this wasn't going to be Atonement. You see, I had assumed for some bizarre reason that the two books would be alike in some way, a silly mistake stemming from the fact that I keep on grouping these two books together mentally---because I had heard about them around the same time, and purchased them together at the Strand, etc. Obviously I had not digested the back of either book very carefully before I began.
Another chapter in and I realized that I was not prepared for the mental and emotional drain of a great family epic.
It's not that I don't enjoy family epics, but ever after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude and Shame simultaneously, I can't help but feel tired whenever I pick up a book that is blatantly going to surround not only the family, but generations upon generations of that family.
Maybe its so many lives condensed into one book that makes me feel slightly giddy and hysterical. But I need to be mentally prepared for these volumes, preferably reading them in the hazy light of June, with a teddy bear firmly cradled in one arm, and hopefully after having just finished several 'they lived happily ever after' type stories.
Definitely not a book for the dead of winter, when I'm realizing once again that this is not the season for me. An ironic twist, since much of my life has been spent in a place with spectacular, breath-takingly beautiful winters.
So back onto the shelves it will go, this book that I will eventually read, but later when the days are longer.
Posted by CC at 2:29 PM
From the Daily Pennsylvanian: a second-year University of Pennsylvania law school student shoots his neighbor's doorknob off the door with 13-15 rounds from a 9mm Glock. From the article, it seems this person thought, and rationally so, that because his neighbors are from India and are studying bioengineering, they were spying on him. I don't know about you, but I don't see the direct link between an Indian bioengineering student and being spied upon. Anyways, kudos to him for lighting a match to at least $80,000.
"Law student arrested for firing at neighbors"