Friday, December 31, 2010

year's end iii

We arrived back from NYC last night, after a purgatorial trip – endless security lines at LaGuardia with our two small children, numerous carryons, two violins, etc., an overcrowded airplane sitting on the tarmac for ages, and to top it all off the car we'd reserved to carry us home from the airport simply didn't show up. But we're back, weary & unpacking.

And the year's almost over. Not a bad year, on the whole. Much work accomplished, many books read & thought about. I was tempted to list them all, but it's a long, long list this time around. Instead, in the spirit of last year's round-up, a selection of a few of the things that arrested me the most this past year. Some of these I've blogged, others I've alluded to; a couple I've actually taught. As is obvious, I'm totally hopeless at "keeping up" with what's just come out, & indeed spend a good deal of my reading time going back over things I've read ages ago.

As to fiction, it's been rather thin on the ground this year, & for some reason seems to tend towards fantasy & science fiction; I'm embarassed to be reading some of these for the first time. So sue me:
Kindred Octavia E. Butler
Babel-17 Samuel R. Delany
A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula K. LeGuin
The Scar China Miéville
There were many good biographies on my desk this year, but three stand out, Clausen's for its density & thoughtfulness (you certainly wouldn't go to it for chronological facts), Delblanco's for its lovely prose, and Campbell/Corn's for its general easy comprehensiveness:
Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius Detlev Claussen
Melville: His World and Work Andrew Delbanco
John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns
Not a great deal of criticism & philosophy this time around, which just goes to support my growing suspicion that I don't belong in the academy; some picking up of things written ages ago (Rosenberg, Empson) that still remain green; the real delightful discovery the Finlay letters:
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers Diogenes Laertius
Guy Debord Anselm Jappe
The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin’s Genius John D. Rosenberg
A Model of Order: Selected Letters on Poetry and Making Ian Hamilton Finlay
Milton’s God William Empson
The Romantics: England in a Revolutionary Age E. P. Thompson
The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin George P. Landow
And then there's poetry. This listlet represents maybe 1/7 of what I read this year, & I know I've overlooked things I value. But here's some of the things that set me afire, & that you ought to read too:
Blade Pitch Control Unit Sean Bonney
Luminous Epinoia, Peter O'Leary
Three-Toed Gull: Selected Poems Jesper Svenbro
My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer Jack Spicer
Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 Norma Cole
Complete Twentieth Century Blues Robert Sheppard
If Not Metamorphic Brenda Iijima
Swallows Martin Corless-Smith
Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip Lisa Robertson
Looking Up Zach Barocas
Mirth Linda Russo
Pen Chants or nth or 12 spirit-like impermanences Lissa Wolsak
Sub Songs J. H. Prynne
How to Do Things with Tears Allen Grossman
Continental Harmony
Michael Gizzi
New Depths of Deadpan
Michael Gizzi
Those two last are from one of the poets we lost this year; and I had no idea, until I'd read these two wry, deliciously funny collections, what a loss Gizzi was.


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