I love them. Always have.
Don’t care anymore if anyone else does, or will in the future. I just love’em.
Not just any book, of course.
I have my favorites, many of which I’ve already mentioned or put on my various lists.
As I’ve also mentioned, I’m always reading several books at the same time. Something about my attention span, or need for variety, or whatever.
Most nights, before I go to sleep, I read a little in each of the books piled on the shelves of the end table beside my bed.
I thought I’d list the ones I’m reading now.
LEARNING TO LOVE The Journals of Thomas Merton Volume Six 1966-1967 (Merton is someone I’ve been reading since I was a kid, probably because he was and still is a favorite of my oldest brother, a Franciscan Friar, who in fact, gave me this book)
BEHAN The Complete Plays (a gift received a while ago from Terence Winch, who knows what a fan I have always been of Brendan Behan, and even though I read these plays years ago, this collection is giving me a chance to revisit them and appreciate them even more)
RULES FOR OLD MEN WAITING by Peter Pouncey (this one a gift from my daughter-in-law, an interesting book, which the poet W. S.Merwin blurbed as “an instant classic,” good enough for me, even though I read fewer and fewer novels as I get older)
POLITICAL ANIMAL by David Mizner (another gift, this one from my friend Tom Wilson, which I’ve been carrying around for years and am finally reading and digging the mix of idealism and cynicism in what is a “political novel”)
OMNEROS by Mohammed Dib translated by Carol Lettieri & Paul Vangelisti (a gift received a few days ago and I’m already into it, from my friend poet Ray DiPalma for my B’day—Dib is an Algerian/French writer, well published in France but this is his first book translated into English, and in a beautiful small edition)
HEY LEW (an homage to poet Lew Welch edited by Magda Cregg, who was Lew’s lady back in the days before Welch disappeared into the woods forever, and is the mother of Huey Gregg who changed his name to Huey Lewis in homage to Lew and what he learned from him, I read about this collection on poet Ron Silliman’s blog and immediately ordered it since I always dug Welch’s writing and ideas, see his collected poems RING OF BONE, I also recommend a great book about Welch and “the Beats” GENESIS ANGELS by Aram Saroyan)
REAL STUFF by Dennis P. Eichhorn and a Host of Artists (a “graphic” book, i.e. a series of comic strips, illustrating stories from the life of Eichhorn, I’m usually not into adult comic books, despite some of the obvious successes, like MAUS or the one that Iranian woman wrote and illustrated, I can appreciate the skill and such, but they don’t hold me like words do, I tire of the same style of drawings maybe, the exception being R. Crumb, because there’s so much variety in what Crumb does, also true of this Eichhorn book, because each story is illustrated by a different artist, keeping me visually engaged despite some of the more gratuitous violence and meanness toward many of the characters from his past, and as the stories progress, so does Eichhorn’s humanity a little, which is a relief, because despite my own writing and past, I don’t like anger and violence and emotionless sex, etc., the only reason I’m reading it is because my friend Lisa loaned it to me and wanted to see what I thought of it, and I have a hard time saying no to requests like that)
THE IVORY CROCODILE by Eileen Drew (another “novel” that I’ve been carrying around for years and am finally reading, given to me by the author back when we were both Coffee House Press writers)
CADENZA Poems by Charles North (his latest collection, from Hanging Loose Press, as unique as always)
COLUMBIA POETRY REVIEW (sent to me by them, I first read the work by poets I knew, like David Trinidad’s piece on his deceased mother, a very evocative and compelling work, now I’m working my way through the rest of the contributors, most of whom I never heard of but many of whom are really good, like Brenda Shaughnessy)
ENCOUNTERING EVA HESSE edited by Griselda Pollack and Vanessa Corby (a B’day gift from my friend Terence, knowing how much I love Hesse and her work, she’s one of the handful of dead female artists and writers I feel I have a real relationship with, as I encounter their work and continue to stay engaged with it, an admission that makes me feel like Joseph Cornell, the reclusive artist who made those little shadow boxes full of disparate objects and pieces of illustrated paper etc. and who seemed to have only fantasy relationships with the ballerinas and etc. he made artwork homages to, only I have had a lifetime of in-the-flesh relationships with all kinds of women, and a few men, and only now have come to recognize the power of these other kinds of connections made through the body of work certain women have left behind, anyway, I’m digging this book, despite the usual art world jargon that makes a lot of the essays in it almost unintelligible, but the production of the book itself is beautiful, and the photographs are terrific, as well as the reproductions, and the occasional insight from the contributors, or great quote from Hesse herself)
EVA HESSE DRAWINGS edited by Catherine de Zegher (ditto above, only this one a gift to me from me)
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME From the big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking (a book passed on by a friend who’s moving, among a pile of paperbacks he left me, I thought I should tackle it first since I’d heard so much about it when it first came out, but what I heard seems incorrect, at least for me, if this is accessible science then I have lost even more brain cells than I thought I did, ‘cause despite being able to follow him for a page or two, after that I have to take a break while my mind unbends and resumes normal functioning, and by the next night I’ve forgotten most of what I thought I learned, I’m already halfway through, but I suspect by the time I’m done, speaking of time, I’ll have forgotten almost everything I’m learning from this book)