Do You Have a System?

Paul recently commented after reading my latest Monthly Reading Pool:

I have challenged myself to read a book from each shelf in the fiction section. … My goal is to pick at least one book from each shelf, and to do 2 shelves each trip (that way I can still get books on my regular reading list). … There are some obvious flaws in my plan (the library devotes 6 complete shelves to James Patterson).

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Now I have exposed various systems for selecting my monthly reading list through the years, most recently various schemes to transfer my reading from paper and ink books to digital reading with easier to read font sizes. I have also forced the inclusion of a few “real” books in an effort to reduce the large numbers of books I had to move and find bookshelves for at my new home.

Notice that these systems are mostly concerned with storage space, failing eyesight, and the inevitable onset of death.

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Turning in the Widening Gyre

imgres.jpgI attended university back in the 1960s. Although I studied English (EngLangLit) I was careful with my credits and ended up with both a Major in English and a Minor in Comparative Literature. One of my professors was a young Frank Lentricchia: I have actually forgotten what the course was (could it have been W. B. Yeats?). Since I was graduating, I was searching around for a decent graduate program which would both accept me and give me enough money to pursue an advanced degree in English. One of the professors I received a recommendation from was Lentricchia. Interestingly, his path for me led to a college on Long Island (Stonybrook), not far from the train station to Manhattan. If I had gone that way, instead of the mid-west college (Washington University) I ended up in, how different would my life have been?

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California

Tank GirlThe world runs out of fossil fuels, climate change is wreaking havoc, new diseases are exploding, businesses are closing, basic human needs (like cell phones and lip gloss) are no longer available, marauding gangs rule the streets, reservoirs are emptied since water is scarce, roads are falling into ruin, commerce has broken down, and life is cheap.

What do you expect the millionaires and billionaires do to save life as we know it on this planet? Correct! They all pack-up and move to elite enclaves to escape the misery of the hoi poloi, the great unwashed, the mob, the other 99%. But California, by Edan Lepucki, is not a novel investigating the issues of our day, nor is it a story extrapolating the future of Republican greed versus hippy altruism: it’s the story of a reasonable development in our future civilization.

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This isn’t Alphaville …

ZerovilleDo you love movies? Is your DVD copy of Lady From Shanghai at the front of your movie collection? Do you use Adam Sandler movies for coasters to protect your eclectic furniture from the annoying rings left by a vodka tonic? Do you have a scene from A Place In the Sun tattooed on your shaved head? Did your father look like Montgomery Clift? Before or after the automobile accident?

If you answered yes to any two of these questions, then you must read Steve Erickson’s novel, Zeroville (even if you scored a zero you should still read it).

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