Time Keeps On Slipping

Another quiet week here at Winkelman Abbey, as we approach the end of winter. On the left is Surreal Expulsion, the newest collection from excellent West Michigan poet D.R. James, who has been published in two issues of The 3288 Review. On the right is the new issue of Rain Taxi, about which I cannot say enough good things. I have to keep my wits about me when reading Rain Taxi or I might accidentally purchase every book they review in every issue.

Just above the poetry book is the stone I use to massage by head when struck with a tension (or other) headache. Seriously. It feels good to work the locked-up tendons and muscles on the side of my head with a smooth, cool piece of rock. And of course it also feels good when I stop.

In reading news I finished A People’s Future of the United States and can whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone and everyone who has an interest in superb speculative fiction. It is a masterful collection. I am now about halfway through The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This is the sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant, which I read a couple of year ago. Monster is every bit as good as Traitor, and I recommend both to anyone who likes dense, intricately plotted fantasy history novels. These books would fit comfortably on the shelf next to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, and K.J. Parker’s The Etched City.

I am also browsing through The Essential W.S. Merwin, in order to re-familiarize myself with the work of the former poet laureate who passed away a couple of days ago. With Mary Oliver‘s death back in January, this makes two towering figures of arts and letters who have left us behind this winter. I have a sinking feeling that 2019 will be for poets what 2016 was for musicians. I hope I am wrong.

Here are some Merwin links:

Suddenly, A Stack of Books

So I started this week expecting to maybe get one or two books from my various subscriptions, and maybe buy myself a little something. This in fact happened – the right-most book in the second row of the above photo (“Muslim”: A Novel) is the latest from Deep Vellum Publishing. Just to its left is Screaming Like War from Sault Ste. Marie poet Mark Senkus, which I picked up over the weekend while in the Upper Peninsula visiting my girlfriend’s family.

All the rest of these books appeared unexpectedly.

The bottom row consists of the contents of the new shipment from Ugly Duckling Presse. Four books of poetry, one of experimental prose, and Emergency INDEX, which is a listing of well over 100 performance art works in calendar year 2018. It’s all brilliant stuff, and I wish I had a couple of years free so I could bury myself in the beauty therein.

The top row, and the first three titles in the second row, are books of poetry which I unexpectedly acquired when I attended the Evening of Literary Luminescence, a fundraiser for local literary organization Write616. Not surprisingly, almost all of the poetry is by local and regional writers, so extra bonus there.

And now reading news:

Last week I finished Scarborough and, needing something lighter, read Kelly Link‘s wonderful Origin Stories, which is a hardcover chapbook published by Subterranean Press.

Currently I am over halfway through A People’s Future of the United States. It is, simply, an amazing collection of stories. They follow the theme of the possibility of hope standing against the logical outcome of the current (reactionary right-wing, racist, bigoted, sadistic, misogynistic, jingoist, xenophobic, capital-fetishizing, violence-loving, neo-fascist, Dominionist) political and social climate. The stories are beautiful, sad, infuriating, hopeful, astonishing, intelligent and above all necessary. Every imagined dystopian future in this book is easily extrapolated from the actions of the current dominant power structures. And each of these futures must be recognized and resisted.

In other literary news, I am almost done re-integrating at Caffeinated Press and am at various stages in four projects: Issues 4.1, 5.1 and 5.2 of The 3288 Review, and layout work for the next edition of our Brewed Awakenings anthology. Other things are afoot as well, which will be revealed in the fullness of time. Selah!

A Big Book in a Small Stack

It was a quiet week for the acquisitions department here at Winkelman Abbey. But what it lacked in the X axis it more than made up for in the Y. From left, we have A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, followed by the most recent issues of Jacobin, Willow Springs, and Poetry Magazine. On the right is To Leave with the Reindeer by Olivia Rosenthal, the latest from my subscription to the catalog of And Other Stories.

All of which is to say, one deliberate purchase this week.

I feel like I have been orbiting Deleuze and Guattari for a very long time. Back in my Angry Young Man days in the late 1990s I amassed a collection of titles published by Autonomedia and Semiotext(e), publishers of very wild and far-out titles from a wide variety of unconventional, leftist and radical writers and thinkers. One of those books (unfortunately lost in a long-ago purge) was Nomadology: War Machine, from the chapter of the same title in the then-unknown-to-me A Thousand Plateaus. I understood very little of it at the time, but it haunted me. These were words from thinkers operating on a plane of existence so far above my own that they might as well have been performing magic.

Over the years I forgot their names but the sense of the conversations stuck with me. It felt like peeling back a layer of reality and seeing some of the inner workings of the universe.

This past summer my girlfriend and I traveled to San Francisco where we made a pilgrimage to City Lights Bookstore, which had been a goal of mine for some decades. Wow, what a store – probably the best-curated bookstore I have ever seen. The Philosophy section held scores of titles and thinkers which were new to me, or which I had only ever seen as references in other places. And of course. A Thousand Plateaus was one of them. That brought Deleuze and Guattari back into my awareness.

Shortly thereafter I borrowed Plateaus from the Grand Rapids Public Library, attempted to make sense of it, and made almost zero headway. Then I did so again, a month later. Then I resigned myself to the fact that I will be forever haunted by D and G if I did not add this book to my personal library, and so here it is.

In the reading side of things, I finished The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark this past Thursday, and absolutely loved it. Probably my favorite read of the year so far. Clark’s use of language and patois in world-building is wonderful and, though this is not precisely the New Orleans so near and dear to my heart, it is close enough to make me feel some serious longing and wanderlust.

Currently I am a little over halfway through Scarborough, by Catherine Hernandez. I picked this one up several months ago and attempted to read it while on a business trip to Las Vegas. Reading that book in that city made me want to burn everything to the ground. So I set it aside. Now that I am not in the worst city in the world I am able to read and enjoy this beautiful, heartbreaking book.

Links and Notes for the Week of February 3, 2019

The Books That Are Not ConFusion Books

Lest the last few posts give the impression that I only purchase books at conventions, here are some others which arrived in the past week.

On the left is The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark, which has been on my radar for a couple of months now. Next to it is Katherine Arden‘s The Bear and the Nightingale, because Russian folklore. Also about a year ago I wrote most of a Baba Yaga story for an anthology call, and in the research for that story this book came up repeatedly.

The third is The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty, the sequel to her excellent The City of Brass which I read several months ago. Next to it is Friday Black, a collection of short stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah which came to my attention when LitHub posted the story “Zimmer Land“.

The bottom row includes reading material from various subscription. First is Night School by Zsófia Bán, then I Am God by Giacomo Sartori, and finally the latest issue of Poetry.

In reading, I finished Fix by Ferret Steinmetz (which Mr. Steinmetz signed at ConFusion 2019!) and am now bouncing between three of my ConFusion acquisitions: Reckoning #1, Death March by Phil Tucker, and The Blood-Tainted Winter by T L Greylock.

For this year I am keeping a list of the books I read, and I plan to write reviews (GoodReads, Amazon, etc.) both to boost the signal of those authors and to give me practice at writing reviews.

That’s all for now. The books continue to accumulate.

This Week’s Books, Part I: Small Stack

This is the small stack of books from this week. The Big Stack consists of books I picked up at ConFusion 2019, which is a large enough collection that it warrants its own post.

The books on the ends, Life on Mars and Whereas, are poetry books I purchased on a whim while at Books and Mortar picking up AfroSF and Seven Surrenders. The Anna Karenina Fix arrived from Amazon while I was at ConFusion.

With this week’s exceptionally large haul, I am now over 1,500 books catalogued in LibraryThing. I have shelf space in my house for maybe 100 more books if they are the usual mix of thin and thick. That should be enough to get me through the rest of 2019. We shall see…

In reading news, I finished Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer while at ConFusion on Thursday night. Friday morning I had coffee with Miss Palmer and several other people, where she held forth on various Papal shenanigans from the mid-1400s. To cool my head I read about half of the poems in Life on Mars, which is an absolutely wonderful collection by our current national Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. I am now a little more than halfway through Fix by Ferret Steinmetz, the sequel to Flex and The Flux. Thus far it is just as good as the first two. I expect to be finished by the end of the week and am enjoying every page of it.

 

Some Interesting Reading Material for the Week of November 4, 2018

Only one new acquisition for the first full week of November, but that one thing was actually three things – three chapbooks, to be precise, from Ugly Duckling Presse. The collection (the box for which is at the top of the photo) is called Ideas Have No Smell: Three Belgian Surrealist Booklets. The three are Transfigured Publicity by Paul Nougé, Abstractive Treatise on Obeuse by Paul Colinet, and For Balthazar by Louis Scutenaire.

I have to say, in the brief time that I have held a subscription to Ugly Duckling Presse they have been absolutely knocking it out of the park.

New Reading Material for the Week of October 28, 2018

Books for the week of 1018-10-28

This past week was an excellent time to be a reader at the Winkelman Abbey. A fantastic variety of books and journals arrived throughout the week. The top row of this photo is ALL FIVE VOLUMES of the Apex Book of World SF, published by the excellent folks at Apex Publications.

The bottom row contains, from left, Resist Fascism from a Kickstarter campaign run by Bart Leib of Crossed Genres Publishing. Next to that is The Way North, an anthology of Upper Peninsula writing which I picked up when I ordered an upcoming volume of poetry by Jack Ridl, which I will undoubtedly post here when it arrives next spring. Third in is the latest issue of Apex Magazine by the same folks who created all of the books in the top row. On the right side of the bottom row is a recent issue of Sugar House, a lit journal which I picked up for research purposes as I plan my next round of poetry submissions.

All in all, excellent additions to my library.

Your Weekly Book Post

Another week, another stack of books added to the Library of Winkelman. Starting at top left we have the most recent issues of Locus Magazine and Poetry Magazine. I picked them up at my employment alma mater Schuler Books and Music. At top right is a recent issue of StoneBoat Literary Journal, to which I have recently submitted some poetry. While they did not accept my work, I do very much appreciate theirs, so I will be submitting more poetry and fiction in the future.

The whole bottom row is the second shipment from my subscription to Ugly Duckling Presse. Fast on the heels of the first bundle which arrived only a couple of weeks ago, this one includes more poetry in translation as well some fiction and nonfiction. From left, the books are:

Diana Hamilton – God Was Right
Anna Vitale – Our Rimbaud Mask
Vasilik Gdenov – Alphabet for the Entrants
Artis Ostrups – Gestures
Zahara Patterson – Chronology
Lisa Rogal – Feed Me Weird Things
Alexis Almeida  – I Have Never Been Able to Sing

It is safe to say that I am completely in love with Ugly Duckling Presse. Though their annual subscription is expensive, given the quality and variety of work they publish, I consider it absolutely worth the price.