“If only Plato and Socrates had to scrape the ice off their windshields and deal with dead car batteries, I was going to add, when the horrifying realization struck me that, despite our interminable New Hampshire winters and our supposedly heightened state of intelligence, we’ve never of late up here produced one philosopher that anyone would care to remember. So, this uncanny feeling that I have, when I get up in the middle of the night and tiptoe on bare feet down to the cold kitchen to peek at the thermometer outside, that I’m on the verge of a supreme insight, something worthy of Blaise Pascal contemplating the silence of the infinite universe, turns out to be all hooey. Well, perhaps not entirely: the one whose mind is clear senses himself free, a master of his destiny. Who says philosophy is incompatible with hard labor of self-preservation? When I’m shoveling snow off the roof I sneak admiring glances at myself as if I were Nietzsche’s superman.”—Winter’s Philosophers by Charles Simic | NYRBlog | The New York Review of Books (via whatwillsuffice)
New Year, new books, new you. Just kidding—same you! Definitely the same you. We have lots of things to sell to you in 2011: We have an embarrassment of planners, we also have books. We’re still the same us, except we’ve gained weight, mostly in the form of machinery (also beerweight—it’s winter). We have a new machine here that prints books in minutes. It’s not officially live yet, but you can expect to hear more about it soon.
The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason. I liked it. Keith Gessen liked it. If one measure of a good book is how often you turn and turn it over in your brain after you’re done, this is a good book.
Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto. Remember that piece he wrote about itching for the New Yorker? God. That piece. Boof. Touching my head will never be the same. I’ve never read this book.
Have you guys seen the new issues of The Paris Review? They are pretty. [Also something about what’s inside (Franzen, Nadas novella, &c. tktktktktkt—-don’t want to seem shallow?]! God they’re pretty. Oof.
The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw. Sohaila, who works here and wrote a novel of her own which maybe you’ve bought off our front table, said “It’s a gorgeous love story, a dip into an imagined world of magical creatures and bizarrely glorious landscapes, and the gripping tale of a doomed quest. It’s chilling and riveting, and you will look nervously down at your feet at least once to reassure yourself that they are still made of flesh.”
Not to be confused with Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, also out right now.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Another bookseller loved this, said it was his new favorite novel about a hermaphrodite. “How many have you read?” I asked. “Two,” he said. “Middlesex?” “Yes.” And Middlesex is no slouch, hermaphrodite-novel-competition-wise.
Matthew Gallaway’s The Metropolis Case. He got a rave review in the Times; he reads for us on the 19th, talking with Sasha Frere-Jones. This means it’s pretty much mandatory. You cannot leave the store without buying a copy. Sorry.
Let’s go to McNally Jackson and print all of Summer of Megadeth out as a zine and distribute it at Guest of a Guest Hamptons events this summer Let’s go to McNally Jackson and print all of Summer of Megadeth out as a zine and distribute it at Guest of a Guest Hamptons events this summer Let’s go…
“5. Recently, I was looking at a photo of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘The Gates,’ which was installed in Central Park for a few months in 2005. I thought: ‘GChat orange.’”—From “On Gchat,” which is over at Thought Catalog. We recommend.
Are you aware of the New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon? (Helpful link: http://www.whalingmuseum.org/prog/marathon.html)
Yes! I’m from Massachusetts, and my dad now lives a town or two over from New Bedford—I think he might be going. My friend Mark once went and came home with serious back trouble; the marathon Moby-Dick is not to be trifled with.
Hi! We’re moving our blog over here because all thecool kids are doing it. By way of introduction, if you haven’t met us before, here’s WORD’s top 100 bestsellers of 2010. Titles with asterisks are books that we had events for; titles with two asterisks were WORD book club choices. The…
One long list deserves another. Welcome Word, our friends in Brooklyn, to tumblr. We post missed connections, you can ask them for relationship advice.
Years are long, and I don’t use Goodreads, but I think that this is all or most of the books I read in 2010, listed in no order at all. I wondered whether or not to post this: it feels weirdly personal. At the very least it’s proof that I read something other than Moby-Dick sometimes. (You’ll notice it’s not on the list.)
The Crack-Up (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Slouching Toward Bethlehem (Joan Didion)
Just Kids (Patti Smith)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (D.H. Lawrence)
Bluets (Maggie Nelson)
On Being Blue (William Gass)
Omensetter’s Luck (William Gass)
Finding a Form (William Gass)
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (William Gass)
“In this picturesque setting, where Herman Melville wrote “Moby-Dick” and other works, Paul Rich & Sons is writing its own story, a story of bedding success.”—Hard-hitting journalism from Furniture Today. (via @powermobydick)
“We [critics] have to work harder to justify our presence on the page, our consumption of readers’ increasingly precious attentional units. This means writing with more energy, more art, more conviction, more excitement and a deeper sense of personal investment. It means returning to fundamental questions: What is literature? Why do we read it at all? What happens if we don’t?”—Sam Anderson in the Sunday Book Review on why criticism matters.
“…the ship’s library was stocked with wholesome books, including…A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity by Sylvester Graham, inventor of the cracker that still bears his name and that was promoted in the nineteenth century for its anti-aphrodisiac properties.”—From Andrew Delbanco’s biography of Melville, writing about a whaleship Melville was aboard in his twenties.
I'm in a jam. My brother is coming up for Christmas and he loves to read, but I have no idea what book to get him. A little more about my bro: he lives in New York, he works in a bookstore, and he blogs about book gift ideas. I'm pretty sure he's already read Moby Dick. What to do?
What might you recommend buying for a 16-year-old interested in science, specifically biology? If BEE by Rose-Lynn Fischer is as titillating as Dustin's review implies, I might need something a little more... PG.
He’s watched Planet Earth, right? Planet Earth might be my favorite movie, actually. (I don’t watch very many movies.) The amur leopard! The polar bear family, so sad! We sell the complete set, and it’s the version narrated by Sir David Attenborough (I think, I hope). But that’s an expensive present, particularly for a 16-year-old.
Dustin also recommends Hugh Raffles’ Insectopedia with the caveat that there’s a chapter on crush fetishism. (“Google it,” he said, and I did not.) Whenever anyone touched Vaillant’s The Tiger—about, get this, a tiger in Siberia—Dustin would do this thing he does where he says something gushy as he walks by the customer and half the time the customer doesn’t even realize they’re being blurbed at. But that’s probably more adventure/travel writingish than hard science. The subtitle is “A True Story of Vengeance and Survival!” (Okay, the exclamation point is mine, but practically isn’t.)
Portraits of the Mind has beautiful photos of brains, and might geek this 16-year-old, though we may be sold out. If you don’t know him (or his family) too well, this is a nice, safe bet.
Oh! You know: When I was about that age, my sister gave me Margarat Atwood’s Oryx & Crake—I’ll call it science fiction in the sense that it is about scientists and science. And it takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. I remember liking that book a lot.
Help us! What do you get for a dad who loves to read, and enjoys the following things: 20th century American history; mid-century Modern architecture/design; Nascar and Formula One racing; surf rock; and Hollywood in the 50s/60s. Seriously, we're stumped.
Okay! Dads are dads. Let’s do this. Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice comes to mind: surfers, California, the ’70s. It has the Sarah “I Own the Joint” McNally Stamp of Approval, too.
Nonfictionally (dads love nonfiction), The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson ended up on a lot of Top 10 lists; ditto Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Our architecture guru (or architecturu) recommends Carlo Mollino. Not surf rock but still rock: Nick Tosches’ Hellfire (about Jerry Lee Lewis) is great whether he’s a fan of JLL or not. I wasn’t, loved the book, became one. Also maybe Luc Sante’s essays—Kill Your Darlings? (Speaking of essays, I’m reading Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up,and that’s got some good heft as an American historical document—Jazz Age and Depression, that kind of buzz.) And as far as Hollywood goes, maybe Furious Love by Sam Kashner & Nancy Schoenberger.
But it’s the last Saturday before Christmas! I need to get back on the floor. If those don’t feel right, come by and we’ll figure something out.
That there’s a new Nicholson Baker novel coming out this summer (August). It’s called House of Holes: A Book of Raunch. According to the product description on an unnamed internet website that sells things, it is a “gleefully provocative, off-the-charts sex novel that is unlike anything you’ve read.”
A little brother (20 years)...likes sports, poker, creative combinations of the f-word, but is a total softy on the inside.
traditionally he hasn't been much of a reader, but he's an amazing e-mail writer with a biting wit. help?
As a young man person I feel well equipped to answer this question—it’s right in my gender wheelhouse. Dudes love Cormac McCarthy, and as a dude I loved All the Pretty Horses. Ostensibly you’ll give it to him because it’s about Man Things: cowboys, swearing, the west, wanderlust, knife fights in prison. But secretly—secretly!—he’ll love it, the big softy, because it’s a coming of age story and a love story.
Biting wit + creative combinations of the f-word: Sam Lipsyte is an easy choice. His novel Home Land—a flunky in New Jersey writing too-honest notes to his high school newsletter—is one of the funnier things ever. Open to any page and it’s quotable at length:
But I’m not bitter. It’s my bed and I’m going to make it. If I’ve learned anything it’s that you must bide your time until your time comes, knowing full well, of course, your time may never come. That’s the bitch about biding it.
If you’re after non-fiction, the basketball bloggers FreeDarko have two v. funny and v. pretty books: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History (just out) and The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac.
I haven’t read Bill Buford’s Amongst the Thugs—about “football” (spoiler alert: soccer!) hooligans in the UK—but coworkers say it’s excellent.
If those don’t seem right, you might also try—gird yourself for a list—Martin Amis’ The Rachel Papers (a twenty-year-old waiting to go to college, trying to have lots of sex), Richard Price’s Lush Life (if your brother liked The Wire), Hunter S. Thompson, Bukowski, Denis Johnson, Ask the Dust by John Fante, and the Raymonds Carver and Chandler.
If you are stumped presents-wise and don’t know what books to get the people you barely know, you’re in luck. This is essentially my job—deciding what books people I barely know should read. (Customers = people I barely I know.) So, since I’ve already solved your great aunt Virginia problem, tell me about your other relatives and I will tell you what you should buy them.
“Reading Frazier and Franzen back to back underscored, first, that they have quite similar names, and, second, the deeply Midwestern quality of Freedom.”—Keith Gessen picks his favorite books of the year for the Millions.
Yesterday [Is that right? It’s been a long weekend and I haven’t been getting much sleep.] I bought a copy of the new edition of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne, one of the strangest and greatest novels in the English language. This latest was put together by the folks at Visual Editions. They’re the ones who let JSF tell them where to cut holes in Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles. Actually they did Shandy first, but it’s only hit McNally Jackson and Word now. Thanks, Foer.
This book is beautiful. Much of that is just decent design sensibility, I think. But my god, so much of my lust for this edition might be centered fully in this strange shade of fluorescent red/orange they’ve used throughout. It’s inspired. Today I was yammering about this thing (Yammering about books is my fucking vocation. Believe it.) to Sam and he said “Oh they used pink ink for some words so I’m supposed to spend twenty bucks on it?” to which the only reply is yes, Sam, you are.
1. Want this now.
2. If I find out that Sam is not only a non-fan of Ulysses but also of Tristram Shandy I’ll probably fall over and die.
I haven’t read Tristram Shandy, but I will, I will. I wouldn’t want to kill any loyal customers. Also, I mean, if Visual Editions put out an edition of Moby-Dick with hyphens in day-glo orange, I would buy that, easy.
Completely unrelatedly, I bought this and you wouldn’t believe how geeked I am. (Maybe you would.) It came out a little while ago, so maybe you read Damion Searls’ piece in the Believer about it. But Orion Books put out an abridgment of Moby-Dick called Moby-Dick in Half the Time; Searls compiled everything that was missing. It’s called, of course, ; or the Whale, “pronounced,” he says, “‘Or the Whale’: the semi-colon is silent.” It’s genius, and turns a delightful, winking proto-post-modern (propomo) thing into a delightful and winkingly post-modern thing. Some chapters remain whole, others are squitchy little fragments. Chapter 62, “The Dart,” is just the one word “hapless.” Boringly, it’s printed in black ink, but that maybe explains why it’s $8.
Tomorrow night at McNally Jackson (!!!) a bunch of us C&C writers will be talking about what it’s like to write about sex with real people (sex w. real people—i think i remember that!) who exist and might even read what you wrote. Ya know, THAT conversation. Mostly we will all be hanging out in the bookstore and answering any questions you guys have, so bring ‘em if you got ‘em.
In honor of tomorrow I wanted to post part of this yet-to-be-fully-edited-by-me-I’m-sorry-Diana interview with Diana Vilibert and her ex-boyfriend, renter of the eponymous apartment in her C&C story “The Apartment”.
Basically a few months ago we met at a bar so I could interview both of them about what it was like to put this out in the world. I put my phone on the table and hit record and we got drunk and talked about their relationship for a few hours. This is more or less how I want to spend every night of my life.
Here’s what we do all day at LQ: we read and research and fact check and read and Twitter and read and eat a sandwich and read and read and read. We read a lot, and this Tumblr is where we can share all of our strange findings and recent obsessions with you. It’s also where we can reach deep back into our archive (we’re up to twelve issues people!) and find the best of LQ that you may have missed. This Tumblr is your Lapham’s Daily, and we couldn’t be more excited to get going.
Thank you to Tag Savage and Joe Bernardi and the very generous team at Sleepover SF for their thoughtful and beautiful design. If we could crawl on our hands and knees to California we still couldn’t thank them enough.
Reblog us. Tell your friends. Let’s do this thing.
You guys remember in She’s All That when what’sherface, the “nerd,” walks down the stairs and she’s got a new outfit and makeup on and everybody is like Oh man, she was pretty all the time, but also not just pretty she has a totally great personality for which we should value her and if she had a tumblr, and she were the tumblr for one of the best and most interesting journals, and that journal sold tote bags at one certain bookstore in lower Manhattan, today she would announce a redesign and look great? This is just like that. I think. I’ve never seen that movie.