One year of Joyce Carol Oates.
The woman either has an acute case of hypergraphia, or loves seeing her name in wine-tones next to emotive women/creepy babies and thinks publishing books is the best way to accomplish that goal.
With our current Book of the Month, we began to encounter a problem. Though an American Classic, Mrs. Bridge has a classically bad cover: a woman glances down, softly out of focus, the lower half of her face cut in half by an alluring green ribbon. What is she looking at beyond that ribbon? Something seductive, mysterious, a desire that will escape the confines of her repressive society.
Those who walked by quickly must have been amazed: McNally Jackson has selected a treacly romance novel as their Book of the Month!? What is going on here? A public disavowal of snobbery? A nod towards Valentine’s Day? An advertisement for their newly installed Romance section?
Regardless their conclusions, it quickly became clear that this cover was trouble. Those expecting an escape into a fantastical romantic world found instead a mirror held up to our own lives: a book about the ways in which our perspective on the world is arbitrarily limited, and how, within this tiny sphere, we struggle to create meaning, succeeding at times, failing and thrown onto a chasm of emptiness at others.
After the umpteenth customer returned the book, angry that this repressed housewife never had her tumultuous affair (or, really, never did anything much at all), we decided we needed to act. If people were going to judge Mrs. Bridge based on its cover, let that cover render an accurate judgment.
So, for a limited time only—February is a short month and it is nearly over!—we offer you our improved cover. (To be paired with those Mr. Bridge First editions we know you all have.)
It’s really coming down out there.
Let’s remember, though, that it could be worse. For instance, your orgiastic buffalo hunt could have just been interrupted by a sudden and violent blizzard, forcing you to abandon countless dead carcasses and, with them, your naive belief that so-called manifest destiny is anything other than a manifestation of a barbaric desire for brute physical domination of all you encounter. You could be snowed in, huddled under barely dried buffalo skins, clinging to your life, hoping to survive and crawl back to a civilization that may have never existed in the first place.
From John Williams’s Butcher’s Crossing, which may feature the greatest description of a blizzard in modern literature:
“Whiteness met his eyes. He could not see the wagon, or the oxen, or the men who stood near them. He listened, trying to hear a sound to guide him; nothing came above the increasing moan of the wind. He knelt and looked behind him at the path he had scraped in the snow; a narrow, rough depression showed shallowly. He pulled the horses with him as he followed the path, stooping close to the ground and brushing at the snow with his free hand. After a few yards the trail began to fill, and soon it disappeared before the gusts of wind and blown snow. As nearly as he could guess, he continued to walk in the direction from which he had been pulled. He hoped that he had been carried away from the wagon in a straight line, but he could not be sure. Every now and then he shouted; his voice was whipped from his mouth and carried behind by the wind. He hurried, and stumbled in the snow; from his feet and hands, numbness crept towards his body. He looked about him wildly. He tried to walk forward slowly and steadily, conserving his strength; but his legs jerked beneath him and carried him forward in an uneven gait that was half trot, half run. The horses, whose reins he carried, seemed an intolerable burden, though they moved docilely behind him; he had to use all his will to keep from dropping the reins and running blindly in the the snow. He sobbed, and fell to his knees. Awkwardly, with the reins still clutched in his right hand, he crawled forward.”
Great news, the Espresso Machine now works on people! The new humanoid application is capable of duplicating individuals down to the most minute psychological tic, like sartorial inclination and awkward camera presence (really, this was the best photo of a half dozen).
Pictured above: McNally booksellers, Fiona and Carly.
New year, new book clubs. In addition to our regular International, Essays, and Spanish book clubs, we’ve also recently added a Small Business, a Poetry, and a Philosophy book club. Check them all out here.
Tonight, Tuesday February 5th, marks* the first meeting of the Philosophy book club. Attendees will be discussing the first chapters of REVOLUTION: a reader (pictured above). If you miss out this time and you’re not wearing deodorant, don’t sweat it. Next month, we will rise again with REVOLUTION and a lil’ (wine fueled?) chit chat on pages 69-178 of the great text, which includes essays by… Lucretius, Gilles Deleuze (on Lucretius), Mahmoud Darwish, Gertrude Stein, Vivienne Westwood, and Giorgio Agamben! Oh my.
*Insert Marx joke here. Seriously, where are the funny staff when you need ‘em? So a guy walks into a… http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/marxist-socialists-jokes.
Doug’s review is too good not to reblog.
COLORS reminds me why I love journals, especially with this “Going to Market” issue, or more accurately, tales of commerce in all its guises in far-away places across the globe in the weirdest of manners. Not solely because of how good and fascinating it is, but because of how relevant. How surreptitiously it fights the good fight. Worthwhile magazines do that. Always engaging, COLORS has a unique mandate—-explore the world’s cultures, describe life on the planet.So through an exploration of commerce we get:
* The economics (and social politics) involved with the smuggling trade through underground tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Since 2007 almost 2 million people have relied on smuggling tunnels for basic needs such as fuel and livestock trade.
* A brief history of the original “kilogram”, kept under guard in Sèvres, France since the 19th century (and which has mysteriously lost fractions of weight over time).
* The ghost lives of U.S. computers delivered to places like Alaba market in Lagos, Nigeria.* A suicide letter from a 77-year-old Greek pharmacist whose pension was cut.
* Akodessewa fetish market in Lomé, Togo, almost too magnificent to be believed, where customers bring problems to be solved—“infertility, malaria, AIDS, heartbreak, financial troubles”—by magic dealers and voodoo priestesses who use totems and powders made from combinations of animal carcasses: dead tortoises, baboons complete with skin and eyes, antelope, monkey skulls, dogs, goats. Materials are ground with herbs and set on fire until they burn away to fine black powders, which are rubbed into incisions cut into backs.
* The nearly abandoned Chicago Mercantile Stock Exchange, a virtual ghost town since the advent of automated computer algorithms that now conduct most stock market trades (with sometimes explosive consequences).
* Marriage markets of China, where love and companionship are bartered.
* How the V for Vendetta nihilist mask—a worldwide symbol for the anti-capitalist movement—is owned by Time Warner, which receives royalties from every mask sold.
These are markets, trade, and tells us more about the world we live in than anything in the news. I challenge anyone to come up with a book published in any genre over the last year as relevant to contemporary culture as this issue of COLORS.
Sawdust, snow, pencil, plans.
Are we all counting days til this amazing lady’s book? Good.
New Year’s Day —
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.
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