Finally! The laser
printer spit out a JSTOR document that I asked it to print fifteen minutes
ago. Besides living the dream of "academic librarian extraordinaire,"
I'm also a part-time history graduate student. No excitment now, it's
not for the PhD, just a lowly MA; but it is a start. I began by studies,
one class per semester in the Fall of 2000. My target graduate date
is December 2003. I do lots of reading for those classes, and my thesis
will have something to do with prostitution; because it interests me,
and it's an area rich for research.
As Timothy J. Gilfoyle
wrote in the article I just printed off: Before 1980, the prostitute
was 'pornogaphic.' Few historian considered prostitution an important
topic and studies of the subject commonly played to the sensational
and salacious. The small body of significant scholarship concentrated
on ideas, social movements, and campaigns to control or abolish prostitution.
Since my specialization is US History, I'm required to take six
hours of non-US history. Thus, I enrolled in Ancient Society this semester.
I hope to study temple or "sacred" prostitutes in Greece and/or
Rome. It can be a chapter in my thesis... So far no luck finding articles,
though I have found a few books that might do. And there's a fabulous
bibliography about modern sex work at the Prostitutes'
Education Network. Anyway, I think I'll have great experience and
learn a lot too, as my professor comes very highly recommended.
late for a very important date
therefor I am. Suddenly there are six or so deadlines looming over
me in the next 3-4 weeks, so I just don't have time to read. Before
I "really" got down to work I started Marly
Pit, which won the Michael
Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction. Her writing
is so well-crafted; each sentence is perfect. I've read probably the
first 70 pages, and had to put it down to concentrate on other things.
Yeah, the Civil War theme really turns me off and that's why I decided
not to buy it; then I did. Then I wasn't reading it, but I began corresponding
with Marly and it seemed like the proper thing to do [reading it]
especially since I really loved her prior books. I hope to pick it
up again soon though. The story ping-pongs (sorry for lack of a better
word this early in the morning), between the story of a CW soldier,
and that of a recently freed mulatto. I like reading the woman's narrative
better at this point.
I did read through The
first five pages: a writer's guide to staying out of the rejection
pile, and frankly it was really boring. That's a
bit strong. It wasn't particularly helpful. I glanced through the
first few pages and thought it would be of service. And, too, I don't
seem plagued with the problems Lukeman describes. So basically this
was a waste of money? The jury is still out. It also happened during
a controlled book buying frenzy, wherein I purchased the Carolyn
See book that I've already read, this one, Margaret
with the dead: a writer on writing, and She's
gone country: dispatches from a lots soul in the heart of Dixie
by Kyle York Spencer. I
must admit that the only book I really liked of Atwood's was Handmaid's
Tale. I tried reading Cat's eye and that more
recent one, but guess my brain just wasn't up for 'em. And this She's
gone country book I'm approaching with a healthy dose of skepticism.
After just visiting the author's website I can see that she really
doesn't have a handle on southern colloquialisms.
I'm also reading We
are many, an autobiography by Ella
Reeve Bloor, but not entirely for fun, you see. You may know her
better as "Mother
Bloor," she was this radical woman in the early part of last
century who fought for women's
unions, and then traveled all over the US organizing the Socialist
Party and then later the Communist Party
after the Russian
Revolution. It's simply amazing all that she did and with six children.
It's good to see a woman not let her kids drag her down; it's too easy,
as Ella says,
to become a household
1,000 words a day & charming notes
I bought Making
a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers
by Carolyn See on Sunday.
Her website says that it's on shelves 1 September, but hey I bought
it sooner than that. I read it last night. There were odious parts,
like when she had examples of dialogue, but it was a decent enough
book. I'm not sure that I appreciated her "voice" though.
It's not that she was too chatty, but...well, I can't exactly put
my finger on what it was that irritated me so much. She did have good
advice. She said to write 1,000 words a day and write a charming note
to an author, editor, or agent whom you admire. Rest on Saturdays
and Sundays. Don't know what I'll read next, though I have skimmed
through several books about Woody
Guthrie in the last week. He's a fascinating person. Argh! so
many books, so little time!
reading about writing
I finished How
to read/write a dirty story by Susie
Bright. Only, now I wonder whether my version is different from
the one on her site. I got mine via the Venus
book club (I'm a member of almost every book club out there).
The covers and titles are different. Have I been bamboozled? It was
a quick read. Quite light. Had good history of the genre, but wasn't
particularly helpful. I think she could have said what she needed
to in far fewer pages. But, I'm sure it was written for the newbie
writer, so it did have a few sections about all that.
But, I also finished
what must be the best book I've read on writing. The
forest for the trees: an editor's advice to writers
was excellent. I felt as though she was writing especially to me.
Silly.... It wasn't a how to do this or that type book. Betsy
Lerner wrote about writers, the writing life, and the publishing
industry. Highly recommended though there were a few paragraphs that
I had problems with.
I tried to read two
novels over the weekend, but I guess I'm just not in the mood.
hooks & patience
Last night, just before falling asleep (not that the two are related
in any way), I read the first two chapters of Neal Stephenson's Diamond
age. I loved the other book I read by him, Snow
crash. I seem to recall a bit of difficulty in reading it
at first, but once I was there, it was fabulous. So now I'm trying
to decide whether to continue on, or maybe wait until later to read
it. I really must be in the right mood. Sometimes my impatience makes
reading anything impossible.
I finished the last chapter of Paradise Park, finally.
I never should have spent time reading it. It was not my cup of tea.
The protagonist goes through life searching for the ultimate religious
experience. A religious quest, if you will. Normally that kind of
thing doesn't immediately turn me off, but I was really annoyed by
the character. And while I was raised a WASP, I frequently read and
appreciate Jewish fiction, most of which describe Judaic religious
tradition. I didn't like her or her "voice." My boss saw
that I was reading the book the other day and she recommended one
other books, The
family Markowitz, she said it was her best one.
I don't know exactly what I'll read next. I haven't thought that far
ahead, yet. I have several science fiction paperbacks that I checked
out from PL. Octavia
Butler, Neal Stephenson,
and Sean Stewart.
And, I picked up a memoir by Geraldine A. Larkin about her spiritual
Buddhist pilgrimage called First
you shave your head. Although I haven't read her
book yet, the thought of spending a week or so at a
retreat is really appealing.
skipping thorough paradise & book snobbery
I stayed up until about 1:30 this morning hoping to finish up Paradise
Park. I didn't. I hoped to stay awake until around 4-ish when
I plannedto pop outside to view the meteor shower, but alas I was
fast asleep, and in fact, overslept this morning. Forgot to mention
that I read the first dozen or so pages in Book
Business: Publishing Past, Present & Future
a few nights ago. I may not pick it up again for some time. The writing
didn't particularly move me or anything. In fact, it rather turned
me off. But, I assumed that it will be informative. Since I checked
out at least a half dozen books from the public library last night
and have as least that many from my academic library, well, you can
imagine that I have tons of books to read at the moment, though I
did just purchase two new books about an hour ago.
I think that I may already own William Zinsser's On
writing well, and may have to return it. I don't
already own Modern
historiography: an introduction (by M.
Bentley). Upon further exmaination of that book, apparently I
didn't pick up a good copy. Its bottom edge is damaged. Well, it's
a quality paperback, what did I expect? I should have been more careful
my selection. Double sigh. I used to think that people who were so
anal about their books were laughable. Now I'm one of them. I don't
want to purchase a book or magazine that has been obviously pawed
or damaged in some way. If it has color plates or glossy pages, I
check to make sure that nobody's oily fingerprints have stained the
pages. You know what I'm talking about.
I readily admit that I am a book snob (meet
another one with a different version of the affliction. gosh, there
are others!). I don't purchase used books, well I take that back.
I have purchased out of print books through abebooks.com,
but as a general rule I don't patronize the various used book stores
in my area that deal in mass market paperbacks. I'm very sensitive to
odors, and cannot read a book that was owned by a smoker, or one that
someone's cat pissed on, or one that reeks horribly of mold (I have
allergies, asthma, and migraines). This is also a problem with library
books that I've checked out. There really should be some kind of rule
that smokers cannot borrow materials, but that's so drastic and really
anti-freedom to read. Obviously this is a library issue and there should
be an odor maintenance team that sniffs out these problems and sanitizes
each book upon its return. Although the CDC
or whomever has said that you can't catch anything from books, I really
wonder sometimes. I've encountered some pretty disgusting mucus, blood,
and other body fluids in library books. Of course, that's just my best
guess on what those smears were. I go into an automatic gingerly-touching-the-book
mode once I've come across such nasty things.
On ocassion I have had to purchase used text books because there was
nothing else available. I loathe having to read through someone else's
notes in the margins and vulgar highlighted pages. Obviously, I'm not
going to think the same points are important, but my eyes cannot help
being drawn to nasty highlighted phrases. I do not mark books in that
way. I will place book marks between the pages or use some of those
place markers that you find at Levenger
(it's so cool that they call supplies in that area Tools
for Reading!). Books are pristine. I don't do bookplates. I don't
write my name anywhere in a book. I cringe when I receive books as gifts
and see that the well-meaning person has written a personal sentiment
inside. I am guilty of this practice. It was a past behavor that I have
since corrected. I was not always this way. I think it has to do with
the indoctrination I experienced in libary school. Not all librarians
express these strong feelings, no do they necessarily share them. I
am not representative of my profession... or maybe I am. Afterall, what
DO I know?
writing, young lions, & more writing
I read the Insider's
guide to getting a agent by Lori
Perkins, gosh last week or something. It seems like such a long
time ago. But I just popped it in the mail to a dear friend less than
ten minutes ago. Quite good, as far as explaining the role of the
literary agent in the modern publishing world. I've owned the book
for ages, but just decided on a lark, what else? to read it.
Also read Sol
to grow a novel: the most common mistakes writers make and how to
overcome them. No doubt good advice, and a quick
read, but he really irritated me in his preface. He wrote something
about although most of his writing students are women that he chooses
to use the generic "he" pronoun through the course of his
book because it's more acceptable or rolls of the tongue easier than
"they." Crazy stuff, really. But then at one point in the
book when he's making a hypothetical point he writes about an instructor
rather negatively but chooses to use "she" as the pronoun.
Again, crazy stuff, and it really cast him into the pit of the unforgiven.
Serendipitously enough, I read jessamyn's
journal entry for 08
August, and she discusses this very same phenomenon.
my sister's country, a provocative and somewhat
unsettling book. The ending though was rather disappointing. Almost
a cliché. But here's something more about the novel from
Writer Sven Birkerts has said that Lise Haines' main character in
her debut novel, "In My Sister's Country," is "Holden
Caulfield rechanneled as a desperado on a wobbly pair of heels."
It's true that Molly, the 17-year-old sassy voice of "IMSC,"
and Holden Caulfield have the same disdain for phonies, but did Caulfield
ever seduce his older sister's boyfriend in the back of a cab?
Then, I whipped
Maria Rilke's Letters
to a young poet rather quickly. Probably too quickly.
I don't carry any sense of their meaning with me now. But, I'm not
a terribly deep person... very surface, so that kind of introspective
writing about solitude and the "writerly life" usually leaves
me cold. Possibly will need to read through them again. Perhaps the
timing was not right.
I decided to read
books nominated for the Young
Lions award that the NYPL sponsors
each year. Bee
season was really very very good. I believe this
is possibly the third time I had borrowed the book from the library.
The other times, I think I didn't have time to read it and had to
send it back unread. Or maybe I read the first few pages and couldn't
get into it. Anyway, I'm quite glad that I gave it another chance,
because it was so very good. It's the story of an underdog who wins
in the end. Very complex characters and topics. Religious searching
and meditation, coupled with interesting manifestations of mental
illness. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
I tried Chang
and Eng: a novel by Darin
Strauss, but it didn't hook me. I'll be the first to admit that
topics like Siamese twins interest me, but if it doesn't capture my
interest, well... what can I say?
Am currently reading
park by Allegra
Goodman. This is another Young Lions book. And this is the second
time I've started reading it. I've made it further this time than
last time. I'm not convinced that I like it though. I get the feeling
that it may not be what I like. I'm trying to give it a second chance
though, a rarity for me on all accounts.
I've read the first three or four essays in bell hooks' Remembered
rapture: the writer at work by bell
hooks (a bell hooks infoshop fan
page). hooks writes, To read and write was to partake of a
sacrament as holy as our eating the body and drinking the blood of
the divine in communion and remembrance.
librarian sleuths, childless executives, & Hollywood consumer culture
I reread Seneca
Falls inheritance: A Glynis Tryon mystery last night.
I orginally read it in 1997.
I'm writing an entry on Miriam
Grace Monfredo for a second edition of The
Detective as historian: History and art in historical crime fiction,
and needed to refresh my memory of the series.
Prior to that though, I read the first chapter or two of Creating
a life: Professional women and the quest for children
Ann Hewlett. It received a
lot of press recently (more
press and then there's Oprah's
press), though I understand that it's not exactly hopping off
My public library borrowed a book for me, Hollywood
goes shopping. I've been anxiously awaiting it only
to find that it really didn't appeal to me. I must have not known
what I was getting. I thought it was about celebrity consumer culture
and it is really about consumer culture in the cinema. Most of it
is over my head with all these references to Lacan, etc. After all,
I was a philosophy minor until I changed to women's studies. Guess
it's just too academic for me, though I did read the chapter that
Woman with Pygmalion,
and someone included a section about Madonna
in one essay. What a disappointment. Guess I need to take some film
Then, I read the
preface and introduction to A
lady of the high hills Natalie Delage Sumter, a
book I'm reviewing
for the Southern
Historian. Will likely read that later next month as the
review is due the first of October. But still, it looks like such
ky libraries & African Americans
Read the first chapters of Library Service to African Americans
in Kentucky, from the Reconstruction Era to the 1960s. Also
skimmed through a book I've had for quite some time, I think it's
called Into Print, but I can't seem to find it on any major book search
engines, so maybe that's not what it's called. It's basically a collection
of essays, or how-tos that were previously published in Poets
& Writers. Okay, I tried that search again and had no
luck; I don't have the patience or interest in really figuring out
the title today because I have a near death headache and cannot concentrate.
Very few of the essays really appealed to me, though the one about
running your own publicity written by Terry
McMillan was a stand out. Obviously it worked because she IS a
no time for weekend reading
The title above is pretty explanatory. Although I took at least 3 books
with me, including the official scrabble players dictionary, I had no
time at all to read. "Vacations" are supposedly great times
to read, alas my trip to Ohio included just enough time to rush around
frantically visiting family members. And, I failed to buy any books
on my two visits to Borders. I sheepishly enter those stores because
I'm such a supporter of independent bookstores, yeah right, then what
was I doing inside a Borders? I believe the explanation is one in which
theory departs from practice.
I've carried Margaret Salinger's book around in my book bag for at
least a week now. But, I have several other books that I must write
reviews of, and it will, no doubt, take a back seat to those titles.
One is Appalachia:
A history by John Alexander Williams, another is
Service to African Americans in Kentucky, from the Reconstruction
Era to the 1960s and a third is Drawing
my times. Plus, I'm waiting to receive several others