Every so often I go to the Millennium Library sale, fill up a bag with as many books as I can possibly carry, and ride home awkwardly on the bus to fill up my bookshelf. This is not a very intelligent thing to do, given the amount of reading time and shelf space I have, but I like it and it’s cheaper than most vices.
Here’s today’s haul:
Bram Stoker, Dracula
I already have a copy of this, but it’s a shitty paperback that’s not in very good condition. Not, actually, a work I’m particularly fond of, but given the amount of SFF writing I do I should have it for reference.
Max Kenyon, ed., A Mozart Letter Book
I have a modest collection of composer biographies (the crown jewel of which is Hans Gál’s book on Brahms). This is pretty useful stuff for a musician to have. The Mozart letters are always a pleasure, not just because they shed light on the eighteenth century attitude toward music, but because sandwiched between accounts of concerts and reports to his father you get the raunchy stuff, the letters about boners and faeces.
Dennis Carroll, Modern Dramatists: David Mamet
I skipped over a lot of collections of critical essays, but this one I had to pick up. David Mamet is one of my favourite playwrights, but his works can be problematic. Oleanna, for example, is one of the best plays ever written and feels like a punch in the stomach even when you’re reading it, but it pisses off just about everybody. I think I could benefit from reading some detailed scholarly thought about his works to inform my own opinions.
Doris Lessing, Briefing for a Descent into Hell; Lillian Hellman, Six Plays by Lillian Hellman; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
I’ve tried to make an effort to diversify my reading, but in practice this means that I own one novel by Jane Austen and I’ve read Things Fall Apart. There are so many great women authors out there that I am a little ashamed not to be more familiar with their work.
C. N. Manlove, Science Fiction: Ten Explorations; Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg, eds., Arthur C. Clarke (Writers of the 21st Century Series); Mark Siegel, James Tiptree Jr. (Starmont Reader’s Guide #22); William Ready, The Tolkien Relation: A Personal Inquiry
I’m currently working on two science fiction criticism pieces that I hope to get published, so reading within the field is a good idea. James Tiptree Jr. is the only author here I’m not very familiar with; the one story of hers I read I found vaguely disturbing, so I want to learn more about her writing.
Boris Pasternak, Safe Conduct: An Autobiography (and other writings)
I have admired Boris Pasternak from a distance for some years. Dr. Zhivago is a monumental undertaking I’m not quite ready for yet, and I once made an attempt to read some of his poetry in translation (it went about as well as you can imagine). This autobiography plus three short stories is going to be my introduction.
William Shakespeare, King John, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Titus Andronicus
I already have a complete Shakespeare (found at a library sale, of course), but it’s helpful to have these individual editions, which present the text in a more spacious, readable format and include critical notes.
Henry F. Salerno, ed., English Drama in Transition, 1880-1920; Tom Stoppard, Dirty Linen & New-Found-Land; Eugene O’Neill, Ah, Wilderness! and two other plays; Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus (trans. Gilbert Murray)
Every time I read a play I enjoy the experience immensely, but I still haven’t done it very much. I hope to change that with these books, which present a nice variety.
Don DeLillo, The Body Artist; Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
I enjoyed DeLillo’s White Noise (though it’s incredibly bleak), so anything he’s written is welcome on my shelf. I have never read Pynchon, but he’s been cited as an influence on many authors I do enjoy, like DeLillo and David Foster Wallace.
Walter Sutton, American Free Verse
I actually thought this was an anthology, but on closer examination it appears to be a critical work with extensive quotations. This is all to the good; my plan to become more familiar with poetry has resulted in my having a bookshelf full of poems I’ve never read. A book that holds my hand a little is very much welcome.