Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Barely Making a Dent: August 2017 Books

In which our narrator tries to read his way through the endless stacks of books that are slowly overtaking both his bookshelves and his life.

Did you know that Christy Turlington is not your average supermodel? She has run marathons, is an avid practitioner of yoga, and used to be a vegetarian? Well, that's what Wikipedia tells me, at least. Good for her. For a split second, when I first saw this photo on a random Pinterest board, I remembered her as the supermodel trapped in an ATM vestibule with Chandler Bing in that memorable early episode of Friends, but then Chandler's line instantly popped into my head, "I'm trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre!!" Silly me, confusing my '90s supermodels. I bet Goodacre doesn't hunt down rare books with the same sort of dogged determination as Turlington. Plus, Turlington was in George Michaels' "Freedom '90" video, so she straight up wins for that reason alone.

How did this turn into a battle of  '90s supermodels? My brain frightens me sometimes. I think this series is now as much about the vintage photos of books, bookstores, and readers I keep finding as it is about the books I'm reading, have read, and am about to read. Speaking of those...

Currently reading:

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This is absolutely delightful so far. A dark comedy about the end of the world, from two writers at the peak of their witty, sardonic powers. Soon it will be an Amazon Prime miniseries starring Michael Sheen (love him) and David Tennant (my favorite doctor ever and just basically one of my favorite human beings, period). I've owned book for at least a decade, and the adaptation news prompted me to finally pull it off the shelf. My only regret is it's taken me this long to finally read it. It's fantastic so far.

Brian De Palma's Split Screen, by Douglas Keesey. Another in a long line of informative and entertaining film books from one of my favorite university presses, the University Press of Mississippi. I've always been fascinated with De Palma's films and, love him or loathe him, there's no denying his films are usually interesting, at least. The book is terrific, exploring all of the director's films and digging deep with extensive critical examinations of his sometimes troubling reliance on violence against women as a narrative device. I'm currently revisiting the films of Michelle Pfeiffer, so the chapter on Scarface and its interview snippets with Pfeiffer concerning the role of Elvira were particularly timely and enlightening.

Image courtesy of the publisher's website.

Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix. This is an advance copy, so look for a review of it somewhere down the line. For now I'll say this: if you love horror (films and books) from the time period the book covers, then just pre-order it today. You're guaranteed to love it. Not only is it gorgeously designed, the sort of coffee table book you want to proudly display in your home (it's from Quirk Books, so of course it looks amazing), but it's also going to become the historical overview of the '70s-'80s horror novel boom. No other book will come close. Hendrix provides detailed synopses of the books covered (and there are hundreds and hundreds included here) along with critical analyses, and author and cover artist spotlights throughout. Hendrix has written a few horror novels himself, which I wasn't aware of previously. I've already picked up a copy of one of them (see below) and hope to read it in time for Halloween. To sum up: buy this book. Now.

Recently read:

The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I first read this about fifteen years ago. Lahiri's short stories of hurt and broken souls stuck with me over the years. A recent reread only reaffirmed my love for these stories. One of these days I'll get around to Lahiri's novels.

1984, by George Orwell. Choosing this time in history to reread Orwell's dystopian classic may not have been the best thing for my mental health. The depressing and frightening parallels between the book's story and the imperial rule of the Mango Mussolini make clear that it remains as relevant today as when it was published in 1949, or when I read it as a young, impressionable high school student in the early '90s.

Recently acquired:

More reading to add to the ever-growing stacks of books around the house. I'm hopeless.

--My Best Friend's Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix
--On Writing, by Stephen King
--The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin
--The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
--Bloodchild and Other Stories, by Octavia Butler

Does Christy Turlington also acquire books at a faster rate than she can read them? I hope so. I don't want to be the only weirdo with this particular affliction.


  1. Interesting collection, I've never read "The Interpreter of Maladies"... please provide a review whenever applicable.

    1. The book is well worth seeking out. Lahiri's writing is beautiful and she does a wonderful of expressing complex emotions through her character's words and inner thoughts.