Episode 231 – Sven Birkerts

Virtual Memories Show 231:
Sven Birkerts

“There are thresholds or shelves where we go from having incremental change to systemic moments of transformation.”

In the ’90s, Sven Birkerts cautioned us about the impact of technology on reading with The Gutenberg Elegies. In 2017, we mute our iPhones to talk about his new book, Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age (Graywolf Press). We dive into the impact of digital technology on perception and identity, but also get into the way life becomes a thematic puzzle in middle age, why he stepped down from his role directing the low-residency MFA program at Bennington, the joy of bringing his favorite writers in as instructors (and the ones he regrets not getting), the challenge of interviewing fiction writers, his big literary 0-fer and what I’m missing about Virginia Woolf, how he’s adapting to a year-long sabbatical and how he understands his writing life, what he’s learned editing the literary magazine AGNI, and why the prerequisite for anything he’s reading is that it has to be more interesting to him than whatever it is he’s vaguely brooding about. Give it a listen! And go buy his new essay collection, Changing the Subject!

“When I was your age, I discovered the doubling over of one’s own experience. . . . Themes, recurrences and motifs in my life began to manifest. Then as if on command, the whole sunken continent of memory began to detach from the sea-floor.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Sven Birkerts is the author of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age and nine previous books, including The Other Walk: Essays, The Gutenberg Elegies, The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again, and My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time. He recently stepped down as director of the Bennington Writing Seminars, and he also edits the journal AGNI based at Boston University. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, and he’s on Twitter as svenbirkerts and Instagram as cyberbirk.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Birkerts’ home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Birkerts by me. It’s on my instagram.

Episode 131 – Ever After

Virtual Memories Show #131:
John Clute – Ever After

“In Fantastika, the metaphor tends to move to the literal. In a naturalistic novel, the literal tends to move into a metaphor.”

clute_medJohn Clute, winner of multiple Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards, joins the show to talk about the history of science fiction, its market-based ghettoization and eventual superseding of realist fiction, the advantages of reaching one’s 70s and what it means to live after one’s time, his bar-coding model of identity and interaction and the loss of prestige, why the loss of streetcars explains so much about our time, and more! Give it a listen!

“I’m kind of addicted to aftermath as a description of a particular kind of literature, of art, of music. . . . I think Bob Dylan is the greatest aftermath singer-songwriter who ever lived.”

John also talks pretty extensively about Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Buried Giant and how most critics got it wrong, his own obsession with ‘aftermath culture,’ the clash of temporal personalities and atemporal idiots, and the history of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which he co-edited with David Langord (and others). Plus, I get to break the news about the establishment of the Clute Science Fiction Library at Telluride!

“In an age of chaos, in which recognitions are fleeting, it seems to be manifestly interesting to work out how stories are being told so that they stay in the mind long enough to remember them.”

We talk about some books and movies in this episode. Here’s a list of ’em (Note: if I ever go to a Patreon crowdfunding model for the show, this is the first thing that goes subscriber-only):

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guest

Via John Clute’s entry from the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

19655441552_fe367d5d1a_m(1940- ) Canadian novelist and sf critic, in the UK from 1969; married to Judith Clute from 1964. He has been the partner of Elizabeth Hand since 1996. His first professional publication, a long sf-tinged poem called “Carcajou Lament”, appeared in Triquarterly for Winter 1960 (i.e. in 1959), though he only began publishing sf proper with “A Man Must Die” in New Worlds for November 1966, where much of his earlier criticism also appeared. This criticism, despite some studiously flamboyant obscurities, remains essentially practical, and has appeared mostly in the form of reviews, many of which first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Foundation, Washington Post, Omni, Times Literary Supplement, New York Times, New York Review of Science Fiction, Interzone, Los Angeles Times, Observer, Science Fiction Weekly (see Online Magazines), the Independent, Strange Horizons and elsewhere. He has written two regular review columns: Excessive Candour for Science Fiction Weekly between 1997 and 2009; and Scores, intermittently in The Infinite Matrix 2001-2003, regularly in Interzone between 2005 and 2008, and in Strange Horizons from 2010. Selections from this work, almost always revised, have been assembled in Strokes: Essays and Reviews 1966-1986 (coll 1988), Look at the Evidence: Essays and Reviews (coll dated 1995 but 1996), Scores: Reviews 1993-2003 (coll 2003), Canary Fever: Reviews (coll 2009) and Stay (coll 2014). An ongoing project to construct models of story “moves” in the literatures of the fantastic is represented by a set of connected motif entries in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) with John Grant [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] and in The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror (2006), as well as in Fustian (2006 chap) with Jason Van Hollander, a long interview focused on these issues. In later essays – like “Fantastika in the World Storm” (Spring 2008 Foundation) and “Physics for Amnesia” (October 2008 The New York Review of Science Fiction), both assembled in revised form with other essays as Pardon This Intrusion: Fantastika in the World Storm (coll 2011) – he has suggested that a central task for Fantastika in the twenty-first century is to dissolve the cultural Amnesia that has arguably consumed the Western world since World War Two (see Horror in SF; Postmodernism and SF). Primarily for his critical work, he received a Pilgrim Award in 1994, the IAFA Award as Distinguished Guest Scholar in 1999, and a Solstice Award (see SFWA Grand Master Award) in 2012.

In 1960 Clute was Associate Editor of Collage, an ill fated Chicago-based Slick magazine which in its two issues did manage to publish early work by Harlan Ellison and R A Lafferty. He served as Reviews Editor of Foundation 1980-1990, and was a founder of Interzone in 1982; he remained Advisory Editor of that magazine until 2004, and then contributed the column mentioned above. He was the Associate Editor of the first edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1979; vt The Science Fiction Encyclopedia 1979), which won a Hugo award, and was co-editor of the much-expanded second edition The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993; rev 1995; further rev vt Grolier Science Fiction: The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Science Fiction 1995 CD-ROM; further rev 1999), for which he shared 1994 Hugo and Locus awards with Peter Nicholls. Though Clute and Nicholls were listed as editors, the book was in fact written mostly by them and Associate Editor Brian Stableford. The current third edition, again much expanded as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (online from 2011) edited by John Clute and David Langford with Peter Nicholls serving as Editor Emeritus and Graham Sleight as Managing Editor, has similarly been written in the main by its editors and Contributing Editors; it won a Hugo as Best Related Work in 2012. Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia (1995), which he wrote solo and for which he also received a Hugo in 1996, is a companion to sf, not in any way connected to the encyclopedias listed above. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) with John Grant, for which both editors shared a 1998 Hugo, deals with fantasy within a frame broadly compatible with that governing this Encyclopedia, which is its elder sibling.

Over his career, Clute has published several sf stories and two novels: The Disinheriting Party (in New Worlds Quarterly 5, anth 1973, ed Michael Moorcock; exp 1977), which is Equipoisal with the fantastic, but demurs into rationalizations at the end; and Appleseed (2001), which is a Space Opera with an anti-Religion bias. The Made Minds (AIs) who dominate much of the action manifest themselves throughout as Avatars allied to a Forerunner mentor in support of all surviving humans, who are shunned because of the sexual (see Sex) odour they emit; but as they are genetically deaf to god (see Communications; Gods and Demons), the galaxy-wide diaspora of Homo sapiens has created a Pariah Elite destined to become central combatants in the coming universal War against the Entropy-generating deity, as proclaimed for the first time in the book’s Slingshot Ending. [JC]

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald. The conversation was recorded at the Boston Marriott Burlington during Readercon 2015 on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Bio photo of Mr. Clute by me; no credit for the upper photo.

Podcast: Readercon 2013 – Monsters, Memories and Mythmaking

The Three Graces on The Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 16 – Readercon – Monsters, Memories and Mythmaking

“Readercon focuses on the literature. And the people who come here are really smart. They take science fiction and fantasy seriously as literature. It’s always interesting to be on panels. It’s also a real community, so I can talk with writers, small presses, editors. Beyond that, it’s really a good scene socially.”

–Theodora Goss

It’s time part two of our Readercon 2013 mega-podcast! I visited the 24th annual Readercon conference on literary fantasy & science fiction in Burlington, MA in July, and recorded five interviews in one day! Readercon has great panels and programming, a fine booksellers’ hall, and lots of fun conversation; if you’re into the “literature of the fantastic,” you really should make a point of attending this event next year.

First, Theodora Goss talks about her new accordion-shaped novella, The Thorn and the Blossom, what writing contracts taught her about writing stories, why most classic literary monsters were female, and the joys of coffee in Budapest. Then (52:00), Valya Dudycz Lupescu explores the joys of Growing Up Ukrainian in Chicago, the role of folklore and myths in her fiction, and how every immigrant wave has to choose what it holds onto when it lands in America. Finally (1:15:00), Nancy Hightower tells us why she gave up Colorado for NYC, how she made the transition from teaching the grotesque to writing epic eco-fantasy, and how we learn the cost of wilderness.

Enjoy the conversations! And check out the archives for more great episodes!

Related episodes:

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About our Guests

Theodora Goss was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in various European countries before her family moved to the United States. Although she grew up on the classics of English literature, her writing has been influenced by an Eastern European literary tradition in which the boundaries between realism and the fantastic are often ambiguous. Her publications include the short story collection In The Forest Of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems; and The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), a novella in a two-sided accordion format. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List, and has won the World Fantasy Award. Check out her website, tumblr, Facebook page and twitter feed for more.

Valya Dudyz Lupescu is a writer and the founding editor of the literary magazine, Conclave: A Journal of Character. Born and raised in Chicago, she received her degree in English at DePaul University, studying with Richard Jones, Maureen Seaton, and Anne Calcagno. She earned her MFA in Writing as part of the inaugural class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied under Michael D. Collins, James McManus, M. Evelina Galang, Rosellen Brown, and Carol Anshaw. Since receiving her MFA, Valya has worked as a college professor, obituary writer, content manager, goth cocktail waitress, internal communications specialist, and co-producer of the independent feature film, The Secret. She teaches workshops around the city and online, and  helps to facilitate a monthly gathering of writers and artists in Chicago called the Chicago Creative Cooperative (“the Coop”). Her historical novel, The Silence of Trees, was published in 2010 (Wolfsword Press) in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook (2012, Iambik Audio). She has also been published in various journals, including Sentence, The Pedestal Magazine, and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. She is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the historic Cliff Dwellers Club and at the Everleigh Club in Chicago. Check out her website, tumblr, Facebook page and twitter feed for more.

Nancy Hightower is a speculative fiction author and poet, as well as an art critic who writes for Weird Fiction Review. Her debut epic fantasy novel, Elementarí Rising, will be published in September 2013 with Pink Narcissus Press. She has co-authored, along with Carrie Ann Baade, the Cute and Creepy exhibition catalogue, an art book of contemporary macabre and surrealist works. She reviews books for Fantasy Matters and interviews writers such as China Miéville and Neil Gaiman for DJ Spooky’s Origin Magazine (interviews can be read online here). She has a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Denver, and previously taught the rhetorics of the fantastic, uncanny, and grotesque in art and literature at the University of Colorado. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Up the Staircase, Word Riot, Strange Horizons, Neon, Bourbon Penn, Prick of the Spindle, Liquid Imagination, Corvus, Red Fez, Prime Number Magazine, The New York Quarterly, storySouth, and Dense Macabre, among others. She now resides in New York City. Check out her website, Facebook page and twitter feed for more.

Credits: This episode’s music is Budapest by Blimp by Thomas Dolby. All conversations were recorded in a room at the Burlington Marriott on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti into my Mac Mini, at my Ikeahack standing desk. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity and all editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo by me.

Podcast: The Wonders of the Audible World

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 14 –
The Wonders of the Audible World

“One day, I was on the train to work and I had a terrible anxiety attack and a crisis of whatever, and began just scribbling on a yellow legal pad that I had. It was basically my complaints about my own misery. I was terrified that if I even lifted the pen from the page, I would just be carried off that railroad car screaming, past all the commuters.

“I did that for about three days, just a therapeutic venting on the page. In a little while, I began to become cold and calculating and worldly, and I thought, ‘Shit, this is pretty interesting. What if I just gave this a little quarter-turn to the left? Maybe this would be fiction.’ So that was it.

“Having nothing else to do, it was, hey, let’s dedicate the life to this.”

This episode of the Virtual Memories Show features a conversation with one of my favorite contemporary authors! In June, I drove up to Bennington College to talk to David Gates, author of the novels Jernigan and Preston Falls, the short story collection, The Wonders of the Invisible World, about owning his niche (once described as “smart-but-self-destructive-white-American-middle-class-male-in-crisis”), teaching fiction and non-fiction writing, why he left the east coast for Montana, how he feels about the end of Newsweek, what it was like to make his start as a writer in his 30s.

You’ll also find out why he doesn’t want to write another novel, whose books he rereads every year, the status of his next collection of stories, the lineup for his country-rock band of writers and critics, and why he’s not exactly as enamored with Jernigan as its fans are.

As a bonus, our very first guest, Professor Ann Rivera, rejoins us for a quick conversation about what she’s been reading lately and why! (Hint: she’s down on postmodern lit.) Why, here we are at Gina’s Bakery in Montclair, NJ, recording away!


Enjoy the conversations! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Others conversations with contemporary literary writers and critics:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guests

David Gates is the author of the novels Jernigan and Preston Falls and a collection of stories, The Wonders of the Invisible World. His fiction has appeared in such magazines as The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Granta, The Paris Review, Tin House and Ploughshares. His nonfiction has appeared in Newsweek, where he was a longtime writer and editor, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, GQ, Rolling Stone, H.O.W., The Oxford American and the Journal of Country Music. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and his books have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is an Assistant Professor Fiction and Nonfiction in the Creative Writing Program at University of Montana.

Ann Rivera is a professor of English at Villa Maria College in Buffalo, NY, where she teaches courses in writing, narrative and literary genres. Her current project investigates the influence of digital media on narrative, reading networks and social structures. She attended Hampshire College along with your humble podcast-host in the early ’90s, which may help explain our mutual dislike of postmodernism.

Credits: This episode’s music is Guitar Man by Bread. The conversation with David Gates was recorded in the back yard of the Dog House residence on the Bennington College campus on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The conversation with Ann Rivera was recorded Gina’s Bakery in Montclair, NJ with the same equipment. (Sorry about all the door opening/closing noises in that segment!) I recorded the intro and outro with that gear, sitting in a comfy chair in my library. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo of David Gates by me, photo of Ann Rivera and me by Amy Roth.


Since we’re building a library downstairs and adding a bunch more shelf-space, I’m no longer quite so constrained in my book-buying. I’m still on an austerity plan for 2012, so I’ll generally only pick something up on the cheap. Here’s what I’ve bought lately and why.


The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon – I’m planning to read this for a Secondhand Loves podcast with one of my old college pals. I detested it the first time I tried it, complaining, “If you write a novel about comic-book history, Jews in eastern Europe, escape artistry and the golem-myth and you lose me, you’ve seriously fucked up.” We’ll see if I’m still as uninto it. It cost me $2.62, plus shipping

The Last Leopard – David Gilmour – It’s the biography of Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, who wrote The Leopard, one of my favorite novels. Cost $6.75

The Anatomy of Influence – Harold Bloom – I’m sure I’ll spend a little time with it. $8.31

Labyrinth Books

I stopped in Princeton for lunch on the way home from a client visit in Philadelphia, so I hit Labyrinth, which used to be Micawber Books. I found a used copy of Little, Big for $12.74. Amy lent hers out, and I’m hoping to interview the author soon for the podcast, so I picked that up. Still, $12.74 is kinda high for a used paperback. I balanced things out by finding a backup hardcover of George, Being George for $2.


There was a street fair in Suffern, NY last weekend, as Amy & I discovered when going out to our favorite hole-in-the-wall taqueria in town. We meandered through that, and discovered a little used bookstore in the same building as the Lafayette theater, this great old movie house where I once saw The Empire Strikes Back. The stock wasn’t really my sorta thing, but then I noticed a copy of Mr. Crowley’s Four Freedoms for $4, so I picked that up.

The Strand

While staying in NYC for a conference last week, I hit up the Strand Bookstore on my last night, since my wife & I are content to do that sorta thing. I decided I wouldn’t buy anything over $10, but managed to get by without crossing the $8 barrier:

Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor – I read it in the big ol’ Library of America collected works last year, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a portable copy. $7.95

How Fiction Works – James Wood – I generally like his literary criticism and book reviews. $7.95

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City – Nick Flynn – My pal Elayne loved this one, and implored me to give it a shot. $7.50

The Lost Books of the Odyssey – Zachary Mason – Praised in a recent Five Books interview, I figured I’ll read it some weekend this summer. $5.95

Role Models – John Waters – I’ve always liked John Waters in theory much more than in practice, so I’m hoping the printed page works better for me than the movie/TV screen. $7.95

And that’s my recent book-buying binge. We’re still a few weeks away from having the library finished, but once it’s wrapped up, I’ll be sure to post a ton of pix.


I have a copy of Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon that I take down from the shelf every year or so. I like to look through its four appendices and check off the “canonical” books that I’ve read. There are 37 pages of these lists, broken down into four Vico-esque eras of history: Theocratic, Aristocratic, Democratic and Chaotic.

I recall reading a New York magazine interview around the time of The Western Canon‘s publication (c. 1994) in which Mr. Bloom complained about having to produce the mammoth end-of-book list. His editors prevailed upon him to do it, I guess because it would be easier to hook reviewers, since they could now look to see if their favorite authors and titles had made the cut. And because dilettantes like me could start checklists!

[UPDATE! Article found, courtesy of Google’s copyright-be-damned policy! Here’s the paragraph I was trying to recall:

The list, Bloom says, is intended to be suggestive rather than prescriptive — which is just as well, since there are more than 850 authors cited. Indeed, says Bloom, the list may turn out to be a liability, stealing all the attention from the body of the book. “I was encouraged to do it by my agent and my editor,” he says woefully. “They may have been right, they may have been wrong. I’m not so sure that it was a good idea.”

Go read it!]

I admit that I find it fun to measure myself against lists like this. And, yes, I’m enough of a geek that I get a little thrill putting a check-mark next to a title that I’ve finished after years of false starts. I’m not out to “finish” Mr. Bloom’s list, obviously; I could enjoyably spend the rest of my days just reading Shakespeare and ignoring the hundreds of other titles he suggested, and I think he’d find that a perfectly fine choice.

But it’s nice to make progress. Last night, I took out my copy of The Western Canon and was surprised to find that a few books I read last year were on Mr. Bloom’s list: Aegypt and Love & Sleep. Check and check! Only 37 more books to go! On that page!

After checking off those John Crowley books, I got down to business. I flipped back to the Aristocratic Age, looked for the “FRANCE” section, then the entry for Michel de Montaigne. I proceeded to put a dark check-mark next to “Essays, translated by Donald Frame,” because after more than 2 years of reading, I have finished all 1,045 pages of Montaigne’s Essays, beyotch! I am D-U-N done! Celebrate me!

* * *

Still, all of that reading added up to just one check-mark, and you readers know that I have plenty of 0-fers out there!

I coincidentally came across a link to a literary blog I’d never read, The Elegant Variation. Jason Kottke linked to this post about literary critic James Wood’s 1994 response to Mr. Bloom’s lists. Mr. Wood offered up his own list of the best British & American books from 1945 to 1985!

I jumped down to the bottom of the list and started working my way up. At first, I thought, “I have not read a single one of these books! This will be the greatest 0-fer of all time!”

Eventually, I started coming across titles that I had read, so I decided to break the list down into four categories:

  1. Books I’ve Read (18)
  2. Books I’ve Started but Never Finished (5)
  3. Books I’ve Never Started (78!)
  4. Books (and/or Authors) I’ve Never Heard Of (25!)

I could probably break #3 down into Books I Plan To Read Someday and Books I Know I’ll Never Get Around To, but hey.

It’s important to blaze one’s own trail through the library and not to take any single source as too much of an authority. After all, Mr. Bloom includes four books by Don DeLillo on his list, so it’s not like we should regard his modern section too seriously. It’s called “Chaotic” for a reason, right? (Mr. Wood puts one of Mr. DeLillo’s books on his list, too. Sigh.)

In the spirit of celebrating my lacunae, here’s this week’s modified 0-fer list! (Go to that TEV post to get the original sequence of Mr. Wood’s list! And go check out that blog! It seems pretty neat!)

Books I’ve Read
William Burroughs – The Naked Lunch
Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5
Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man
Frederick Exley – A Fan’s Notes
Kazuo Ishiguro – The Remains of the Day
Philip Roth – Goodbye, Columbus; The Counterlife
JD Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye
Robert Penn Warren – All The King’s Men
Don DeLillo – White Noise
Malcolm Lowry – Under the Volcano
Walker Percy – The Moviegoer
George Orwell – 1984; Collected Essays and Journalism (4 vols)
JG Ballard – Concrete Island
Saul Bellow – Herzog
Thomas Pynchon – The Crying of Lot 49; V

Books I’ve Started But Never Finished
Harold Brodkey – Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
AS Byatt – Still Life
Toni Morrison – Beloved
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
Joseph Heller – Catch-22

Books I’ve Never Started
Norman Mailer – The Naked and the Dead; Armies of the Night
Walter Abish – How German Is It
Elizabeth Bishop – The Complete Poems
John Cheever – Collected Stories; Falconer
Toni Morrison – Sula
Bernard Malamud – The Assistant; The Stories of Bernard Malamud
William Trevor – Collected Stories
James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time; Giovanni’s Room
Howard Nemerov – Collected Poems
VS Naipaul – A House for Mr. Biswas; In a Free State; The Enigma of Arrival
Philip Roth – Reading Myself and Others
Flannery O’Connor – A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Frank O’Hara – Selected Poems
Sylvia Plath – Collected Poems
Ezra Pound – Pisan Cantos
John Barth – The Sotweed Factor
Saul Bellow –  The Adventures of Augie March; Seize the Day; Humboldt’s Gift
John Berryman – The Dream Songs; The Freedom of the Poet and Other Essays
Donald Barthelme – Sixty Stories
Wallace Stevens – Collected Poems
Eudora Welty – Collected Stories
William Carlos Williams – Paterson
Edmund White – A Boy’s Own Story
Amy Clampitt – The Kingfisher
WH Auden – The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays; Collected Poems
Angela Carter – The Magic Toyshop; Nights at the Circus
Bruce Chatwin – On The Black Hill
William Golding – Lord of the Flies; The Spire
WS Graham – Collected Poems
Raymond Carver – The Stories of Raymond Carver
Martin Amis – Money; The Moronic Inferno
Jean Rhys – Wide Sargasso Sea
Graham Greene – The Heart of the Matter
Jonh Ashbery – Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror; Selected Poems
Geoffrey Hill – Collected Poems
Doris Lessing – The Golden Notebook
Ivy Compton-Burnett – A Heritage and its History
Muriel Spark – Memento Mori; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Phillip Larkin – Collected Poems
Ian McEwan – First Love Last Rites; The Cement Garden
Andrew Motion – Secret Narratives
Iris Murdoch – Under the Net; The Bell; The Nice and the Good
Carson McCullers – The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
Anthony Powell – A Dance of the Music of Time
John Updike – Of the Farm; The Centaur; The Rabbit Quartet; Hugging the Shore
Ted Hughes – Selected Poems 1957-81
VS Pritchett – Complete Stories; Complete Essays
Marianne Moore – Complete Poems
Salman Rushdie – Midnight’s Children; The Satanic Verses
Anthony Burgess – Earthly Powers
Alan Sillitoe – The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Graham Swift – Waterland
Iain Sinclair – Downriver
Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited; The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold

Books (and/or Authors) I’ve Never Heard Of
JG Farrell – The Siege of Krishnapur
Jane Bowles – Collected Works
Tim O’Brien – If I Die In A Combat Zone
LP Hartley – The Go-Between
Cynthia Ozick – The Messiah of Stockholm; Art and Ardour
Angus Wilson – The Wrong Set; Hemlock and After; Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
Randall Jarrell – Poetry and the Age
Robert Lowell – Life Studies; For the Union Dead; Near the Ocean
Henry Green – Loving; Concluding; Nothing
Susan Sontag – Styles of Radical Will
Paul Bailey – Gabriel’s Lament
Jeanette Winterson – Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
Craig Raine – A Martian Sends A Postcard Home
Tom Paulin – Fivemiletown
James Fenton – The Memory of War
Denton Welch – A Voice Through a Cloud
Christine Brook-Rose – The Christine Brook-Rose Reader
Elizabeth Taylor – The Wedding Group

At dinner last night, Amy asked me what my next giganto-reading project will be, now that I’ve finished reading Montaigne. The first three things to flash through my mind were Plutarch, Robert Caro’s LBJ biography, and Shakespeare. I told her, “I’m gonna take a break for a while.”

Morning Sun

It’s a comparatively slow day at the Official Newspaper of Gil Roth:

  1. a review of the new book by James Wood, How Fiction Works,
  2. a review of an anthology on New Criticism, and
  3. a brief history (with slideshow) of Art Deco.

So I guess I oughtta flip over to the NYObserver, which is more hit-and-miss in its Gilcentric writing:

  1. the decline of newspaper reporters in NJ, and
  2. an interview with Amtrak president/CEO Alex Kummant about transit plans in NY/NJ and the need for new rail capacity?

Looks like I have nothing to complain about.