Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bibliophile: Year of Connolly, and the Introverts Inherit the Earth

If you got a big database, let me search it
And find out how hard I gotta work it
I put my book down, flip it and reverse it

This is Bibliophile.

 I think it says a lot about how long I've been doing this that when I saw there was 1000 items this week, I thought, "Jeez, it's barely worth bothering."  Never mind that I couldn't read that many books in years; if it's not a 10 k listing, what's the point?

Well, let's find out.
 Spectacular death : interdisciplinary perspectives on mortality and (un)representability / edited by Tristanne Connolly.   Bristol, UK ; Chicago : Intellect, 2011.
Hey, I know this professor!   And the book can be purchased cheaply for the Kindle, for a mere $20.  Well, that's cheap for an academic publication.  The idea is that it's an interdisciplinary study on medical and social articulations of death.  The book has essays from Connolly on infant death in British Romantic Women's Poetry, Kevin Dowler on New Orleans erasures, Elizabeth C. Effinger on Timothy Leary, and Morgan Tunzelmann on Art, Anatomy, and Death in Cowper and Gamelin.  Hey, I know her too!  Congrats, Morgan!  Also, death is a very interesting subject, and a multidisciplinary approach allows a wider scope than that which is often available.  But mostly, I'm just starstruck to the names of people I know in print. 

Quiet : the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking / Susan Cain.  1st ed.   New York : Crown Publishers, c2012. 
Cain charts the rise of the extrovert as the model of success in modern society.  In particular, it's reflected in business culture, from Tony Robbins seminars to evangical megachurches.  And she looks at how introverts cope and succeed in such an environment.  I've of two minds here.  On the one hand, I can relate to the general sentiment; I'm pretty introverted myself, and sometimes it feels like society is constantly pressuring to go out and party harder, meet more people, have more fun, when all I want to do is stay home with a good book.  On the other hand, the introvert/extrovert, though fairly established in psychology, seems a little too pat to me.  People are more complicated than that, and there's a wide variety of contextual elements that determine when a particular person is outgoing.  I may not be a sparkling conversationalist in a country bar setting, but I have no trouble going in front of a class to deliver a lecture on the finer points of rhetoric.   On the other hand, while the distinction may not pay attention to environment, Cain is clearly giving it a historical context.  So there may be something worth examining here.  

Cambridge companion to religious studies / edited by Robert A. Orsi.   Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Oh, don't you start up again.  

And the list of 1930s pulp grows ever longer:Return of Tarzan / by Edgar Rice Burroughs   Racine, Wis. : Whitman Publishing Company, c1936.
  Joe Palooka's great adventure / by Ham Fisher.   Akron, Ohio : Saalfield Publishing Company, c1939.
  167  Li'l Abner in New York / by Al Capp.   Racine, Wis. : Whitman Publishing Company, c1936.

Conversations with Durito : stories of the Zapatistas and neoliberalism / Subcomandante Marcos ; edited and introduced by Acción Zapatista editorial collective.   New York : Autonomedia, 2005. 

I read this as "Conversations with Dorito" and assumed it was a book about corporate branding.  

  Fairy tale reader : a collection of story, lore and vision / chosen and edited by John and Caitlin Matthews ; foreword by R.J. Stewart.   London : Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
Here's an odd thing to see outside of the literature section.  And it's rare that a book nearly a decade old gets added to the collection.   It's apparently a reader of fairy tales, with commentaries on origins, literary background, and psychological analysis.  Sounds like a good resource for someone teaching a fantasy lit course--although its availability would be a problem, given its publication date.

 Sex and the office : a history of gender, power, and desire / Julie Berebitsky.   New Haven : Yale University Press, c2012.
Oh, this sounds like fun.  Either that, or a HR report waiting to happen.   It's a history of sexuality and gender in the office, starting in the 1960s when women were first hired as clerks for the US Treasury office.  And it's big on multiple forms of research: persoanal writings of Gloria Steniem, cartoons, advertisments, advice guides, and stories on dealing with romantic advances in the workplace.  The cover has a reasonably buxom woman looking through a filing cabinet, and casting a glance at the man in the suit at his desk.  It's no Harlequin romance cover, but it's in the right ballpark.  I hope Mad Men made it into the book.  Considering Don Draper married his secretary last season (Spoiler), it's got a bit of fodder on the subject.

 Conspiracy theories : a critical introduction / Jovan Byford.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
The book the Man doesn't want you to read.  There was a second gunman.  Area 51 does alien autopsies.  The New York sewers are full of mole men.  Cellphones will give you cancer. (Or smartphones, these days, I guess.)  Soylent Green is people.  One World Order was behind the New Coke.  The X-Files was a documentary.  A sexy documentary.  Eraser magnates hold back the electric pencil.  The boy next door keeps stealing my newspaper. And the boy on the door before that keeps ordering me a newspaper. There is a cow level. In the original draft, Boxy was the last Cylon. Greedo shot first.  No one has ever seen Bill Gates and Ron Howard at the same time. Grass was popularized by the landscaping lobby; before them, everyone cultivated fronds.  The dryer's eating my socks.  We're all secretly laughing at you.  The world disappears when I leave the room.  You're not really reading this, you just think you are.  

Improper life : technology and biopolitics from Heidegger to Agamben / Timothy C. Campbell.   Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c2011.
What would a week be like without an in-depth look at a philosophy book?  May we never find out.   Campbell is responding to what he sees is a negative emphasis in biopiolitics discussion, that any analysis of technology, via Foucault, Agamben, and so forth, seems to move towards "a tragic, thanatopolitical destination."   But by rereading Focualt, Freud, and Deleuze, he wants to turn biopolitics to a more positive focus, and thus make it more productive, associated with practice bios rather than thanatos.  My snide response is that it's a very life-ist view to assume that thanatos is negative.  But seriously, having recently read Heidegger's Question on Technology and more recently having read Don Idhe's response to Question on Technology, I'll admit that there definitely seems to be a resistance to technology in a lot of traditional biopolitics theory.  Given the heavy theorists that Campbell's working with, this probably isn't a book for beginners, but if you've got a background in these writers, it sounds like a good book to check out.

 Nettitudes : let's talk net art / Josephine Bosma.   Rotterdam : Nai Publishers ; Amsterdam : Institute of Network Cultures, c2011.
 Art platforms and cultural production on the Internet / Olga Goriunova.   New York : Routledge, 2012.
 I'm not crazy about digital art, and neologisms such as "nettitude" is part of the reason why.  But I'd be remiss in my work if I were to skip over these two entirely on that account.  On her site, Bosma describes her book as consisting of five essays, and two parts.  The first discusses what net art is, and refutes some incorrect notions she sees currently in play.  And the second looks at the history of, contemplation on digital archives, and the role of music and sound in the new media.  Goriunova's book takes a less personal approach, describing the history and applications of various forms of art platforms online.  the book seems to focus on the participatory side of online art creation, so that could be interesting.  As I said, neither book is really my thing, but if that's what you're into, both seem like perfectly respectable entries on the subject of digital art.

Blake 2.0 : William Blake in twentieth-century art, music and culture / edited by Jason Whittaker, Tristanne Connolly, Steve Clark.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, c2012.  It's the return of Professor Connolly!  She's having a banner year, isn't she?  This is a joint editorship with Mr. Clark and Whittaker rather than the solo-edited anthology earlier, but it's still impressive having two anthologies edited in such a close time period.  The title/subtitle largely tells the subject here.  Blake's an interesting figure, and an excellent writer.  My favorite British white male pre-20th century writer is John Donne (How do ya beat "ask not for whom the bell tolls?  Ya don't.), but Blake is a close also-ran.  Essay topics include Blake and Popular Culture (I'm hoping for the Punisher one-shot "Tyger Tyger," but I somehow doubt it), How Blake Lovers Kept the Popular Out (oooh, controversy), Blake in Eliot, Blake in Rushdie, and the brilliantly titled "The Silence of the Lamb and the Tyger: Harris and Blake, Good and Evil."  Also, another essay on Black and Pop Culture, via a study of From Hell, which sounds like a lot of fun.

 Illness as narrative / Ann Jurecic.   Pittsburgh : University of Pittsburgh Press, c2012.
 Jurecic looks at the rise of illness narratives via theory by Susan Sontag, Elaine Scarry, and Eve Sedgwick.  This book might be of interest to the disabilities theory folk in the crowd.

Half-blood blues : [a novel] / Esi Edugyan.   Toronto : Thomas Allen Pub., c2011.
I've been hearing a lot about this book. It's a story about jazz, race, and art in 30s and 50s Berlin.  Much like digital art, and Blake, mid 20th century historical fiction isn't really my thing either, but it's a highly acclaimed book by a Canadian author, so it deserves a bit of space.

Butterfly winter : a novel / W.P. Kinsella.   Winnipeg : Enfield & Wizenty, c2011.
"Butterfly Winter, W.P. Kinsella’s first novel in 13 years, is the story of Julio and Esteban Pimental, twins whose divine destiny for baseball begins with games of catch in the womb."  Check, please.  But if you like your baseball with magic realism, or magic realism with your baseball, this one's for you.  

Smart grab bars : a potential initiative to encourage bath grab bar use in community-dwelling older adults.   Ottawa : Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2011. 
So far, this is by far the most exciting entry in the sciences section this week. 

140 characters : a style guide for the short form / Dom Sagolla.   Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, c2009. The fact that a style guide for tweets exists makes me feel old. 

And that's the lot.  See you next week.

Later Days.

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