Friday, December 24, 2010

COALS FOR A STOCKING: a dash of the dreary

I ran into Sam who lives two doors away in a big loft above Arlo and Esme, a bar, that evolved into a young people’s bar where kids go to get drunk here on East First Street.

Sam teaches a how to course in porn writing for women and others at the New School and a poetry writing class at NYU. He also reviews books and as a result gets piles of the stuff. I wish I got as many as he does, but he has broader interests than I do.

He was coming back from The Strand Bookstore where he has been to sell review copies. They don’t buy everything the way they used to he was telling me. Years ago they bought everything and would give you are a quarter on the dollar but not anymore. The give no where near that and now are picky.

Sam showed me the books they didn’t want. He was saying this is the shit that publishers are now publishing and it is such shit that even the Strand can’t get rid of it. And if they can’t get rid of it no one can.

Here is a list of “shit that no one wants” according to The Strand Bookstore, today 24 December 2010.

WALKING PAPERS. Poems. Thomas Lynch, WW Norton. I guess that is understandable. Lynch wrote one good book of poems and then discovered his Irish heritage and sunk into the bog and got buried which is an easy irony since he is an undertaker and wrote some prose about it, but never about the actual draining, cutting, pasting…

UNDIVIDED SELF. Selected Stories by Will Self. Bloomsbury. Complete with an introduction by Ricky Moody. The English were desperate for a writer they could promote as an antidote to some real writers, like William Burroughs, Hunter Thompson… you get the picture… created by back scratching English hacks and by their Anglophile American cousins, so Self is yesterday’s wild man with a dash of the Jewish thrown in for good measure…

SIGN OF LIFE. Hilary Williams. A Story of family, tragedy, music, and healing. DaCapo. Can any rational person keep a straight face reading the sub-title? In the footsteps of her grandfather, father… this gives nepotism a bad name… Old Hank Williams most have twirled so much in the grave there can’t be much left of him now with what came after him in the family.

REASONS TO KILL. Why Americans Choose War. Richard E. Rubenstein. “Undeniably important,” Publishers Weekly.

TRESSPASS. Rose Tremain. A novel. W.W. Norton. Winner of the Orange Prize. As if anyone knows what that means. Another dreary English novel American publishers decide American ought to read but obviously American still have some sense…

THE GREAT FIRE OF ROME. Stephen Dando-Collins. DaCapo. A prize winning Australian author living in Tasmania who according to the notes is basically paraphrasing, Tacitus and Suetonius…

And maybe the saddest book because it is so typical of what passes as taste and awareness of the world and literature or who knows what: TAKE ME HOME. Brian Leung. A novel. Harper. A third book. “Award winning…takes his reader to the desolate and wild terrain of the nascent Wyoming territory… strong willed young woman…the Chinese man she dares to love… LEUNG who is half Chinese…” An associate professor of creative writing.