I'm going to share some photos of my bookshelves today (click for larger views). The Blind Owl perched up there is one of my favorite novels. According to Wikipedia, it was first published in Tehran in 1941 and later came out in France. In terms of structure as well as flavor I compare it to David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive; it's really the same story. On the left a one-of-a-kind novel, La Belle Captive. Alain Robbe-Grillet assembled a large number of Magritte's paintings and constructed a novel around them. Hiding behind The People of the Saints is Kundera's The Art of the Novel, containing some of my favorite essays. Next to it Daumal's A Night of Serious Drinking - essential reading, a signed copy of Improvisation by Derek Bailey and a really cool book of Ellsworth Kelly's self portrait sketches.
Some favorites. Shadow Country is the best novel I've read in at least five years. That tall slim black volume is a first edition of Maldoror. Grove Press published many of my favorite authors. I love the designs, and the paperbacks they produced in the 1960's are among the finest ever made. The Genet's shown here are first edition cloth-bound.
shelves, which I built out of salvaged wood, glass doors open.
You'll notice several books by Francis Ponge. He's a French writer most often called a poet, but he argued that his work comprised a new genre, neither art nor science but a compound of the two. The title The Voice of Things indicates the area: Ponge examined objects, their names and definitions and by careful observation made them speak. Soap is an entire book. I discovered Ponge as a young man in New York, and xerox copied the entire contents of Soap at the public library. The machine was defective, and kept spitting my dimes back out. I kept going. After all, this was a time when I'd be lucky to have a cup of white rice for dinner. The librarian kept an eye on me but waited until I was finished to put the 'out of order' sign on the machine. I love librarians. Ponge is a bricoleur and one of my biggest inspirations. His works are prose essays and poems equally.
Susan on twitter recently, and that has encouraged me to write a piece on Rivers and Mountains. Look for it!
Coetzee on the left - his trilogy: Boyhood, Youth and the recently published Summertime is one of the most unique (in terms of form, at least) memoirs you will ever encounter. Foe is an extraordinarily beautiful and poetic retelling of the Crusoe story from a young woman's perspective. When Coetzee won the Nobel Prize I was very excited at the prospect that he would become a household name. That didn't really happen, did it?
That black book with the palm tree printed on it is a beautiful 1931 edition of seven of Melville's novels. At that time Melville was still a controversial figure. The publishers justified leaving Pierre and The Confidence Man out of the volume by stating that they "[do] not transmit to us [their] author's greatness." They singled Pierre out for abuse, calling it a "mad book, overwrought and undecipherable." This is one of three editions of Moby Dick that I own, along with a copy which includes Rockwell Kent's marvelous woodcuts and an electric version on my eReader.
Evergreen Review, which continues today as an online journal. Mr. Rosset continues to make all final decisions on the content of Evergreen Review, which will publish my poem Wilhelm Reich in Lewisburg in an upcoming issue. I need hardly say how I feel about this. You'll notice a couple of Reich's books to the left. I'll share some of my thoughts on him in upcoming posts.
I'd like to draw Brendan's attention to the book on Lascaux below. I've written about what this book means to me in my post on Georges Bataille.
Finally, here's a photo of my writing desk. That folded piece of pink paper contains notes scrawled down on my lunch break at work, the way many of these posts begin.