November 3rd, 2012 / 5:51 pm
Behind the Scenes

10 Books

a.k.a. “Playing catch up with the stacks [4].”

In this series, I share with you a stack of my recently acquired and most anticipated reading materials.

I did a version of this in August, and March, and also back in May of 2011.

Once again I have a heaping pile of awesome-looking unread materials just waiting to be experienced…

D.V. by Diana Vreeland

From 1963-1971, Vreeland was editor-in-chief of Vogue until she got fired and replaced by Grace Mirabella (1971-1988). I’m excited as hell to read this book. Though I don’t talk too much about it these days, there was a moment in my life when I almost went to fashion design school instead of creative writing school. I’ve always adored fashion, followed fashion, and have been a subscriber to Vogue for years — although, truth be told, I’ve recently switched my allegiance to W Magazine. Anyway, Vreeland’s book opens with her punching some dude in the face for calling her nostalgic, and then quickly jumps to this time when she helped Jack Nicholson fix his back problems. In addition to the fashion aspect, I am also super interested in gossip. So this book is going to rock.

Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood’s Darkest and Best Kept Secrets by Kenneth Anger

Speaking of gossip, this book also looks awesome. I’m so glad I finally got a copy of it. Chock full of pictures and golden era Hollywood lore (it bills itself as “a collection of Hollywood’s darkest and best kept secrets”), written by the enigmatically cool experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger, I can’t imagine how this isn’t going to rock.

Promising Young Women by Suzanne Scanlon

A few nights ago, I read the first thirty pages in the bathtub and was totally mesmerized. Don’t want to say too much about my impressions and ideas, because I plan to write more extensively about it.  Instead, I’ll just share with you what Eileen Myles has to say: “About ten lives occur in this very short novel. One swiftly becomes the background of the next, then that one looms up fast and for a moment you think oh this is the life. And it is ending. I like the swift consciousness with which Suzanne Scanlon orchestrates all of it and even more I admire the true (and maneuvered) intimacy that holds me here on the page despite the fact that inside and out of this volume of PROMISING YOUNG WOMEN there are so many of us, lives, and women and female writers. You wonder if we matter at all and Suzanne Scanlon says in a multitude of quietly intelligent and felt ways that we do, helplessly, all of us do, no matter.”

Fra Keeler by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

This book is a complete mystery to me.  All I know about the author is that she snagged the recent tenure track CW job at Notre Dame, which is impressive enough to make me pay attention.  From the blurbs and the acknowledgments page, it would appear she went to Brown, which is another feather I tend to notice in a writer’s hat.  Also of note is the fact  that the book’s published by Danielle Dutton’s Dorothy, a publishing project — as is Scanlon’s book.


A Question Mark Above the Sun: Documents on the Mystery Surrounding a Famous Poem “By” Frank O’Hara By Kent Johnson

Kent Johnson is a provocateur of the highest order.  I could say a bunch about this book, and hopefully I will do so shortly,  but for now I’ll share this line as a selling point from The Times Literary Supplement, “At the end of last year, an extraordinary work of detective criticism briefly appeared, despite legal threats.”

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age by Kenneth Goldsmith

Picked this up at the Modernist Studies Association conference last month. Kept meaning to get it and kept putting it off. But there it was, and there I was, so we united.

The Runaway Note by Tyrone Jaeger

I know Tyrone from back in my Nebraska grad school days, circa 2003-2005.  And now he’s got a book in the world and I’m pleased for it. Soon I’ll be posting an interview with him about it. Stay tuned.

Normally Special by xTx

After recently writing about my belated but ardent enchantment with the work of xTx, she sent me a copy of this book and I am stoked to read it. Just flipping through, I get the sense that it’s going to be rad. Blurbing the book, Blake Butler said, “After reading Normally Special, if I knew xTx’s legal name, I’d file a restraining order. Maybe she’s Aileen Wuornos. Maybe she’s a wiccan living under A.M. Homes’s bed. I don’t know, she freaks me the hell out.”

Moving Parts by Magdalena Tulli

Will be teaching this book in the spring, in a course on Global Perspectives on the Contemporary Novel. W.S. Merwin claims, “The originality of Tulli’s writing is not lessened by representing a family tree that includes Michaud, Kafka, Calvino, and Saramago.” And Amazon reviewer Bethany L. Canfield says, “Moving Parts is an incredible, truly insightful novel in which the narrator looses control of his story. What? Yes! He becomes a character and cannot get out of the view of the reader. This is not a book to breeze though, it is jam packed full of brilliant quotes and stunning writing. The concept of this novel, and the storyline are completely unlike anything that I have read before.”

Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag

Sontag is one of my all-time favorites, and although it’s taken me a while to get around to picking up her diary, it’s not for lack of interest. I had thought about waiting until all three volumes become available so I could read them all at once, like how I prefer to watch an entire season of a television show all at once after the season ends rather than watching each weekly episode and waiting for the next while it’s airing.  But I’ve gotten too antsy.  The second volume hasn’t even come out in paperback yet, so the third volume might take forever to be issued.  The time is now.



  1. Taylor Napolsky

      Seems like it’ll take a while to read all that.

  2. miette

      Dorothy Project projects leave me with quickened breath, flushed cheeks, and similar symptoms of get-my-drift.

  3. A D Jameson

      Grave’s Disease?

  4. miette

      If only it were so easy to cure…

  5. Jason

      Love these types of post. My Amazon wish list is getting out of hand.

  6. mimi

      By all means read D.V. –
      But have you seen Diana Vreeland: The Eye Must Travel? Oh, but you must, you must! For the visuals – her clothes, her mannerisms, her make-up! Simply to die for!

      Also, I had a job once where I had to (got to…) read WWD every day! So fun! Also, I got to ‘name colors’. And go to bi-annual ‘color forecasting’ seminars. Seriously. It was a great job. Marvelous! Simply to die for!

  7. Erik Stinson

      the first twenty pages of hollywood babylon are unbeaten in terms of pop culture writing

  8. Shannon

      I did not know about The Eye Must Travel. I feel like I need to that immediately. Not that I should be adding to my current pile of unread books.

  9. mimi
  10. Shannon
  11. mimi

      You know, I thought there must be more to it. But I Googled ‘The Eye Must Travel’, prior to replying to you, and only saw things about the movie in my (admittedly limited!) perusal, nothing about a book! Which looks lovely, by the way. But try to see the movie too. It’s a kick!
      : )

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