Behind the Scenes
I feel like Jessa Crispin right now. Doesn’t/didn’t she always blog about what books to pack for trips? Well, this time tomorrow I’ll be at JFK, boarding a plane to Hong Kong, where I’ll be spending the next month. (No worries, I’ll still be wired there, so you’ll hear from me, albeit perhaps in the middle of the night, since HK is 12 or 13 hours ahead of the East Coast.) Anyway, I’m trying to pack my reading materials for the trip, and have narrowed the list down to a dozenish candidates. I’ll probably take about half that many. The idea is to ensure a variety of options (I learned last year that English language bookstores in HK are basically non-existent, and what’s on offer tends to be horrible) but without making my bag weigh 100 pounds. Read the list and feel free to vote for favorites or suggest other options, though at this point, if your picks aren’t already in my bedroom they’re probably out of the running.
Pirate Utopias (non-fiction/history/politics) – Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey)
The Sickness Unto Death (philosophy/religion) – Soren Kierkegaard
Sanatorium Unde the Sign of the Hourglass (fiction: stories) – Bruno Schulz
Last Things (fiction: novel) – Jenny Offill
Selected Poems – George Oppen
We Did Porn: Memoir and Drawings – Zak Smith (aka Zak Sabbath)
Like You’d Understand, Anyway (fiction: stories) – Jim Shepard
Omens of Millenium (non-fiction/philosophy/religion) – Harold Bloom
Classic Crews (two novels, one autobiography, three essays all in one spine) – Harry Crews
A Heaven of Others (fiction: novel) – Joshua Cohen
Bats Out of Hell (fiction: stories) – Barry Hannah
So that’s the list as of right now. There’s too much fiction on there, I know that, and though the Crews has a lot of bang-for-buck, I already read the first book in it (the nonfiction one) so I’m at risk of getting burnt out on him. The Shepard book would be a lock, except I’ve read the first handful of stories already and I’d hate to finish it on the plane over then have to lug it around. Smith also would be a lock except I’m going to stay with family, so it’s like when exactly do I sit around and read the illustrated porno-memoir? Oppen, being the only poetry choice, is probably a shoe-in, and I’m really excited to spend a month getting to know his work. I’ve never read him. I’d love to have another poetry choice, but it would need to be another selected, so I could dip in and out of it throughout. Also, I wish I had a pocket bible, instead of my unbringable Oxford King James. Oh shit, I’m also noticing that except for Jenny Offill, there’s no women on this list Hmm. I was thinking of bringing at least one re-read anyway, so that could be, uh….Amy Hempel’s Collected Stories, which for me comes close enough to poetry (in spirit, sort of) to solve three problems at once (re-read, women, poetry). Or else something by Christine Schutt… Maybe the first book? Christ, I’m losing it. And now the phone’s ringing and the subletter is here.