February 1st, 2012 / 7:48 pm

Some Thoughts on the Books I Checked Out of the Library Today

I am still in college. I think maybe you know that. Monday through Thursday I wake up sometime between 9am and 12pm and drag my sallow little ass from Ave C to Washington Square, where I study, predominantly, English and American literature. Today one of my classes was cancelled, so after sitting through a 75 minute lecture on Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Prologue and Tale” (what a laugh that one is, let me just say), I decided to stop by the university library to take out some books that I could enjoy in the park. Here is a picture of the books:

Below are some thoughts on those books.

A Craving for Swan by Andrei Codrescu
I went looking for a book of selected poems between 1970 and 1980 by this guy. The library said they had it, but the library says a lot of things. I flipped through all the Codrescu they had. As far as I can tell he’s a Romanian with quite a history and a track record of being funny and influential. He works for NPR and has for a long time. Nothing looked appealing. I was about to walk away when I noticed A Craving for Swan. I think maybe it was misplaced or something, or otherwise I didn’t care to look at it when I was flipping through the other books. Anyway, I opened it up. It’s a book of short essays, most  less than two full pages, that Codrescu had read on NPR’s “All Things Considered” between 1983 and 1985. I opened to a random page and read one of the essays. I don’t remember what it was about or what it was like. Then I went to the first page. The essay started with something like “One day I found myself with a strong craving for swan” or something. I stopped reading and took the book with me.

Rain by Don Patterson
I mistakenly believed this book to be the talk of the town. A book titled Rain had been recommended to me by several people, but I was confused. The Rain I’d been recommended is by Jon Woodward. Andrew Weatherhead was kind enough to point that out to me an email just minutes after the initial publication of this post. With regard to this Rain, I can see that it looks short. I wonder if it’s funny, but I have to assume it is not. The library had a lot of other Don Patterson books, but I’ll have to look at this one first before I even attempt to venture back to that section. His name reminds me of this kid I used to play baseball with—Dave Lawler. No reason to give that too much thought though.

Pee On Water by Rachel B. Glaser
Funny, I used to play baseball with a kid named Dave Glaser too, but I remember more clearly playing basketball with him. We bought fake blood capsules with a kid named Doug the first time we hung out. Anyway, I saw Andrew Weatherhead reading this once. He said it was very funny and there is a story where it talks about the history of humanity and how when we became most highly evolved, we chose to pee on water. Seems funny. I guess this is a short story book then. I never looked inside it. I think Andrew mentioned basketball too, but that guy is always talking about basketball, so who knows. This is the only book I checked out written by a woman. I looked at The Stupefaction by Diane Williams, but after reading two stories I thought “I can write better than this” and put it back.

Arcade by Gordon Lish
This one is subtitled a novel about writing novels if I remember correctly. Well that sounds really good to me I guess. I don’t really know how to do that, nor do I care, but that Lish character is always fun to read. What else do I even say about this one. Arcade. Arcade Fire. Arcadia. Stadium Arcadium. All that stuff references this book supposedly. It will be interesting to sift through it all find the connections, grasp a deeper understanding of art and culture. I guess I plan to read this in a sitting, as with all Lish novels.

Self-Imitation of Myself by Gordon Lish
Read most of this copy about a year and a half ago, sometimes on the subway, once in the very park I planned to read in today. I guess I wanted to pick this up again due to the conversations I’ve had/heard about the differences between Lish’s original publications of stories versus the Collected Fictions released in 2010. I guess he did a lot of editing and I’d like to compare some stuff as far as that goes. Also isn’t it just easy to read a book when it’s not in a big book? I find reading collected oeuvres much more taxing and time consuming than all the individual books. But hey, I’m kind of a bitch.

Krupp’s Lulu by Gordon Lish
I know what you’re thinking: this guy again?!?!! I guess these stories are probably also, in some form, part of Collected Fictions, and maybe I read them, but I’m guessing I didn’t. So here we go again. Need I repeat myself? No more.


In either case, here’s the punch line of the whole thing: I never ended up even flipping through a single one of these books in the park. I had it on my mind to finish the book I was almost done with first, before tearing into the loans—the book being Michael Earl Craig’s Can You Relax in My House. But by the time I’d made it through, I had plans to go skateboarding with my buddy Miles in Williamsburg. And so that’s what I did. Here is what I’m proud of doing from that: kickflips, grinded such that sparks came off my trucks, 180 off curb thing.

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  1. barry graham

      the books are so so. why was the chaucer lecture so funny? 

  2. David Fishkind

      the lecture wasn’t funny ‘the miller’s prologue and tale’ is. i highly recommend it if you have an annotated edition of ‘the canterbury tales’ or are well-versed in middle english

  3. Anonymous

      He just means the Tale.

  4. barry graham

      ive read them too many times. my fav is the pardoners tale. i was just interested in the class discussion. 

  5. barry graham

      grammatically, “one” would refer to the lecture, but nonetheless, i got it now. 

  6. David Fishkind

      the lecture was, as many lectures are, dry

  7. Brian M

      I like you went skateboarding! Curious abt Gordon Lish. Seems people like him.

  8. David Fishkind

      here’s why: http://htmlgiant.com/behind-the-scenes/gordon-lish-explores-a-new-gimmick/

  9. Anonymous

      i enjoyed the bit re: flatulence in middle england, particularly queen elizabeth’s “greetings my lord, we have forgotten the fart”

  10. BppOperator

      but the library says a lot of things.

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