Puff Chrissy’s Shelf Porn: Part 2

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Shelf 2

And here we are at another shelf.

Starting from the left is the entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King. This edition of the series has turned into my study copies for my PhD work. I expect that by the time I’m done, I’ll be buying a new set that won’t be highlighted and scribbled in beyond recognition.

I picked up William Landay’s Mission Flats on a whim from a bookstore in Greece. I was leaving Athens the next day and I was in need of something to read for the trip home. I’m not sure what it was that attracted my attention, but I’m certainly glad I did. Mission Flats turned out to be an interesting mystery with a twist I didn’t see coming. I need to see what else Landay has written.

There is my mandatory copy of Hans Bertens’ Literary Theory (the Basics).

Masters of the Macabre is a nice little book on the subject. For the life of me, I have nothing really to say about it.

Back in 1988, my eighth grade art teacher gave me a copy of Life in the Land of the Living. Daniel Vilmure, it turned out, was her brother. I know I started reading it then, but I never finished it. About two years ago, I was visiting my favorite bookstore Massolit Books in Krakow and I saw a used copy on their shelf. I picked it up, but then remembered that I had a copy in my library in the States. The following summer when my parents visited, they brought a copy of this book with 50 pounds of other books in a suitcase (damn you, airline restrictions!). Anyway, long story short, 20 years later, I finally read the whole thing. And it was excellent. Speaking of, Judy Vilmure, if you’re reading this, drop me a line.

The Creators by Daniel B. Boorstin is a really cool book. I picked this one up when I was in university and remember eating it up like pancakes. I should give it another look sometime soon.

And so begins my Hunter S. Thompson collection. You’ll notice that the books aren’t organized by author, but rather by size. I know this’ll probably drive a lot of people insane. We start with The Rum Diary and The Great Shark Hunt. While I like small details about The Rum Diary, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the book. I can see Thompson’s influences pretty clearly, and it reads a lot like a first novel written by someone too young to know what to do with the themes. The Great Shark Hunt, on the other hand, represents all of things that made Thompson so monstrously beautiful when he was at the top of his game.

I love Henry Miller. I went through a phase in university where I couldn’t get enough of him and I’m not sure if I’m over it. Though, to be honest, I prefer him in small doses. I spent last year listening to interviews with him on my iPod and once I got past his Brooklyn accent, I loved what he had to say. It’s just that, once you submerge yourself in his work, you can’t help but wonder if you’re living up to your own potential. Under the Roofs of Paris isn’t his best, but there’s plenty to like. Tropic of Cancer is a classic for a reason and I still appreciate it. Tropic of Capricorn is one of his books I don’t think enough people talk about, and though it’s not as good as Cancer, it’s still a cool package.

And back to Thompson. Hell’s Angels is a fantastic bit of journalism. I came in late with Thompson and worked my way backwards, so by the time I got to Hell’s Angels, I was thrown off by how non-Gonzo it is. For the most part, it’s fairly standard journalism, but you can see the spice that’ll overwhelm his later work here and there. Hell’s Angels is a great read and still surprisingly relevant. And, of course, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the book that defined Thompson, for good or for bad. This copy has been around the block a few times, and I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read it. This book is the only book that I can recite the entire first page by memory. Song of the Doomed is good, but not great. That said, there are passages that are pretty amazing, but in general, what you’re seeing in this book is the beginning of Thompson’s loss of faith.

David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day is a good book made brilliant by including the short piece “Can’t Kill the Rooster”. That story never fails to make me laugh and break my heart.

Coming of Age in American is a book I’ve only read one or two parts from.

The Balcony by Jean Genet is something I read for one of Professor Anthony Kubiak’s classes at USF (who appears be at UC now) back in the day. Out of all of my teachers, Kubiak is the one I remember the most, and the one I aspire to be like as a teacher.

I read Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as a way to get a different perspective of what Thompson was doing. I had a lot of fun reading this book, and flipping through it, I went crazy with the highlighter. That said, I’m not sure if I’d ever revisit this one.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is excellent. It’s hard to believe that they originally published this without the last chapter in the States. Man, what a difference a chapter can make.

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, The Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans in one book. I love the idea of Kerouac, but his work leaves me so cold.

I like to describe Jonathan Frazen’s The Corrections as a Lake Wobegon story with antidepressants. I’m not trying to be dismissive. It’s an amazing book. I ignored it because Oprah had tried to pick it for her book club (I’m not a snob, really), and I regretted having waited for so long to finally read it.

Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy is something I read back in 2002. I can tell you where I was when I was reading it (South Tampa) and what I was doing (writing at Starbucks between reads), but I can’t tell you what the book is about. How sad is that?

I consider The Uncollected Works of Oscar “Zeta” Acosta to be a part of my Thompson library. I read this as another way to see Thompson from a different angle. Fascinating stuff, and a wonderful way to remove some of the mythology surrounding Thompson’s insane attorney from Fear and Loathing.

And last, but certainly not least, it’s my original first print copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, a little gem I picked up at a used bookstore outside of Philadelphia for $7. I do believe this to be one of the great American novels.

Okay. There it is.

See you next Friday for more Shelf Porn.


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