Friday, June 16, 2006

Books I've been Reading

Despite my crushing schedule -- and why this should be, I don't know: why is teaching two classes in summer school worse than teaching four or five classes in a winter term? Which is my usual load -- I generally teach five classes in the fall and four in the spring, and that's usually five preps and four preps and they ain't easy classes, either, those are usually things like Chaucer and Lit of Diverse Cultures and Vic Lit, things I actually have to work at, why is it teaching one section of Freshman comp to 14 students and a section of HEL to 17 so much more work in the summer and where was I?

Well, I know why: it's because summer sessions meet every day, each class two hours a day, so that's four hours in the classroom every day -- and then add three hours of office hours per day to that -- that's seven hours gone already, and I can't do prep work in the office, because students keep coming by wanting to know stuff (pesky students!) (just kidding! I am! I like it when students want to know stuff) so then once I get home, after seven hours at the job, I have at least three or four and sometimes five more hours of prep work to do, and on top of that I have been writing away at Book IV, which is nearly done, well, that's why, and where was I?

Oh, right. Despite all this, I've also been reading some. I think this is because the kid is off staying with her grandparents. And not missing me at all, by the way. I call her up each night, she barely has time to speak to me. She loves her grandparents, that child. They've been to the Aquarium, they go swimming, they take her traveling -- today they're in Opelika, next week Disneyworld.

"So what are you doing?" I asked her a few days ago.

"Oh...eating dinner."

"What are you having?"

"Pork chops and corn. Don't tell daddy!"

I snort, amused. "You're not a kosher Jew. You can eat what you like."

"What?" demanded mr. delagar. "What's she eating??"

"I told you not to tell him!" the kid wailed.

"Let me talk to her!"

I hand mr. delagar the phone.

"Hello, sweetie," he says. "I love you. I miss you. What are you doing?"

Not a word about the fracking pork chop. Ai.

Where were we?


I've been reading some excellent books lately.

(1) Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading, by Maureen Corrigan. A kind of a memoir, with books. Get it. Read it.

(2) She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. This one I picked up from the remaindered bin at Books-a-Million, where I never even look, because all the books there suck, but it's just excellent. It's that professor who had a sex change and I know, that's what I was thinking too, but it's totally not that book. It's so far from that book -- the righteous militant tract book you might be expecting -- I hardly know how to say how great this book is. I'm trying to find Boylan's other books, but they're not on Amazon. This one is. I need to go look on Powell's and Alibris.

(3) Red Harvest. Dashiell Hammett. I know, I know, I know. I'm lying in bed the other night reading bits of this aloud to mr. delagar and he gives me this incredulous look. "Are you kidding me?" he says. "No, this is great," I say. "Listen to this bit." "You've never read Dashiell Hammett?" Well, what can I say? I was educated in Louisiana. Y'all are lucky I've read anything at all. The Maltese Falcon is also great, by the way. I finished it last night. I hear that Shakespeare fella wrote some real corkers too.

(4) The Great Deluge. Douglas Brinkley. About Katrina. It's getting mixed reviews by folks who were there, but I'm enjoying it a lot. Readable and it seems to me to be doing a good job of laying out what happened. I'm only about a third of the way into it, though, so maybe it gets worse later. He's a professor at Tulane, Brinkley, and lives in the city.

(5) Girl in Landscape, Jonathan Lethem. I just picked this one up yesterday, off a recommendation by White Bear ( -- but I'm halfway through it already. SF, odd, interesting. Go read this one too.

So what are y'all reading these days?


A White Bear said...

Oh, do let me know what you think of Girl in Landscape when you're done with it! I spent a few weeks in a summer during college eating up all of Lethem's SF novels, which I like a great deal better than his later memoiry stuff. If you're into noir-y stuff, also check out Lethem's SF-noir novel Gun, with Occasional Music. In all of them, he's really great with imagining other ways of using English (like the Archbuilder's names and speech). So glad you're liking it!

Diane said...

I, too, was educated in Louisiana, and I guess things were different then because I had an outstanding public school education. With lots of books. Aside from the sexism that was standard then (as it is now, in all schools), it was a really good experience. College, too.

Mouse said...

I have a book for you to read; it's called the Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold by Kate Bernheimer. Lots of "motifs of traditinal German, Russian, and Yiddish folklore and fairy stories." So the back says, but I don't know much about such stuff, but anyways, it's wild; you'll like it cause it's insane, jumpy, nuerotic, obessive; it makes you uncomfortable, but you can't not read it. It's good. I like it.