Currently Reading

Reading List: 2023

This is every book I read to compleition in 2023, and every significant book read to semi-completion. Incompleted or worthless books, and textbook materials, are not included.

  1. "A Raisin in the Sun", Lorraine Hansberry.

    Rereading; read five years ago for a high school class. Really phenemonal, and a lot better than what I can remember. I don't feel as if I have anything valuable to say on it yet - I need to sort my thoughts out. I will be looking for recordings of performances. Reread: March. 5/5. 125pgs.

  2. "The Invisibility Cloak", Ge Fei, tr. Canaan Morse.

    A really great novella. At the beginning, it seems derivative of a Murakami story, but the prose is a little better and thematically it's a lot more interesting. I feel a little cheesed by the ending, and because of the general slipperyness of the novel I wonder if there's something I'm missing. But maybe we can just read the surface of things, like the narrator says, and be content. You can read the story in two hours but it's worthwhile to savor - I will probably reread this sometime. Read: march. 5/5 125pgs

  3. "Anecdotes", Heinrich von Kleist, tr. Matthew Spencer

    A great two hours of reading. This was my introduction to the author and I was surprised so many of the jokes of 200 years ago are still fresh. The war and ghost stories are a little less compelling; but they do impress the originality and possibility of the new tabloid format. My favorite story is Herr Unzelmann's. Read: March. 4/5 100pgs

  4. "Subversive Geneologies", Michael Paul Rogin

    Peculiar piece of literary criticism. The style of exposition is very roundabout, and it feels like a series of essays more than a coherent, single book. Issues of repetition. However, the research is high-grade, and much of the commentary on the political and literary scenes was very interesting to me. Unfortunately Rogin never really makes a compelling reason why finding the "geneological" origins of one of Melville's ideas, characters, and situations helps illustrate something novel about them, so the book is fundamentally a little weak. At best these seem like tidbits which help make sense of some of the more obscure symbology (e.g., buttons are Melville's code for dandyish impotence). Did not completely read: March. 3/5 225/325pgs

  5. "Mariners, Renegades, Castaways", CLR James.

    A very interesting book. The first part is like a compass which sets everything in Moby Dick in order, making it tangible and even more powerful. I would highly recommend reading these first three chapters to anyone who wants to read the novel. The other parts are stranger. For one, James doesn't understand homosexuality. I won't comment on his ideas about psychoanalysis because I have never touched those ideas myself and am not particularly interested in them for the time being. This misunderstanding of sexuality in the novel does I think seriously hinder his analysis of this aspect of the book. He is content to say that all that queer business is something particular about the diseased bourgeous, or that simple sailors only get up to it because there's no girls around. Next, the virulent avowed anti-communist sentiment is very peculiar. It becomes a little clearer when you learn that he wrote the book while imprisoned and up for deportation, and had a copy sent to every U.S. senator. The stories about the communists in Ellis Island feel like an inside joke, but I wonder if the stance compromises the analysis. Read: February. 4/5. 200pgs

  6. "Moby Dick", Herman Melville (reread)

    So much more solemn and sad this time around. And all the humorous tidbits of the beginning strike more laughter into me, but the ending really is woeful. Ahab seems much more mad and less enchanting this time: I see into it a little better. You should begin reading this book immediately, but just enjoy it, don't worry about not understanding it. Every page is something to laugh at; the serious ones are just a set-up. For some reason, this line sticks with me, Ahab's: "they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Starbuck, and the mowers are sleeping among the new-mown hay." That juxtaposition between the serenity, peaceful, existence there and the quiet death-metaphor which intrudes on it is so striking. That death should be so mild. Re-read: February. 5/5 625pgs

  7. "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", Paulo Friere, tr. Myra Bergman Ramos.

    A fine text, and recommended to me very highly. I wish I had read it earlier, and was a little sad to read it later, because by now the messages of the book seem just a little superficial; but of course I think he is mostly correct, and we should do our best to internalize that common thread: as revolutionaries we will not raise ourselves up above the people we hope to "save"; instead, we need to become as them and participate alongside them in the general process of reflecting upon and transforming our shared world. Read: January. 4/5. 200pgs

Reading List: 2022

This is every book I read to completion in 2022, and every significant book read to semi-completion. Incompleted and worthless books not included.

  1. "Oxherding Tale", Andrew R Johnson

    A very good book, I thought. A kind of Buddhist-Marxist fables for the American South. Excellent humor. I think it might have neglected its female characters sometimes, but I think it still stands on its own. I would have loved to have read this at age 16. Read: November. 5/5

  2. "Yotsuba&!" Volumes 1-3, Kiyohiko Azuma, tr. ???

    Very very fun. Will finish later. Forgot when I read these.

  3. "The Book of Unknown Americans", Christina Henriquez

    A very mediocre middle-school level novel I was inexplicable assigned for a course. Basically ok, lukewarm and politically uninspired. Without any daring. Read: October. 2/5

  4. "So Far From God", Ana Castillo

    An incredible novel, one of the best I have read all year. Reading for a class so a more insightful notes-document and review coming out, after I finish writing an essay on it. Read: October. 5/5

  5. "Invisible Cities", Italo Calvino, tr William Weaver.

    I am very sorry Marly, I didn't find it half as interesting or delightful as you did. There are a few gems among the fragments; my favorite is the dialogue scene at the very end of the 8th chapter (page 131). Read: October. 3/5

  6. "The Rain God", Islas Arturo.

    Read for a class. Was slightly slippery at first but very, very beautiful. Deserving of a painstaking re-read. Notes on this book were not as extensive as the notes on the previous (beginning of the semester excitement) but they should have been. Perhaps not as dynamic because it is just smoother - less pores to poke around in. Still, very beautiful. Read: September. 4/5.

  7. "The Revolt of the Cockroach People", Oscar Zeta Acosta.

    Read for a class. Began in a very promising way and sort of loses its spark as the novel progresses. Basically is a big joke and isn't very good as "literature", but isn't as crude as it appears to be. The historical account is worthwhile. Stylistically basically a loss at the end. Boomer literature. Read: September. 3/5

  8. "If on a winter's night a traveler", Italo Calvino, tr. William Weaver.

    Lauded. I enjoyed very much the first few sections and became less and less enamored as the novel bore on. The ending - the "marriage" of the two readers and the rebirth of the literary cycle, first struck me as very happy and I was able to forgive the deterioration in interest. Now I am not so sure. For some reason calls for a re-read, but will probably not recieve it. Read: July. 3/5.

  9. "Carnival", Wilson Harris.

    Very interesting and I read it much too quickly; but I did learn that he is a very good author who I want to lavish more time on. The heraclitan streak is very interesting. The tripartite temporal scheme (early childhood memories - two men discussing these memories - the one friend, dead, returning in dreams to revisit the visitation) is excellent and bewildering. Read: July. 4/5.

  10. "The Lonesome Bodybuilder", Yukiko Motoya, tr. Asa Yoneda

    Interesting, but not much more. I did not find any poignant or biting ideas of gender here, as was advertised. I know that there is something much more interesting to say about bodybuilding women than what this here has. At the same time, by no means a waste of time. Read: May. 2/5

  11. "Hopscotch", Julio Cortazar, tr. Gregory Rabassa.

    Rereading after a failed attempt in high school, sometime. Worse than I remembered. Pathetic that it is a "classic". Did not like it. Basically uninteresting, content and form. Did not read the "expanded" chapters, do not plan on doing so. Read: May. 3/5.

  12. "Peach Blossom Paradise", Ge Fei, tr. Canaan Morse.

    Difficult. Very beautiful and I do not have the proper words for it. You should read it. I will read it again, and buy my own copy probably. Read: April. 5/5

  13. "My Antonia", Willa Cather.

    Rereading this from sophomore year high school. Better than I remembered. If I was stupider I would say it was tacky. Cather has beautiful understanding of the mind of a young man and the story all-in-all is very good. Read: April. 4/5

  14. "2666", Roberto Bolano, tr. Natash Wimmer.

    Rereading this, first read sometime during sophomore or junior year of high school. Read in completion this time. Deserving of every praise. Should have kept better notes, or at least bookmarked my favorite passages. On the other hand, I will in no way regret another re-read. So perhaps nothing lost. Read: March. 5/5

  15. "Echo Tree: The collected short fiction of Henry Dumas", Henry Dumas.

    A spectacular collection. Some of the bibliographic information made it into its own post. Deserving of further study. Very funny and very sensative in some parts. Intersting mythological-folkloric background. Read February. 5/5

  16. "Money and the Early Greek Mind", Richard Seaford.

    A philosophic and anthropoligical dissapointment. Interesting at a few points, maybe, but seems basically specious and unsound. Recasts the famous Sohn-Rethel argument in an "empircal" way but basically fails. Whatever. Incomplete, read February. 2/5

  17. "The Emissary", Yōko Tawada, tr. Margaret Mitsutani.

    A very nice novella, humorous, sensative, and cute. The translation-writing method seems interesting - Tawada apparently wrote it simulataneously in Japanese and German. "Memoirs of a Polar Bear" deserving of reading, according to Meir. There seem to be some pretty stupid ideas about gender simmering under the surface (author has some kind of neurosis about transgender people). Ending is a delight. Read January 3/5

  18. "The Hundred Years War in Palestine", Rhasid Khalidi.

    A quality partisan history of the beginning of the occupation up until the late 2010s. Read in part of a large study group: not in the best of depth. Needed to have taken notes on this and I didn't. Read January. 4/5

To-Read List

These are books I believe I will read soon, presented approximately in order of when I think I will read them.

  1. "Rabelais and his World", Mikhail Bakhtin, tr. Helene Iswolsky
  2. "Black Reconstruction", W.E.B. Du Bois
  3. "Arab Marxism and National Liberation" (selected writings), Mahdi Amel, ed. Hicham Safiedinne, tr Angela Giordani
  4. "On Zionist Literature" Ghassan Kanafani, tr. Mahmoud Najib
  5. "The New Cambridge History of Islam", vol.1
  6. "On Ethics and History", Zhang Xuecheng, ed/tr Philip Ivanhoe
  7. "Emptiness and Omnipresence", Brook Ziporyn
  8. "The Waves", Virginia Woolf