Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Book Hunter's Christmas Part II: Attack of the Zombies

Jyg mentioned that my gift was a two parter, much like the one I got her. The second part of the gift, however, wasn't given to me on Christmas Eve like the purple flannel shirt was (also seen in the photo above). The second one was way cooler - mostly because I love zombies.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! has been an entry in my Amazon Wishlist since I "liked" the Facebook page. And now Jyg, the best girlfriend ever, has added it to my collection. What a joyous occasion that was.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Book Hunter's Christmas

I'm not a big Christmas fan. What I mean is, I'm not a big fan of the Christian concept of Christmas. That whole reason for the season crap. Not a big fan of it. But I come from a Catholic family and so I put up a front. Most of my family still thinks me as Catholic and I've more than once told them that I am not. Either way, I celebrate Christmas with them because it's the only time you get us together.

Now there's a misconception of book hunters. We love books and everyone expects us to want books for Christmas. This is true, but we also love other things. I got a new computer from my mother and a purple flannel shirt from Jyg. That's right, I said purple! (Love it, by the way.) I also didn't give books away for Christmas. Well, save one. I got Jyg a copy of Freud's letters.

The day before Christmas Eve, I went into a panic, realizing I didn't get my mother a single damn thing. I wasn't much in the holly jolly spirits this year because of the death of my old computer. Either way, I went on over to Hastings and snatched up a copy of To Wong Foo, on of her favorite movies starring the late great Patrick Swayze.

While there, I stumbled upon a copy of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. How could I resist? The book was only $5.49 used. It looked unread as well.

Also, while there, I saw my friend JD who was having some problems looking for Russell Brand's book. Well, ladies and gentlemen, if all goes well. I have a new book to hunt for the New Year.

Happy Holidays from the Book Hunter.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Do Nothing But Read Day

So I heard about this blog called Do Nothing But Read Day - set to take place this coming Sunday (20 December) - and I got to wonder how this would differ from any of my regular days. It won't, with the small exception that I probably won't be blogging about it.

I'm not mocking it, by the way. I know my tone can get to the point that I sound like I am. It's a great idea and I'll do my best to have others follow along. Just be sure to mark your calendars and don't forget! I'm putting it in my schedule the moment I hit Publish Post. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A book hunt comes to an end

The book hunt for Interview with the Vampire comes to an end. Mike Marino, who runs Bargain Book Store (located inside Georgia's Thrift Shop, 1305 W. Pecan, McAllen, TX), e-mailed me yesterday to tell me the book had arrived. It's a book I've been anticipating for quite some time.

Like all visits to any thrift bookstore, I leave with more than expected. Thankfully, they're all cheap. Along with the mass printing of Interview, I bought first printings of In The Flesh by Clive Barker,  Misery and Pet Sematary by Stephen King. The total price came out to be only $4.33.

In other news, I've been working on a how-to guide of hunting for books. It's pretty basic, filled with common sense, but I thought it might be useful to some of you.

Order by 12/20 to receive FREE shipping in time for Christmas!  See site for details.
Order by 12/20 to receive FREE shipping in time for Christmas! See site for details.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I've fallen in love with Sony Reader

Forgive Me For I Have Sinned

 A few weeks ago, I hung out with Jerry and Esmer (the half of Jyg and my Friday nights). We weren't going anywhere in particular, but we did land ourselves at two different bookstores (Hastings and Barnes & Noble) and two different Best Buys, Targets and a Wendy's. It was at the first Target where I saw the Sony Reader and its less costly pocket edition.

For quite sometime, I've taken a stand against electronic book readers such as Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook because I love holding the hard copy in my hand, being able to flip back to a previous page, make notes (on sticky notes) and basically tear the book apart (in the less literal sense). I was asked by a creative writing professor what I thought of the future of the printed word. My answer was plain: "Books are never going to go away."

To this day, I still see that the printed word is better than the animated one. Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto, wrote a book about the effects that technology has on us. The irony of this, of course, that its avaible in Kindle edition and Nook edition. But there is something special about the Sony Reader that I loved. And it's hard to explain what, though. Is it all the public domain books I can read? The fact that I can store up to 350 books? I really don't know and will probably never understand. In the meanwhile, however, I'm going to stick to hard copies and shelves.

Il Decameron/ The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

I stumbled upon this the other day while cleaning one of my many bookshelves. I don't know where I got it, or when, but I own it. First off, I know I didn't spend money on it because I wouldn't buy something I couldn't read, despite its novelty (which is strange, because I'm more than willing to buy something that I wouldn't read). Published in 1953, Il Decameron contains a introduction by Vincenzo Pernicone along with footnotes in the text. It's also much slimmer than my English copy of The Decameron, I book I was lent but never return - I doubt that its original owner even knows I still have it.

Because of its condition, I'm afraid this Italian printing of the book will once again find a place on my bookshelf, along with all the other books I cannot read - I have a German copy of a Simone de Beauvoir book - don't ask me which one, because I've misplaced somewhere in the study.

Don't forget to pick up your favorite copies of classic and contemporary literature, the perfect gift for the holiday season. Check out Abe Books store and save!

Returning Hitler's Art Book

Via Yahoo News:

DALLAS – After fighting his way across Europe during World War II, John Pistone was among the U.S. soldiers who entered Adolf Hitler's home nestled in the Bavarian Alps as the war came to a close.

Making his way through the Berghof, Hitler's home near Berchtesgaden, Germany, Pistone noticed a table with shelves underneath. Exhilarated by the certainty of victory over the Nazis, Pistone took an album filled with photographs of paintings as a souvenir.

"It was really a great feeling to be there and we knew, by that time, he was on his last leg," Pistone told The Associated Press.

Sixty-four years after Pistone brought the album home to Ohio, the 87-year-old has learned its full significance: It's part of a series compiled for Hitler featuring art he wanted for his "Fuhrermuseum," a planned museum in Linz, Austria, Hitler's hometown. (Read More)

 I think, to be honest, because I'm a book hunter, I wouldn't have been able to return it. That's just me, though.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"A worried man with a worried mind"

I've only read two books by Michael Chabon,  have only owned two and only one that I read yearly now, since 2007. The first book I picked up by the author was Wonder Boys, the book from which one of my favorite movies was adapted. (Side note: The film introduced me to Robert Downey, Jr. in a light I had never been able to see him in, becoming the first movie with the actor that I deeply enjoyed.) The second book I read was The Mysteries of Pittsburgh which has since been adapted into a movie of its own. The unread book, sitting upon on my shelf, is The Final Solution.

Because I've only read two books by the man, it's a long shot for me to say this, but I believe it anyway - Michael Chabon is quite possibly one of the greatest writers alive. Every time I pick up nearly dog-earred copy of Wonder Boys and turn to the first page, first sentence - "The first real writer I ever knew was a man who did all of his work under the name of August Van Zorn." - I am quickly sucked into the novel, no questions asked. There's something about the way he works his words in it, the way he breathes Grady Tripp alive, limping through life with James Leer and Terry Crabtree. These are people I want to know, want to be around with, despite the high levels of self destruction that may come in toll.

There's a lingering theme with the two books I read, however. Homosexuality is present in both Wonder Boys and Mysteries; however, in the latter it's an element of the plot. While Grady Tripp isn't gay, he's editor and long time friend, Terry Crabtree, is. When meeting him at the airport, Grady Tripp narrates, "He reached up with both arms to embrace me and I held on to him for an extra second or two, tightly, trying to determine from the soundness of his ribs whether he loved me still." Later, he states that all male friendships are quixotic in nature.

As with most books, I turn the page to examine my life through the narrator's or central character's. Here is a man who wakes up to see his wife has left, learns that his closest friend's career is hanging by a string (and is entirely his fault), feels like he's accomplished nothing in the last seven years, is jealous of the blooming relationship between his student and his editor, lusts after the female student living in his basement and learns that his mistress is pregnant with what would be their only child. Because I am nothing like Grady Tripp, I have to read between the lines of his three-day trek into a brave new world, a brave new Tripp. In the end, it's uncertainty for him. Uncertain that his wife, Emily, will return to him. Uncertain if his friendship with Crabtree will be there on Monday. Uncertain that he's half the writer he used to be. Uncertain if he wants to start a relationship with Sara and be the father to their love child. And it's the central uncertain theme is what brings me back to the book every year to coax me out the door and brave the world.

And in some ways, Grady Tripp reminds me of David Kepesh in the movie Elegy:
I think it was Bette Davis who said old age is not for sissies. But it was Tolstoy who said the biggest surprise in a man’s life is old age. Old age sneaks up on you, and the next thing you know you’re asking yourself, I’m asking myself, why can’t an old man act his real age? How is it possible for me to still be involved in the carnal aspects of the human comedy? Because, in my head, nothing has changed.
With Tripp, his third marriage ended the same way his first two. A continuing pattern of infedility is what leaves him standing in the rain, pondering, while Sara offers him the ride after his entire life has sailed down the gutter. In the end, after he only has that Lovecraftian (August Van Zornian?) tuba beside him, he must ponder if there will be more.

"Things Have Changed" by Bob Dylan from the Wonder Boys Soundtrack

Photo sources:
Photo Three

Order by 12/20 to receive FREE shipping in time for Christmas!  See site for details.
Be sure to order by 12/20 to receive FREE shipping in time for Christmas! See site for details.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hot for Teacher

Desiring The Professor of Desire

I started my love affair with David Kepesh when I first read a criticism piece by John Gardner - a entitled The Breast after the novel it was on. Never before had I heard of Philip Roth - I must've been a sophomore in college and still toting around genre books as if they were the most literary thing I've ever seen. I was interested in becoming a writer myself and picked up a copy of Gardner's On Writers & Writing by mistake, thinking it was something about teaching me to be a better writer (in a sense, I suppose, it was).

I had only read the Kafka's short story, The Metamorphosis, solely because I had to - like I said, I was younger then. I never before read something like that before and thought that I would never see or hear of anything similar again. Imagine my surprise when I picked up that Gardner piece and read that some guy named Philip Roth had written something in the same vein, only the dude had woke up, not a giant grotesque bug but a giant breast!

I bought The Breast for only eleven cents on Amazon (obviously, not including shipping) and lost myself in the banal life of David Allen Kepesh and how he one day woke up to being a breast. About a year later, I decided to give Roth another chance and picked up The Dying Animal and found myself, once again, reading about David Kepesh. Looking through the also by Philip Roth page, I found that there were three and I had purchased the last one - according to the list - so I set off to buy The Professor of Desire.

Years past since I last ventured into the world of Professor Kepesh - though I had watched Elegy, the adaptation of the novel The Dying Animal - before I picked up The Professor of Desire. I had my attempts in the past with reading the book, but nothing came out of it. I just returned into the shelf it lived for the past years. Just last week, however, I decided that the season was right and I was in the mood for a little desire of my own. I quickly got myself into it, losing myself in Roth's magic.

The man is a genius. How he manages on creating such "banal" characters who have more than banal lives is beyond me. In the novel, Kepesh returns to his childhood, mapping his sexual origins from a crude Herbie Bratasky to a wild and crazy gal in Europe to his estranged wife and finally landing on the possible love of his live, Claire. It's a semi-different Kepesh from Animal and Breast. Nevertheless, he still has the same fears, the same desires and the same thoughts streaming through his mind.

However, it makes sense that he seems more down to earth in the sexual world in his latter days in the novel, simply because these are possibly pre-The Breast memories and narration and obviously pre-The Dying Animal Kepesh. Nevertheless, it's still an enjoyable read, worth of more praise that I am giving it, but this laptop I'm on isn't letting me express myself further - it's a loaner.

Order by 12/20 to receive FREE shipping in time for Christmas!  See site for details.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let Direct TV make your holiday season right

It's that time of the year again, when cable companies want to take more out of your pocket and give you less programming. Is that fair? Of course not! But nothing's fair when it comes to cable TV. Never, fear, however. I have just the site for you that promises better direct satellite TV for the holiday season.

Unlike cable, Direct TV promises you lower prices for better packages. Offering a wide range of channels for movie goers, sport fans, international channels and even local ones for no additional costs. And start just under $30 a month, with three months free of two fabulous premimum channels.

Be sure not to miss a second of your favorite shows, sports and movies this holiday season, as satellite Directv offers the best in DVRs. Better yet, get into the action with the best HD channels money can buy.

Leave the Grinch of a cable providers behind and get yourself Direct TV satellite.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Book Hunter is rejected.

I've been rejected by WaterBrook Multnomah books - apparently a subdivision of Random House. Guessing from the valediction there, a religious subdivision. I contacted them after reading an advertisement on Facebook - poke fun at me later - and I wasn't really anticipating acceptance, but I had hoped. One can hope, right?

Meh, who cares. Reviews aren't really my thing. I'm a book hunter. I'll fall back on my feet sooner or later. I'm probably better off without them. Toodles, WaterBrook Multnomah! Hopefully, you find some believer willing enough to five-star you religious smut.

No. I'm not bitter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Your Bargain Book Store Hunt

Hunt: 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King & Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Partner: Meester Binx
Location: Your Bargain Book Store (inside Georgia's Thrift Stop) 1305 W. Pecan, McAllen, TX
Success rate: 1/2 - though I did manage to buy four other books
Cost: $3.50 (before tax)

My failure to find the other two books in last week hunt left me a little down. So I got around to thinking, I know a guy who owns a used book store so why not contact him to see if he had them. I contacted Mike, owner of Your Bargain Book Store which is located inside Georgia's Thrift Shop, and asked if he had 'Salem's Lot and Interview of the Vampire and got the answer I wanted to hear - Yes. I called Meester Binx and headed out there on the mission.

I've never been to Georgia's before, so the whole set up was sort of shocking. They have a little bit of everything. I snaked my way to the back where Mike's book corner was. It was a little slice of heaven. Not more books than Books -n- Things, but a much better selection - classical & contemporary literature, Chicano studies, tons of Stephen King, poetry and erotica.

He had 'Salem's Lot in stock, but no sign of Interview with the Vampire - and if he had it, it was in hardback and I wasn't willing to buy hardback because I don't know if I'd like the book. Along side, 'Salem's Lot, I picked up a copy of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (recommended by a friend) and Brian Keene's The Rising. Contemporary literature had two gems for only a dollar each - The Human Stain by Philip Roth - one of my favorite authors who still breathes - and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - a book recommended by my former creative writing professor & author, Rene Saldana, Jr.

Mike said that tomorrow is when he's there restocking his inventory. I might make an appearance then to check out what he put up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Required Reading: Why Glenn Beck's an asshole & why America loves him

I cringe every time I turn the channel to Fox News. More so when Glenn Beck's on. The former drug fiend, alcoholic turned Mormon conservative talkshow host is just what America doesn't need. He talks about being the voice of the common man, but there's nothing common about Glenn Beck. He's not down to our level. He's an asshole. Yet, no matter how much I hate him - how many holes I can find in his arguments and statements - no matter how angry I get watching his program, I can't seem to tear myself away from watching it. I don't do this every day. Hell, I don't even do this every week, or every other week. It's all by chance. The moment I see his shit-eater's smile, my focus just sticks to him and his lies. Is it possible to say his lies are more absurd than Sean Hannity's? His radicalism fundalmentalism does exheed that of his Catholic counterpart. It sickens me that people like Beck would rather watch this once great country fall apart than to support a plan that might save it because it sounds too socialist. The very people who call themselves patriots might just be the downfall of their beloved country, their beloved illusions.

In December's Playboy, Thomas Frank takes a gander at Glenn Beck's holy war and what exactly might be going on in that insane mind of his:

Beck’s books are boring stuff. If you’ve read much conservative literature, you’ve heard it all before. Beck reproduces standard-issue conservative talking points, bemoaning crazy lawsuits or the 1992 House banking scandal in precisely the same way you have seen crazy lawsuits or the House banking scandal bemoaned a dozen times already. He is given to preposterous numerology, reminding us how patriotic we all felt on September 12, 2001 and then insisting that 9/12 actually stands for “Nine Principles” and “12 Values,” the latter of which turn out to be a virtue list in the manner of the Boy Scout law. All of which might lead a fan to conclude it was lucky the 9/11 terrorists attacked when they did instead of, say, February 24, because then they wouldn’t have affirmed our nation’s timeless principles and values. (via)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Snapshot #2

For the last month or so, I've been irked by one commercial on TV: The Levi's jeans Go Forth campaign. I'm sure you've seen them, and, if you're a book lover (or an English major), I bet you recognized the style right off the bat. Who else in our literature history has written in such a style that provokes such a grand majesty of a country once beloved by so many?

Wait, is that Walt Whitman being read to endorse jeans? Has consumerism hit a whole new low by exploiting a poet of the common man? Is that why I'm viewing poems like "America" and "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" juxaposed with models posing as carefree teenagers in love, the ghetto and children of this country? And does the target audience even know that these are poems by Whitman and not just advertisment clutter when they waltz into their department stores and have Mom and Dad dish out the cash for jeans too expensive to buy?

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair'd in the adamant of Time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Playboy features excerpt of a great novelist's final work

The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov:

For 32 years the heirs of Vladimir Nabokov safeguarded the literary giant’s last novel in a vault in Switzerland while they wrestled with his request to destroy the unfinished manuscript. The decision was ultimately left to son Dmitri and deferred till now: This month Alfred A. Knopf will publish The Original of Laura (or Dying Is Fun), an event for readers the world over. Playboy is proud to publish an exclusive excerpt and introduce another of Nabokov’s mystifying and mythic heroines, Flora, the subject of a novel within the novel.

[Flora’s] husband…was a writer… —at least, after a fashion. Fat men beat their wives, it is said, and he certainly looked fierce, when he caught her riffling through his papers. He pretended to slam down a marble paperweight and crush this weak little hand (displaying the little hand in febrile motion). (via)

It took an English professor to tell me I read Lolita wrong the first time. Without so much of explaining to me what I should be looking for when reading it, he turned me away and told me to come back when I read it right. So I did. I sat down a few years after first reading it, grabbed a cup of tea and cracked open the cover again. After that, there was no turning back. In fact, the novel became my go to, my beacon when hitting a block while writing. It's the what-would-Nabokov-do effect.

I have four copies of the book lying around in the house upon different shelves. I'm aware of how creepy that may sound to a few of you who only judged the novel by its content, rather than read it. But it was the book that introduced me to Nabokov's style of writing, and what set the foundation of what I want to write about the world. But don't get me wrong. I'm not attempting in anyway to style my prose in the mannerisms of a great novelist. No, I'm simply using him as a mentor, posthumously.

So when it was announced that Dimitri Nabokov was actually pushing forth with his father's final work, I got the shivers. First came the excitement, then came the fear: I've read incomplete works before (Hemingway, comes to mind) and they're either hit or miss (though I did love Hemingway's, even though it was frowned on by academia - shhh I won't tell if you don't).

Only time will tell if we love or hate the final work by Nabokov. Luckily, you can preview the book in the pages of Playboy (on newsstands now). You can ever get a little peek at porn-turned-mainstream star, Sasha Grey tapping into her inner Lolita.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Three book hunt

Hunt: Search for Night Shift & 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Partner: Solo
Location: Books -n- Things, McAllen, TX
Success: 1/3
Cost: $2.14

It was almost a success rate of zero because the bugger blended with the cracked spines of the other novels. Sheer luck, however. Found it. Sadly the other two weren't anywhere to be found. I'm thinking contacting another used book dealer - one I know personally - and seeing if he can get me the two books I seek. Problem is, I don't know how he goes about pricing.

I started reading this book at Hastings the other day - the short story "Children of the Corn," which inspired the movie, a shitload of sequels and a 2009 remake - but didn't get to finish the story because I have a very short attention span in a bookstore. I do remember seeing a used copy at Books -n- Things so I decided to hold off on purchasing it.

I'll probably not read all the stories (or I might, who knows) because it was "Children of the Corn" that was I was most interested in. There are other stories in here that were later adapted into films - "The Lawnmower Man" was turned into a movie with the same title, even though Stephen King was not involved, and the stories "Quitters, Inc" and "The Ledge" went off to form the film Cat's Eye.

But really, who knows. My entire outlook on him has changed significantly. However, I'm still reading Cell and it just might shift back into my old opinion.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brian Keene Takes Zombie vs. Shark to a Whole New Level

We've all seen the notorious scene from Zombi 2 (or Zombie, depending on which side of the ocean you're from), where the zombie fights the shark. Hell, I think it was a meme not to long ago; it surely has garnered some cult fanaticism as I've heard, seen or read about in several place. And I'm sure that Brian Keen had it in mind when he penned his novel, Dead Sea. Not saying he stole the scene - there isn't really a scene in his novel that involves a zombie and a shark outside of the narrator's imagination - but surely, he must've chuckled at the idea of throwing it in there, even if it's just a thought.

But Dead Sea is no laughing matter. Having a key interest in the current end-of-the-world fanaticism of the age, I picked up the horror novel to inspire my own writings. What I got instead was a wonderful read, something I wasn't expecting the first time I skimmed the pages. Being the second novel I've read about zombies - the first being World War Z by Max Brooks - I wasn't anticipating greatness (even though I went into World War Z with great expectations and walked out just the same).

Keene's novel records the tale of Lamar Reed, a gay, black man from Fells Point (can we say three strikes against the narrator in the real world?) who finds himself down on his luck before Hamelin's Revenge spreads across the nation, bringing the infected dead back to life - human and animal alike. After gunning down his friend and only surviving neighbor, Alan, Lamar is pushed out of his hiding place by a wild fire, spreading throughout the neighborhood and city. Upon his escape, he comes across two orphaned siblings, Tasha and Malik and a gun aficionado, Mitch. The four of them manage to escape the city, rescued by a motley crew aboard a naval ship turned museum. But the danger doesn't end there as Hamelin's Revenge begins to mutate and jump upon species previously assumed to be immune.

Haunted by his past, Lamar is regrettably the "hero" of the story and is told so more than once by a few characters. He doesn't feel like the hero they need, but the hero the book deserves (and that's not a harsh insult whatsoever). It makes him believable. After all he has done to fight the stereotype bestowed upon African-Americans from Fells Point, he feels that he has become exactly what he has fought against for so long. And to top it off, he feels his sexuality is just another thorn on his side. He carries excess baggage that he's unwilling to let go even as the world is literally eating one another.

His journey through it all, leaves him pondering the end. If the hero is supposed to be heroic, lead his flock into safety, bring knowledge forward at the dawn of a new age, then what happens to the hero when the world around him is filled with the groans and moans of the undead and the screams of those who cannot out run them? Who is left to tell the tale of the hero after all is said and done? And exactly why does it matter that he continues on?

Those are the questions that arise within the pages for the novel, ones that I still find myself asking. What do you fight for when all of humanity is lost?

Seriousness aside, though, I did encounter one passage I loved the most (and we're turning to the beginning of this post to wrap it up neatly):
It had all happened so quickly. It just didn't seem real somehow. I mean, a zombie fucking whale? If the circumstances had been different, I could have almost laughed. You go through life believing only in what you can see. What science can prove. Things like ghosts and monsters are the stuff of fantasy. But then, one morning, you wake up and the dead are out in the streets hunting down the living. Your world comes crashing down when that hppens. But even when you get used to the idea that the dead can walk, a zombie whale still seemed incredible. In a way, I think it shook our world view all over again.
Clearly, no laughing matter, but you have to understand the hint of humor in it. Anyway, without further ado, Zombie Vs. Shark:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rethinking Stephen King

How one book & one short story changed my view on the genre writer

I've stood on my literary pedestal long enough, insulted the "master" long enough. Or perhaps it's just a fluke. Perhaps, I'm wrong and Stephen King is still a dime-store novelist, the "literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries."* But I'm an arrogant tool/reader and I say I'm never wrong. Which means, I was wrong before - paradox much?

I blame my folly on my education, and I'm sure a friend of mine would agree. Every English professor I had all repeated the same thing as if some sort of sacrament: Stephen King isn't a writer. He might be an author, but he isn't a writer. His work shouldn't be taken seriously and we should never give him more credit than he deserves. He is the antithesis of what we are working towards in literature. He's simply a dime-store novelist, something you read on a plane trip, a long ride, at the back of the bus or when there is nothing else to read.

And I advocated such, having attempted to read King a few times before. His writings seemed simplistically complicated. Something that seems hard to read, but really not hard to grasp. The adult version of Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling. Even though I preached - merely repeated all I have been told, even though I knew in my heart that King wasn't a writer - I had more of his books that I liked. Most of them were freebies from Books -n- Things (a used book store in McAllen, TX), some of them gifts and hand-me-downs and at least two bought at my own accord.

And then I did something. Back when I was a kid, I saw this miniseries that I simply loved. The title? The Stand. Based on the novel by Stephen King of the same title. While venturing once again into the wonderful store of Books -n- Things, I found a used copy of the edited copy, the copy several King fans stated was more worth while over than the one on shelves now. Huffing, fighting my every moral fiber, I purchased the book and started reading it. A week later, I was done and my mind was reeling. What had I done? A part of me couldn't accept the fact that it was the best book I had read all year long.

The novel's premise is one we've all seen before: the battle between good and evil. Even at times, my mind was nostalgic of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, the short story in the Transgressions series, "The Things They Left Behind," left me in awe with the magical realism used within the pages.

I didn't think he had it in him, and I probably wouldn't have ever given him the chance had it not been for the one book that echoed a childhood memory, a miniseries I didn't miss and attempted to watch every time it came on TV - I even purchased the DVD, but I have since misplaced in my house, or lent it to someone who hasn't returned it and will not reveal himself. Still, the fact remains, there is more to Stephen King than a dime-store writer, more than a Big Mac with fries. This guy isn't giving himself any slack. So what if he's a genre writer, H.P. Lovecraft was one as well and we all look up to him. Give it time, I suppose.

There was a time when only King's short stories had the power to capture my imagination, mostly because they ended and didn't go on for what felt like months (seriously, I have the same problem with Jack Kerouac). Now, however, I'm staring at my "horror shelf" and wondering exactly what book to read next. Will it be another King book? Surely, I have opened up to him. It just might be.

*According to the November 2009 Esquire, Stephen King once referred to himself as such.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I NaNoWriMo, do you?

So again I attempt to play along with NaNoWriMo, even though last year I said I wasn't going to ever attempt it again. I'm working on a project I've called "Gospel," named after the city in which the story is set. It's my first crack on a full length novel without deciding it sucks and blaming my failures on NaNoWriMo. It's also my first crack on something that isn't a literary story, so yay me. I won't go into many details here because I want to concentrate on the story, but if you see less of me about writing and more of me about ads (see last two posts), you'll understand why.

Until next time, adios.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The War of the Worlds

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences great than man's," begins H. G. Wells' classic, The War of the Worlds. Since the book first came into my hands in Junior High, it has been the bane of my existence. I could not - or that would not - complete the book due to the manner in which it was written. Classic literature always had - and still has - that effect on me. The dull prose and lengthy narrative that seems to be ongoing. Shame on me, I'm an English major.

But after all these years of only reading that first sentence and sighing exasperatingly, I picked up a copy - where my original went to is still unknown to me - and I shall add, a cheap copy at that. It's one of the many reasons why I love Dover Thrift Editions (book only cost me a buck).

After all these years of attempting, I'm finally man enough to read the entire book - consisting of 145 pages, but was read like it contained 1145. And while it's not my cup of tea, it's one of best sci-fi novels I've read all year (considering the fact that the last sci-fi novel I read was 3001: The Final Odyssey).

The novel's split into two books: The Coming of the Martians & The Earth under the Martians. The first book accounts the invasion seen through the eyes of a man who was there when it was underway. He saw when the Martians fired their cylinders from their red planet and was there to witness as it opened after smashing into the earth. He saw the Heat Ray kill his friends and neighbors and then the entire country side of London. He also jumps into the story of his brother and what he saw in London during the final days of the attack. The second book returns to our narrator's story and the days during and after the invasion.

It isn't the greatest read of sci-fi (oh how we have accomplished so much since the days of Wells), but it is a noteworthy read - recommended highly if you're a sci-fi geek. And its universal appeal has not waned nor do I feel will it ever.

It isn't far fetched to see that the Martians can still symbolize the grotesque nature of human warfare, or the fact that we, with our "primitive" arms and military formations, are no match for a more advanced society. Even after all these years, reading the book as an analogy of any invasion of a Free-World invading a third-world country is still relevant. It's possibly the only reason why I continued reading the book in the first place.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Homer & Langley

They were found dead amongst their collected junk - bales of newspapers, crates, bicycles, worn clothing and guns, to name of few - the Collyer brothers are iconic American pack rats that spark imagination within us. What went on behind those shuttered windows, the booby traps and bolted doors? What lives did these living ghosts live? What drove them to collect articles of junk to store in their homes?

E. L. Doctorow, author of Lives of Poets, takes a creative crack at the secret lives of the Collyer brothers through the eyes (no pun intended) of the blind, younger brother Homer.

I first learned of Doctorow's masterpiece, Homer & Langley, through a piece written in Esquire entitled "Two Great New Books on a New Kind of Apocalypse." The review covered both Doctorow's novel and Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem, stating:
Both novels make a reader ache for a city long gone. But they also let us know that the end of the world as we know it may only be the end of the world as we know it. What's truly scary is not that life will end but that it will continue in ever reduced circumstances.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nueva Onda Poets return

After a few months' slumber, the Nueva Onda Poets returned to the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library for a reading. The spotlight reader was Richard Sanchez (photographed above) who also acted as the MC for the rest of us. Some new faces were in the crowd, as well as, a few original readers. It was like a family reunion.

Richard read a few of his pieces and gave out copies of the May/June issue of The Journal of Texas Trophy Hunters, which contains his story (or can we call it an essay?), "El Diablo."

I read a "chilling" story, loosely based on a story my grandfather told me when I was a kid. It's a work in process, but I managed to get out a clean copy for the reading.

In other news, because I arrived early to the library, I camped in a corner (where the DVDs are - why there's a couch where the DVDs are is beyond me) and thumbed through Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow. A few pages in, I decided to check it out.

Because I turned in No Country for Old Men late, I was prepared myself to pay a fine. Oddly, I didn't get one. Didn't faze me much, but I did recall my annoyance with myself for turning it in late in the first place.

I'm sure the book will be devoured before the the two weeks. See you then.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Required Reading: Can We Stop Acting So Childish? By Stephen Marche

I think we all remember the photo above and the outcry it caused, reverbrated across the nation - the world, even. "Innocent" Miley Cyrus, who could do no wrong, who wouldn't ever (EVER!) dance around on a stripper pole while her mother and father applaud from the audience, was stripped down and photographed against her will. But during our outrage (meaning your), we have forgotten that we're reponsible, in a way. When you think about it, we're forcing child celebrities into growing up way before their time, leading them into lives that we couldn't even handle. So from within the crowd, Stephen Marche's voice resonates, asking if we can just grow up already:

"Can We Stop Acting So Childish?" By Stephen Marche

With teenage celebrities entering rehab and adult celebrities acting like teenagers, the line between adolescence and adulthood has never been more blurred.

It is possible that as you read these words one of the great works of art of our time is being destroyed. The film version of "Where the Wild Things Are"--with a screenplay cowritten by the Coolest Writer in America (Dave Eggers), directed by the Coolest Director Alive (Spike Jonze), and starring the Coolest Actors Ever (Forest Whitaker and Catherine Keener)--has had its release date set back a year, apparently after disastrous test screenings, to undergo massive reshooting. The original "Where the Wild Things Are," the children's story by Maurice Sendak, is one of the most beloved tellings of one of the dominant narratives of our era: the child who suffers the perils of adulthood. It's a story that has to be told without wavering. (continue reading)

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Snapshot #1

Today Was a Good Day

Hunt: Hastings buy 2 get 3rd for $1 deal
Partner: Jyg, Izzy, Esmer & Esteban
Location: Hastings McAllen, TX
Success: 3/3
Cost: $17.30
Condition: Used
Saved: $26.97

The hunt was rather impromptu. We had headed out to Hastings merely to hang out with Esmer and Esteban. We strolled around for a while and that's where I saw a copy of The Golden Ass on the newly arrived used shelf. Because I had read about the book back in college - possibly through my extensive research on the subject of sexual nature - I decided to thumb through it. I nearly set it down until I saw the deal. So I quickly looked for two more books, finding both The Delta of Venus and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. I have the former, an ratty old hardback, sitting on my sex shelf - yes, I have a sex shelf - I decided that owning Little Birds might be a good thing for me. I took that along. I searched the shelf until tiring after not finding anything remotely interesting. I headed down the aisles, not sure what I was looking for when Cities of the Red Night by William S. Burroughs jumped out at me. I'm a Burroughs fan so it was only obvious that it was coming with me regardless.

So in the end, I had the three books I needed to complete the sale. Awesome, though I should really stop spending money when the cash flow isn't coming in anymore. I'm so bad at this.
  1. Cities of the Red Night - William S. Burroughs
  2. Little Birds: Erotica - Anaïs Nin
  3. The Golden Ass - Apuleius translated by Jack Lindsay

After ringing up the purchase, The Golden Ass turned out to be my dollar book. I also saw a copy of God Hates Us All, leaving me to wonder if a fictional book from a TV series is actually worth the read. Who am I kidding? Sooner or later Hank Moody's opus will be sitting on my shelf because I'm in love with Californication.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, September 25, 2009

Required Reading: Erring and Erring, We Walk the Unerring Path

"Erring and Erring, We Walk the Unerring Path" from Shambhala Sun.
Across much of the nation and the world, people have been losing their jobs and homes due to the global economic decline. Everyone is asking: how much worse will it get; how soon before it gets better? The ghost of the Great Depression hangs over us like a bad dream that scares and fascinates at the same time. Meanwhile, the bickering of politicians entertains and annoys us nightly.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Required Reading

I started something on my Tumblr in hopes to boost readership with like minds. The Required Reading tag, however, only piqued the interests of those already following and reblogging me. The Required Reading tag consists of magazine articles, short stories, poems, novels and website articles/blogs that I find influenital, amusing and entertaining. They are opiniated and witty all the same.

Because my main goal when I set out to write a blog about "book hunting" was to gain some new acquaintances, I believe that the required reading tag should venture into the blog as well. Maybe bringing a few stragglers by to share my likes, dislikes or disagree with me.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, September 18, 2009

The books on my desk

Forgive the mess and my excess use of my newly purchased digital camera, with which I'm in love. I decided to shed some light in to my personality by showing you which books are on my desk at the moment. They are:
Both Lolita and The Things They Carried will always have a home on my desk. Huffington Post and Problogger, on the other hand, are current reads and might find their way to the appointed shelf once I'm done with them.

Tonight, I'm going book hunting Gut Symmetries by Jeannette Winterson. I hope to find a(n) used copy of the book as I would rather not pay full price for something I'm unsure I'd like. My partner in crime/hunt will be Jerry.