The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Book Meme

Book Meme

Thanks to Deathintheafternoon for passing me this meme. P.S. I have no idea what a meme is.

1. Total number of books I've owned: At some point in her pre-me history, my mom actually bought a stamp (non ink, just pressed the paper) that read "from the library of X and Y Sanjana." Of course, my parents names are not "x" and "y;" but, I'm sure as hell not about to get them involved up in this piece..although, the recent google searches for "road from Mumbai to Sanjan" and/or "sanjana zoroastrian" are highly troubling on that front. God damn you google. OK, focus, back to the stamp, the point is that I've always associated quantities of books with knowledge, hence my anglophilia. I'm serious, I pulled some great fucking books off of my mom's shelf. The only one I keep for purely sentimental value is Sidartha, which my mom had sporadically and inexplicably underlined. (Imagine how horrible it would be if I actually knew why she was underlining stuff as a 22 year depressing). My mom is one of the smartest people I know. I've bought a lot of books I've never read. I feel bad about it because every one of my mom's books were read and creased. Of non-school-related books, I have probably bought about 300, keeping 200 in one place or another and giving away about 50 that I really cared about but am happy I gave away.

2. Last book I bought: Waiting for Barbarians, by J.M. Coetzee....I'm not sure why. Even though I really have no rational reason to trust the Noble committee's opinion, I still hold it out there as some sort of valid validation.

3. Last book I read: Strong Motion, by Jonathan Franzen. Funny. Great ending. Reaks of first novelness.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me: Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell....just when I thought I knew more than anybody else a book that was written 2500 years ago kicked my ass. Confederacy of Dunces, or how I learned to laugh out loud while reading. For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is Hemmingway's greatest and least appreciated work (axed from high school curriculums nation-wide out of genuflection to Toni Morrison, but I'm digging my own grave now). Rios Profundas by Jose Maria Arguedas, which is the only book I've ever read that completely resonated with me where I as reading it. Armies of the Night, by Norman Mailer for teaching me that there are two sides to everything (i learned this in the scene that almost seamlessly slips between the hippie narrative and the narrative of the poor grunts who are having flowers shoved in their guns). Honorable mention: The Twins by Tessa de Loo, for being the first chick-book that i actually enjoyed. Take that flowers in the attic! I forgot Underworld, by Don Delillo (I remembered it when I went to work yesterday with all the buildings shrouded in fog...the cover of the paperback version of Underworld has the twin towers in fog). Underworld means a lot to me because after reading it I realized that books were being written today that are at least as much literature as the stuff they made us read in high school.


At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I, too, have absolutely no idea what a "meme" is, despite constantly tripping over them in the blogosphere. My best guess (I refuse to do actual research to find the answer) is that it's like an electronic memo, or "e-memo" with the e stuck on the end in some sort of warped cyber-pig latin. And yes, I realize that makes absolutely no sense.

Your description of Underworld as reminding you that quality literature is still being created is bang on. That's always what I turn to when people want a great "modern." For more classic modernism, I submit the rather unheralded (at least among our generation) but nevertheless transcendant Graham Greene. "Our Man in Havana", "The Orient Express" and most especially "The End of the Affair" are books every jaded fellow should read.

It delights me to no end that the hack known as Thomas Pynchon got no love from you. See David Foster Wallace, "The Broom of the System" for an excellent example of what Pynchon tries to do when he limits himself to under 1400 pages and 6000 characters.



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