Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Reading

I am in the process of assembling my holiday vacation (ten days! ten days!) book pile. Thus far I have four books, including the Everyman's Joan Didion, which I am barely a quarter of the way through. The other books:

The Middle Stories, by Sheila Heti.

Sheila Heti is Canadian, and before two o'clock this afternoon I'd never heard of her. I was browsing in the University bookstore in an effort to find a gift for Hockeyman. In six years of working on campus, I've spent little time in the bookstore; it's subcontracted to a conglomerate and stocked rather shallowly. But it was raining and I didn't want to go back to the office quite yet. So what the hell, right? There on the sale table was Lydia Davis' Samuel Johnson is Indignant for $5.98. Sometimes remainders are a bummer. Like, this great book has to be remaindered? Never mind. Here was this Sheila Heti person. The book design grabbed my attention: a small paperback, about the size of my hand, with a photo of two Asian teenagers standing on a foggy beach. My description doesn't do it justice. It's a collection of short stories, put out by MacSweeney's. I am not a MacSweeney's fan, but this book looks appealing. There are some great Canadian writers that are hard to find Stateside. We'll see if Sheila is one of them.

Holy The Firm, by Annie Dillard.

Six dollars at Pegasus. Holy the Firm is seventy-six pages of Annie Dillard trying to make sense of life while living on an island in Puget Sound. Like Didion, she is one of the great composers of sentences, so this should be great, even if it's over and read in ninety minutes.

James Joyce, by Edna O'Brien.

This a biography in the Penguin Lives series. Evidently the folks at Penguin seek out contemporary writers to compose brief bios of influential persons. War historian John Keegan wrote one about Winston Churchill; Nigel Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West's son, wrote one about Virginia Woolf; Jane Smiley's on Charles Dickens is charming. All are roughly two hundred pages, with elegant dust jackets and Bodoni Book font.

I'll need more. I read quickly. But I am trying to economize a bit, looking for remainders or new stuff that's coming in used. I'd like to read Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children, but not enough to spend full hardcover price on it. Ditto the Accidental. I am also hankering for Chez Panisse Vegetables, which is thirty-five dollars unless I order it (wince) from Amazon.

Reading and cooking are damned expensive habits.


Anonymous ed said...

Trust me on this: they should pay YOU to read Sheila Heti. Avoid her like the plague.

December 14, 2006 4:59 PM  
Blogger Barking Kitten said...

Oh, dear. And it looked so interesting.

December 15, 2006 7:26 PM  

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