Aug 5, 2006

It looks like I have been meme-tagged by Francois. I'll answer the questions unironically, despite the urge one always has to answer lists of quesions ironically.

1. A book that changed my life? Life seems to change more or less on its own, but one book which had significant impact upon my poetics was Ange Mlinko's Matinees, which somehow clued me in to the fact that it actually was possible to write with the diction and register I wanted to write in and still be taken seriously. The contemporary impulse is generally to push towards sparseness and brevity, whereas the voices in my head were lush and discursive. Reading Matinees pointed me in the direction that I had for a long time wanted, but was reluctant to travel in. Ironically enough, I read this book before I met Bill Corbett or any of the other characters who populate its pages and would later become important people in my personal pantheon. It seems weird to answer this kind of question with a book essentially written by someone more or less of one's own generation. But ultimately we learn more from our peers than we often let on.

2. A book I've read more than once? Any given poetry book that I enjoy I read umpteen times, so I'll answer this with a novel: Paul Auster's In the Country of Last Things.

3. What is a book I'd want with me on a desert island? A Complete Shakespeare. Boring, but true.

4. What is a book that made me giddy? I find Proust's In Search of Lost Time to be really funny. Particularly Volume One.

5. What is a book that has made me sad? Eleni Sikelianos' The Book of Jon. Father-angst pushes my buttons pretty easily.

6. What is a book I wish had been written? I don't really understand this question. What is a book that wasn't written that I wish had been written? There's no answer to that question since the pool of answers is more or less infinite. Or maybe it means something that got started but not finished (e.g. how was Spicer's detective novel supposed to end?) I guess I could say Gerard Manley Hopkins' juvenilia. When he became a Jesuit, he burned everything he had written prior to that point. I'd like to be able to see Hopkins' secular poems.

7. A book I wish had never been written? None. Even Mein Kampf is useful as a document of what can make a person truly evil. Though I guess maybe whatever books Oppenheimer wrote (though the man himself lamented his creation pretty intensely), or whatever book tells you how to build a nuclear missle.

8. What is a book I'm currently reading? It was my summer project to try and get through all of In Search of Lost Time, but there is no way that is going to happen. I just finished Volume II and now I am taking a break. Presently I am rereading Sebald's The Emigrants because I am teaching it next semester. Poetry-perfect-bound-book-wise (simply to narrow the field down a little) I need to check out Elizabeth Treadwell's Cornstarch Figurine that Susana sent me and also I wanted to reread Mina Loy's The Lost Lunar Baedecker because there is a reading this weekend commemorating her work, but I seem to have somehow misplaced (e.g. lent and never got back) my copy of that book.

9. One book I've been meaning to read? See Proust project above. I also really need to read D&G's A Thousand Plateaus but that is also something else that is not going to happen this summer.

As far as tagging goes, I never like to do that in case the person tagged is really busy or something and doesn't actually want to do the meme but feels like they need to so they don't offend me. So, if you are reading this and want to answer the questions, consider yourself tagged by me.

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