Posted by: Dan | January 9, 2012

Books of 2011

Well, I did meet some of my reading goals for 2011.  I got into Nietzsche a bit and finished off McCarthy’s novels and Proust’s masterpiece.  I also finished nine books related to indigenous issues in North America.  I also ended up spending more time reading material written by anarchists.  Surprisingly, I started enjoying reading poetry more than I have previously, so I may continue that trajectory next year (any suggestions? or, for that matter, any reading suggestions at all?  I’m open to whatever).

However, I didn’t end up reading any Spinoza, I didn’t manage to finish Being and Time before the end of the year and, for the first time in the last six years, I didn’t read a volume of Barth’s Church Dogmatics… I’m having trouble feeling excited about reading theology these days (or philosophy… a lot of things actually seem rather pointless these days… maybe I’m depressed!).  In total, I read 65 books in 2011 and I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m not gonna ever be able to read more than that — at least not for the next handful of years.

My top three works of fiction completed (for the first time) this year are: In Search of Lost Time by Proust, The Age of Reason by Sartre, and the graphic novel Essex County by Jeff Lemire.

My top three works of non-fiction completed (for the first time) this year are: Remember the Poor by Bruce W. Longenecker, Imperialist Canada by Todd Gordon, and A National Crime by John Milloy [Edit: Actually, Wasáse, by Taiaiake Alfred should probably be in this list, if not at the front of it.]

Here is the complete list for 2011:

Roman Literature

  • Horace. The Complete Works of Horace.
  • Plutarch. Selected Lives.
  • Tacitus. The Annals.
  • ________. Agricola.
  • ________. Germany.
  • Seneca. On Mercy.
  • ________. Octavia.
  • Suetonius. The Twelve Caesars.

Biblical Studies

  • Caputo, John D. and Linda Martin Alcoff (eds). St. Paul Among the Philosophers.
  • Longenecker, Bruce W. Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Graeco-Roman World
  • Sánchez, David A. From Patmos to the Barrio: Subverting Imperial Myths.
  • Sherwood, Yvonne. The Prostitute and the Prophet: Hosea in Literary-Theoretical Perspective.
  • Stark, Thom. The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It).
  • Talbott, Rick F. Jesus, Paul, and Power: Rhetoric, Ritual, and Metaphor in Ancient Mediterranean Christianity.
  • Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives.

Indigenous Studies

  • Alfred, Taiaiake. Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom.
  • Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West.
  • Fontaine, Theodore. Broken Circle — The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools: A Memoir.
  • Gordon, Todd. Imperialist Canada (although this book does extend well beyond Canada’s practices towards the indigenous people here).
  • Milloy, John. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System — 1879 to 1986.
  • Plain, David D. The Plains of Aamjiwnaang.
  • ________. Ways of Our Grandfathers: Our Traditions and Culture.
  • Riel, Louis. The Diaries of Louis Riel (ed. by Thomas Flanagan).
  • Wright, Ronald. Stolen Continents: The “New World” Through Indian Eyes.

Philosophy

  • Agamben, Giorgio. The State of Exception.
  • Negri, Antonio. Time For Revolution.
  • Nietzche, Friedrich. Thus Spake Zarathustra.
  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Zettel.

Anarchism

  • Berkman, Alexander. Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist.
  • Goldman, Emma. Living My Life (2 volumes).
  • Guérin, Daniel. No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism (Book One).

Theology

  • Eiesland, Nancy L. The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability.

Fiction, Literature, Poetry

  • Afans’ev, Aleksandr (ed.). Russian Fairy Tales (translated by Robert Guterman, illustrated by Alexander Alexeieff).
  • Bolaño, Roberto. 2666.
  • Brown, Chester. Paying For It: a comic strip memoir about being a john.
  • Bukowski, Charles. Septuagenarian Stew: Stories and Poems.
  • Chesterton, G. K. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare.
  • Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man.
  • Gass, William H. Omensetter’s Luck.
  • Kupferschmidt, John. In the Garden of Men.
  • Lemire, Jeff. Essex County (a trilogy).
  • McCarthy, Cormac. Cities of the Plain.
  • Mesopotamians, eh? The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics edition).
  • Motherfuckin’ Vikings. The Laxdaela Saga.
  • Proust, Marcel. In Search of Lost Time (Vols IV-VI).
  • Rilke, Rainer Maria. Duino Elegies.
  • ________. Letters to a Young Poet.
  • ________. Uncollected Poems.
  • Saramago, José. Baltasar and Blimunda.
  • Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Age of Reason.
  • Schiff, Hilda (ed.). Holocaust Poetry.

Memoirs

  • Burroughs, Augusten. Possible Side Effects.
  • McMullen, Mike. I, Superhero!!
  • Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta” (ed. with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk).
  • Paul, Greg. The Twenty-Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Each Other.
  • Stringfellow, William. My People is the Enemy.
  • ________. A Second Birthday: A Personal Confrontation with Illness, Pain, and Death.
  • Terkel, Studs. Hope Dies Last: Keeping Faith in Difficult Times.
  • Weedman, Lauren. A Woman Trapped in a Woman’s Body.
  • Wulffson, Don. Soldier X.
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Responses

  1. One theology book. Interesting. Poetry–check out Christian Wiman. His latest, Every Riven Thing, is as good a place to start as any. His book of essays, Ambition and Survival, is also excellent.

    • Well, a lot of biblical studies is kinda like theology (only better). I just gotta get back to reading liberation theologies. Good to hear from you, Robert. I would be down to check out any theology recommendations you might make.

  2. Do you still have a Gass post coming down the pipe? In terms of poetry/fiction have you checked out Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet?

    • No post. I contributed to both their series on Kleinzeit and The Recognitions but really couldn’t think of too much to say about Gass.

  3. I would love to see The Laxdaela Saga published with that authorial attribution.

  4. If poetry is what you crave – Bukowski will brighten up your day with his insane depravity.

  5. Hey DanO, I also read Riehl’s diaries a while back, I am very interested him and Catholic mystics in general. But, back to poetry which is sub-specialty interest of mine. Of course you are already deep into Rilke. What about ***Marina Tsvetaevia or ****Anna Akhmatova that he wrote about? Lots of tragedy there though if you can take it on.

    As for studying philosophy/theology, Wittgenstein said that the only reason to study philosophy is because you are driven to it, it only leads to greater suffering. Better to spend more time with poetry, or books about poetry, such as Heidegger’s “Poetry, Language, thought” which is worth a read.

    I post a lot of poetry on FB so let me see what I have done lately. In no particular order and off the top of my head let me recommend *****John Ashbery, a big favorite of mine who I go to see–I shook his hand once!–when he comes to Seattle and that I have studied and wrote about at University (his “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror” I highly recommend). Then there is ***Williams Carlos Williams, ****Wallace Stevens, ****Walt Whitman, ***H.D. and ***Emily Dickinson. I’m not as enamored with the ‘beat poets’ as some are, but they are worth a look–especially ****Gregory Corso (of, “They Are Frankensteining Christ in America” fame, I posted it on my web site some time ago. When in Rome I always visit his grave!). There are the old greats like, ***T.S Elliot, ***Auden, etc. ( I have memorized Elliot’s “Ash Wednesday” btw and have worked parts of it into a song!). But check out some of the “Language Poets” sometimes called the ‘post-modern poets’ who do a lot of experimental work going all the way back to Stein and Zukofsky, then the more contemporary, ****Charles Bernstein, ***Lyn Hejinian, ***Susan Howe, **Ron Perlman, ****Ron Silliman, ***Rachel Blau DuPlessis (actually, looks like there’s a wiki page on them so I wont go on).

    I don’t read much fiction but glancing at my shelves maybe I can suggest ****“Life and Fate” by Vasily Grossman it was E Levinas’ favorite.

    Let me just add a couple of poems. I met Stafford briefly once when my wife was writing a paper on him.

    “Yes”  by William Stafford

    It could happen any time, tornado,
    earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
    Or sunshine, love, salvation.

    It could, you know. That’s why we wake
    and look out — no guarantees
    in this life.

    But some bonuses, like morning,
    like right now, like noon,
    like evening

    Oh, and this by Raymond Carver (I am a big fan of Carvers short stories and poetry, he is considered America’s greatest short story writer ever, we were both born in Yakima and I met his wife, the post Tess Galagher, after Carvers death when she saw one of my paintings at a art show that included a poem by Ray and her, there is a movie too that’s worth a look).

    Late Fragment

    And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth

    Sorry for blathering but I am getting a bit over excited! OK one more by Kevin Hart.

    When the last day comes
    A ploughman in Europe will look over his shoulder
    And see the hard furrows of earth
    Finally behind him, he will watch his shadow
    Run back into his spine.

    It will be morning
    For the first time, and the long night
    Will be seen for what it is,
    A black flag trembling in the sunlight.
    On the last day

    Our stories will be rewritten
    Each from the end,
    And each will end the same;
    You will hear the fields and rivers clap
    And under the trees

    Old bones
    Will cover themselves with flesh;
    Spears, bullets, will pluck themselves
    From wounds already healed,
    Women will clasp their sons as men

    And men will look
    Into their palms and find them empty;
    There will be time
    For us to say the right things at last,
    To look into our enemy’s face

    And see ourselves,
    Forgiven now, before the books flower in flames,
    The mirrors return our faces,
    And everything is stripped from us,
    Even our names.

    Blessings y’all and obliged.

  6. Daniel I, have you read Pessoa. I would be curious of your response . . . somehow I see you as either kindred spirits or arch-enemies.

  7. @David, no I had not read anything by him, but I went on line and found a lot that I liked, thanks so much for the reference. While I was looking up Pessoa I came across another of my old favorites though, the Jewish poet and holocaust survivor Paul Celan. I will post one of his poems below.

    Tenebrae

    We are near, Lord,
    near and at hand.

    Handled already, Lord,
    clawed and clawing as though
    the body of each of us were
    your body, Lord.

    Pray, Lord,
    pray to us,
    we are near.

    Wind-awry we went there,
    went there to bend
    over hollow and ditch.

    To be watered we went there, Lord.

    It was blood, it was
    what you shed, Lord.

    It gleamed.

    It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
    Our eyes and our mouths are open and empty, Lord.

    We have drunk, Lord.
    The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.

    Pray, Lord.
    We are near.

    Obliged.

  8. P.S. DanO, if you get a sec take a look at this video on homeless people over at Vox Nova http://vox-nova.com/2012/01/03/watch-this-video/ It gave me the Heebeejeebees but mine was a minority opinion. I watched it again and started thinking maybe I was just being a dick, and the magic did start working on me a bit, like a Hallmark movie. Maybe show it to your homeless bros/sistrs where you are working, see what they think? obliged.

  9. Hi Dan,

    Would you be so kind as to give a no. 1 choice from each section?
    I’ve been trying to brush up on my classical/ancient (Gilgamesh/Beowolf etc) but generally get about halfway… I’m too low-brow.

    Thank you :)

    • I will try Christina, but it’s hard. I did put some stars for a relative rating though. So, hmmm. Ok, go with Wallace Stevens or Walt Whitman first then John Ashberry, then Dickenson. You should be able to find lots of all these on line for free. In the meantime read some short stories by Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” is a good place to start, then, watch the movie “shortcuts.” At bedtime it’s “Life and Fate” by Grossman. And with your morning coffee dip into, “Is It Righteous To Be,” by Levinas and start working your way through any cheap used poetry anthology that you find at second-hand bookstores (beware though, in the older ones women and minorities are under-represented) I am not a systematic reader. I just finished another translation of Akhmatova and the diaries of Cosima Wagner–yes THE Cosima that Nietzsche was in love with (and daughter of Franz Liszt, I love diaries and journals!) I have been studying Richard Wagner’s building of Bayreuth for awhile and his contribution to the invention of modern spectacle via the Ring cycle, etc., and Cosima’s diaries are insightful if you like that sort of thing. Ok, reckon you got plenty else on your plate, blessings and obliged y’all.

      • Lovely :)

  10. hey dan,

    happy year of the dragon. i loved Sartre’s age of reason as well.

    poetry: Transtromer, the new ‘best of’ edition edited by Bly. it truly is the shit.

    also Sharon Olds for some good freudian sensual processes….in the best poetic form imaginable.

    i hope you’re well friend.


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