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Posts Tagged ‘200-249 pages’

13. “Barrel Fever,” David Sedaris

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

This book really isn’t ha-ha funny like “Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim” or “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” but it’s not bad. Many of the stories are sort of sad, fueled by alcohol and outsiderism, and they have the humor that comes along with self-hatred.

It was exactly the right length for my commute. Each story was just about one ride in, and I like that.

Page count: 208
Page total: 3,513

5. “Covering,” Kenji Yoshino

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I would think, I wish I were dead. I did not think of it as a suicidal thought. My poet’s parsing mind read the first “I” and the second “I” as different “I”s. The first “I” was the whole watching the self, while the second “I”– the one I wanted to kill– was the gay “I” nested inside it. It was less a suicidal impulse than a homicidal one. (8)

While I tried to speak calmly, Bill has since told me I failed. He said I reminded him of the dinner parties he was attending in those days. At the mainly straight parties, his age peers would jabber on about their children. At the gay dinners, they’d jabber on about their coming out. This made him think coming out is the closest many gay men will come to giving birth. The act of giving birth to oneself is miraculous and terrifying, but unlikely to be calm. (13-14)

It is worth quoting Yoshino’s definitions of a few terms at length.

My struggle to arrive at a gay identity occurred in three phases, which I could also trace in the lives of gay peers. In the first phase, I sought to become straight. When I went to the chapel at Oxford, I prayed not to be what I was. I will call this desire for conversion. In the second phase, I accepted my homosexuality, but concealed it from others. By the time I talked to Bill about his class, I was no longer trying to convert. I was, however, trying to hide my identity from my classmates. I will call this desire for passing. Finally, long after I had generally come out of the closet, I still muted my orientation by not writing on gay topics or engaging in public displays of affection. This was not the same as passing, because my colleges knew I was gay. Yet I did not know a word for this attempt to tone down my known gayness.
Then I found my word, in sociologist Erving Goffman’s book Stigma. Published in 1963, the book describes how various groups– including the disabled, the elderly, and the obese– manage their “spoiled” identities. After discussing passing, Goffman observes that “persons who are ready to admit the possession of a stigma… may nonetheless make a great effort to keep the stigma from looming large.” His calls this behavior “covering.” Goffman distinguishes passing from covering by noting that passing pertains to the visibility of a particular trait, while covering pertains to its obtrusiveness. He relates how Franklin Roosevelt always stationed himself behind a table before his advisers came in for a meeting. Roosevelt was not passing, since everyone knew he used a wheelchair. He was covering, downplaying his disability so people would focus on his more conventionally presidential qualities.” (17-18)

I could keep going and quote the entire book, but that should be enough to make you want to give Yoshino a high five. Not only is he immensely readable (which I am coming to feel more and more is something embodied theory must be), but his application of covering is very timely. This book is theory told through memoir and is poetic and incisive.

Page count: 203
Page total: 1,544

3. “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven,” Sherman Alexie

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I had all sorts of quotes here, but they got erased, and I am annoyed.

Page count: 240
Page total: 989

68. “The Haunting of Hill House,” Shirley Jackson

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Two women with a history of experiences with the supernatural are drafted by a doctor into spending their summer at a house with a reputation as haunted. They are joined also by the heir to the house and, eventually, by the doctor’s wife and her assistant. Quickly, the house begins to plot against them: closing the doors they leave open so they can find their way through its labyrinthine halls, pounding on their doors at night, writing their names on the walls and then washing them clean. As the house focuses its attention on simple mousey Eleanor, the others must find a way to get her out before it is too late.

This book actually scared the bejesus out of me. I strongly recommend the audio version, which is wonderfully atmospheric. It’s a quick read, and good for a dark and stormy night with the threat of a power outage. For my part, my roommate’s dog started randomly barking just after there was banging on the doors of the House. Then the barking turned into growling– and finally yelps before I swooned and dragged myself to the kitchen where I discovered he was freaked out by a crepe witch hung over the oven.

Nice work, dog.

Page count: 246
Total pages: 20,079

54. “A Fish Caught in Time,” Samantha Weinberg

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

A quick and very readable history of the re-discovery of the coelacanth, a fish more than 80 million years old and which was believed until 1938 to be extinct.

Weinberg tells the story of the coelacanth through the people who become obsessed with finding it, entwining their lives and their search. I think I caught coelacanth fever, because I keep finding myself fantasizing about how fucking amazing it would be to catch a living fossil, something people believed no longer existed, and something people still hope can tell us more about the moment we climbed from the deep.

Page count: 226
Page total: 14,602
Call number: QL638.L26 W45 2001x

53. “Born on a Blue Day,” Daniel Tammet

July 31, 2010 1 comment

The memoirs of a synesthetic savant with Asperger’s. Well-written and interesting.

Page count: 226
Page total: 14,376
Call number: RC553.A88T36 2007

42. “I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight,” Margaret Cho

July 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Apparently Margaret Cho is the shit. I don’t really go in for her comedy, as she does a lot of shouting and I do not like shouting, but this book shows a righteous, very cool, very smart person.

I was sort of confused by the format, which is almost like a blog. Even though it’s divided into sections, there’s not much tying the entries together. Not everything in the feminism section is explicitly feminist, not everything in the war on terror section is about how Former VP Chenney is a dangerous, dangerous human being.

“My attitude toward peace does not depend on which war we are discussing. I think that words should do the work of bombs.” (25)

On the ease with which women hate Courtney Love:

“Courtney Love is an incredible artist who has endured public derision and scorn for well over a decade. What man could survive that? Yet in any real way, the feminist majority has yet to come to her defense. No one has come forward with the simple question ‘Why is it that I am hating another woman with such ease?'” (112)

“Strange that there is so much religion in the world, but only enough to make us fight over who is right, not enough to make us love one another.” (182)

“A government that would deny a gay man the right to a bridal registry is a fascist state.” (145)

Page count: 240
Page total: 10,608
LOC Call number: PN 6165.C56 2005