Shelving Spaces II: The Reams of Cant

You've seen the brown one, now experience the white bookcase. Location: Hall. Contents: Mostly fiction. Number of shelves: 4.

Top of bookcase:As with the brown bookcase, the white is eclectic in content and overflowing on top. None of my actual fetish authors here, though Philip Roth appears twice, Burgess once, and Pynchon once too (that bookmark in Vineland has been there for about 5 years - oops!). Among the classics we find La Morte d'Arthur, Byron's Don Juan, Milton's Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, some Kafka, a french translation of Treasure Island, and James Joyce unreadable Finnegan's Wake. There's a small pocket Hamlet in there, which I've carried around for years at a time. More modern fare includes a musty copy of The Screwtape Letters, one of Isaac Asimov's non-fiction science text on which I based a science fair exhibit once, Micheal Moore's companion to Fahrenheit 9/11, a post-Fleming Bond novel, and the first Umberto Eco novel I really didn't care for.

Among my favorites though are Manguel's History of Reading and most especially, Harlan Ellison's Medea project, in which various sf authors get together to create a shared world. I love the seminar transcript especially and have always wanted to write a book like that. The booby prize of the shelf goes to that Tarot Reader, a well-meaning gift that I found clueless on the subject.

Top shelf:
We're starting to see my interests appear more fully. All those Burroughs books were bought in one go, and as it turned out, I liked the idea of them more than the books themselves. I've read maybe two. Enjoyed them well enough, but it's not breezy reading for a casual Friday. Authors I actually follow closely get a choice space: Julian Barnes, Chuck Pahlaniuk, Douglas Coupland, Paul Auster, Vonnegut. Also some more Burgess, Ellison, Eco, Pynchon, Michael Moore and Kafka and some Nabokov too. Nurakami's The Elephant Vanishes (short stories) was a nice surprise. Classics here include Canterbury Tales (but not in my preferred Middle English version), Moby Dick, some Samuel Johnson, Corneille, Shakespeare and Beckett. The anomaly, I guess, is that Nostradamus book, but I appreciate it as opaque poetry more than any soothsaying properties it might have.

Second shelf:
Vonnegut, Barnes, Shakespeare, Burroughs, Auster, Nabokov, Roth, Pynchon... They're pretty ubiquitous in my collection. Throw in a little Heller, a little Pirandello, an excellent little play by Tom Stoppard - Arcadia - some Ionesco, Ibsen, Prévert, Mann, Plato, Sheppard, Welsh and Huxley... Starting to look like a very good shelf! Chesterton's Father Brown stories are also in there, as are tour stories from the Rheostatics, my favorite band. Oddest item is Sinclair and McKean's Slow Chocolate Autopsy.

Third shelf:
Going down to the next shelf, we find even more classic and modern literature: Robert Graves' much perused The Greek Myths top the row for good reason. There's more Vonnegut and Shakespeare, of course, but also the plays of another favorite, Edward Albee. There's also some Robbe-Grillet (RIP 2008), Butler, Homer, Aristotle, Orwell, Findley, Beaudelaire, Joyce, and Stoppard's seminal Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead. A few anthologies - poetry, theater, Irish myths and legends - round out the package. Oh, and I spot some tiny volumes on esoteric subjects like vampires and pop art. Stinker of the lot: Longfellow's Evangeline. I only have it because I'm Acadian and unsurprisingly, I was handed it for study. It's ok, but it's really not my cup of tea.

Bottom shelf:
Return offenders (why can't I seem to stack them together on the SAME shelf?!?): Vonnegut, Saul, Kafka, Burroughs, Eco, Camus, Orwell, Burgess, Findley, Shakespeare, Bloom and Pahlaniuk. New names include Jules Verne, Hugo (meh) and Northop Frye. There's also a fair deal of religion on this shelf. My King James Bible sits on top of the Koran (nothing should be inferred from this), and there are a few books I picked up from Jehova's Witnesses who've come to my door. The ancient world is represented by Beowulf, a couple books on Ancient Greece, and Sun-Tzu's Art of War. This and the previous shelf have follow-ups to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which I unfortunately loaned and lost. The Oscar Wilde biography was a gift from a teacher. The Book of Limericks was a very cheap impulse buy at a used book store, as was Pop Poems (which is at least an interesting experiment). And you might also glimpse some science-fiction magazines there too.

In all likelihood, this bookcase will retain its primary function, but I'd like to separate the more modern work from the classics. What's not in there right now is all the books I read in the last year (yep, they're in a stack elsewhere), so I really should figure it out before long.

4 comments:

Teebore said...

"I liked the idea of them more than the books themselves."

I think I may well appropriate this phrase; I know exactly what you mean, and definitely have some books like that.

Also, I think it may be a requirement that all home libraries have a copy of Sun-Tzu's Art of War somewhere...

Sea_of_Green said...

You need some OVID, if you don't already have some stashed away. Everyone needs a copy of his Metamorphoses and The Art of Love. He's definitely the most entertaining writer of the Classical period. :-)

Siskoid said...

Ally my Ovid is in Norton Anthologies and the like. I may well be missing something. I think my collection's generally low on Classical lit, except the drama.

googum said...

Murakami is one of my favorite authors. Try the Wind-up Bird Chronicle, I think you'll enjoy it.

 

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