Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Book meme

Alison has tossed me the book meme. She even said she was curious. Curious! About the reading habits of lil' ol' me! Well, golly, that's nice of you, Al. I shall respond.

The embarrassing thing is that, although I'm an English teacher, I don't read nearly enough for pleasure. I think a lot of that is because once I've read everything my 10th graders have written, I kinda want to sit down on the couch and enjoy some sports or reality television (competition variety, not mere voyeurism). But the funny thing is that, once there's a vacation that hits me (like the recent Spring Break), I buy about a billion books--way more than I can possibly read. I usually get to those over the summer.



You are stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. What book would you be?

What would happen if I actually was Fahrenheit 451? Would the meta-book situation cause some sort of crack in the space-time continuum that would lead us all out of Bradbury's dystopia?

Crap. I don't know. I guess I'd like it to be a classic, to help out the society. Wait! I'd like it to be something that challenges Bradbury's society, something that will help lead the revolution that we'd need to get rid of the horrific dictatorship. For that reason, I select Selected Poems: 1947-1995 by Allen Ginsberg. A bit of "Howl," a bit of "America" (my fave)...we'll bring those leaders down, and then we wouldn't have to memorize books anymore.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes. My first thought is Julia from 1984. I read that when I was a sophomore in high school. The idea that somebody could be smart, slutty, and want to go to bed with an avowed nerd like me--er, (cough), like Winston--was really, um, intriguing to my adolescent self. When I did the presentation on 1984 for my Sophomore Basic Essay class in Januray of 1986, I didn't see any girls in the desks that met all three of those criteria, believe you me.

What was the last book you bought?

Believe it or not, I bought FIVE for my spring break trip. I am in the middle of three of them; haven't finished any.

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis. I am really digging this guy. He's saying stuff that I've thought for some time--about the arrogance of the right for believing they have a monopoly on religion, and the arrogance of the left for pooh-poohing it, viewing religious faith as a sign of low intelligence (one time, I had someone actually say that to my face, believe it or not). What's a non-fundamentalist believer to do? Wallis has suggestions.

The Insistence of Beauty. New Stephen Dunn poems. I'm only a little bit into it, but so far, it feels a lot sadder than his past work. But I still adore Dunn and am enjoying this. Maybe the mood will shift. If you're going to start with Dunn, do Local Visitations or Different Hours first. Read "Grace," a poem about Mitch Williams being interviewed after the 1993 World Series. It's in Local Visitations, I believe.

Speaking of baseball, I went overboard and bought three baseball books for the journey. I know, too would have been great if I'd been taking the train, but one cannot read too much when one is driving 1300 miles in a week.

On recommendation from pankleb, I bought Philip Roth's The Great American Novel. So far, so good, although I'm struggling with some rough portrayals of women and of the emotionally unstable. Still, fun.

And two autobiographies I haven't started: Jim Brosnan's The Long Season (an oft-forgotten precuror to Jim Bouton's classic Ball Four) and Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch, which looks like it'll be a fun look at baseball in the nineteen-oughts.

Whew. That's what I get for getting five books at the same time...

What are you currently reading?

See Wallis, Dunn, and Roth above.

What five books would you take to a deserted island?

Well, I need my Shakespeare. Set me up with his complete works. That'll keep my occupied...I suppose I may even give Coriolanus a read, and the sonnets will be well worth memorizing.

I have a thing for Ralph Waldo Emerson, so I'll take his complete works as well. His championing of self-reliance will be necessary (I'm assuming I'm alone on the island).

Of the current poets I love most, I think I'll settle on Stephen Dobyns...he's more universal than Jim Daniels, more accessible than Heather McHugh, less sad than Stephen Dunn. I'll grab a copy of Velocities, a collected works that takes us through 1992. This is a good place to start if you want to discover Dobyns. He's had some good stuff since, though, most notably Common Carnage and Pallbearers Envying the One who Rides.

I'll need a Bible to try to sort out exactly what the hell I did to deserve getting stranded on a desert island. King James version. I'll read a lot of Job, I suppose.

And the most recent Baseball Encyclopedia. I can read through the World Series boxscores and season stats and imagine every season in history. Plus I won't have access to my beloved

Who are you going to pass this book meme to and why?

Almost all of my blogger friends have already done this, but not all. I pass this to my charming bride to be, because I want to know, to Jim, because I damn well feel like it, and pankleb, because he recommended the Roth book to me.


Jim said...

Gee, thanks. I thought I was going to remain the only blogger in the world shivering on the sideline.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Felt the same way, Jim. But remember--

My momma said
You can't hurry love
No you'll just have to wait...

Shannin said...

Out of all of these I have read, I really enjoyed your first answer -- great choice, great explanation.

Thanks for your comments on my blog over the last few days. I have been feeling emotionally disconnected from this decision, but I think that's just how I need to deal with it and see the situation clearly.

Also, I'm glad baseball has started. I am going to miss Dodger Stadium and Anaheim Field (or whatever the The The Angels Angels are calling it) since all I have is the Metrodome, but there's something about baseball that restores my faith that we can all get along.