Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Life is some bizzaro fuck of a treadmill lately, the more ground I gain the more the horizon seems to creeps steadily away. Mostly I’m just ornery cause the book aint done yet. Ain’t close to done. and the more progress I make, well, I already made that metaphor. So much for me getting shit together around here. Everything has been shoved a bit into the background while I piece together the grab bag of Akea pieces that is the Madness project. That’s the biggest reason why there hasn’t been much up here lately, nor have I launched the other projects I keep mentioning, though plans keep being made.

I just finished reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of 72. In fact when I sat down to write this post, the intention was to do another of those ‘vocab’ pieces, but playing catch up turned into that little spiral of self pity at the top of the page. Anyhow, I should just get on with it.

If you weren’t conscious of the goings on in American politics during the Nixon era, you may have to slog through this one. In fact, I don’t suggest a straight read of this five hundred page drug addled ode to inside baseball. I love doctor Thompson’s, but most people aren’t enough of a political junkie to keep up with this amount of detail in their own decade. However, if you are a friend of mine and you’re reading this, what I suggest is that you borrow my copy and only read the parts I’ve notated. that much would be worth it. If you aren’t, you’ll probably be fine just reading this. Good luck is that at least a third of the book is Thompson bitching about deadlines and putting garbage in his mojo wire (fax machine) to confuse his editors at Rolling Stone.


careful, this is a long one


[due to him missing deadlines Rolling Stone] showed up at my door, with no warning, and loaded about forty pounds of supplies into the room: two cases of Mexican beer, four quarts of gin, a dozen grapefruits, an enough speed to alter the outcome of six super bowls.

When Professional antagonists become after-hours drinking buddies, they are not likely to turn each other in… but unlike other correspondents, I could afford to burn all my bridges behind me….[I’m here] to write about it-as close to the bone as I could get, and to hell with the consequences.

without some extremely powerful speed there might not be any final chapter. about four fingers on king-hell Crank would do the trick, but I am not optimistic. There is a definite scarcity of genuine, high voltage Crank on the market these days.

cord  – unit of measurement for wood measuring 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. (a volume of 128 cubic feet. )

when a man gives up drugs he wants big fires in his life.

[on racism] I have noticed the fear syndrome clouding even my own mind: I find myself ignoring black hitchhikers, and every time I do I wonder, “why the fuck did you do that?” and I tell myself, “well, I’ll pick up the next one I see.” and sometimes I do, but not always

Charley Starkweather – an American teenaged spree killer who murdered eleven people in the states of Nebraska and Wyoming in a two-month murder spree committed between December 1957 and January 1958.

nothing like a big hit of red corpuscles to give a man the right lift for a rush into politics

[on ‘good’ politicians] you might as well go looking for cherries in a Baltimore Whorehouse.

discoteques – this is what night clubs were referred to in the 70’s

George McGovern, the only candidate in either party worth voting for, is hung in a frustrated limbo created mainly by the gross cynicism of the Washington Press Corp…but it is hard to recall any candidate in recent history who failed to move what is now called “The McGovern Vote” to the polls if they actually represented it.

What Nixon and Mitchell have done in three years-is reduce the US supreme court to the level of a piss-poor bowling team in Memphis

live steady. Don’t fuck around. Give anything weird a wide berth – including people. It’s not worth it. I learned this the hard way, through brutal overindulgence.

…back to Chicago; it’s never dull out there. you never know exactly what kind of terrible shit is going to come down on you in that town, but you can always count on something. Every time I go to Chicago, I come away with scars.

These kids are turned off by politics, they say. Most of ’em don’t even want to hear about it. All they want to do these days is lie around on waterbeds and smoke that goddamn marrywanna.

[on objectivity] the only thing I ever saw that came close to objectivity was a close-circut TV setup that watched shoplifters in the General store at Woody Creek, Colorado…with the possible exception of things like box scores… there is no such thing as objective journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

how many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame but “regrettable necessary” holding actions? And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go thought before we can get ourselves  straight enough… to give 20 million people a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils…it has been 12 years since I could look at a ballot and see a name I wanted to vote for… in ’68 I spent half a morning in the county courthouse getting an absentee ballot so I could vote out of spite, for Dick Gregory.

I feel the fear coming on, and the only cure for that is to chew up a fat black wad of blood opium about the size of a young meatball…peel back the brain… and get locked into some serious pornography.

whatever might be said about Nixon-and there is still a serious doubt in my mind that he could pass for human-he is a goddamn stone fanatic on every facet of pro football.

there are only two ways to make it big time in politics today: One is to come out like a mean dinosaur… the other is to tap the…disillusioned electorate that has long since given up on the idea that we all have a duty to vote…Robinson calls it the “sleeping giant vote” Dellums… called it “the nigger vote” but he wasn’t talking about skin pigment
“it’s time for somebody to lead all of America’s Niggers, by this I mean the Young, the Black, the Brown, the Women and the Poor- all the people who feel left out of the political process. If we can put the Nigger Vote together, we can bring about some real change in this country”

The thing  the political bosses want most is for young people to drop out… because they know young people can change the system, and the bosses don’t want change… no wonder that McGoverns Manchester headquarters is full of people who talk like nervous PoliSci Students on job leave.

60,000 Americans have died for that mistake, along with several million Vietnamese… the United States Air Force will rank as the mist efficient gang of murderers in the history of man.

presidential candidate George Romney…tried to ignore it. He knew the TV cameras were rolling so he curled up his mouth in a hideous smile and kept waving at the crowd as they continued to chant “Romney eat shit! Romney eat shit!”

The nut of the problem is that covering this presidential campaign is so fucking dull that it’s just barely tolerable… the only thing worse…is having to come back to Washington and write about it.

wont – in the habit of doing something, accustomed to

the main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy – then go back to the office & sell every one of those poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.

ken – ones own knowledge or sight

bastinado – eating the soles of a person’s feet as a form of corporal punishment.

ibogaine – a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants in the Apocynaceae family such as Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana and Tabernaemontana undulata. A psychedelic with dissociative properties,

one of the most frustrating realities of this goddamn twisted business is the situation where somebody says “I’ll only answer your question if you promise not to print it”

Dick Tuck  – to my surprise is not a made up person. He was a political consultant, campaign strategist, advance man, and political prankster for the Democratic National Committee

if you’re a safe happy nice young republican, you  probably don’t want to read about things like dope, rock music, and politics anyway.

Cazart – made up word by Dr. Thompson. something equivalent to AHA! holy shitsnacks! I should have known!

File cards are handy for canvassing and for people who want to get heavy into the Dewy Decimal System, but they are not much good for cataloging things like Lust, Ambition, or Madness.

as the demonstrators approached… they found themselves walking a gauntlet of riot equipped police on one side and martini sipping GOP delegates on the other

the demonstrators  were a useless mob of ignorant chicken shit ego junkies who… embarrassed the whole tradition of public protest

am I turning into a politics junkie? It is not a happy thought – particularly when I see what it’s done to all the others.

This may just be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves…we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable…
McGovern made some mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon  does eery day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?


Some of you older followers may know that my first post of the year is sometimes a list of books I plan on reading. We’re a little over a month into 2015 so I thought I’d put up this year’s version which puts me four months ahead of last year and I’m only about three weeks behind on doing the actual reading.

For the selection process this year I did something a little different. In the past I’ve just sat down and scrawled out a list of books that came to me off the top of my head. I have a tendency to forget what they were and instead read a bunch of other random shit and by then end of the year I’m writing a nearly identical list as the one previous (I’m not going to post the link, but if you want to dig through the archives you can compare the last few years of them, please don’t).

The first year I put 52 of them on the list thinking one book per week made sense. Since then I’ve culled that number and tried different ways of figuring out what is a reasonable reading goal for a year. This go round I have something a little less abstract in mind.
One shelf

[Trigger warning: I’m about to talk about the arranging of books for a few paragraphs, you may want to skip ahead]

I thought of it after I got a crate of books out of storage in Texas and had to rearrange my bookshelves (also a new addition to my office).  When you move an average of three times a year, throwing stuff out or giving it away or just leaving it behind becomes more and more appealing. Bookshelves are out of the question and heavy as fuck boxes of books are not the easiest thing to schlep about. For an avid reader like myself, this separation brings about a special Sophie’s Choice style of agony. I limited myself to one box of books. the ones that made the cut fell into the following categories: Reference (things I read bits of often for whatever reason, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales or The Bible), A-list Favorites (those things you can reread at anytime in any mood; you can quote them extensively; start them at any point, and they’ll make you happy. For me these are things like, All the Pretty Horses, Ender’s Game, American Gods, and Cat’s Cradle), and Aspirations (things you own and absolutely, positively, will read very soon, even if you don’t. Those for me were, The Master and the Margarita, A Farewell to Arms, and Grapes of Wrath).
When I moved into The Blanket Fort (my new place), I cleared out a family members attic for furniture and ended up with three bookshelves, shelves that were mostly empty when after my first few weeks. I went to Texas for Christmas and pulled a bunch of the books out of storage and asked my mother to send what she could to me later. Since then every month or so I get a small box full of books to fill my shelves.
The problem with the shelves though is that the heights are irregular. They’re fixed and I don’t feel too much like boring out new settings to readjust the height (not now at least, though every time I rearrange them I think I might have to do that sometime this summer)they’re three levels apiece and the top of each is arched so larger books will fit dead center but not much farther off. So setting them up by category didn’t really work (this shelf is all plays except for the five volumes that are collections of plays those are across the room). Then a friend of mine who was over drinking and watching me spend 4 hours arranging and rearranging, told me her books were divided into books she’s read and books she en’t.

which got me thinking.

I look back on books I’ve read like a journal. what I’ve underlined or notes scrawled in the margins. Not just the stories but the objects themselves tell a story, one only I understand because it’s one written in the black spaces between lines and at heading of each chapter.
I remember exactly when I read  House of Leaves because I had a tiny room with a desk and sat on the twin bed built into the wall and shut off all the lights except the clip on lamp that shone directly on the pages and the whole world outside those twisted coloured words disappeared. I read On The Road while on a train from Amsterdam to Antwerp then finished it on the way to Florence and was out of reading material and had to ask my friend whom I was visiting to borrow something for the trip back to Cork. He gave me Soul Music my first Discworld novel.
My copy of Ender’s Game has an inscription in the front cover, it was from someone who felt I needed it at the time and I was getting my ass kicked in the locker rooms at school on a weekly basis. It was the first book that made me reread it immediately after  I finished it and I don’t know how I would have survived middle school without it.
Sophie, my girlfriend at the time, gave away part of The Sun Also Rises which very much tinted my reading of it. Spring, senior year, and we broke up by prom so that narrows it down.
I read Grendel with a south African accent in my head because it was given to me by a teacher after I turned in a story that reminded him of it. I went straight outside and lay down on the grass and started in on it until dinner.

After sorting them this way, I found the stack of ‘books I haven’t but have strong desire to read’ filled just about one shelf.
One shelf of books, I like the sound of that. It’s a solid amount. now my books will be sorted with a system called my life. The card catalog will be my memory


Anyhoo, here’s this year’s list:

[note: I didn’t feel like typing anymore, so I’m in my office, dictating the contents of the shelf to the computer, I trust you’ll enjoy the interpretations]

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail of 72 – Hunter S Thompson
The Ginger Man – JP Donlevy
Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman*
The grapes of wrath – John Steinbeck
Dracula – Brahms Stoker
Grendel – John Gardner
As ever – Allen Ginsberg and Neil Cassidy
Rum diary – Hunter S Thompson
Peter Pan – J and Barry
Stranger in a strange land – Robert a Heinlein
Pulp – Charles B Caskey
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Iron weed – Will yam Kennedy
The stranger – come out
Sudden fiction – various
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Jailbird – Kurt Vonnegut
Bell cantor – and Pratchett
Wizard of yurt see – Ursula K Le Guin
Blind Willow sleeping woman – Harkey Murakami
God bless you Mr. Rosewater-  Kurt Vonnegut
The handmaidens tell – Margaret Atwood
Joan of arc – mark Twain
Sometimes a great notion – 10 Cassie
The Master and Margarita – Macayo Boga cough
A clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Strange wine – Harlan Ellison
The Dharma bums – Jack Karabakh
Travels with Charlie – John Stein back
White noise – Don Julio
A farewell to arms – Ernest Hemingway
Such a – Cormac McCarthy
Trainspotting – Irvine welsh
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest – can Cassey
seize the day – Saul Bello


*Trigger Warning is not actually on the shelf. apparently I preordered last year. I got particularly drunk with my flatmate who brought home a growler full of Manhattans. I don’t remember much, I’m told I spent most of the night singing “Black Velvet Band” over and over. But in the morning it was morning, there were two hundred dollar Amazon gift cards in the trash and for the next few months I received irregular surprises from the fairies of the interwebs the latest of which was Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman & the latest edition of Saga.

** I want to throw American Splendor on the list as well for reasons I’ll mention next post, but it doesn’t fit on the shelf due to it’s size & as a result doesn’t have a place in the order, but it will be in the first third I think due to temporal issues.


Post Script, If I end up in Grad school, this list gets shot to hell



I read with a pen. Pull a book off my shelf and scattered through the pages you might learn as much about what I thought of the book and where I was in my life as if you were reading my journal (also may of my stories begin in the margins of books). This makes me weary of lending books. In fact I’ve still never really forgiven an ex-girlfriend for not returning my copy of House of Leaves which I heavily annotated and illustrated.

I also find I learn a great deal from going back over my notes. I remember the book better. I can more easily call back specific quotes I don’t want to forget. And I’ve never lost the childhood habit of circling words, phrases, or references with which I am not well acquainted. Also words I really like, but rarely see or hear, words that are used in ways I hadn’t thought of, words that are antiquated, that have fallen from our fashionable lexicon and I wish I used more, neologistic words that make total sense but don’t appear in Miriam-Webster’s.

So today I thought I’d throw together some of my notes from my most recent read, Bluebeard, by Kurt Vonnegut. Think of it as a weird kind of cliff notes and also a little bit of admitting things I don’t know.

I haven’t included everything. Some of my notes are private and some of the passages I select are half or even a page long and I’ve left some of those out. Also, this work uses many historical figures as characters along with plenty of plain made up characters so there are a few which may end up not having much explanation.






Nutriment – nourishment; sustenance.


Cherchez le femme –  French for “look for the woman.” The implication is that a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise inexplicable manner because he is trying to cover up an affair with a woman, or trying to impress or gain favor with a woman.
Paul salzinger says, incidentally, that the human condition can be summed up in just one word: Embarrassment
“What does ‘Hello’ mean?” She said.
And I said “I had always understood it to mean Hello”
“Well it doesn’t,” she said. “It means, ‘don’t talk about anything important.’ It means, ‘I’m smiling but not listening, so just go away.’”
“If anybody has discovered what life is all about” Father might say, “it is too late. I am no longer interested.”
Terry Kitchen – Fictional Character/abstract painter of Vonnegut’s creation


There were miraculous breakfast foods and would soon be helicopters for every family… a war well worth fighting! – [in regards to WWII]


Judging from your pictures you hate facts like poison


Never trust a survivor… until you find out what he did to stay alive.


Porte-cochere – coach gate or carriage porch is a porch- or portico-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building through which a horse and carriage (or motor vehicle) can pass in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather.
“Everybody who is alive is a survivor, and everybody who is dead isn’t,” I said. “so everybody alive must have survivors syndrome. It’s that or death. I am so damn sick of people telling me proudly that they are survivors! Nine times out of ten it’s a cannibal or a billionaire!”
Opus nine – Fictional Painting


Blue and burnt – Fictional Painting


Cezanne – Paul,  French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century.


Nelson Algren – Author of The Man with the Golden Arm“in the late 1940s and early 1950s he was one of the best known literary writers in America.” The lover of French writer Simone de Beauvoir,


Irwin Shaw –  a prolific American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author


James Jones – was an American author known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath. wrote From here to Eternity. 
The paintings by dead men who were poor most of their lives are the most valuable pieces in my collection.
And if an artist wants to really jack up the prices of his creations, may I suggest suicide.

“Writers will kill for audience.”
“An audience of one?” I said.
“That’s all she needed,” she said “That’s all anybody needs,”
That’s the secret of how to enjoy writing and how to make yourself meet high standards… you don’t write for the whole world, and you don’t write for ten people, or two. You write for just one person.


Fillip – something that acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity/Flick
A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world’s champions.
Photographs are a poor substitute for all the people killed in the massacre
Pate – crown of the head
Thanks to television, we can hide a Great Depression. We may even be hiding a third world war.
Verdigris –  a green pigment obtained through the application of acetic acid to copper plates


Al Jolson –  a Jewish Lithuanian-born American singer, film actor, and comedian.


Booth Tarkington – an American novelist and dramatist best known for his novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams. He is, with William Faulkner and John Updike, one of only three novelists to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once.


W.C. Fields -an American comedian, actor,juggler and writer.


George Santayana –  Spanish Born American raiseda philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist.


Caftan –  front-buttoned coat or overdress, of ancient Mesopotamian origin.


Cantilevered – is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is forced against by a moment and shear stress.Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing.


John Cage – an American composer,


Greta Garbo – A Swedish film actress


Alacrity – brisk and cheerful readiness.


Everybody should be buried with somebody else, just about anybody else, whenever feasible.
Matisse of a woman holding a black cat in her arms and standing before a brick wall covered with yellow roses – Don’t think it’s a real painting


Concupiscent – filled with sexual desire
Painters —and storytellers… They are the justices of the Supreme Court of Good and Evil…
The most admirable thing about the Abstract Expressionist painters… was their refusal to serve on such a court.


I can remember thinking that war was so horrible that, at last, thank goodness, nobody could ever be fooled by romantic pictures and fiction and history into marching to war again.
Nowadays, of course you can buy a machine gun with a plastic bayonet for your little kid at the nearest toy boutique.




Arshile Gorky – was an Armenian-American painter, who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism.


Syd Solomon – An american Abstract Artist.




What Pollack did lacked that greatest of all crowd pleasers, which was human sacrifice.
An erection with which you might have smashed coconuts.




John singer – portrait of madame X



Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
Obsequies – funeral rites


Terpsichore – “delight in dancing”one of the nine Muses


James Whistler – n American-born, British-based artist active during the American Gilded Age


Henry James – an American writer  regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism.


Emile Zola – as a French writer, the most well-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism


Pasha – Turkish Title, approximately equivalent to Lord


Levantine -eastern Mediterranean geographic area


Obsolescent – becoming obsolete.


Clerestory – any high windows above eye level. The purpose is to bring outside light, fresh air, or both into the inner space.


Locution – a word or phrase, especially with regard to style or idiom/an utterance regarded in terms of its intrinsic meaning or reference, as distinct from its function or purpose in context.


Cosmopolite – is a real word.


Arno –  River in the Tuscan area of Italy.


Parlance – a particular way of speaking or using words, especially a way common to those with a particular job or interest.


Widow’s weeds – Black clothes worn by a widow in mourning.


She had had a life. I had accumulated anecdotes.
Floparroo – Neologism of Vonnegut’s creation


Willem de Kooning –  Dutch American abstract expressionist artist


William Baziotes – American Abstract Expressionist/surrealist painter


James brooks – An american Muralist/abstract expressionist painter


Hans hofmann – as a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.


Barnette Newman –  an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism.


Phillip Guston – was a painter and printmaker in the New York School,


Walker Tomlin – (bradley) belonged to the generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists


Gustav Klimt – was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement.


Flense – slice the skin or fat from (a carcass, especially that of a whale).


Conrad Aiken – was an American novelist and poet


Voluble – speaking incessantly and fluently.



We’re having a celebration, so all sorts of things have been said which are not true. That’s how to act at a party.



Hasps – a slotted hinged metal plate that forms part of a fastening for a door or lid and is fitted over a metal loop and secured by a pin or padlock.



The Japanese were as responsible as the Germans for turning Americans into a bunch of bankrupt militaristic fuckups—after we’d done such a good job of being sincere war-haters after the First World War



Awl – a long, pointed spike. for making holes in wood;


Languorous – feeling tired and relaxed







I’m not fond of hard covers. There’s a certain practicality which bothers me about them. Which is a curious thing because pragmatism is not something you think of when thinking of reading because when you’re reading, you’re taking flights of fancy.

People become attached to ritual with books. They pile them high upon shelves and windowsills like pictures of old friends. They salivate over ‘old books smell’, which is something real and scientifically explainable and now I’ve forgotten what that is.

You can’t fit a hardback in your pocket.

My favorite shape of a book is back pocket shaped. That’s why they must be paperbacks, small print and not terribly long.
At least for summer books, when you wear a Tshirt and jeans and you slide and old beaten Steinbeck or Bradbury, sticking out over your belt. You dash out unburdened by anything else to the park and sprawl out on the grass on your back and read lazily while your glance occasionally slips past the edges of the page and drifts over the forms of sunbathing beauties from the nearby university
Until someone darts by to catch a Frisbee, breaking your sightline, only or a moment, but that’s all it takes.
You would go and talk to her but no. You return to your Vonnegut, your Murakami.
Let them come to you.
Right now, you’re busy and with your eyes now returned in focus on the sun-white pages you’ve put up an invisible sign:
Busy. Do not disturb.
Unless you’re a pretty girl
And you want to talk about books

Winter is a wholly different time.
A bundling time. A time for very differently shaped books. The whole seasons is heavier. A time for heavier matters and heavier books. You bundle up. Scarf and hat and coat which has
Big. Pockets.
Perfect for larger books. Longer books. For longer nights by the fire or on the couch or in the warmth of a heated café. Maybe with bigger chairs; stuffed and lit with lamplight.
Before heading out into the bluster, into the snow, over the ice, you stock up. That heavy book of heavy matters. You bring the Russians. Tolstoy. Dostoyevsky. Writers who knew the meaning of cold winters and long nights.
You order something hot and sit in your stuffed chair, ready for a long session of reading. No point in coming all the way out, braving the cold just for a quick jaunt. You bear down. You delve. Surrounded by those others who are there, like you, for a good while, all starved for human contact. Stir crazy from their days inside. Twitching from taking fewer fag breaks because of the cold.
They are not dressed prettily. Their eyes are not flirtatious. This is a time when you here meet someone you know. To cuddle next to one another. To seek out dark mysteries in each other’s’ arms or with your head on the other’s lap.
There’s no sign up here. The book is a wall to shut out the cold. To keep you warm. To hide behind in all your layers
And fuck without touching.

Shuffle says: “Frank and Jesse James” Warren Zevon, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Ok, so it’s a little late to be posting this, but I figured I’d throw it up anyway. The idea for actually making the list came after celebrating New Year’s with my new family. We discussed resolutions, something I’ve never really been into.  I feel like it’s a set up for failure.  People tend to forget about them a month in and then fuck it.  I’m always resolving to do better and mostly failing so I really don’t see the need for a special event to do so.  Somehow, though I got it into my head that if I had a resolution it would have to be something that functionally must fit into a year.  And for some reason I decided that a great year long endeavor that would actually serve to better myself would be to pick a reading list and try to stick to it.

I can’t help but feel this list is also a confession of sorts.  There are a number of books on here that I either never finished or should have read years ago. In Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler the opening chapter portray’s you in the process of buying the book at the store and while you’re walking though the aisles of books and putting them into categories such as “books you always meant to read, but something always came up” and “books you pretend to have read and now are afraid to read because someone might catch you”.  That scene resonated with me for reasons you might pick up in the descriptions of the books posted below.

It also serves to remind myself regularly that I am a working writer now and this should be considered part of my JOB. So while the list feels a bit overwhelming, I’m trying to tend to it daily as part of my works schedule.  Finding the proper venues always helps as well. I’m on the train one to three days out of the week giving me almost two hours round trip, which has helped tremendously with giving me free time with very limited uses.

You’ll also notice a fair amount of audio books on the list. I’m taking a page (pun intended) out of Neil Gaiman’s book (or should I say “off his blog”) here. A few weeks ago he posted this entry, where he discusses his new work out plan. Since I stopped training a few years ago, I’ve gotten terribly out of shape and in the past few months have really started to notice it.  No one ever told me that writers live quite sedentary lives and I don’t think I am taking to it very well. I spent a significant amount of my day sitting in front of the computer for work, not to mention the time I spend sitting on the train, sitting at the dinner table, sitting while writing the blog, and so on and so forth. Honestly the most exercise I get is walking to improv and running around on stage.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Mr. Gaiman was experience similar issues and decided to start working out 40 or 20 minutes  every day, but was a bit disheartened with the prospect of doing something so “boring”. Then he got the Idea to download Audio books, queue up 40 minutes worth of a book and go. I must say I really like the idea of engaging the mind while training the body and I’m gonna take his advice.   The books listed run about a day a piece, which will last me I dunno how long (learning math is not among my new years resolutions) and if I run out I’ve got some old favorites: the Narnia series, A Christmas Carol (read by Patrick Stewart), Sherlock Holmes (Sir Christopher Lee), The Odyssey (Sir Ian McKellen), and the Lord of the Rings to slake my workout needs.

I’m shooting for a book a week, so there should be 52 books on this list. Obviously some of these I’ve already gone through.  If any of you want to recommend anything it will go swiftly to the bottom of the stack. Feel free to read along.

1. If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino
Done. One of the best books I have ever read. Now on my top ten and have added more Calvino to the reading list.

2. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klusterman
Done. Trying to read some non-fiction.

3. The Portable Beat Reader – various
I have this thing for letters. It seems every generation of writers (and artists in general) are very connected and I want to learn more about the relationships between that lot.

4. Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman

5. Sandman volumes 6-10 – Neil Gaiman
I know I know, I am a bad comic book writer for never finishing the series.

6. Ice Cream and Sadness – Various
Done. Yeah, I’m pseudo padding the list with comic books I got at Christmas.

7. Best New American Voices – Various

8. Artist Depending a staircase – Tom Stoppard

9. Ulyses – James Joyce
one of the “Big scary monsters” on the list

10. The Maltese Falcon – Dashell Hammet
One of my favorite movies. I love super stylized hard-boiled stuff.

11. The Master and the Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Added after many recommendations.  Also, I’ve never read anything by a Russian yet. This was also recommended by Neil Gaiman as an audio book and it may end up there.

12. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemmingway
One of my favorite authors and I’ve never read this one.

13. The crying of lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
Short and weird. Plus people keep telling me I’d really like the play in it.

14. One Flew Over the Coockoo’s nest – Ken Kessey

15. Long Day’s Journey into night – Eugine O’neil
I’m including plays in here too. I heard this once described as “about how Catholics are miserable, bad people and are all going to hell”

16. Iron Weed – William Kennedy
Recommended for me specifically by one of my writing teachers. Who said my style is heading in that direction and it would serve me to read this.

17. The story behind the Story – Various
A collection of short stories and essays by the authors about how they wrote them. For obvious reasons.

18. T-zero – Italo calvino
see one.

19. Zen in the art of Archery

20. The caretaker and the dumbwaiter – Harold Pinter

21. The Dharma Bums – Jack Keroac

22. The Call of Cthulu and other Dark Tales – H.P. Lovecraft

23. Making Comics – Scot McCloud

24. World War Z – Max Brooks
Done. Decided to try to read something contemporary to tap into some zeitgeist and it far exceeded my expectations.

25. SuicideGirls Issue 2 – various
Interviews with chuck palahniuk, Neil Labute, Dave Mamet, Zack Snyder, Kinky Friedman, Zach Galifanakais, and Terry Giliam

26. Waiter Rant – the waiter

27. Writing Movies – Gotham
Started for class and never finished

28. The wind in the willows – Kennith Grahme
Need to get back to some classic children’s stories.

29. Only Revolutions – Mark Z. Danielewski
From the author of another one of my top tens, House of Leaves.

30. The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury
Remember watching the movie as a kid. I had no idea it was a book, let alone written by a Sci-fi Legend.

31. Hell’s Angels – Hunter S. Thompson

32. The amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon
The book was lent to me by a friend and I hope to have it read before my next trip to Texas.

33. The Once and Future King – T.H. White
A favorite of the ‘monk’ who shows up in my Daily Droppings.

34. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

35. House of Mystery Volume 2 – Matthew Sturges
Done. Met this guy at a con. Probably my favorite series currently in production.

36.  On Stories – Richard Kearney

37. Lolita – Vladamir Nabokov

39. Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

40. The Real thing – Tom Stoppard

41. Communicating Doors – Alan Aykborne

42. Three Days of Rain – Richard Greenberg

43. True west – Sam Shepard

44. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
The second “big scary monster”

45. White Noise – Don Delillo
Started this one all the way back in highschool and never finished it.

46. The Road – Cormac McCarthy

47. All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy

48. No Country For Old Men – Cormac McCarthy

49. Art By Committee – Charna Halpern
A follow to Truth in Comedy.  

50. Stardust – Neil Gaimen

52. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

53. The Commitments – Roddy Doyle

54. Seize the Day – Saul Bellow

56. Truth in Comedy – Del Close

58. The Body Artist – Don Delillio

The following books are in audio format.

1. The Crossing – Cormac McCarthy

2. Cities of the Plains – Cormac McCarthy

3. Children of the Mind – Orson Scott Card

4. Xenocide – Orson Scott Card

5. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles – Haruki Murakami

6. A Scanner Darkley -Phillip K. Dick

7. Shadow of the Giant – Orson Scott Card

8. The Naked Lunch – William S Burroughs

9. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Oh and this final bit. Another top tenner here.  Neil Gaiman is releasing a 10th anniversary edition of the thing that is extended by 12,000 words and it be released alongside a full cast recording of the thing. I was so excited when the news came out last month I sat down and read almost half the thing before deciding I wanted to save the experience for when the new edition came out.

10. The Graveyard Book (read by the author)!