Monday, August 5, 2019

Books Forever: August

August Books


After a bit of a dry reading spell despite the ever accumulating stacks, I've been alternating between the books in the stack above: 

1. Surrealist Ghostliness via Kathrine Conley: I've picked this book up a handful of times before and haven't quite made it all the way through it yet. These essays focus a lot on female surrealists and the idea of 'Surrealist Ghostliness' which is a term the author came up with and that deals with viewing things with the lenses of both our conscious minds as well as our unconscious, a kind of 'doubleness' which can lead to a feeling of ghostliness or haunted-ness within the works of the surrealists. There are great essays on Lee Miller's photography and the interiors of Dorothea Tanning and Francesca Woodman, amongst others.

2. Please Bury Me In This via Allison Benis White: This is one of those books I don't remember purchasing, but it came from Strand Books and it has a Francesca Woodman on the cover so I'm guessing that's what drew me to it. This book is a bit genre-defying and is searingly beautiful, with the feel of poetry in its clipped, poignant language. Prepare for your heart to smolder on its pyre.
 CW: Suicide 

3. In the Dust of this Planet: via Eugene Thacker: This is another book I've had for quite awhile. I picked it up after a reading binge into contemporary cosmic horror ( Laird Barron, Brian Evenson ) and couldn't quite fit my brain around some of the philosophical theories at the time. While it still feels like I'm doing some mental gymnastics, having read 'The Conspiracy Against the Human Race' by Thomas Ligotti either earlier this year or late last year has helped my comprehension a bit. This book tackles how we think about 'the unthinkable' by exploring the supernatural and 'cosmic horror' in film and literature. Climate change and other collective anxieties abound.

4. Flowers of Mold via Han Seong-Nan translated from Korean via Janet Hong : This was another recent purchased from the tables at Strand; the title and cover caught my attention first, and then I was persuaded by a blurb on the back cover calling her 'a master of the strange story' by Brian Evenson ( one of my favorite writers / one of the most prolific readers of our time ). Sometimes I struggle with translations feeling in alignment with the text but this is a thoughtful, beautiful translation and the stories have a subtle strangeness to them that I'm really enjoying. CW from the first few stories: attempted violence, violence.

5. The Brief History of the Dead via Kevin Brockmeier is an older book about an afterlife that seems to be akin to the world of the living. The chapters alternate between this city of the dead and a woman trapped in the Arctic as a pandemic is clearing out both the world of the living and those in the city of the dead, as ones citizenship is dependent on their memory being 'alive' within those living. Its interesting premise and beautiful lyrical language hooked me from the start. I'll definitely be seeking out his other titles.

6. Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea via Sarah Pinsker came out earlier this year via my favorite speculative fiction press owned by Speculative Fiction excellency Kelly Link, Small Beer Press. I will read anything put out by this amazing press ( & zine ! ). Strange, speculative short stories abound; my favorite kind of book.

7. The Starless Sea via Erin Morgenstern: I was very lucky to receive an advance copy of Erin's first novel since the much beloved 'The Night Circus' which if you have yet to read, its one of my all time favorite books and one of the few I've re-read in my life of book reading. For some readers it's scary to start a sophomore novel, especially when the writer's debut has already made such a mark. However, despite my not yet to finishing it ( its so good I'm reading it slowly to savor its every word and idea ), I promise the wayward fear of disappointment will evaporate immediately. If you've been to Sleep No More in NYC you'll recognize some of the feels the experience deeply imbues its travelers with. This book isn't slated to release until later in the year which feels like the perfect reading season for this tale. In the meantime, I had the honor/pleasure/fan girl freak out to interview Erin for Haute Macabre, which you can read here if you're so inclined.

8. Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art via David Zwirner Gallery : Oooooo this is a beautiful addition to ones Surrealist library. Aaron and I fortuitously happened upon this exhibit last October and it was a dream to stand in front of and witness some of these legendary pieces irl. Reproductions of the works included in the exhibit are paired with thoughtful essays on Surrealism and Fantastic Art, including arts historian/writer Dawn Ades.

In other Book Worm news:
 I'll be posting more books I'm reading & books I want to read on our newly renamed @bloodmilkreads IG account. We had to suspend 'book club' activities for now but have hopes to revitalize it for the irl landscape at our show room in the future once we feel able. Many many thanks to those who participated in its strange format over these last few years.

I hope you're enjoying August as well as one can with the seesaw of horror/beauty of being alive on this timeline has wrought. I'm thinking of you with gratitude for meeting me here and allowing me to share not only my work, but the things, people and places that I love. I know it's not possible to live wholly in the dream world, but I hope my this little corner of the web I've built with dreams brings some respite.

All my best,
xx Jess

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