Sunday, January 6, 2013

Books on Deck / Up Next - Pt. X

I'm thankful to have a family that plays into my more nerdy tendencies as I get stoked when books arrive at my doorstep. This year, I think my brother may have "won" Christmas as his gift just showed up. Here are a few of the books he sent that I'll be digging into over the next month or so.

National Book Award finalist Cristina Garcia delivers a powerful and gorgeous novel about the intertwining lives of the denizens of a luxurious hotel in an unnamed Central American capital in the midst of political turmoil. The lives of six men and women converge over the course of one week. There is a Japanese-Mexican-American matadora in town for a bull-fighting competition; an ex-guerrilla now working as a waitress in the hotel coffee shop; a Korean manufacturer with an underage mistress ensconced in the honeymoon suite; an international adoption lawyer of German descent; a colonel who committed atrocities during his country's long civil war; and a Cuban poet who has come with his American wife to adopt a local infant. With each day, their lives become further entangled, resulting in the unexpected - the clash of histories and the pull of revenge and desire. Cristina Garcia's magnificent orchestration of politics, the intimacies of daily life, and the frailty of human nature unfolds in a moving, ambitious, often comic, and unforgettable tale. 

American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since his Sandman days. 

"Manuel Munoz's vividly suspenseful first novel is a find blend of Hitchcock's chilly elegance and the sordid passions of James M. Cain; a dark, intimate, heartbreaking tale about four very different women, each one longing to escape the confines of her everyday life through the romantic illusions concocted by Hollywood. Their voices will haunt me for some time to come." - Julia Glass, author of The Widower's Tale and Three Junes

"There is no rigorous and effective deconstruction without the faithful memory of philosophies and literatures, without the respectful and competent reading of texts of the past, as well as singular works of our own time. Deconstruction is also a certain thinking about tradition and context. Mark Taylor evokes this with great clarity in the course of a remarkable introduction. He reconstitutes a set of premises without which no deconstruction could have seen the light of day." - Jacques Derrida

"This critical collection combines astute and graceful interpretations of well-known literary texts from the Americas while at the same time displaying a rich global understanding of the broad reach of magical realism. Fashioning subtle rethinkings of the magical realist movement, it will shape discussion of postmodern and postcolonial literary histories." - Jose David Saldivar, University of California, Berkeley

By exploring central issues in the philosophy of literature, illustrated by a wide range of novels, poems, and plays, Philosophy of Literature gets to the heart of why literature matters to us and sheds new light on the nature and interpretation of literary works. 

"I have read several times the long title-essay of Kenneth Burke's latest book, The Philosophy of Literary Form, and still with the sense of an adventure. It is like following the intrepid explorer who is making a path through the jungle. I indicate the range and density of the speculative field, which is poetic theory, and jungle-like; and also the emancipation of Burke's mind, the explorer's, from common academic restraints - especially from the over-all cast of sobriety which he, in a cold tone, calls 'neo-Aristotelian.'" - John Crowe Ransom


1 comment:

  1. I have Deconstruction in Context in my library. I bought it while still an undergraduate at Long Beach State, back in 96 or 97. The book was required reading for an advanced course in Deconstruction. We studied the works of Sartre, Kierkegaard, Nitezsche, and of course the postmodernists and poststructuralists like Bataille, Derrida, etc. I remember it being a challenging course. We did get as far as Blanchot. My last note in the margins of the book read, "Technology has made the universe smaller, yet it has been unable to alleviate the burden such knowledge (of having shrunken the world) brings." I think what underlies this statement is the question I posed at the beginning of the book. How can a book relate to other people, other books even, if the postmodernist book is self-referential? If a book relates to only itself and not to an other, God, nature, objects, then can it be a vehicle of communication, or at very least an epistemological object? These were some of the things I was wrestling with back then.