Tuesday, December 31, 2019

49 of the 50 books I finished in 2019, in chronological order, plus audiobooks


Paper Books


The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading (2018) — Edmund White
The Word Pretty (2018) — Elisa Gabbert
Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs (2018) — Bill Cunningham
L'Heure Bleue, or The Judy Poems (2016) — Elisa Gabbert
Two Serious Ladies (1943) — Jane Bowles
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (2017) — Kathleen Rooney
Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, 
     a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer (2018) — 
     Margalit Fox
Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces (2016) — Ian Frazier
Slutever: Dispatches from a Sexually Autonomous Woman in a Post-Shame World 
     (2018) — Karley Sciortino
Butcher's Crossing (1960) — John Williams
Blaming (1976) — Elizabeth Taylor
I Wrote This Book Because I Love You (2018) — Tim Kreider
Shell Game (2018) — Jordan Davis
Future Sex (2015) — Emily Witt
Night Thoughts (2017) — Wallace Shawn
Housekeeping (1980) — Marilynne Robinson
Fort Not (2017) — Emily Skillings
The Blue Flower (1995) — Penelope Fitzgerald
Talkativeness (2014) — Michael Earl Craig
Outline (2014) — Rachel Cusk
New York, 1960 (2016) — Barry Gifford
Surrounded by Friends (2015) — Matthew Rohrer
Cape May (2019) — Chip Cheek
Phantoms (2019) — Christian Kiefer
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (2016) — Colin Dickey
The Arrangements (2018) — Kate Colby
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (2019) 
     — David Treuer
Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary (2016) — Joe Jackson
The Catherine Wheel (1952) — Jean Stafford
Swimming to Cambodia (1985) — Spalding Gray
Black Elk Speaks (1932) — Black Elk and John G. Neihardt
The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living (2001) — Joseph M. Marshall III
The Day the World Ended at Little Bighorn: A Lakota History (2007) — Joseph M. 
     Marshall III
Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969) — Vine Deloria Jr.
Little Big Man (1964) — Thomas Berger
The Bushwhacked Piano (1971) — Thomas McGuane
Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier 
     (2013) — Tom Kizzia
The Witches: Salem, 1692 (2015) — Stacy Schiff
Mrs. Caliban (1982) — Rachel Ingalls
Portrait Inside My Head (2013) — Phillip Lopate
Heroic Measures (2009) — Jill Ciment
The Ghost Clause (2019) — Howard Norman
A Fair Maiden (2010) — Joyce Carol Oates
The Pisces (2018) — Melissa Broder
Straying (2018) — Molly McCloskey
Late Fame (1895, unpublished until 2014) — Arthur Schnitzler
Amazons: An Intimate Memoir by the First Woman Ever to Play in the National 
     Hockey League (1980) — Cleo Birdwell (Don DeLillo)
Normal People (2018) — Sally Rooney
As in Every Deafness (2003) — Graham Foust


Audiobooks


The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn — 
     Nathaniel Philbrick
Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image — 
     Joshua Zeitz
Carry On, Jeeves — P.G. Wodehouse
Travels in Siberia — Ian Frazier
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War — Nathaniel Philbrick
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex — Nathaniel Philbrick
So, Anyway... — John Cleese
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania — Erik Larson
Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation 
     — John Sedgwick
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette 
     — Hampton Sides
Avid Reader: A Life — Robert Gottlieb
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a 
     President — Candice Millard
Hitler: Ascent: 1889 – 1939 — Volker Ullrich
Into the Wild — Jon Krakauer
Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's 
     Tragic Quest for Primitive Art — Carl Hoffman
Sunburn — Laura Lippman
Then Again — Diane Keaton
Einstein: His Life and Universe — Walter Isaacson
The Dinner — Herman Koch
Early Work — Andrew Martin*

*Listened to mostly while asleep, thankfully

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Made the mistake of falling asleep before I could delete the tweet in which I linked to this blog last night. There are certain things you tweet late at night that you tweet late at night for a reason. 

Anyway. Today I tried to forget about that and do some work. I went to Ridgewood and had my usual at the pizza place on Fresh Pond (chicken slice). Discovered the M train wasn't running. Walked over to Milk & Pull, passing Topos on the way, where it is always too crowded these days, never hope of getting a seat, unless, I guess, you show up in the morning and wait for them to open the door.

Got some writing done, walked to the L. Had a beer at Think Coffee in Manhattan. Then to Chipotle, then the Strand, then home. A more or less typical winter Saturday, even though it's spring. Cold and windy in the morning, then just cold later. I need it to not be cold anymore. I need to be able to walk outside comfortably, for hours on end.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Please don’t read this blog if you’re related to me! Thanks.

Friday, March 22, 2019

In a way, it's nice that no one reads blogs anymore. I can write pretty much whatever I want. Not that I would. There's not much I can write that won't get me in trouble. The rest is beyond dull. My life is composed of small routines, not intense dramas. I have a relatively comfortable life. I've never wanted much in the way of material goods, so I've never felt a need to struggle to get them. Life is always easier when you don't expect much.

Right now I'm going about what has become my usual Friday night routine. I'm at The Bean on Third and Stuyvesant, which used to be St. Mark's Bookshop. There's a book in my bag on the floor by my chair that happens to have a bookmark from that store (though the book is a library book). After work I usually walk over to Poets House, where I read or write, or try to. Then I come here and use their Wi-Fi to listen to WFIU on my phone. I've been doing this for a few months, I think. Ever since the beginning of winter, which seems too far back to remember. When it's winter it seems like it's always been winter.

I can't decide what to do next with my life. I don't want to go back to school, but I'm starting to worry that I should, before it's too late. What I really want to do is write books and become a successful, in-demand writer, getting solicited to write for magazines and so forth. Of course, I really have no idea how to go about doing that. I'm not a reader of magazines or websites. I don't know how to get started in that world. I'd love to be able to write a novel, but all my attempts have so far come to nothing. I'm working on one right now, but it's a half-hearted effort, and totally amateurish. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. It's about a guy traveling from New York out west somewhere, possibly to his hometown, when he gets sidetracked by a femme fatale in the spooky backwoods of western Pennsylvania. She leads him into a kind of sex odyssey involving strange characters and possibly supernatural elements. When I started writing it last summer, I was in the middle of watching the new Twin Peaks. All I seem to know about writing fiction is to imitate whatever I'm reading at the time.

Is anyone reading this?