Saturday, 12 August 2006

I Like Books Today I finally answer the Kevin's tap of two weeks back. (A quasi-re-tapping later followed, so I'm answering that one two, I guess.) I began writing this then, but am finishing it tonight. I only mention this because I am, to quote Jonathan Swift, "sick as a Cushion, [and] want nothing but stuffing." Feeding the fever, indeed. Before doing so, however, I want to update you on Festival of Self-Congratulation mentioned Saturday. It continues. New charges include "plagiarizing things outright" and "Seinfeld impressions." It seems our dear Troll's unable to differentiate between quotation and plagiarism. (Another reason for his failure to earn the degrees he sought, perhaps?) For her part, Colonel Moutarde has taken to chastizing The Valve for the way in which its contributors responded to Franco Moretti. Like all accusations of professional and intellectual envy, hers contains what it diagnoses in spades. Now, on to the show, in which I'm asked to name: 1. One book that changed your life? Questions like this are burdend with an implicit "for the better." Some books really change you; however, they don't do so "for the better." So I'm going to go with Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus. It ignited an already waxing interest in Theory—but that's not quite true. A combination of it and the explosively brilliant guy who taught the seminar on it, John Protevi, sent me scrambling. Then again, said scrambling contributed to my admission here, so I don't want to disown its impetus ... but I do sometimes wonder where and what I'd be if I'd never come to Irvine. (The answer, as previously noted, involves real estate.) The other candidate for this one is The Crying of Lot 49. The story accompanyinig that answer is far too long to relate here. Needless to say it involves a student teacher I crushed hard on; a book I bought from her husband's used bookstore; my employment at said bookstore; the creation of a crude database of Lot 49 and various other attempts to "solve" its mysteries; hitting on a new employee with talk of Lot 49 and the proper washing lettuce; and, finally, the wedding of the aforementioned new employee (charmed by talk of Pynchon and pesticide) and myself in which the man whose wife I'd crushed hard on stood beside me as my best man. See what I mean? Complicated. 2. One book you have read more than once? I like Kevin's answer, but I demur and go with simple addition. I've read Gravity's Rainbow eleven times, Ulysses six, and Moby Dick too many times to count. Gravity's Rainbow and Ulysses I can count re-readings confidently because I can track my marginalia in the various editions littering the apartment. Moby Dick, however, was my Christmas break conceit for the better part of two decades. I began with the Illustrated Classics, but by sixth or seventh grade had worked myself up to book itself. Then it became a routine—and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a...

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