09 October 2006

And what have you been reading lately?

An almost-outdated post in U.S. News and World Report (August 28, 2006, page 38) notes that our Commander-in-Chief, I kid you not, has read 60 books so far in 2006.

Aside from the fact that any President reading that much is clearly not running our country (please, resist the urge to make the obvious joke…), G.W. must be doing some graduate school-like exam cramming.

Oh, but here are some of the titles:


Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar

American Prometheus (Robert Oppenheimer bio)

Several baseball books (Roberto Clemente, Babe Ruth, etc…)

Surprising (?):

Mao: The Unknown Story

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Wisdom (listed by a polich hack?)

And…drum roll:

The Stranger, as in, yes, that mid-century existentialist classic, about, as The Cure sublimely note, “killing an Arab.”

Aside from (again, resist the urge...) the obvious issues with this list (my father suggests that the other texts must be short children's books…), is anyone else in the “book business” strung out on reading?

By the time I make it through student papers, editorial mss., and books I am teaching or reviewing, I have precious little energy for those good old pleasures of the texts.

Please tell me I’m not alone...or at least pass me some Camus.



david raphael israel said...

Among blogo-riffs on the Bush and Camus thing, here's a notable one.

Carol Novack said...

Bush & Camus was indeed a hot topic. And I agree: who has time to read?

Published on brainsnap (http://www.brainsnap.com)
George W. Bush Excited by Camus
By Andrusha Bonnelin
Created 09/07/2006 - 00:20
CRAWFORD, TX - Pointy-headed liberals sneered and expressed skepticism when it was reported that President George W. Bush planned to spend his recent two-week summer vacation reading The Outsider by French existentialist novelist Albert Camus.

(The book is 119 pages long in the Penguin paperback edition, roughly ten pages a day if the President were to complete it during his vacation). Sources have revealed to Brainsnap that, despite the cynics' scoffing at Mr. Bush's capacity for literary appreciation, the President has not only finished reading the novel, at the suggestion of his wife Laura, but has even written an enthusiastic book report which he has given to the First Lady.

A leaked copy reads: "Dear Laura, Thank you for making me read this book, even if it is by a French guy. This book is really way cool! Someone told me it was heavy philosophical shit, but it's actually about this guy who kills an Arab on a beach, just like that. How cool is that?"

Mr. Bush has apparently disclosed that Laura is now encouraging her husband to attempt Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past on his next vacation. "Apparently, that's pretty cool, too," the President told a White House source. "And Laura said if I get far enough into the book, there's a great scene where this guy Marcel slides down a rope from a helicopter with a machine gun and wastes about two hundred Arab terrorists."

Source URL:

jdeshell said...

This is a GREAT season for fiction. New books from Lynne Tillman, Laird Hunt, Kate Bernheimer, Brian Evanson, Shelley Jackson etc etc etc, not to mention new releases from NOWHAT folks. This all gives me hope. J

blonde said...

bush on camus now that's a good one. yeah it's old news at this point but let's call a spade a spade: total crock of shit.

except for the beautiful irony.

true so true what jdeshell says about books recently released--but i'd add stacey levine's FRANCES JOHNSON, trevor dodge's EVERYONE I KNOW LIVES ON ROADS, kat mead's THE COMPLETE LIFE OF KITTY DUNCAN, elizabeth block's A GESTURE THROUGH TIME, steve tomasula's THE BOOK
OF PORTRAITURE, lance olsen's N's KISSES, and of course NORTHWEST EDGEiii: the end of reality (comes with a dvd of experimental film folks).

i mean, what's not to love?

we gotta quit whining and pick the books up and read them and tell everyone we know as a subversive act up and through what THE PRESIDENT READS and what OPRAH spouts.



Davis Schneiderman said...

I agree with Lidia's notion that we must spread the word...no doubt this is the way to go.

[BTW...Lake Forest College just hosted three great indie authors: Tod Thilleman, Chris Glomski, and Will Alexander (check our their Spuyten Duyvil books!)--and Debra Di Blasi arrives in late January.]

But, I'm still in a severe reading drought. Picked up Naked Lunch tonight to teach to my class on Wed, and found that I wanted to put it down at one point (Ok, I was on an airplane, and I've read it many times)...and I'm a Burroughs scholar for Ah Pook's sweet sake.

Anyway, it's not so much time as inclination. I've read many of the above list, enthusiastically, but I've somehow hit some reading wall--and I want to know if others are or have been in this same unsteady boat....

I don't have writer's block, but (gasp), reader's block. Is there even such a thing? Am I making it worse but acknowledging it?


jdeshell said...

Sometimes, you just gotta get away. I like art books and fashion magazines. Just the pictures. Music. Films. Doesn't Chicago have really good architecture? I understand that does it for some.

Ted Pelton said...

Yeah, depressing state of affairs when Bush has more time to read evidently than I do.

Can we send the White House review copies?

We can write the next Bush speech. "As I was reading the other day in a book by freedom-loving author Jeffrey DeShell, in which an Anerican is tempted by the enemies of freedom in the Middle East: 'Do something, you wordy motherfucker.' That's what my administration is all about. Instead of endlessly talking about freedom and democracy, we do something."

Davis Schneiderman said...

Fashion magazines--now why didn't I think of that?! It's all about silhouettes this season...

Thanks Jeffrey.


Anonymous said...

So, I'm finally posting something on the blog! And, ironically, it's about reader's block. Davis, I sympathize. I've been going through on and off reader's block for a while now (though I did fit in Don Quixote in the fall). Instead of reading, I got obsessed with doing crossword puzzles--seems to alleviate anxiety which is all to plentiful at present. But, I'm back to reading as of this week, starting with 14 Hills anthology: New Standards. It's been a relief to get back to the books, but maybe crossword puzzles are a good route for the reading-blocked writer. Don't know. Now, I'm looking forward to reading Laird and Brian's new books, Don Quixote by Kathy Acker, and others.