Underground Library regulars, I salute you.
UNYPL in 2012: The Regulars
It’s about to be a full year that I’ve been blogging the Underground Library. It’s been a year of so many discoveries and experiences. One discovery I had may seem plain, but it felt profound to experience it through photography. I discovered that a reader is… a Reader. In looking for people who were reading, I found that they were there as a kind. Books weren’t just an item they had with them. They were indications of a larger relationship that defined them. When I posted a reader whom I had photographed twice, someone commented that it was like a love story. I like that and I agree. Readers are in love with the world around them, and their relationship with the books that reveal it to them is an enduring one.
Here are four readers I happened to see twice over the course of the year. Regulars of the Underground Library. From top to bottom.
- When I first saw him, he had started reading “New York,” by Edward Rutherfurd. More than a month later, I saw him again when he was almost done with it.
- I saw her in the summer, when she was reading “Consider the Lobster and Other Essays,” by David Foster Wallace. On a recent cold morning I saw her again, still with David Foster Wallace, but this time reading his ”The Broom of the System.”
- One of the first readers I photographed, I loved his hat and glasses. Last year he was reading ”Killing Time: The First Full Investigation into the Unsolved Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman”, by Donald Freed. Eleven months later, I recognized him because of his hat and glasses. I wasn’t sure why I recognized him, until sure enough, he took a book out of his bag. This time he was reading ”Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon,” by Aram Goudsouzian.
- I first saw him late one night, when I was tired and on my way home. But Jack London wasn’t yet in the Underground Library, so I took my camera out and photographed him. Early in the morning a month later, I was tired again when I saw him again, enjoying another story in ”To Build a Fire and Other Stories,” by Jack London.
This book is highly recommended by my besty, KJ, who works in publishing and read an advance copy months ago. I can’t wait to purchase it.
Author: John Boyne
Book Description: It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War.
But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will—from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.
The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they’ve turned the last page.
For every kid who’s ever been smothered by parental concern, there have always been plenty in America and elsewhere who’ve been left to fend for themselves. One cold consolation these kids have is that their stories usually make for better literature.
Tupelo Hassman’s debut novel stars Rory, a resilient-if-ragged life force raised in a Reno trailer park who adopts a tattered copy of The Girl Scout Handbook as her Bible. Rory endures sexual abuse, the death of loved ones, and everyday invisibility — all without playing for our sympathy.
I’d like to give this a try, but honestly I can’t read any more stories where young girls are sexually abused. I just cannot.
"People hate these shows, but their hatred smacks of denial. It’s all there, all the old American grotesques, the test-tube babies of Whitman and Poe, a great gauntlet of doubtless eyes, big mouths spewing fantastic catchphrase fountains of impenetrable self-justification, muttering dark prayers, calling on God to strike down those who would fuck with their money, their cash, and always knowing, always preaching. Using weird phrases that nobody uses, except everybody uses them now. Constantly talking about “goals.” Throwing carbonic acid on our castmates because they used our special cup and then calling our mom to say, in a baby voice, “People don’t get me here.” Walking around half-naked with a butcher knife behind our backs. Telling it like it is, y’all (what-what). And never passive-aggressive, no. Saying it straight to your face. But crying … My God, there have been more tears shed on reality TV than by all the war widows of the world. Are we so raw? It must be so. There are simply too many of them— too many shows and too many people on the shows— for them not to be revealing something endemic. This is us, a people of savage sentimentality, weeping and lifting weights."
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you’re going to spend 500+ pages with some fictional characters, you’d better like them. I very much like Henry Skrimshander and Owen Dunne. I even like Guert and Pella Affenlight. But I love baseball, and I fucking love Mike Schwartz.
I would like Mike Schwartz to be my boyfriend in both of the following scenarios:
1. I travel back in time and become the college co-ed I never was, taking personal satisfaction from washing the dishes in the overflowing sink of the kitchenette of Mike Schwartz’s off-campus apartment.
2. Mike Schwartz shows up on the doorstep of my real-life Brooklyn apartment with his creaky knees, widow’s peak and battle-worn self-awareness.
This novel puts some errors on the board in the final act, but I’m still calling it close to perfect. Baseball. Self-doubt. Codependency. And the simultaneous fear of failure and fear of success. Harpooners, you are skilled. We exhort you!
View all my reviews
"We are living in an era of screen addiction and capitalist pornography. As a species, we are squandering the exalted gifts of consciousness, losing our capacity to pay attention, to imagine the suffering of others. You are a part of all this. It involves you. This it the hard labor we’re trying to perform—convincing strangers to translate our specks of ink into stories capable of generating rescue. I mentioned before the ancient feeling I get when I read a beautiful story: it’s as if I’m a little kid again, and something very sad has happened, and it’s winter, and night has blackened the branches above. I’m very stirred up—close to tears, actually—because I can see—I’ve been made to see, by a writer—the sorrow that everyone is lugging around, and the cruel things this sorrow makes them do, and still, I want to forgive them. I want to forgive every last sorry bastard."
"When you hold a book in your hand, nothing will happen unless you work to make it happen. When you hold a book, the power and the responsibility are entirely yours."
~ Jonathan Franzen, from Perchance to Dream, his 1996 essay for Harper’s, which I mentioned last week. Interesting to find this quote in the afterglow of Facebook’s announcement of its “friction-less sharing.” Any physicist knows that it’s impossible to exist in a frictionless universe, and that friction hasn’t been diminished with Facebook’s sharing model so much as transferred the work of making sense of things from the one sharing to the audience. (via viafrank) Oh, Franzen. I can’t say mad at you.
Jonathan Franzen, from Perchance to Dream, his 1996 essay for Harper’s, which I mentioned last week.
Interesting to find this quote in the afterglow of Facebook’s announcement of its “friction-less sharing.” Any physicist knows that it’s impossible to exist in a frictionless universe, and that friction hasn’t been diminished with Facebook’s sharing model so much as transferred the work of making sense of things from the one sharing to the audience.
Oh, Franzen. I can’t say mad at you.