Posts tagged with books
The Last Book I Loved: Joan Didion’s ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’
The Last Book I Loved is an ongoing series from The Rumpus to highlight emerging Tumblr writers (and the books they love). This is the final installment of Tumblr Storyboard’s version, but you can still submit to The Rumpus for publication! Thanks for reading.
I came across a Facebook post recently in which someone offered W.B. Yeats’ poem “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” as encouragement for a peer going through a quarter-life crisis. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold,” Yeats writes. It’s a feeling everyone has at some point, but for a twentysomething in the midst of an identity crisis, it sounded especially appropriate.
Joan Didion must have felt the same way when she chose the poem as an epigraph for her essay collection of the same name.
Speaking Up for STFU Parents
When Blair Koenig started STFU Parents, a Tumblr that lightheartedly pokes fun at the myriad parental oversharers of the world, she had no clue that four years later her inbox would be overflowing with enough tantrums, dining table diaper changes, and placenta casserole recipes to fill an entire book. And yet, STFU Parents (the book) hits stands this week, complete with vomit, snot, and of course, those perennial potty-training updates. Breaking down the submissions into categories like “Mama Drama,” “Mommyjacking,” or the ominously titled “Gross-Out Factor,” it’s a cautionary tale for anyone who’s ever considered giving birth — or even been friends with a parent.
Do you just hate babies? Why start the blog?
I noticed a big influx of information — kidformation — in my Facebook status feed. I kind of loosely complained about it to a parent friend, so then she started sending me screen shots of her annoying friends, who were mostly bragging about their kids. Up until then I’d only witnessed more boring, minutiae-type updates — how many naps their kid had, how much their kids had eaten. But the updates she was getting were a whole new level.
I’m probably going to regret asking, but what’s the most revolting thing you’ve ever seen?
It’s all a matter of taste. Some people are not grossed out by snot, but personally, I think pictures of kids with snot hanging off their faces are the worst. Anyone who takes an aerial picture of an open diaper or a toilet with shit in it … I don’t even understand how a person thinks that way.
The Last Book I Loved: ‘The Unnamed’
When you go to the website for Joshua Ferris’s 2010 novel, The Unnamed, your screen fills with static for a second. Then it resolves into a grainy gray video of the main hall of Grand Central Terminal, like security camera footage, commuters walking to and from their trains. And then fuzzy blue circles appear over a handful of heads. When you click on one, the video pauses, and a small text bubble comes up. One says, “I look around, I wonder if I’m just sick.” Another quotes a poem by Percy Shelley. “Art thou pale for weariness / Of climbing heaven and gazing on earth/Wandering companionless / Among the stars that have a different birth.” They feel like a little of what each person has inside them, a bit of story or sorrow they keep inside themselves.
This is what Joshua Ferris’s work is — a song of this secret world. He writes about the isolation of modern life, our disconnect from the world at large and from the people around us. And he writes of the small, beautiful hopes of connection — through love, through hope, through body-breaking exertions.
The Last Book I Loved: House of Leaves
The first thing that you notice about the full-color second edition of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves is the cover. It’s not an ornate design, although the compass needle and outwardly spreading nautilus, and glossy lines of rooms in a house against matte-black paper are all lovely touches. What you notice is its size — which foreshadows the primary moving force in the novel. It is roughly a half an inch shorter than the book itself.
The Last Book I Loved: A Time to Be Born
Ernest Hemingway purportedly said of Dawn Powell that she was his “favorite living writer.” Powell’s reputation has dwindled since then, and so I picked up A Time to Be Born in an effort to read more women writers — especially once-famous, forgotten ones. It took me a long time to get around to reading it, though, mainly because the back cover blurbs and reviews I read didn’t do justice to the one thing that made me love this book: Dawn Powell’s writing is so damn mean.
The Last Book I Loved: History of the Peloponnesian War
This is not an easy book to love. As an object, it is one of those books all of an age: squat, with yellowing, pulpy pages, the kind whose corners you can’t turn down because the paper creases so hard it that it might as well be perforated. Dog-ear it in the opposite direction and the corner comes off entirely. The print is small and dense; and it is a 2,400 year old account of a war that gets no press. It’s not sexy like the Fall of Troy, not Homerically epic. The gods don’t factor in. The content is almost as hard to love as the way I remember myself when the book first came to me.