Posts tagged with prose
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.
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.
The Last Book I Loved: Cataclysm Baby
Cataclysm Baby, a short story collection by Matt Bell, explores fatherhood under the guise of a book of baby names. The innocent abecedary form belies the book’s dark contents. I don’t think it would be inappropriate to place the collection in the horror genre, if only to align it with my own desires and my love affair with horror movies. But the book certainly contains enough blood, guts, and magic to earn a place there.
The Last Book I Loved: Brown Girl, Brownstones
My dreams, for so long unrestrained by land, air, or even death — and frequently including scenes of me tumbling through the air on glossy black feathered wings or jumping into an abyss with a smile on my face — now generally take place in a building with four walls and a roof. I dream of houses. I dream of owning a home, post-Great Recession, and despite the weight of federal student loans on my back. I am frequently visited by visions of curtains that open up to reveal a cold sunlight in the morning, of a cubbyhole library, perhaps in the attic, and of backyards that lend themselves to Slip ‘n Slides and crisp autumnal leaf piles. I would dream of brownstones, except I’m in the wrong tax bracket. Crippling pragmatism happens sometimes.
Language Is a Virus: How Loanwords Move the World’s Tongues
There are an estimated 6,700 to 6,900 languages in the world today, and they drift through the air like a meteorological echo — Hello! Hallo! Allô! — a roll of thunder or a set of bird calls off in the corner of the ear and the eye. And accompanying every tongue are loanwords, or, rather, lehnwerts, the tin-eared telephone line tossed from house to house, the improvised bridge of a tree knocked across a river’s expanse, or, more prosaically, words one “borrows” from one language into another. Loanwords explain how and why English speakers can say things like Frankfurter, pretzel, hinterland, dreck, or kaput without their conversational co-conspirator batting an eye.
The Last Book I Loved: I Love Dick
This is the first of an ongoing series, produced in partnership with The Rumpus, to highlight Tumblr writers (and the books they love). Want to have your essay considered? Submit it here. We’ll publish our favorites every Friday for the next 10 weeks.
The front cover of the last book I loved bears neither gold seals nor laurels to rest on. If you’re looking for flashy art direction, keep moving. Here, there’s just a shadowy still life photo (inventory: one open notebook, one glass ashtray, one bowl, two pens, many loose leaves of paper) set against a plain white background. And yet, if ever there was a book that should be judged by its cover, it’s this one. Open it and you’ll learn that the cover photo is not stock but Treilles, 1996 by French theorist Jean Baudrillard. That’s your first clue. I Love Dick doesn’t look like any other book on the shelf, and it doesn’t read like any other book I’ve read either.