approaching my move up the coast, i am faced with the dilemma of which books to bring with me and which to abandon to the vagaries of fedex and later-dateness.
i discovered some things about my collection today. i have almost 600 books, which i feel kind of poorly about. much of the material i own is mid 19th to mid 20th century literature translated from the french or german, which i also feel kind of poorly about. many books i remember owning are missing; all of my david foster wallace has been abducted, much of my theory and criticism is gone. i senselessly own four different copies of genet’s the thief’s journal, two of turgenev’s fathers and sons, two of rilke’s book of images, two of proust’s swann’s way, three of beckett’s endgame, two of crime and punishment, two of brave new world. i have two dozen books 'outlining the history of western music.' i have three titles from balzac and i have never read balzac. i believe 10% of the collection to be books taken from someone without their knowledge, or borrowed and never returned, and for that i am sorry. my oldest book was printed in 1792. the book on this list that i have read most recently is aaron kunin’s the mandarin. The book on this list i have read most often is goethe’s the sorrows of young werther, the pages of which are literally decimated with my angsty adolescent scratch. the most expensive book i own is a first-edition copy of gustave dore's bible illustrations. the ugliest book i own is a dover thrift copy of the importance of being earnest. that shit is hideous.
these (100) are the ones that will be riding with me up the coast, in the car nest for safety. the books marked with a star (25) i am particularly attached to, and would maim a small child to preserve. they shall sit in the front seat, where people are not allowed.
this list is presented in no particular order, and i cannot say if there is specific criteria on which i based my choices. some i think are life-altering, some are beautifully bound, some hold my dust and nostalgia.
i had a lot of fun making this happen very early this morning, relearning years of accumulation. yet as i said before, i am kind of ashamed. i feel like CLASSICS GIRL or READER OF SEMINAL WORKS or PEDESTRIAN ASSHOLE WITH ELITIST PROPENSITIES or THE UNDERGRAD SYLLABUS. i tried to be honest. please don't hate me.

ok, i guess. here:

  1. dekadence – otto urban
  2. collected poems – stephane mallarme*
  3. thin – lauren greenfield
  4. everything that rises – lawrence weschler
  5. on ugliness – umberto eco
  6. the diaries of vaslav nijinskii – vaslav nijinskii
  7. mulberry – dan beachy-quick
  8. the dada reader: a critical anthology – ed. dawn ades
  9. life: a user’s manual – georges perec*
  10. selected writings - henri michaux*
  11. the front matter, dead souls – leslie scalapino
  12. the life and opinions of tristram shandy – laurence sterne*
  13. the grand hotels of joseph cornell – robert coover
  14. art history and its methods – (Wöfflin, Winckelmann, Gombrich et al.)
  15. dialogues with marcel duchamp – pierre cabanne
  16. sports – kenneth goldsmith
  17. herzog on herzog – werner herzog*
  18. the novels of the german romantics – eric blackall
  19. the duino elegies – rainer maria rilke
  20. our lady of the flowers – jean genet*
  21. samedi the deafness – jesse ball
  22. five novels – robert firbank
  23. paris review: writers at work – (ginsberg, cocteau, joyce et al.)
  24. histrionics – thomas bernhard
  25. selected plays (the broken pitcher) – heinrich von kleist
  26. the conspiracy of art – jean baudrillard
  27. gothic architecture and scholasticism – edwin panofsky
  28. aesthetic surgery – angelica taschen
  29. demian – hermann hesse*
  30. the dead – james joyce*
  31. endgame – samuel beckett*
  32. the great fire of london – jacques roubaud*
  33. the exploits and opinions of dr. faustroll – alfred jarry*
  34. sound art – alan licht
  35. mobile/mobile – stephen ratcliffe
  36. tonight’s the night – catherine meng
  37. 39 microlectures – matthew goulish
  38. a perfect vacuum – stanislaw lem*
  39. last year at marienbad – alain robbe-grillet
  40. doctor faustus – thomas mann
  41. the edda – snorri sturluson
  42. spell – dan beachy-quick
  43. the happiness experiment – lisa fishman
  44. kant and the platypus – umberto eco
  45. guignol’s band – louis-ferdinand celine*
  46. the glass bead game – hermann hesse*
  47. four great plays – henrik ibsen
  48. the rings of saturn – w.g. sebald
  49. letters to wendy’s – joe wenderoth
  50. crytallography – chistian bök
  51. eunoia – chistian bök*
  52. europe of trusts – susan howe*
  53. species of spaces – georges perec*
  54. molloy – samuel beckett
  55. young torless – robert musil
  56. the dore bible gallery – gustave dore*
  57. the man without qualities – robert musil*
  58. childish things – valery larbaud
  59. frost – thomas bernhard
  60. the loser – thomas bernhard
  61. the mandarin – aaron kunin
  62. speak, memory – vladimir nabakov*
  63. artaud anthology – antonin artaud
  64. swann’s way – marcel proust
  65. the fatalist – lyn hejinian
  66. music, body and desire in medieval culture – bruce holsinger
  67. scorch atlas – blake butler
  68. lip wolf – laura solarzano
  69. the complete stories – franz kafka
  70. a new quarantine will take my place – johannes göransson
  71. siddhartha – hermann hesse
  72. outside lies magic – john stilgoe
  73. the birthday party – harold pinter
  74. concerning the spiritual in art – wassily kandinsky
  75. the poetry of sound/the sound of poetry – dworkin, perloff
  76. germinal – emile zola
  77. background perspective on sound – brandon la belle
  78. the sorrows of young werther – johann wolfgang von goethe*
  79. scarlet and black – stendhal
  80. the aleph – jorge luis borges
  81. plays – rainer fassbinder
  82. the thief’s journal – jean genet
  83. old masters – thomas bernhard*
  84. the aesthetics of visual poetry – willard bohn
  85. the dialogic imagination – mikhail bahktin*
  86. a game of war – guy debord
  87. the idiot – fyodor dostoyevsky*
  88. the ubu plays – alfred jarry
  89. faust – johann wolfgang von goethe
  90. on sonic art – trevor wishart
  91. pictures and tears – james elkins
  92. the memoirs of igor stravinsky – igor stravinsky
  93. the nausea – jean paul sartre
  94. notes from underground – fyodor dostoyevsky
  95. the brothers karamazov – fyodor dostoyevsky
  96. the wall – jean paul sartre
  97. les chants de maldoror – comte de lautreamont*
  98. poems and fragments – friedrich hölderlin
  99. the immoralist – andre gide
  100. the book of images – rainer maria rilke


Tim Ramick said...

An impressive list. Though I might differ in a couple insignificant ways (e.g., I value Dostoevsky's BK above his Idiot, Bernhard's Extinction above his Old Masters), I find your collection inspiring. I thought when I first saw the photo that the book below Sebald's Rings of Saturn was an edition I'd never seen of Butor's Mobile (influential book for me), especially since Robbe-Grillet's Marienbad is on the list (one of my favorite films), but I see that it is actually Mobile/Mobile by Stephen Ratcliffe. I don't know this work and can find little about it on the web (beside a short reading on PENNSound). Can you tell anything more about it?


PS Also great to see Mallarmé, a couple of Perecs, Michaux, an obscure Coover, Hesse's Glass Bead Game, Musil's unfinished tome, the Kandinsky book, Stendahl, Goethe's Werther (do you know Barthes' A Lover's Discourse?), and many many others (Lem, Jarry, Mann, Celine, Ibsen, Genet, Gide, etc.). You're obviously a powerhouse reader.

Tim Ramick said...

Plus, I hope the move went well—from San Diego I assume (where I grew up) to perhaps San Francisco (where I sometimes wish I'd grown up)...?

KRISTIN said...

you grew up in san diego? which part? i lived there my whole life until i moved to chicago for school.

the move is still moving, but it is going in a decent way. thank you.

i have not read Bernhard's Extinction, i must look into it.

i also love the BK, i think it is perhaps one of the most important works ever written, but The Idiot is a soft spot for some reason, perhaps because it feels less allegorical than most Dostoyevsky, or because it is more entertaining for some reason. it is one of his more accessible reads.

Stephen Ratcliffe does really interesting work with sound as the architectural basis of language. Mobile/Mobile builds conceptual forms with repetition and a lexicon semi-limited to physical textures. i dunno, he's a bit of a tough egg to crack, kind of hermetic, yes, but i think he's brilliant.

i would love/love/love to see a list of essentials from you; i can only imagine...

- K

Tim Ramick said...

Another work on your list I was wondering about:

Outside Lies Magic – John Stilgoe (I feel strongly about Stilgoe's notion of interstitiality, but I've never held his book or perused its contents—is it dense enough, hefty enough, not more than half-precious? Can one make a meal of it?)

As far as my essential list goes, we share many. But I'd have to add Woolf (Waves, Lighthouse) and Stein, Tsvetaeva and Akhmatova, Pavese, Kafka (most everything), Faulkner (Sound and Fury, Absalom, Absalom!), some Melville passages, Agee's Famous Men, David Jones' Anathemata, Dos Passos' USA, Broch, Döblin's Alexanderplatz, Calvino's If/Winter, Blake, Poe's Maelstrom, Patrick White (Voss), D.H. Lawrence (Women in Love), Joyce's trajectory, Cioran's humor, Pessoa's Disquiet, Donne's sermons, Wallace Stevens, Dickinson, Hopkins, Wittgenstein (Tractatus, Investigations), Derrida (Cinders), Bergson's Matter and Memory, Alexander's Pattern Language, Sontag's essay on Syberberg, and from antiquity—Homer, Plato (especially Parmenides), Dante, Virgil, Ovid, Shakespeare (especially Coriolanus), Milton, et al. I'm sure I've left things off I'll think of later, and I wish there were an unknown or two on the list (or something by a living author). I do like some Saramago and Sebald (both not so long dead now—Sebald died on my birthday), some David Markson, some Javier Marias, some of the spaces between William Gass and Ben Marcus.

I grew up alternating between Coronado and San Carlos (those neighborhoods around Cowles Mountain). Pershing Junior High School. Patrick Henry High School. UCSD—Manny Farber/J.P. Gorin film classes. I miss the ocean. Late Fall walks in the Cuyamacas. I spent a month alone in the Anza-Borrego. I loved eucalyptus trees and June gloom.




Kristin, I enjoyed this post, and miss you. Perec rules, and I'm glad to see "Herzog on Herzog" made the cut.


Anonymous said...

Looks like you are an expert in this field, you really got some great points there, thanks.

- Robson

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