Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the inevitable breakup: goodbye, shakespeare

I have books in my bedroom. Books on my bookshelves. Books in the built-ins. The bathroom, the kitchen, the hallway, the closets, the stairwell. I've got poems in my fridge, poems under my pillow, in the cabinets, under the cushions. I fearnay, I knowI've become one of those living, breathing fire hazards whose stacks teeter high enough to imperil guests at all those cocktail parties that I'm not having because, well, it was the guests or the books.

But friends, it is cocktail hour. Things are about to change. I have steeled myself, done the bloodless deed, and pulled what appear to be somewhere around 150 titles from the shelves. It's only the first sweep. I know I can do better. I really don't need that old Plato book. Underworld demands too much space on the shelves. And all the old Poe volumes are just a sentimental attachment. So I'll go through again.

In the meantime (and this is earnest), I've pulled some good books and am happy to give it all away if you'll read them. Hell, even if you won't. You want em, they're yours. It's mostly fiction, a strange mix of contemporary and the intermittent Chaucer, Milton, Mallory. A good bit of poetry from all ages: Petrarch, Rilke, Snyder, Olds, on and on and on. Big stuff like Bahktin and Foucault, if you are a masochist. And then the light stuff too: Fitch, Lahiri, Hosseini, Gold, Rowling, you name it.

Lots of random books I've never read that were sent to me either when I was teaching (lit surveys, books on writing, critical thinking, philosophy, psychology) or reviewing (chess, feminism, other social sciences, travel, and then the weird and uneven efforts that I torched in reviews).

I've got issues of Agni, at least one Paris Review, Crazyhorse, Post Road, N+1, Believer, an Iowa Review, Columbia, Prairie Schooner, and plenty of the classic fiction you'd know by name (Orwell, James, Wilde, etc.). A fair share of WWII books, some one-act plays and stuff on stagecraft, plenty of anthologies, a dictionary and thesaurus set, Japanese language books, Italian language books, and then all the little oneswhat I consider take-on-an-airplane books: Vonnegut, Percy, Swofford, Eggers, my god.

I can't list it all. Please feel free to take this stuff. Read it and love it. I really just think the books and I, we need some time apart. Like forever.