Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Exceptions

I am not only reading what you tell me to. This started small and snowballed, justifications accompanying each slip.

1) Periodicals – The New Yorker, The Atlantic, One Story, Electric Literature, sundries – They’re not books. And if I don’t keep up with them, I’ll drown at my desk. The drown-at-my-desk factor ended up seriously irritating, leading me to turn from proper magazines to more minimal journals, and then to single issues (The Agriculture Reader #3, The Sonora Review with David Foster Wallace tribute) that weren’t, for me, periodical at all, kind of looked like books, and threatened to drown me more than books only insofar as they’re stacked on the desk instead of the bookshelf.

2) Children’s books – Mitchell is Moving – Are for children.

3) Comic books and comic book-like books – Buffy Season 8, Y: The Last Man, Kingdom Come, Gravitation, Northlanders, Everyday Matters, Fables, some Kabuki: The Alchemy before I lost the bag it was in, The Invisibles – Sometimes they’re periodicals. When they’re not, they’re full of (hopefully) pretty pictures and quickly digestible. In the case of the Invisibles, all 59 issues (approx. 1400 pages) of them. Although I may have given some less attention than I could’ve because they were pissing me off.

4) Freebies – AM/PM, Puro Border, Adderall Diaries, Tongue – If I don’t read them right away, the donees will know and cry. Although 2666 also falls into this category and I can’t quite face it.

5) Plays – Southern Baptist Sissies – Aren’t supposed to be read anyway.

6) Quickly digestible books – Sookie Stackhouse novels, The IHOP Papers – Anything that happens without my having to leave the house midway through doesn’t count. Robin Hobb may be on the horizon. They look a little chunky for me to make it through before I want a bagel, though.

7) Poetry – Letters to Wendy’s – Comes in bite-sized portions.

8) Plane reading – Columbine – The only rules that matter on the plane are issued by flight attendants.

9) Reading out loud – Infinite Jest, Sense and Sensibility back at the birth of the blog – Is there something wrong with how I’m reading/choosing books, that I love Infinite Jest so much more than almost everything?

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book factory

At a reading last month a publisher mentioned employees at a printer’s in China gluing pages of a book together by hand. And I thought, ‘huh, books that I normally think of as composed of words and pictures and then shipped and sold are, like, manufactured by people who are subject to labor practices.’

If you’re similarly interested in/stupid about the existence of objects before and after you encounter them, you can read this article about children’s picture books, recycled paper, and Indonesian rain forests.

And/or watch the how-it’s-made on commercial bookbinding. Although the pages materializing in one machine after another with just an opening cameo of a worker’s back and some occasional disembodied hands is creepy. The show should maybe be called Machines and the Substances They Manipulate. The narrator even sounds like a robot.

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