Friday, September 30, 2011

This train is headed... TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

Cover of the 1st edition
Where: B/Q platform. Soon after I spotted this reader, she boarded a briskly running B-train while I was left waiting for the Q to saunter into the station 10 minutes late like a stoned highschooler.
Who was reading: A tall blonde with short floaty layers of hair that drifted around as though touched by an errant sea breeze. Of course any current in the air would have come from deep within the subway tunnels, so less "sea-breeze" than sewer's sigh.
Invisible breeze aside, what about her really blew you away? She toted a tote-bag emblazoned with an artist's rendering of the storefront of Shakespeare & Co. booksellers.
Did she really? Totes.
But isn't this supposed to be a post about a book? Why yes, yes it is.
So, Fun Fact: This introspective tour de force by Virginia Woolf stole 15th place on Modern Library's list of the 100 Best Novels, though it only ranked 48th on the companion list selected by readers.
3 books readers ranked higher: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Battlefield Earth by L. Ron. Hubbard, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
And that's why... we have boards of educated persons to tell us what's good.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spotted: Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung and Aniella Jaffe

Where: N-train
Who was reading: Woman in black shorts with white polka dots and a gauzy white ruffle shirt.
All just for Shoe: She had these incredible high-heels hewn of rubber and chrome—I'd say they were at least a decimeter if they were an inch. And the heels themselves looked like those rubber prongs that poke out of walls. You know, the things that prevent your doorknob from smashing into the wall repeatedly? Dead useful, those.
Forever Jung: This pseudo-autobiography chronicles the life and work of famed psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, exploring in depth his lifelong study of the human psyche. Co-author Jaffe was hired by Pantheon to write the book, but as it progressed, Jung himself became increasingly invested in the project and ended up writing several chapters.
Too many contributors in the kitchen? When Jung passed away, the still-unpublished manuscript was contested on several fronts:
"Jung's family, in the interest of keeping Jung's private life from the public eye, pushed for deletions and other changes. Those involved in its publication demanded massive cuts in the text's length to keep the price of printing down. JaffĂ© herself was accused of censorship when she began exercising her Jung-appointed authority as editor to reword some of his thoughts on Christianity she deemed too controversial (via Wikipedia).
Yikes! And I thought it was a catastrophe when the copyeditor tries to insert too many commas. But eventually they published the darn thing, and based on a quick survey of Amazon reviews, the book has come to mean a great deal to a great many people--which is great!
"Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore the equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable--perhaps everything." –C.G. Jung

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spotted: Hark! A Vagrant by the inimitable Kate Beaton

Where: The back room at Korzo Restaurant in Park Slope. Jazz was happening there.
Who was reading: Some guy. Comic geek, naturally. But what's supercool is that I also saw him at the Hark! release party earlier that night. 
What are the odds... that two people, of their own independent volition, migrate to the same obscure jazz show in Brooklyn from a comic book signing in Soho?
Actually, not that slim. Weird birds flock together, now, don't they?
For those of you unfamiliar with Kate Beaton... What the heck are you doing reading about some doofy book sighting?! You should be out buying the book, or blissfully drowning yourself in her archives! Archives that include such gems as the following:
Hark! A Vagrant is a webcomic-turned-book that primarily features historical and/or literary figures (with the occasional David Bowie strip thrown in). Beaton looks at history through the lens of our more modern sensibilities, often to great comic effect. She plays with context and bends well-known personalities as it suits her, notably in the case of Nancy Drew. Here, she fleshes out the action scenes depicted on the covers of Carolyn Keene's  beloved Nancy Drew books, showing what someone who has not read the books might imagine them to depict—assuming, of course, the imaginer is completely insane.
Kate Beaton's is one book I'd like to spy more often. And maybe, just maybe, some self-styled Nancy out there will spy me right back.