Category Archives: Lit

Summer Reading 22 (1)

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Jane Austen, Emma

This may be the greatest English novel ever written because of its absolute formal control and incisively drawn storyworld. Every paragraph seems perfectly balanced. Bridgerton— which clearly draws from Austen’s masterwork–  appears garish and jejune in comparison.

Christopher Priest, The Glamour

I wish I’d encountered Priest earlier in my life. In this psychological thriller he reaches to the roots of the concept of glamour as a form of magic– a hidden aspect of the term’s contemporary usage we would do well to understand.

Patrick Hoffman, The White Van

This is a cracking debut crime novel that exhibits a deep familiarity with San Francisco’s geography.

 

Recommended

Here’s a list of some of the books and films I read and watched this semester when I could have been doing other things:

Prose:

Among the Thugs

A vivid ethnography of English football hooligans.

The Catastrophist

A political thriller by Ronan Bennett set in decolonizing Congo.

The Murders that Made Us

Tawdry tales of criminal San Francisco from the Bear Republic to the present.

This is the Beat Generation: New York, Paris, San Francisco

There are some remarkable details and anecdotes about the Beats in this study.

The End of the Golden Gate

A collection of essays by those who have loved and left SF.

Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard

These stories about a young, arrogant cavalier in Napoleon’s army are easily equal to Conan Doyle’s best tales of Sherlock Holmes.

Harlot’s Ghost

Mailer’s mature yet romantic history of the CIA.

A Year of Gold and Mud

Letters from the first year of the Gold Rush.

Film:

The Carpetbaggers

Based on the novel by Harold Robbins. Loaded with booze, sex, ambition and avarice.

Let’s Get Lost

A gauzy, black and white account of Chet Baker told by those who loved him and those he betrayed (usually the same people).

The Man Who Haunted Himself

Roger Moore’s best film is a story of dopplegangers and corporate greed.

Basic Instinct 2

Elizabeth Trammel (Sharon Stone) goes on the road to Europe where– you can bet– her perverse appetites and charisma are unleashed.

The Card Counter

Paul Schrader’s noir love letter to poker takes up the psychological aftermath of US sanctioned torture during the invasion of Iraq.

Busting

A prime 70s cop drama with Elliot Gould and Robert Blake.

The Northman

There is not a shred of irony in this epic rendition of the Viking eddas.

The Mad Doctor of Market Street

Despite its title this occasionally bizarre Code-era horror film by Joseph H. Lewis expends most of its energies on an island in the Pacific populated by ethnocentrically rendered “natives”.

HUM376 SP22LongList

Pick 3:

John Rollins Ridge, The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta 9780143132653

An invented biography of the legendary figure of Joaquin Murieta, infamous outlaw and avenger.

Isabel Allende, Daughter of Fortune 9780063021747

Gold Rush Era historical romance.

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon 9780679722649

The classic hard-boiled detective novel.

Frank Norris, Vandover and the Brute 9781554812394

Gothicky naturalist novel about a young fin-de-siecle degenerate.

C. Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills is Gold 9780525537212

Imagistic, dense, poetic story of two Chinese children navigating the gold camps.

Alia Volz, Home Baked 9780358505020

Biography/ social document about selling cannibis edibles before age of irritating, boutique dispensaries.

Peter Maravelis (ed.) San Francisco Noir 2 9781933354651

A collection of “classic” SF noir.

Beth Lisick, Edie on the Green Screen 9781733367202

Middle-aged slacker comes to terms with the death of her mother and the banality of techbro SF.

Vendela Vida, We Run the Tides 9780062936240

Haven’t read it yet but Tom Stoppard really liked it. Set in Outer Richmond. 

Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey 9780679727897

Kingston’s homage to one of her harshest detractors, Frank Chin, and the hippy trippy 60s in SF.

If We Must Die

Probably Claude McKay’s most anthologized poem. He wrote this during Red Summer.

If We Must Die

BY CLAUDE MCKAY

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry doIgs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

McKay was also a novelist. I’ve taught both Home to Harlem and Banjo, something I probably won’t do again any time soon.