Wednesday, June 08, 2005

On the Shelf at On the Fence

The formidable Adam Daifallah has tagged me in the latest Internet sensation to rock the blogosphere. (UPDATE: So has everyone's favourite Moose Pampler Matt Hayday, whose blog I do indeed read through my Bloglines.) So here goes:

Number of Books That You Own:

I have about 275 with me here in Toronto and probably another 300 back in Montreal, not counting my boxes of children’s books and comic books.

Last Book Bought:

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems. To be honest, I’m not terribly impressed by Paglia’s readings of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Last Book I Read:

Barbershops by Tally Abecassis and Claudine Sauvé. It’s a coffee table book full of pictures of and interviews with Montreal barbers. I read it for work and you can read all about it in on the Avenue page of today’s National Post.

Five Books that mean a lot to me:

I like the phrasing of this. No pressure to come up with the five books that mean the most to me, but just five books that mean a lot to me.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Whenever I hear someone say that a book changed her life, I roll my eyes. But The Corrections did change my life in an awfully personal way and I’ll leave it at that. The scene where Chip kicks his Christmas presents up a flight of stairs is the funniest-saddest thing I’ve ever read.

Copenhagen by Michael Frayn. Ha, ha! Not a book at all, really, but a play. (About 170 of the books I have here in Toronto are really plays.) Anyway, I read this play before I saw it, so I’ll include it here. I think about this fictionalized meeting between Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr at least once a week, or its central lesson at least: That we can never really know why we do what we do. Also, I like it because Frayn wrote it (his best play) at age 65. What am I so worried about? I got plenty of time.

Arguments for a Theatre by Howard Barker. I wish everyone involved in this would read this book. "The dramatist’s obligation becomes an obligation not to a political position… but to his own imagination. His function becomes not to educate by his superior political knowledge, for who can trust that? but to lead into moral conflict by his superior imagination. He does not tailor his thought to an ideology, but allows it to range freely over a landscape in which he himself should experience insecurity, exposing his own morality, his own politics, to damage on the way. In an age of unitary thought and propaganda, this is his first responsibility."

Down to This: Squalor and splendour in a big-city shantytown by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall. Bishop-Stall's account of a year spent in Tent City is a brilliant piece of gonzo Canadian journalism. I think anybody who thinks they understand the problem of homelessness should read this book. (Also, I have to tout Shaughnessy's book at every available opportunity, or he'll tell more people about the musical version of Plato's Symposium he saw me act in once...)

I Love Me, Vol. I: S. Wordrow’s Palindrome Encyclopedia by Michael Donner. Ridiculously exhaustive.

As I understand it, it is now up to me to tag five bloggers: Go Aaron Wherry! Go Uncle Cam! Go Optimus Crime! Go Matthew F.! Go Andrew Coyne!

Or don’t go. No pressure.

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