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The People of Papercuts might have been a more enticing title

It is very possible that I will regret doing this later on, but I have settled on a fifth book for the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. I examined my shelves carefully, and one book stuck out, the only hardcover I could find that I have paid full price for and have yet to read: Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper.

I bought this book on a whim over a year ago based on the lauding conversations between CAAF at Tingle Alley and The Rake, and ever since then it has sat idling on my shelf, hidden behind a picture frame. I'm not quite sure why I have yet to read it. I think I was initially scared off by the reference to it being "clever," and the fact that it was published by McSweeney's, dukes and duchesses of a magical faraway land where every little sentence feels, well, a bit affected. But this is meant to be a challenge, right?

I rediscovered The People of Paper this morning and flipped through it; I noticed a reference to Rita Hayworth, and decided that any book that has people made of paper and makes a character out of Rita Hayworth must be worth a try. Plus, the cover is irresistible, and that seems to be a theme for the reads I've picked so far.

(Particularly The Road Through The Wall: whenever I pull it from my bag, I feel as if I should be sporting red lipstick and pin curls, one fingernail permanently fixed in the corner of my mouth, eyes agog...)


Ears need feeding too

In the midst of these indecisive November days, the urge to write long essays full of pathos diminishes, and I want to do nothing but make lists. Like storing nuts. Once winter in earnest roles around, I'm sure I will become more introspective and productive. For now, though, lists.

Things to listen to on Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings:


Lists of Five

Another challenge, this one from Overdue Books, via So Many Books (whose site I was browsing via Syntax of Things...)

From the Stacks Book Challenge

The object is to read 5 books between now and January 30th which you currently own and have been meaning to get to for a while. I have a slight advantage here, seeing as I own literally dozens of books I have been "meaning to get to." So there is much to choose from. Still, I have managed to go into two bookstores recently and come out empty-handed, and while I've eyed both Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, the guilt of unread books at home has been hanging over for me for a while. So perhaps the door has finally opened for me to give the sweet little orphans some precious brain space (in that cozy space right between extension numbers from the place where I worked nine years ago and the names of the 50 states in alphabetical order).

A list of the possible five (certain to be changed with every passing whim and fancy in my dizzy little head):

1. The Road Through The Wall - Shirley Jackson
I spent $5 for this old Ace Lion Books paperback back in August, and it has been sitting on my bedside table ever since. Shirley Jackson is a sure thing for me lately, so she goes to the top of the list.

2.The Last Thing He Wanted - Joan Didion
I know I'll crack at some point and want to round out my year with a bit of Joan Didion. My ownership of this unread book is the result of my embarrassing habit of falling in love with an author, and acquiring every book he or she ever wrote, whether I am going to read them over the next four weeks or over the next four years.

3. Mrs. Parkington - Louis Bromfield, or Colorado
Revisiting Pleasant Valley made me look up the other Bromfield books I have sitting around the apartment, and Mrs. Parkington - an old leather-bound and gold-stamped copy purchased used, one volume of a set - was staring me down. For further temptation, I'll refer back to the 1944 New York Times review of the movie based on Bromfield's book. It is a little daunting, though, and so I include Colorado as a substitute.

4. Everything You Need - AL Kennedy
One of the books on the list, I think this one has been on my shelf since it came out in paperback in 2002. Goodness me, I am sure it has gathered some dust.

5. Mason & Dixon - Thomas Pynchon
Hahaha, no I'm totally kidding. Have you seen the size of that thing? (But it is on my bookshelf.)

Instead, I'll leave the 5th slot empty for now. I need some time to go back to my shelves and mull it over.

And speaking of lists of five... Which five comedies would you want to take with you if you were stranded alone on a desert island? (My choices: 1. The Jerk, 2. Shaun of the Dead, 3. This Is Spinal Tap, 4. Annie Hall, 5. The Party)


Sunday Zen


No chance of an upgrade, then?

On a completely different note...

Q: What can be worse than getting a $14 passport photo taken and realizing that in the picture you look like someone is about to attack you?

A: Spending $11 to get your picture re-taken by a different photographer and realizing that you just look like that naturally.