This next post in our series of staff blogs at Main Street Arts focuses on what we’re reading. We hope that this series will give a little insight into who we are, our backgrounds, and our interests. This will be an ongoing feature that will continue throughout the duration of our closure due to COVID-19.
My mother-in-law recently lent my daughter and I a wonderful book called Felt Wee Folk by Salley Mavor, and this is what I am reading right now. This book gives detailed techniques and tips for making one’s own felt wee folk with a wooden bead head, a pipe cleaner body and embroidered felt clothing. My daughter loves when I get this book out along with the craft supplies, and together we have made quite a few wee folk, that she absolutely cherishes!
I am also reading Simple Crochet by Erika Knight. I need to keep my hands busy and I have found crocheting to be a great activity to do when I have down time in my day. I recently learned a new pattern in Simple Crochet and a working on a blanket. I’m actually calling it my “Pandemic Blanket” and am using only the yarn I have hoarded over the years, since I’m not supposed to go to yarn stores currently!
You’ve probably heard of Karl Ove Knausgård–he’s a living Norwegian cannon and he’s widely known for his series My Struggle, translated by James Anderson and first published by Archipelago. He currently has a series of essays, The Seasons Quartet, published by Penguin. But you never hear about A Time for Everything. To date, I wouldn’t say that Knausgård is one of my favorite authors (like Krasznahorkai or Clarice Lispector) but A Time for Everything is one of my favorite novels. The premise is simple: a man named Antinous Bellori researches angels as a species. The narration cycles through Bellori’s perspective and also cites (and completely rewrites) stories from the bible in which angels are mentioned: Cain and Able, the Great Flood, and so on.
On June 5, 2014, I took a train from Rochester to McNally Jackson because I heard Knausgård was going to be at the launch event for the release of Book Three of his My Struggle series—and that it was going to be moderated by Zadie Smith. I got to Prince Street an hour early and the line was wrapped around the block. I was lucky because the line was cut off just a few people behind me due to fire code. That’s how many people wanted to see him. We were on top of each other on the bottom floor of McNally. I stood on a chair to see him and Zadie Smith the whole time.
Knausgård read from the Norwegian, Zadie Smith read in the English (and if you’ve never heard her read, you don’t really know what Poe meant when he said tragedy and melancholy are the height of beauty), and a Q&A followed. ( Read Rachel’s full post about Knausgård here)
I have a stack of books sitting on my night stand. I put them there thinking that it would encourage me to read before falling asleep or when I wake up in the morning. And it worked for a little while until it didn’t anymore.
At the bottom of the stack is High School, a memoir by musicians Tegan and Sara Quinn. A gift from my husband for my birthday, I read it through it in about three days. It’s still in the stack because I am planning to re-read it. In some ways it reflects experiences I had in high school, and in other ways it gave me a look into a high school experience for people who are very different from myself. From a graphic design perspective, the cover of this book is phenomenal. It captures my feelings about the book perfectly. Almost like a fun house mirror, in the cover you see your own reflection but it’s distorted just enough that you don’t recognize the person either.
In the middle of the stack, you’ll find The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. This one is a bit self-helpy but who doesn’t need that from time to time? (Also, the title!) Also mid-stack is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, which I purchased from Sulfur Books. As an introvert, it appealed to me.
On the top of the stack is The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, an author recommendation to me by Rachel, our literary arts coordinator, and a book that I purchased at Sulfur Books. (I will admit that the teeth illustrations may have been one of the driving factors in the purchase of this book.) This is my most recent read, with a really fascinating story line, and one that I am so (so) close to finishing but haven’t had time. Maybe now is the perfect time to get back on track!
I have never been a reader. In high school, I didn’t finish even one book—except Of Mice and Men, which was one of the assigned summer reading books. Otherwise I always skimmed the books and faked my way through! In college, I took a survey of english literature and then a class called women in literature and I started to enjoy reading. In grad school and afterwards, I would start many books—artist biographies, philosophy, books about strange occurrences—some of which I would finish, others are still left on a long list of “books to be read or finished”.
My favorite book is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski—he’s the brother of musician, Poe. Her album Haunted is the companion to House of Leaves—a novel about a house, time and space, and things that aren’t what they seem. This book is probably the thickest novel I’ve read and it has a lot of footnotes, stories within stories, and text you have to read in a mirror. Also, the word House always appears in blue.
I am currently meaning to read five books. One of them was started two years ago, one from earlier last year, and the others were started more recently. They range from non-fiction to short stories and one of them, the novella The Taiga Syndrome, is one of the April book club books at Sulfur Books. My brother-in-law got me a subscription to Sun Magazine (thank you Sylvia Taylor for introducing me to this!) for Christmas last year and I have enjoyed getting into reading that as well, although its no surprise to me that the issues to be read are piling up…
Keep an eye out for next week’s Get To Know Us blog post, when we’ll let you know what’s hanging on the walls in our homes!