#russbooks Day 3: Going Solo

It must be stated, in plain language, that opening a box of #russbooks is one of those things that is simply not as much fun when done alone. Rachael had Other Engagements yesterday, so I opened yesterday’s box by myself. In many ways it was oddly like going to a library–not least because this particular box contained more old favorites than books gathered in the course of Publicity Work.

There are few pictures; there just wasn’t that much to see. Even if someone had come in and photographed me, all they really would have seen was me perusing books. Again, like the library.

The one constant: the box mug-shots:

Box #3

I am, of course, already very conscious of the fact that I am George Burns without his Gracie today; the last thing I want to do is get bogged down in something Heavy. I can already tell this box isn’t going to make things easy.

The contents of Box #3

barbarfriendish The first two books are a McSweeney’s Humor collection & a Toni Morrison. Guess which I picked up first? #russbooks

barbarfriendish Yes, I’m that self-indulgent. Book #18 Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans/ Dave Eggers et. al #russbooks

Created in Darkeness by Troubled Americans is clearly too funny for its own good. Just reading the Table of Contents made me laugh. I’m looking forward to reading it. If this were the library I’d be carrying it around with me now.

Meanwhile Russ goes to bat for Ms. Morrison, who hardly needs defending:

russmarshalek @barbarfriendish I LOVE TONI. she is my GRANDMA. only not mean and dead. #russbooks

I must admit she can write. I didn’t see Russ’s note of encouragement until after I picked up the book, because I was immediately sucked in. How’s this for a first sentence?

In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their roots to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there was once a neighborhood.

If more of what showed up in my submissions stack was that confident and arresting right from the first phrase, Mercury Retrograde’s publication roster would be much deeper.

In that place

Who starts a novel like that? Don’t you already feel that you are missing something and must dig in to catch up? And the rest of the sentence only escalates the intensity. That’s craft.


But there are still more books in the box.

barbarfriendish Book #20 Microserfs/Douglas Coupland. Book is like a transmission from one of my previous lives. Goes on the expanding TBR stack #russbooks

Yes, it’s true: I am a Geek.  I am married to a Geek. I raise Geeks. During the eighties I worked for a series of cutting-edge, mostly start-up, computer companies. During the nineties I consulted for a few others, even while I was making the transition to what I really wanted to be doing: you know, this Writing thing. I read a few pages of this book and it makes me laugh, because I see all the people I used to work with, the companies I used to work for. Hell, I see me.*

If you are not a Geek and you want to know what it is to be one, go find this book. Read it for the discussion of one-dimensional and two-dimensional foods alone.

barbarfriendish Book #21 The Reading Group Guide edition of Nickel and Dimed/Barbara Ehrenreich #russbooks

This is a very interesting book, a piece of true investigative journalism in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest vein (well, without Jack Nicholson and all that other exciting stuff)  concerning the lives of people who have no alternative but to make things work on minimum wage, or to try to. It’s almost ten years old; how much more relevant is it now, I wonder?

barbarfriendish Book #22 Zora Neale Hurston/Their Eyes Were Watching God #russbooks

Are we developing a theme here?

Next up:

barbarfriendish Book #23 CS Lewis Narnia Omnibus #russbooks

Full disclosure: as a Literary Chick who loves SFF, I am perennially bewildered and–I must confess here–a bit hurt by all the litfic kids who look down on SFF. I think SFF is some of the most important literature of our era: it is the literature of ideas. And what could be more important than that? Finding SFF, to which genre Narnia definitely belongs, in the collection of litfic kids should be rewarding. But invariably it is like getting hit with a spitball, because they never love the really good stuff.

I will spare you the litany of all the things I hate about Narnia. I will just say that I wish people who love literature and Narnia would dig a bit deeper into SFF, because Narnia is the least of it. And if that gets me hit with a dozen flaming spitballs, so be it.

barbarfriendish Book #24 The Fire This Time ed. Labaton & Martin. Finally, some turn-downs… #russbooks

There are some interesting essays in this one. I’ll be coming back to it.

barbarfriendish Book #25 Wow. Really. Verses That Hurt ed. Jordan & Amy Trachtenberg. #russbooks

I am not a poetry aficionado, but this is fantastic. Manifesto alone is worth the price of admission:

Here is my personal message to all of you careerist, slime bucket, fame seeking, sychophantic, weakworded, same voiced, gladhanding, asskissing,backstabbing, envying, self serving assholes who are littering the downtown scene in ever increasing numbers while you choke the creativity out of yourselves asyou turnoff thousands of potential power of the wordlovers by the oxygen you use up on the performing stages of New York City  while you make your dullwitted stab toward your myopic fantasy of love, admiration, approval, sex and immortality which you think your 10 minutes of standing in front of a crowd that has long since stopped listening to you will confer on your sorry asses.

Clearly we have been in some of the same workshops, Penny Arcade and I.


And finally:

barbarfriendish Book #26 The Annotated Lolita/Vladimir Nabokov #russbooks

Not an ARC among these, I believe. These are all true #russbooks.


* It occurs to me, hours later, that my former life in Computer World has prepared me admirably for small-press publishing. I still feel that an eighty-five hour work week is perfectly normal.

Back to the beginning of the #russbooks adventure
Next #russbooks installment



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3 Comments on “#russbooks Day 3: Going Solo”

  1. Alice Says:

    Meahwhile in Decatur…I was simultaneously sifting through the spare closet full of stuff Russ left behind #russcrap. The catch of the day is a turf-green paisley bandana. My trusty dog & companion, Curbside, found it to be quite fetching. Perhaps it will camouflage him while he poops in the grass; thus, no one will KNOW and I won’t have to pick it up!

    ps. I read the series as a kid at my father’s suggestion, but never really cared for Narnia either.


  2. […] musings, rants, and other shenanigans from Barbara Friend Ish « #russbooks: Day 1 #russbooks Day 3: Going Solo » #russbooks Day 2: live from Bat Country June 4, 2009 I wish I could say that […]


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