of hemlock breath

death stain haiku

death row lights bait him
guilty domed screen suicide
dram of hemlock breath

What I’m Reading, or: What I Just Finished Reading (a continuing series)


I Hotel / Karen Tei Yamashita (2010)

Sprawling novel comprised of ten novellas; each a year in the history of the I Hotel in San Francisco and the counterculture unfolding around it from 1968-1977, and the eventual closing of the hotel and the displacement of its residents.

I started reading this last year, specifically the three individual novellas 1968: The Eye Hotel; 1970: The “I” Hotel; and 1974: The I-Migrant. Then I found the entire novel (beefy, at 613 pages) and finished it this year. Nothing else quite like it.

Expansive, recursive, and full of anecdotes to live and learn by — it’s also quite interesting. / Ebook, 01/12/21.



MOME #1 / Eric Reynolds (Ed.) (2005)

Reading this series out of order. Read volume 10 first and then found the rest via Hoopla and my public library. Some great oblique takes on life here, and some very good graphics too, especially Gabrielle Bell’s “I Feel Nothing,” Paul Hornschemeier’s “Life with Mr. Dangerous Pt. 1,” and Jonathan Bennett’s “Dance with The Ventures.” / Ebook, 01/13/21.



Holy the Firm / Annie Dillard (1977)

There is something transcendent about Dillard’s writing, even when one doesn’t agree with her metaphysical views. Dense, decorous, and well written, despite that old time religion. She doesn’t appear to be out to proselytize, but the religiosity is a bit thick. Well written, but hermetic to a point. Ebook, 01/14/21.



City of Coughing and Dead Radiators / Martin Espada (1994)

An exceptional collection of poems. Espada generates great feeling through the indelible images he captures at just the critical moment. Chronicles the broken social compacts in the Americas and the promises and dreams deferred for immigrants in the US.

From the first line, “Columbus hallucinated gold…” (“The Hidalgo’s Hat and a Hawk’s Bell of Gold”) to the last line, “…of the Alamo / in black streaks of fire.” (“The Other Alamo”) you are in for an accounting and a taking-down of the worst of hegemonic America.

Espada is a divine imagist with an acute sensitivity. / Paperback, 01/14/21.



Surviving Autocracy / Marsha Gessen (2020)

Gessen knows her stuff. She’s studied it, written about it, and lived it firsthand under Putin and Trump. A facility for clarity and an excellent writer to boot. I’ll read any Gessen I come across, especially her New Yorker magazine pieces. She saw it and called it early, just like Timothy Snyder. In the midst of a Gessen and Snyder read-a-thon on autocracies and tyrannies. / Ebook, 01/16/21.

“Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

— Joan Didion / “Why I Write”

About istsfor manity

i'm a truncated word-person looking for an assemblage of extracted teeth in a tent full of mosquitoes (and currently writing a novel without writing a novel word) and pulling nothing but the difficult out of the top hat while the bunny munches grass in the hallway. you might say: i’m thee asynchronous voice over in search of a film....
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