The Gathering Cloud book is out now from Uniformbooks

This thing about clouds is, they refuse to stay still. Initially commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival as a web-based project, The Gathering Cloud quickly spawned zine and live performance iterations. It won the New Media Writing Prize 2016 and was an Editor’s Pick in the Saboteur Awards 2017. The Gathering Cloud has now been published as a print book by Uniformbooks.

This new book collates my research into the history and language of meteorology with current thinking about data storage and climate change. Archival material from the Met Office Archive and Library in Exeter has been studied and sifted, along with classical, medieval, and Victorian sources, including, in particular, Luke Howard’s classic essay On the Modifications of Clouds, first published in 1803. This research material is presented as a sequence of texts and images, acting both as a primer to the ideas behind the project and as a document of its movement between formats, from the data centre to the illuminated screen, from the live performance to the printed page.

In his foreword, media theorist Jussi Parikka, author of A Geology of Media, describes the multi-modality of The Gathering Cloud project as “a series of material transformations made visible through a media history executed as digital collage and print publication, hendecasyllabic verse, and critical essay”.

In her afterword, poet Lisa Robertson, author of The Weather, describes this iterative compositional process in quite another way: “…whatever gathers things together whatever gathers people together and thinking together given the great long whooshing passage of time wind economies technologies believes and whatever gathers a sentence together and whatever a poem is both physical and mysterious and so we wish to read…”

Many thanks to Jussi and Lisa, to Uniformbooks editor Colin Sackett, to NEoN curators Sarah Cook and Donna Holford-Lovell, to Chris Meade and Jim Pope at the New Media Writing Prize, and to Claire Trévien
 at Sabotage Reviews.

For more information and to purchase The Gathering Cloud book, visit Uniformbooks.

Uniformbooks to publish a book on The Gathering Cloud

My hybrid print– and web–based project The Gathering Cloud will reach its fullest extent yet in an essay, primer, and glossary to be published by Uniformbooks in spring 2017.

The book will consist of a foreword by Jussi Parikka, author of A Geology of Media, a brief afterword by Lisa Robertson, author of The weather, and a new essay by J. R. Carpenter, with illustrations and references drawn from the research into weather, data storage, and climate change undertaken during the work’s development. Archival material from the Met Office Archive and Library in Exeter has been studied and sifted, along with classical, medieval, and Victorian sources, including, in particular, Luke Howard’s classic essay On the Modifications of Clouds, first published in 1803.

Winner of the New Media Writing Prize 2016, The Gathering Cloud was commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Dundee, UK, 9-13 November 2016.

Uniformbooks is an imprint for the visual and literary arts, cultural geography and history, music and bibliographic studies. The uniformity of the format and the expansive variety of the list and its subjects, is characteristic of our open approach to publishing. Printed quarterly Uniformagazine gathers contributions by the writers and artists that the press works with with, sometimes thematically, as well as slighter or singular content. Copies will be available direct from Uniformbooks or online booksellers and independent bookshops.

Trade distribution by Central Books: centralbooks.com

Uniformbooks: uniformbooks.co.uk

## READ WRITE GARDEN ## – an erasure poem un-written in RUBY code comments

Nearly a year ago the American book-artist Karen Randall invited me to contribute to an an international anthology of poems involving computer languages, especially the RUBY language, in honor of the Millay Colony‘s ruby anniversary. The result is The Ill-Tempered Rubyist, pictured below. I can safely say that this is the most physically beautiful book I’ve ever been a part of.

The Ill-Tempered Rubyist
– photo by Karen Randall

The cover collage was created in PhotoShop, then transferred to polymer, and printed by letterpress. The text is printed on Reich inkjet paper using an Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer. The volume is bound using the Japanese side-slab method. The finished book is housed in a clamshell case covered in red cloth.

## READ WRITE GARDEN ##
– photo by J. R. Carpenter

When Karen first wrote to me I happened to be ensconced on a water-lily farm in the south of France. I had gardens on my mind. The only bit of RUBY code on hand I had on hand was written by Cornwall-based performance writer and programmer Caden Lovelace. Struck by the repeated mention of gardens in Caden’s extensive code comments, I began carving out the following erasure poem. Note that in real life, as in code life, this poem has a fairly strict system of indentation. In blog life, however, these indentations seem determined to disappear.

## READ WRITE GARDEN ##

# erasure by J. R. Carpenter
# source by Caden Lovelace

$dir = File.dirname(__GARDEN__)

def read_texts()
return Dir[$dir+”/texts/*.txt”].map do |garden|
File.read(garden)
end
end

#### we want to split
#### our text into units
####
#### punctuation marks allow us
#### to treat them as words
####
#### consider the ellipsis
#### for example
####
#### spaces
#### on either side of certain

def tokenize_texts(texts)
return texts.map do |text|
text.gsub!(/(\w)([,.:;\/?!]|\.\.\.+)(\W)/i, ‘\1 \2 \3’)
text.split(‘ ‘)
end
end

#### words often come
#### after other words
####
#### we walk through our garden
#### counting pairs

def generate_frequency_table(tokenized_texts, n)
frequency_table = {}
tokenized_texts.each do |text|
text.each_with_index do |word, i|
if i+2 < text.length # is there a word after this one? end end #### we write by deciding #### which path to take #### #### say we have three words #### say we know their probability #### #### [‘walk' => 3, ‘garden’ => 2, ‘words => 4]
####
#### we sum these numbers
#### we pick a lesser number at random
####
#### is the probability of ‘walk’
#### greater than random?

last_word = last_words.join(‘ ‘)
if freq.has_key?(last_word)
# have we any paths to take?

#### here we separate
#### the punctuation
####
#### make it a word
#### put it back

def fix_punctuation(text)
return text.gsub(/ ([,.:;\/?!]|\.\.\.+) /, ‘\1 ‘).gsub(/ ” /, ‘” ‘)
end

#### here we use all
#### we’ve written there

frequency_table = generate_frequency_table(tokenize_texts(read_texts()), 2)

# here ‘2’ means word-pairs

#### here we set our seeds

seeds = [“I know”, “I was”, “I have”, “but I”, “if we”, “of his”, “that she”, “allow us”, “the text”, “the other”, “the same”, “what is”, “on the”, “of the”, “in the”, “through the”, “we have”, “we know”, “the probability”, “the frequency”, “a word”,­­­­­­ “here we”, “we sum”, “we set”, “our seeds”, “we want”, “we walk”, “we separate”, “we run”, “we read”, “we write”, “our garden”].map {|seed| seed.split(‘ ‘) }

seeds.each do |seed|
10.times do

end
end

In addition to being stunningly beautiful, The Ill-Tempered Rubyist contains contributions and collaborations from an impressive list of well-known code poets, performers, and authors of digital literature from around the world:

Contributors

HAROLD ABRAMOWITZ WITH DAN RICHERT
mIEKAL aND
MEZ BREEZE
J.R.CARPENTER WITH CADEN LOVELACE
CLAIRE DONATO
NATALIA FEDOROVA
CHRISTOPHER FUNKHOUSER
ANGELA GENUSA
SAMANTHA GORMAN WITH DANNY CANNIZZARO
JHAVE
JEFF T. JOHNSON
DEENA LARSEN WITH ROBERT LAVETT SMITH
GRACIE LEAVITT
ALVIN MWIJUKA
JOYELLE MCSWEENEY
NICK MONTFORT
JÖRG PIRINGER
JONATHAN SCHOENFELDER
ALAN SONDHEIM
CHRISTINA STRONG

###

Reading List 2011

Since 1996 I’ve been noting the author and title of each book I’ve read in a red book a little larger than A5 size, worn at the spine now, but with plenty of pages left as there were plenty of pages to begin with. Since 2005 I’ve been duplicating those entries here on Lapsus Linguae. Whether in book or digital form, the resulting document cannot properly be called a reading list. I’ve only ever listed books read, and only those read cover to cover. In the beginning this made sense because I mostly only read books and lots of them and almost all of them from cover to cover. I still read lots of books, but finish fewer of them.

So much of what I’m reading these days is research-related, parsed for the parts I need, those parts then heavily annotated, read and re-read. I read more online now that I used to, but not books – articles. I also spend a lot more time in libraries than I used to, but rarely for book-related reasons. Most of my time at the Bodleian Library this year has been spent with the Marconi Archive, sifting through boxes of loose sheets of papers. Though I’ve read more than a book’s worth of correspondence written in Marconi’s atrocious handwriting, that reading is not reflected here. At the British Library, much time has been spent leaning over large tables in the Maps and Manuscripts reading rooms. Perhaps Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, The Atlantic Neptune should appear on this list. It is a book, a massive book, three volumes worth. Though it contains charts rather than chapters, I’ve read every page. Same goes for John Dee’s 1580 map of the world upon the back of which Dee outlines England’s claim to the America’s for Queen Elizabeth. It is only one page, or sheet of vellum rather, but it may be one of the most important documents in Canadian history. And then there are all the variations on Samuel de Champlain’s maps of Nouvelle-France I’ve pored over, and the vintage guide books I’ve not followed, and the stacks of post cards…

null
[ desk stack 09/09/2011 ]

Over the past two years this habitually kept list of authors and titles of books read has become less and less and less representative of what I’m actually reading. Which makes it all the more interesting in certain ways. Map-related books figure prominently, as to voyages and travelogues and books on walking. Media theory, of course. And network communications. A number of books listed here are re-reads. I got most of the way through A Hacker Manifesto years ago, but had to return it to the library eventually, with fines owing. Foucault makes way more sense to me now than in 1998, when I first attempted the same battered copy of The Order of Things I have with me here in England. The Rings of Saturn is even more haunting now after having walked in Suffolk myself. We’ve all read bits and pieces of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville – it’s almost odd to read them together at last, all of a piece. Darwin is an elegant prose stylist, who knew? Why did it take me so long to stumble over Cha’s brilliant Dictee? The year’s reading began with the utterly original Riddley Walker and ended with its author Russell Hoban’s passing. So many quirky odd-ball intriguing wandering wonderful books browsed, borrowed, bought and begun in between. Other still on the go. Those finished, listed below:

  • McKenzie Wark, A Hacker Manifesto
  • W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
  • Michel Foucault, The Order of Things
  • Mandeville, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
  • Hakluyt, Voyages and Discoveries
  • Gillian Cookson, The Cable
  • Courtney Rowe, Marconi at The Lizard: The story of communication systems at Housel Bay
  • J. G. Ballard, Concrete Island
  • Iain Sinclair, Ghost Milk: Calling Time on the Grand Project
  • William Gibson, Zero History
  • Douglas Coupland, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!
  • Roberto Simanowski, Digital Art and Meaning: Reading Kinetic Poetry, Text Machines, Mapping Art, and Interactive Installations
  • Francesco Careri, Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice
  • Carla Harryman & Lyn Hejinian, The Wide Road
  • Gertrude Stein, Lucy Church Amiably
  • Karen Russell, Swamplandia
  • McKenzie Wark, The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International
  • Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle
  • Friedrich A. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
  • Marshal McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
  • Robert C. O’Brien, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  • Lydia Davis, Cows
  • Adam Lebor, The Budapest Protocol
  • Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America
  • Charles Darwin, The Voyages of the Beagle
  • Lauren Beukes, Zoo City
  • Ben Marcus, The age of Wire And String
  • Steven Millhauser, In The Penny Arcade
  • Sandra Barry, Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia’s “Home-made” Poet
  • Brett C. Millier, Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It
  • Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Deluze and Language
  • Maya Merrick, Sextant
  • H.D., end to torment
  • Andrea di Robilant, Venetian Navigators: The Voyages of the Zen Brothers to the Far North
  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History
  • Rachel Hewitt, Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey
  • Jeffrey Sconce, Haunted media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • Judith Schalansky, Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot on and Never Will
  • Elisabeth Belliveau, Don’t Get Lonely Don’t Get Lost
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes
  • Jay David Bolter, Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext and the Remediation of Print
  • Rita Raley, Tactical Media
  • Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year
  • Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker

Reading List 2010

This is not a best-of list. This is just a list. This may be the least amount of books I’ve read in one year in many a year. The list of reasons why this list is so short may be longer than this list. The sad fact remains that most of my books remain in storage in Montreal, whereas I, happily, remain in England. Though my books stubbornly remain in one place I have been travelling a lot. Destinations this year — for work, pleasure, and most often both — included: Banff, Ottawa, Leicester, Oxford (twice), Vienna (twice), Montreal (twice), Vermont (twice), New York (just the once, alas), and back and forth between London, Bristol, Bath and Falmouth too many times each to count.

I wrote a book this year, which took up a bit of time. More about that here. I made a massive new work of electronic literature. More about that here. And I started a practice-led PhD research degree in the fall. My days of reading for pleasure are over for the foreseeable future. Though I do take pleasure in most of what I’m reading now, the reading itself is slower, heavily annotated, highly fragmented and ever so much more deliberate than reading led purely by the pleasure of leaping from one book to the next. That said, in addition to my own university library card, I now also have reader’s card’s for the British Library and the Bodleian Library at Oxford — two of the greatest libraries in the world — where I intend to spend as much time as possible reading bits and piece archival material, maps, manuscripts and extremely old books, none of which may appear on next year’s book list. Oh well.

The thing about lists is, they don’t show what’s not on them. I’ve read the equivalent of many more books than the ones listed bellow in parts and portions. I have a stack of at least ten books open and in heavy use, none of which I intend to read in full. Much of the reading I’ve done over the past few months has not been from books at all. I have been spending a lot of time in the British Library Maps collection. I am pleased as punch with my subscription to Cabinet Magazine, for example. And remain an avid consumer, collector, creator of zines. As a newly minted sort of semi academic, application forms, rules and regulations, conference proceedings, journal articles and web archives have taken over a sizable portion of my reading life. And then, there’s my crippling addiction to online Scrabble. But let’s not get into that.

Scanning this list of the books read in full this year, a few come flooding back so vividly they are worthy of special mention, though to reiterate, this is not a best-of list. Just an an aide-mémoire. I think about Alice Oswald’s Dart everyday because it’s about the River Dart, which runs right outside my window, which used to be Alice’s window (she used to live where I know live and now lives down the road). I remembered just how much I love Larissa Lai’s chapbook Eggs in the Basement when I used it recently to teach an MA seminar on computational poetry. Though, or perhaps because, Eggs in the Basement is not computer generated, it offers a fantastic entry into computational poetics without all that pesky computation getting in the way. Bits and pieces of Cynthia Ozick’s The Cannibal Galaxy keep coming back to me, for being-an-immigrant reasons too complex to explain herein, and for similar reasons Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin chilled me to the bone. I re-read Shakespeare’s The Tempest on impulse over the summer and cannot believe how absolutely central to my thesis it is becoming. Likewise, I am so glad I never read Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe until this fall as now I come to it with a completely different set of preoccupations than I would have when much younger, resulting in a startlingly different reading than that which all previous commentary had led me to suppose the book was about.

Despite my quip about my days of reading for pleasure being over, I am looking forward to many of the books my research is leading me into. Especially since the PhD comes with a studentship, which is more commonly called a fellowship in North America, though I think of it more generally as a book buying budget, with mad money left over for train travel to libraries London and Oxford and anywhere else the reading leads.

Happy reading.

  • Tom McCarthy, C
  • Michael Boyce, Anderson
  • Merlin Coverley, Psychogeography
  • Darren Wershler-Henry, The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting
  • Timothy C. Campbell, Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi
  • Michel Tournier, Friday
  • J. M. Cotzee, Foe
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
  • Mary Butts, Ashe of Rings
  • Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walking
  • Patrick Wright, On Living in an Old Country
  • Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin
  • Félix Fénéon, Novels in Three Lines
  • Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel
  • Cynthia Ozick, Dictation
  • Mavis Gallant, The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant
  • Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge
  • Medlar Lucan & Durian Gray, The Decadent Gardener
  • Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • Elizabeth Hay, Late Nights on Air
  • Alistair MacLeod, Island
  • Italo Calvino, Difficult Loves
  • Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy
  • N. Katherine Hayles, Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary
  • Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod
  • Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Cynthia Ozick, The Cannibal Galaxy
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Spinoza of Market Street
  • Andy Diggle & Jock, The Losers
  • Merce Rodoreda, My Christina & Other Stories
  • Larissa Lai, Eggs in the Basement
  • Vladimir Nabakov, Nabakov’s Dozen
  • Lance Olsen, Anxious Pleasures
  • Iain Sinclair, Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report
  • W. G. Sebald, Vertigo
  • Jean Webster, Daddy Long legs
  • Mavis Gallant, In Transit
  • Alexandra Leggat, Animal
  • Ron Carlson, Five Skies
  • Walter J. Ong, Orality & Literacy: The Technologizing of the World
  • Arther Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Alice Oswald, Dart

GENERATION[S] Book Launch and Performance Event at Cabaret Fledermaus, Vienna, December 14, 2010

My new code narrative book, GENERATION[S], and all the other awesome books in TRAUMAWIEN Edition Schema 2, will launch at Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna, Tuesday the 14th of December. Or, Dezember, as they spell December in Vienna. Or, Vien, as they spell Vienna in Vienna. I love being part of a production I can’t even read the PR for! I can’t wait to return to Vienna, where all the buildings look like cakes. And I really can’t wait to see the Cabaret Feldermaus. The original was opened in 1907. The interior was designed by Josef Hoffmann. Several other well-known artists of the Viennese Art Nouveau, including Gustav Klimt, contributed to the design of the stage and furniture, as well as posters, postcards, pins and cutlery. Those days are over, alas. The TRAUMAWIEN launch event will be held in the new Cabaret Feldermaus, founded in 1967, and basically unchanged since, despite it’s recent transformation into a disco club. In different places in Europe “disco” means different things. In this case, I sincerely hope there’s a disco ball, to mirror the glittering mosaics of the Feldermaus of old.

In any case, it seems fitting that GENERATION[S] will launch in a venue that has seen many generations come and go. The paradoxes of this setting also seem to be in keeping with those embraced by GENERATION[S] Vienna-based publisher TRAUMAWIEN. As TRAUMAWIEN editor Luc Gross writes, “TRAUMAWIEN considers the paradox of transferring late-breaking digital aesthetics into book form, as new media narrative snapshots of literary genres otherwise quickly lost in the immense output produced by web every second.”

GENERATION[S] is one such snapshot: a book collecting sentences written in Twitter, pulled into Facebook, commented upon, rewritten, retweeted, recommented, rewritten, collated into arrays, parsed by Python scripts, output as short stories in terminal windows, copied and pasted into a Word doc, spaced, placed and paginated, transformed into a book by TRAUMAWIEN’s brilliant designer Julian Palacz. In the book, the digital process are reordered. The output stories come first. They are interspersed with Facebook screenshots showing the first instances of certain of the sentences they contain. The source code follows the stories it generates. Download instructions are offered. One sentence at a time. Wash, rinse, repeat.

For more info on GENERATION[S], TRAUMAWIEN and all the other awesome books launching in Edition Schema 2 visit: http://www.traumawien.at/preview/

Purchase GENERATION[S] online: http://www.amazon.com/Generation-s-J-R-Carpenter/dp/3950291032/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_2

TRAUMAWIEN Schema 2 Launch Poster

Präsentation der Edition Schema 2
J. R. Carpenter, Montreal
Ivan Monroy Lopez, Mexico City
Audun Mortensen, Oslo

Präsentation der Edition Hybrid 1
Philip Hautmann, Wien

Coups
Barbara Anna Husar, Wien
Olivia Kaiser, Wien
Brian Larosche, Oslo

Tanzmusik
Schellackplatten – Otto Jekel
othon.jekel.at

Dienstag, 14. Dezember 2010, 19 Uhr OPEN END!
Cabaret Fledermaus
Spiegelgasse 2, 1010 Wien

http://traumawien.at/

TRAUMAWIEN

Computer systems produce an unprecedented wealth of text, only the smallest part of which is contributed by users. Protocols, listings, algorithms, programmes, source codes, universal binary codes – the background operations of the systems themselves write a massively larger share. These text units – produced, read and transmitted by computers – internalize transcodability and transliterality as the computer system’s basic underlying operating principle. The emerging forms of text take place between writing systems and text generators. They produce a new kind of analphabetism, as most of their consumers cannot read nor write them, yet they are involved in our thoughts and actions.

Vienna-based publishers TRAUMAWIEN perceives these new structures of text as literature — a system of virtualization in imagination, always describing breaking points in our perception of world.

TRAUMAWIEN considers the paradox of transferring late-breaking digital aesthetics into book form, as new media narrative snapshots of literary genres otherwise quickly lost in the immense output produced by web every second.

TRAUMAWIEN book publications help to highlight technological innovations while at the same time questioning imminent issues of text production in virtual space.

THRAUMAWIEN’s range includes networked texts, algorithmic texts, interfictions, chatlogs, codeworks, software art and visual mashup prose. They also research possible touch points between the book as an object and virtual space in the form of, for example, hybrid books (augmented reality) the first of which will be published in July 2010.

TRAUMAWIEN publications are understood as schemes in which the author remains, but already is marginalized as a producer. The author – in a prototypical trauma book – remains exchangeable by the form of possible writing, writing systems, generating genre.

J. R. Carpenter GENERATION[S]

Schema 2.1 J.R. Carpenter, Montreal / Generation[s]. Code Narrative

Schema 2.2 Ivan Monroy Lopez, Mexiko / Git2Pod. Poetry

Schema 2.3 Audun Mortensen, Norway / Surf’s up (2010). Poetry

VIP schema2 / Barbara Anna Husar. Corpus Sublingual. Raw nd unplugged

Hybrid 1 Philip Hautmann / Yorick. Hybridbuch

http://traumawien.at/preview/

Generating Generation(s)

I’m writing a new book. It’s writing itself, really. It’s called GENERATION(S). It expands upon Story Generation(s), a series of short fictions generated by Python scripts adapted (with permission) from 1k story generators written by Nick Montfort. GENERATION(S) also incorporates GORGE, a never-ending tract spewing verse approximations, poetic paroxysms on food, consumption, decadence and desire, a hack of Montfort’s elegant poetry generator Taroko Gorge.

In the print book, GENERATION(S), the texts the generators produce are intertwined with the generators’ source code, and these two types of texts are in turn interrupted by excerpts from the meta narrative that went into their creation. For example, most of the sentences in the fictions generated by I’ve Died and Gone to Devon started off as Tweets, which were then pulled into Facebook. Some led to comments that led to responses that led to new texts. The following exchange started as a Tweet, was pulled into Facebook, became this sentence in Devon.py: “On a clear day, from the top of the drive we can see south to the sea,” and led to this blog post: To See the Sea. All these stages of intermediation are represented in the print book iteration of GENERATION(S).

Generation(s) will be published by TRAUMAWEIN, Vienna-based publishers of international works of codework, interfiction, microprose, chatlog, gamelog, twitter / facebook feeds and other new narrative forms, every 3 months in book form and in much more frequently online.

“The thing about trauma is to make “screenshots/timestamps” of those never ending stories going on.” Luc Gross, TRAUMAWIEN

GENERATION(S) goes to the printers by the end of this month and will be launched in Vienna July 23, 2010.

Reading List 2009

2009 was a year of reading interrupted. It started with an eviction notice. An amazing number of books can accumulate in 11 years. My bookcases and I had a long talk and we decided that a few hundred of our friends would have to go. Many were sold, many more were given away. The rest fit into 32 boxes. Finding a home for those boxes was hell. Two weeks after finally signing a lease on a new apartment, my marriage ended suddenly. As a reader, I didn’t see it coming. There was no foreshadowing or anything. As a writer, I would have done things differently.

My books moved without me. My suitcases and I spent the summer living out of other people’s bookshelves. It turns out that a friend close enough to put you up in a time of need can also be counted on to have a book collection close enough to your own to make you and your suitcases feel at home without a home. It turns out there are lots of books in the world. We merely move amongst them. Friends, on the other hand, are one-of-a-kind and impossible to replace.

My books and their cases are now housed in a storage locker in Montreal. I miss them very much. Especially the ones written by friends. There are many friends’ book in this photo of one of my Saint-Urbain Street bookcases before its dismantling:

On the up side, my suitcases and I are now ensconced in an 18th century Palladian country house situated on a promontory in a bend in the River Dart in South Devon. We’re catching up on our England reading. I am glad I saved Wuthering Heights until after visiting a moor, even though it’s set on a different moor than the one I went too, and Waterland until after visiting Somerset, even though it’s set on the Fens. Next up, Dart, by my new neighbour Alice Oswald, about my new neighbour The River Dart.

Here, in reverse chronological order, are the books I read in 2009:

  • Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading
  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  • Graham Swift, Waterland
  • Sutherland and Nicolson, Wetland: Life in the Somerset Levels
  • Jerome Fletcher, Alfreda Abbot’s Lost Voice
  • Charles Bernstein, Dark City
  • Nicolas Evans, The Divide
  • Clarice Lispector, Soulstorm
  • Philippe Soupault, Last Nights in Paris
  • Stacey May Fowles, Fear of Fighting
  • Lisa Moore, Degrees of Nakedness
  • Medlar Lucan & Durian Grey, The Decadent Traveler
  • Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses
  • Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head
  • Roddy Doyle, Paula Spenser
  • Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
  • Tom Standage, The Victorian Internet
  • Jerome Fletcher, Degringolade
  • Kate Pullinger, The Mistress of Nothing
  • Edna O’Brein, The Country Girls
  • Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the SUperheroes
  • Steven Ross Smith, Lures
  • Anne Simpson, Quick
  • Elizabeth Bishop, The Collected Prose
  • William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  • Oana Avasilichioaei, Feria: a poempark
  • Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
  • Agota Kristof, The Notebook, The Proof, and The Third Lie
  • Nigel Peake, Maps: Fields, Paths, Forests, Blocks, Places and Surroundings
  • John Berger, About Looking
  • Francis A. Yates, The Art of Memory
  • William Gibson, Spook Country
  • Mary-Ann Ray, Seven Partly Underground Rooms and Buildings for Water, Ice and Midgets
  • Jerome Fletcher, Escape from the Temple of Laughter
  • Mark Haddon, The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • William Gaddis, Carpenter’s Gothic
  • David Gutterson, East of the Mountains
  • A.S. Byatt, Little Black Book of Stories
  • Shirley Jackson, The Lottery
  • Merce Rodoreda, The Time of the Doves
  • Gary Lutz, Stories in the Worst Way
  • Daniel Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
  • Akira Mizuta Lippit, Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife
  • Andrew Hood, Pardon Our Monsters
  • Arjun Basu, Squishy
  • Jacob Wren, Families Are Formed Through Copulation
  • Chandra Mayor, All the Pretty Girls
  • Harold Hoefle, The Mountain Clinic
  • Beryl Bainbridge, Another Part of the World
  • Lydia Davis, The End of the Story
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin
  • Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum
  • Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo
  • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
  • Italo Calvino, Why Read The Classics?
  • Alejo Carpentier, The Chase
  • Nell Freudenberger, Lucky Girls
  • Irene Gammel, Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada and Everyday Modernity

. . . . .

Reading List 2008

I got a massive amount of writing done in 2008. That made it made it a strange year for reading. Early on in the year I appear to have had a ghosts and devils fixation. What was I thinking, reading Will Self, How the Dead Live and Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita back to back?

Between January and May I read and re-read a lot of chapters, articles and essays related to the texts I was working with in the Tributaries & Text-Fed Streams electronic literature project. Many books were harmed in the making of that work, some are pictured here, but few of those fragmentary readings are represented in the list below.

I had a great but short lived burst of short story reading in the spring while I was writing the postcard stories for the in absentia electronic literature project, but once that piece was launched I had to focus on finishing writing my first novel, Words the Dog Knows. It was a cold, wet summer, which was fine as I barely left my apartment. To get through the long days of writing toward impossibly short deadlines I soon realized that I couldn’t read anything even remotely resembling anything I would ever write. So it was a summer of long post-colonial novels written by American women.

I thought I’d get back to my regular reading habits once Words the Dog Knows went to the printer, but despite a brief window were I got to catch up on a few books written by friends, most of my fall reading was muddled by travel. Between book tours, conferences, lectures and meetings I was on the road non-stop from mid-October to mid-November. All I can say is, Gulliver’s Travels makes great sense on trains and airplanes.

My New Year’s reading resolution: to read Don Quixote in it’s entirety. Toward this end I have booked a one week vacation on a Cuban beach. The things I do for literature!

Here, from last to first, are books read in 2008:

  • Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
  • Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
  • Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  • Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
  • Salman Rushdie, ed., Best American Short Stories 2008
  • Jonathan Lenthem, Girl in a Landscape
  • Marguerite Duras, Moderato Cantabile
  • Paul D. Miller, Rhythm Science
  • Mariko & Jillian Tamaki, Skim
  • Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
  • Emily Holton, Dear Canada Council / Our Starland
  • Liane Keightly, Seven Openings of the head
  • Jacques Derrida, Paper Machine
  • N. Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines
  • Joe Brainard, I Remember
  • Harold Brodkey, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
  • Cynthia Ozick, Trust
  • Maya Merrick, The Hole Show
  • Kate Pullinger, A Little Stranger
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
  • Leni Zumas, Farewell Navigator
  • Jason Camlot, The Debaucher
  • Keri Hulme, The Bone People
  • Ha Jin, Waiting
  • Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses
  • Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
  • Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost
  • Claire Messud, The Hunters
  • Joy Williams, State of Grace
  • Julie Doucet, 365 Days
  • Barry Hannah, Geronimo Rex
  • Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
  • Steven Heighton, The Shadow Boxer
  • Michael Crummey, Flesh and Blood
  • Kerstin Ekman, Blackwater
  • Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
  • G. V. Desani, All About H. Hatterr
  • Michale Hoeullebecq, The Elementary Particles
  • Rick Moody, Demonology
  • Goethe, Faust
  • Christopher Funkhouser, Prehistoric Digital Poetry
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • Jeff Parker, The Back of the Line
  • Etgar Keret, Missing Kissinger
  • Raymond Carver, Short Cuts
  • Lorrie Moore, Like Life
  • Maurice Blanchot, Death Sentence
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Eva Figes, Light
  • Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems 1927-1979
  • Maureen Adams, Shaggy Muses
  • Mary Robison, Why Did I Ever
  • Valerie Joy Kalynchuk, All Day Breakfast
  • Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonders
  • Flan O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds
  • Rilke, Duino Elegies & The Sonnets to Orpheus
  • Anya Ulinich, Petropolis
  • David McGimpsey, Sitcom
  • Jeff Parker, Ovenman
  • Will Self, How the Dead Live
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
  • Mark Amerika, META/DATA

  • . . . . .