Friday, October 15:


I’m overbooked. I mean, I don’t know where else to put them: my books. I have four moving boxes full of books in the trunk of my car, three boxes on the only chair in the kitchen, and three boxes here by my laptop waiting to be “sorted” so I can decide which I need and which will be relegated to the attic.

Some of these boxes have not been opened since I packed them in Houston in 2001. Or thereabouts. I can’t remember. So it was a joy this evening to slit the yellow packing tape, open the corrugated flaps (dusty! phew!) and find my copies of William Stafford’s You Must Revise Your Life Writing the Australian Crawl sandwiched beneath the fantastic anthology Another Republic (which I bought in Houston for Garrett Hongo’s undergraduate poetry course) and the hmm-why-do-I-still-have-this Roadside Flowers of Texas.

Oh, books. I love you but I can’t revisit all of you. It’s such a shame to lock you in the attic for another ten years. I’ve already given hundreds–hundreds–of you away to a couple of college libraries. Mainly poetry, yes, which takes up so little space compared to the Encyclopedia of Aquarium Fishes and the Pequeno LaRousse Ilustrado and Philip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay. Last night I dreamed that I picked one of you each week to give away, orphaning you one at a time to lessen the pain of parting, by setting a fresh book out on the front stoop each Friday with a little note tied around its middle: Free to a good home. This afternoon I remembered the dream and thought, Why not? I’ll call it “Free Book Friday” (so original) and maybe, ooohh, maybe I can post a cover scan or a book synopsis or a sample paragraph (or stanza) online the day before so if anyone online wants the book they can call dibs. Yes, this could turn my personal loss into a collective gain! What’s not to love about this idea?

Umm . . . what about all that postage? 

Oh, yeah. Crap. It would cost me an arm & a leg to downsize that way. Not all at once, maybe a knuckle or toenail at a time, but still, it’s money I do not have. Books I have; money–not so much.

And then I thought about the internet, and FB and Goodreads and Paypal and all the readers and writers I’m linked to, and you know what? It doesn’t sound that crazy to me. It could actually work. If someone really wants the book and she doesn’t live close enough to nab it from my front stoop, surely it’s worth the price of shipping. Media Mail is pretty cheap. 

So how about it? I can post this weekend’s victim–err, selection–on Friday at, say, midnight (Pennsylvania time) and the first person to claim it can reimburse me for shipping once it gets to wherever it’s going. If no one wants it, I’ll set it on the stoop come Monday morning. 

I’m going to give this a whirl. And I’m counting on all you interconnected cyber-readers out there to help make this work. I’ll post the first giveaway at midnight & cross-post on FB, just to get us started. Let’s do this!

Free Book Friday #1: Ethan Canin, Emperor of the Air

Okay, the first book up for grabs is Ethan Canin’s Emperor of the Air, his first book of stories published back in 1988. Yes, you can find this on Amazon for under a buck, but then you gotta pay shipping. I’m offering it up for free to the first person who claims it by commenting on this post–all I ask is that you reimburse me the postage once your book arrives.

This is a paperback copy, first Perennial Library edition. It has a corner cut out of the front end page where my name and the date used to be inscribed. I probably won’t do that again.

Who wants it?

Anonymous said . . . [10.17.2010]

Nice idea, Ron. The least we who stand to benefit can do is pay the postage. Gabe


Ron said… [10.22.2010]

I should have added that it’s perfectly fine to claim your copy via FB; I’m certainly there more often than here. So congrats to Rachel N, who scored the Ethan Canin book. Two more go up for grabs tonight!

Sunday, 10.17:

Long hard weekend of painful discussions with R about our relationship and my inability–so far–to find a job. Hard, hard. He feels useless, nothing to live for and I feel humiliated and at a dead end. All this interspersed with heavy activity–putting up the storm windows in the laundry room, pruning and hauling away branches, sorting through boxes of books from the storage unit to keep/shelve/give away.

Tonight, up late again, thinking how easily I become immobilized by fear of failure, when  a voice comes through: Fuck that. Fear of failure equals failure. Just get up and try again.

And part of the reason I do escape into work with the press is that yes, it’s something I’m good at, but I also think I’m hoping to carry that wave of confidence (I do believe in myself wrt the press and its future)into this job search.

Which must commence anew, in earnest, tomorrow.

Oh, and Mom phoned tonight. I’d been avoiding calling because no good news, which is stupid because then time is lost. S fell at a trade show or at work, I’m not sure, but hurt her knee badly. On top of which she had a bad panic attack the other night. She’s not in control of her life, Mom said, and S agreed, saying she doesn’t know how to get it back.

Monday, 10.18:

Names Project dream.

Friday, 10.22:

Before the frost


This morning glory from just last week:

Free Book Friday #2: Terry Eagleton, Robert Peters

Up for grabs this weekend are two books: Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory: An Introduction, a clean, bright paperback copy I bought for fifteen bucks back in 1993, and a fun little book from 1983, The Peters Black and Blue Guide to Current Literary Journals.

 A few words about the latter: obviously, “current” as used in the title refers to journals from the ’80s. Nevertheless, if you’ve never read Robert Peters’ criticism, this provides a quick dip–sort of a birdbath dip–into his take-no-hostages blunt assessment of what was being published in the main literary mags of that time. Think of this as a companion volume to his awesome Hunting the Snark. First edition copy from Cherry Valley Editions, paperback, purchased in April 1985 from New World Books in Cincinnati (sales receipt still in the book). Ink illustrations by Meredith Peters.

Remember: you may claim either book (or both) for free by posting a response here, to this blog post, or on Facebook (I’ll cross-post there once this post goes up at midnight tonight). I will ship you the book(s) by Media Mail; all I ask is that you reimburse me for the postage.

Next weekend: some Octavio Paz. Stay tuned.

Saturday, 10.30:

Free Book Friday #3: Octavio Paz; James Wright (audio)

Cover of "Sor Juana: Or, the Traps of Fai...Well I uckfupped the posting & missed my Friday deadline, but here it is, better late than never: this weekend’s free book giveaway is a hefty goodie: Sor Juana, or, The Traps of Faith, by Octavio Paz. This is the paperback 1988 first edition put out by the Belknap Press at Harvard. It’s in English; the translator is Margaret Sayers Peden. I bought it for fifteen bucks back in May of 1991, and it’s a good clean copy.

I’m also giving away an audio tape (for those of you who still use that technology) of James Wright reading at the Guggenheim on 3/20/64 and 10/28/78. This was produced as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Audio Archive; I somehow have two copies and so it’s easy to let this one go to a good home.

Remember: you may claim either item (or both) for free by posting a response here, to this blog post, or on FB (I cross-post there after this post appears). I will ship your item(s) by Media Mail; all I ask is that you reimburse me for the postage.

Because I’m a day late posting this, we’ll give everyone until Tuesday morning to stake a claim. Next week I’ll try to get back on my regular schedule. 

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