Monday, September 10, 2007

Book reviews

I've started an account at, and have uploaded most of my library (my similar account at LibraryThing made this an easy task).

I'm not sure about the site's general usefulness — it's interesting to see what books others are reading, or have read. And on the occasion that the users have given stars to a particular book, it's not clear that the meaning of a starred review is consistent, even among an individual's ratings: do the five stars I gave to Zukofsky's "A" mean the same thing as the same rating I've given to Tina Darragh's on the corner to off the corner? And what about a similar rating for a book of critical essays, or a novel? Certainly, we don't read poetry and criticism in the same way – their "values" (for want of a better word) are different, and their functions, both social and personal, are different.

Needless to say, it's the reviews that are important, in that they at least allow for some explanation, if not outright defense. So I've decided to begin work on reviewing my entire library, with no formal plan for how to do so, and no projected date for completion. I procede with a sense of futility — there aren't many of these that haven't been reviewed countless times before, rendering my commentary frivolous and excessive in advance of the fact.

Oh well.

on the corner to off the corner
Tina Darragh
Sun & Moon Press, 1981

An exploratory surgery of sorts, Darragh's procedure, simple enough at first glance (the curious can vide her explanation in The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book), interrupts lexicographical discoure — its aim at closure, stability, fixity — as it re-reads the page, treating keywords as clues, suggestions for a derive at lyric's limits. The result is a meaning altogether at cross-purposes to definition's drawing of boundaries, its regulation of voice and of tongue.