Top books in my current “to be read” pile

A few days ago SF Signal invited me to participate in one of their Mind Melds, with the topic announced in the form of a question: “What book(s) in your ‘to read’ pile are you most interested in reading? Why?” So I whipped up something and sent it to them, and it was published just today, along with similar ones from nine other authors and inhabiters of the speculative genres.

Here’s the introduction to my contribution, plus the covers of the books I named. At the bottom there’s a link to the full piece, where you can read my extended comments on all four picks.

For the past decade my TBR pile has consisted of an ever-imposing and constantly shifting commotion of nonfiction books. This transition occurred, without my intending or even being truly aware of it, at some point around the age of 30. When I was younger I could never understand why my dad, who was always reading books, never had any novels or fiction collections among them. Now I get it: sometimes — perhaps for a long time (perhaps permanently) — fiction ceases to speak to you. Or perhaps, in true Robert Anton Wilsonian guerrilla ontological fashion, a person finds he’s getting his fiction fix from what’s formally placed in the non- category.

The most interesting items in my ontologically suspect pile of ostensible nonfiction currently include (but are not limited to):

Beyond the Tragic Vision by Morse Peckham
Nightmare: The Birth of Horror by Christopher Frayling

Sleep Paralysis: Nightmares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection by Shelley Adler

Full story:The Most Interesting Books in Our “To Be Read” Pile

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on June 20, 2012, in Arts & Entertainment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Peckham is great but may I suggest reading Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self alongside it? Taylor’s book doesn’t treat tragedy per se but engages with Peckham’s thesis that Nietzsche offers modern self its only alternative.

    • I appreciate the recommendation, Mark. Just looked up Taylor’s book and found its description and vibe to be quite interesting (as expected from your words about it).

  2. Hi, Matt,

    Peckham seems to have been summarily dismissed from the world of “popular” academic “experts” by Christopher Ricks in the NYRB back in 72 or 73. Ricks “reviewed” 5 titles so superficially that it must be seen as an embarrassment. But it seems to have served a purpose.

    Having gotten a literature degree and a master’s in teaching (focus in literature) back in the late 80s and 90s I can assure you that I had no idea who Peckham was. Never heard of him. From his own era–50s to the 80s!–the major names are Frye and then the “Deconstructors” (and Harold Bloom of course), maybe Kermode. I’m sure you can add a few.

    Recently I was reading some polemical work by Curtis White (Barbaric Heart, and Spirit of Disobedience) and found him posting and commenting on the site The Big Other where there was a discussion of Vygotsky and Harold Bloom. In the mix he tossed out his preference for all things Peckham on Romanticism. Peckham? Off I went and have been deep in it ever since.

    He’s possibly the only writer, thinker!, who I want desperately to “hear” his thoughts on every writer that pops into my head. I wish he were here now in order to tear up the “common core” content proponents.

    Want to learn how to read poetry? Peckham’s got a text for that too: Word, Meaning, Poem.

    • This is excellent, and it confirms my thoughts/suspicions about the fascination inherent in Peckham’s work and thought. I just hopped over to your Common Errant site and saw your invocations of Peckham in the current Huck Finn post. Very nice. And thank you for the book recommendation. Good to meet you, Douglas.

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