HERE'S A SHORT LIST OF WHAT I'M
Derrida's dead and I actually kind of miss him, right now. So I'm doing a bit of a J.D. read:
Jacques Derrida and Catherine Malabou: Counterpath. Travelin' with J.D. A long-ish essay whose chapters can be read in any order. It traces a series of travel metaphors throughout Derrida's texts, with interjections by Derrida every so often in a kind of counter-text that's presented as a series of letters written by Derrida to Malabou while he travels around on the road. Malabou's text is also very quotation-heavy (all the quotes are from works by J.D. being discussed), and scattered with travel photos of Derrida from all sorts of times and places. Therefore, the effect is more like dipping into a gigantic collage than reading an "essay." The writing is fairly casual, almost friendly, in a way-- as far as supposedly "difficult" postmodern texts go-- and this conveys a feeling of general, sincere, camaraderie between Derrida and Malabou, a camaraderie that also seems very inviting and hospitable to the reader-- or, at least to me. There's something really neat and free-form about this book, even though it never really drifts away from its focus. One of those works that crosses boundaries between fact and fiction, essay and poem.
Jacques Derrida and Elisabeth Roudinesco: For What Tomorrow. A discussion between Roudinesco and Derrida that teeters between formal and informal. Mostly accessible and, pretty interesting. You need to know something about some of the stuff they discuss (the history of post-1968 France, for example), but this book covers enough ground that, literally, there's something for almost anyone. Animal rights, the death penalty, anti-Semitism, personal political responsibility, and so forth, are all touched on and discussed in an illuminating way.
Jacques Derrida: The Monolingualism of the Other, or The Prosthesis of Origin. The title's may be an esoteric-seeming mouthful, but at its core this book a very personal meditation about language and growing up Algerian from Derrida's point of view. Autobiography and critical their fused. Even, occasionally, moving... in that weird way that Derrida can sometimes be moving.
Jacques Derrida: Rogues. I just bought this, and I haven't even looked at it yet. But it seems to be very concerned with the post-9/11 world, so it'll probably be interesting.
John LeCarré: Absolute Friends. Yeah, I know. I'm as shocked as you are. It turns out that John LeCarré is a really good novelist. And here I always thought he was just another boring Brit. This one follows two friends, who happen to be spies, from the 1960s all the way to the current "war" on "terrorism." Political and personal, and, well, if you like George Bush's foreign policies and are in love with Tony Blair then you might not like the book too much. But since I'm not, I do.
John LeCarré: The Constant Gardener. I'm not trend-jumping, and this has nothing to do with the fact that there's a movie coming out. Absolute Friends was really good, and I liked the picture of all the big fat bees on the cover.
Edward Said: Orientalism. I've never read this. Now I am. I don't really have much to say because I just got it.
Homi K. Bhabha: The Location of Culture. Picked this one up the same time I got Orientalism. I know nothing about it, beyond what the book flap says, but it looks pretty good.
William Vollmann: Rising Up and Rising Down. Many volumes, many pages. It sits in my apartment on its own stand. Too HUGE to even comment on right now. More later.
Grant Morrison: The Invisibles. I'm finally getting around to reaidng this, and so far it's pretty interesting. I'm not finding much in the line of characterization (not really a must with me), but Morrison can sure layer the references.
Philip K. Dick: The Man in the High Castle.
When Dick took his time writing a book, he was so good. Maybe the
only "Hitler wins WWII" alternate history novel that anyone has to read.
Certainly the best. More like a long slice-of-life book set in an
alternate world, and less of a big adventure. The book itself was
written using the I Ching, and this adds a level of indeterminacy and realism
to all the events it depicts-- something both life and people do unexpected
things, and Dick used the I Ching to amplify this effect. Even though
it's only about 250 pages long, High Castle is packed with goodness:
well-defined characters; clashes of philosophy and cultures; action and
drama; prescient sociological observations (check out the stuff about Japan's
fascination with Western pop culture as well as the way Dick depicts the
collectible market); hard-hitting questions of the nature of reality, fakes,
and authenticity; and even some hard-core postmodernism and metafiction
decades before such things became fashionable in "realistic" fiction, let
alone S.F. Brilliant.
And whatever else grabs my sick fancy.