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If you borrow this book, you have to return it: Truong Tran.

January 25, 2011 \am\31 8:00 am

[For this series, I’ve asked some wondrous writers to reflect on an individual copy of a book that is very important to them. Writers and publishers have varied and often impassioned relationships to their analog books, as actual books are still arguably the “realest” physical manifestation of their poetic pursuits. I think that as the Kindle and other digital representations of text continue their upward spiral, it’s important to reflect on books as the uniquely funky-smelling, emotion-provoking, paper-cutting, dust/coffee/spaghetti sauce-collecting artifacts that they are! Check back next week for more top picks!]

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Truong Tran lives in a flat at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. His apartment doubles as a halfway house for other wayward artists.

There are a couple of books sitting on my shelf that I return to often. I should actually begin by saying that I really haven’t placed much value on books or given them much thought. I tend to lend out my books quite often. That’s just code for giving the books away. Having said that, I do have a couple of books that I secretly covet.

 


The first of these two books is Basquiat’s The Studio of the Streets. It’s a great book with lots of images and ideas. It’s like a children’s book for adults, full of possibilities with none of the limitations that come with being learned. This is not to say that Basquiat is not brilliant. In many ways, I think his work is pure and innocent and so incredibly layered. It is not something that I could ever accomplish as an artist nor would I be inclined to attempt. It serves as a wonderful reminder of what can exist beyond the confines of institutionalized art. I’m looking for a book of poetry that does just that. Never mind, Linh Dinh’s Blood and Soap is sitting on my shelf. And yes, I do think it is a book of poems.

 

 

The other book is one of my own. It is a copy of Within The Margin. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion of narcissism, there is a story that comes with this particular copy of the book. I bought it used off the 99 cent rack at Green Apple Books. In it, the reader is responding to my poems, often in frustration and often with doubt. One response in particular read, “This is a crock of shit!” In another, he wrote, “This is why I hate poetry. It makes no sense.” In the second to last page, the reader writes, “What’s the point?”  The one-time owner of this book has his name on the inside cover with his phone number just beneath the name.  I love this book because it is as though I am having a conversation with the reader; it is perhaps the most honest feedback I’ve received as a writer. Finally, I love this copy because I am always tempted to call up this Michael Tsai and say, “thanks for feeling so passionate about the work and thanks for asking.” I’m asking that same question of my students all the time.

 

There are a couple of books sitting on my shelf that I return to often. I should actually begin by saying that I really haven’t placed much value on books or have given them much thought to be perfectly honest. I tend to lend out my books quite often. That’s just code for giving the books away. Having said that, I do have a couple of books that I secretly covet. 

The first of these two books is Basquiat’s The Studio of the Streets. Its a great book with lots of images and ideas. Its like a children’s book for adults, full of possibilities and none of the limitations that come with being learned. This is not to say that Basquiat is not brilliant. In many ways, I think his work is pure and innocent and so incredibly layered. It is not something that I could ever accomplish as an artist nor would I be inclined to attempt. It serves as a wonderful reminder of what can exist beyond the confines of institutionalized art. I’m looking for a book of poetry that does just that. Never mind, Linh Dinh’s Blood and Soap is sitting on my shelf. And yes, I do think it is a book of poems.

The other book is one of my own. It is a copy of Within The Margin. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion of narcism, there is a story that comes with this particular copy of the book. I bought it used off the 99 cent rack at Green Apple Books. In it, the reader is responding to my poems, often in frustration and often with doubt. One response in particular read, “this is a crock of shit!” In another, he wrote, “this is why I hate poetry. It makes no sense.” In the second to last page, the reader writes, “What’s the point?”  The one time owner of this book has his name on the inside cover with his phone just beneath the name.  I love this book because it is as though I am having a conversation with the reader; it is perhaps the most honest feedback I’ve received as a writer. Finally, I love this copy because I am always tempted to call up this Michael Tsai and say, “thanks for feeling so passionate about the work and thanks for asking.” I ‘m asking that same question of my students all the time.

 

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4 Comments
  1. January 25, 2011 \pm\31 3:17 pm 3:17 pm

    this was lovely, the last especially so.

    (as a selfish aside, i wish my house was a ‘halfway house for wayward artists’)

  2. Marisa Crawford permalink
    January 26, 2011 \am\31 10:39 am 10:39 am

    “This is a crock of shit!” Amazing.

  3. Christine Gonzales permalink
    January 26, 2011 \pm\31 5:37 pm 5:37 pm

    No effing way! I love it.

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