Doug Paul Case

I'm not a poet, I just crush a lot.

Category: Reading

How many pages will you give a boring book before you have to stop?

I just read 100 pages from [famous novelist]‘s second effort, and I had to stop. Nothing had happened. And sometimes it’s okay that nothing has happened, but I didn’t find the characters particularly interesting or complicated in any significant way. I couldn’t do it.

Why do I feel bad about stopping?

The Books I Read in 2013


1 – Kevin Wilson – The Family Fang

2 – Cyrus Cassells – The Mud Actor

3 – Ben Doller – Dead Ahead

4 – Allison Joseph – My Father’s Kites



5 – Lynda Hull – Ghost Money

6 – Aaron Smith – Appetite

7 – Denise Duhamel – Blowout



8 – Casey Hannan – Mother Ghost

9 – Kirsten Kaschock – A Beautiful Name for a Girl



10 – Alex Dimitrov – Begging for It

11 – Angelo Nikolopoulos – Obscenely Yours



12 – Micah Mattix – Frank O’Hara and the Poetics of Saying “I”

13 – Rebecca Hazelton – Vow

14 – Wendy Xu – You Are Not Dead

15 – Rebecca Gayle Howell – Render / An Apocalypse

16 – Stephen S. Mills – He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices

17 – S.E. Smith – I Live in a Hut

18 – Karen Russell – Swamplandia!

19 – Tina Fey – Bossypants

20 – Frank O’Hara – Selected Poems

21 – D. Gilson – Brit Lit



22 – Farrah Field – Rising

23 – Carl Phillips – Silverchest

24 – Bob Hicok – Words for Empty and Words for Full

25 – Gabrielle Calvocoressi – The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart

26 – Laurie Ann Guerrero – A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

27 – Ely Shipley – Boy with Flowers

28 – Angela Shaw – The Beginning of the Fields

29 – Blas Falconer – A Question of Gravity and Light

30 – Paul Steinhart – The Undressed Art

31 – Joan Didion – Slouching Towards Bethlehem

32 – Keetje Kuipers – Beautiful in the Mouth

33 – John Brandon – A Million Heavens



34 – Bradley Paul – The Animals All Are Gathering

35 – James Allen Hall – Now You’re the Enemy

36 – David Orr – Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry

37 – Christopher Coe – Such Times

38 – Adrian Matejka – The Big Smoke

39 – George Whitmore – Nebraska

40 – Cecily Parks – Field Folly Snow

41 – Anne Carson – Red Doc>



42 – Kathleen Rooney – Live Nude Girl

43 – Bob Hicok – Elegy Owed

44 – Michael Ondaatje – Coming Through Slaughter



45 – Catherine Bowman – The Plath Cabinet

46 – Maurice Manning – The Gone and the Going Away

47 – Margaret Gibson – Memories of the Future

48 – Quraysh Ali Lansana – They Shall Run

49 – A. Van Jordan – The Cineaste



50 – Leigh Stein – Dispatch from the Future

51 – Samuel Amadon – The Hartford Book

52 – Leslie Epstein – King of the Jews

53 – Rebecca Lindenberg – Love, an Index

54 – Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita



55 – Aracelis Girmay – Kingdom Animalia

56 – Jamaal May – Hum



57 – Mary Miller – The Last Days of California

58 – Michael Chabon – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Christopher Coe’s ‘Such Times’ is a book you should read.

I read Christopher Coe’s debut novella I Look Divine a few years ago, but just now got around to reading his novel Such Times, which (aside from being vastly superior) is a devastating look at the way AIDS destroys human relationships. More importantly, it is a compelling investigation of romantic longing. I wanted to cry on almost every page. And on a few, I did.

Coe himself died of AIDS complications a year after the book was published, in 1994. How I wish he’d been able to give us more than these two books.

After the jump: I’ve copied out, by hand, a selection.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s time for my obligatory THIS IS WHAT I READ THIS YEAR blog post.

The 2012 goal was to read 100 books, and it is time to admit I am not going to make it. BUT I’M ONLY 4 SHORT SO IT’S FINE. There’s no chance I’ll be able to read four books in a day, so I’m going to call it at 96; and you know, that’s not bad. He’s a numbered, monthly list.



1 – Alyssa Knickerbocker – Your Rightful Home

2 – Jhumpa Lahiri – The Namesake

3 – Garth Greenwell – Mitko

4 – Arda Collins – It Is Daylight

5 – Andrea Cohen – Long Division

6 – James Tate – The Lost Pilot

7 – Michael Montlack – Cool Limbo

8 – Randall Mann – Breakfast with Thom Gunn

9 – Sarah Manguso – Siste Viator



10 – Heather Christle – The Trees the Trees

11 – Dennis Cooper – The Dream Police

12 – Nikky Finney – Head Off & Split

13 – Randall Mann – Complaint in the Garden

14 – Amy Newman – Dear Editor

15 – Anne Carson – If Not, Winter



16 – Alexander Chee – Edinburgh

17 – D.A. Powell – Useless Landscape

18 – Rigoberto Gonzalez – Black Blossoms

19 – Michael Dickman – The End of the West

20 – Tracy K. Smith – Life on Mars

21 – Marie Howe – What the Living Do

22 – Mark Bibbins – The Dance of No Hard Feelings



23 – Eduardo C. Corral – Slow Lightning

24 – C. Dale Young – Torn

25 – Ross Gay – Bringing the Shovel Down

26 – Michael Dickman – Flies

27 – Jason Shinder – Stupid Hope

28 – Jason Bredle – Standing in Line for the Beast

29 – Dara Wier – Selected Poems



30 – Kathy Fish – Together We Can Bury It

31 – Traci Brimhall – Rookery

32 – Jac Jemc – My Only Wife

33 – Emily Pettit – Goat in the Snow

34 – Bruce Snider – The Year We Studied Women

35 – Mark Wunderlich – Voluntary Servitude

36 – Bruce Snider – Paradise, Indiana

37 – D.A. Powell – Tea

38 – Chris Adrian – The Great Night

39 – Jack Spicer – My Vocabulary Did This to Me

40 – John Brandon – Arkansas

41 – Ryan Van Meter – If You Knew Then What I Know Now



42 – David Trinidad – Dear Prudence

43 – Robin Blaser – The Holy Forest

44 – Richard Siken – Crush

45 – Robert Duncan – The Opening of the Field

46 – Colllier Nogues – On the Other Side, Blue

47 – Natasha Trethewey – Native Guard



48 – Julia Kasdorf – Eve’s Striptease

49 – Paul Guest – Notes for My Body Double

50 – Maurice Manning – A Companion for Owls

51 – Éireann Lorsung – Music for Landing Planes By

52 – Shane McCrae – Mule

53 – Quan Barry – Water Puppets

54 – Brandi Wells – Please Don’t Be Upset

55 – Dorianne Laux – The Book of Men

56 – Karen Rigby – Chinoiserie

57 – Rodney Jones – Salvation Blues

58 – Paige Ackerson-Kiely – My Love Is a Dead Arctic Explorer

59 – Brian Henry – Lessness

60 – M.A. Vizsolyi – The Lamp with Wings

61 – Cate Marvin – Fragment of the Head of a Queen

62 – Bryan D. Dietrich – Prime Directive

63 – Megan Mayhew Bergman – Birds of a Lesser Paradise

64 – Philip Carr-Gomm – A Brief History of Nakedness

65 – Yusef Komunyakaa – Warhorses



66 – Charles Simic – That Little Something

67 – James Baldwin – Giovanni’s Room

68 – Matthea Harvey – Sad Little Breathing Machine

69 – T Fleischmann – Syzygy, Beauty

70 – Gabrielle Calvocoressi – Apocalyptic Swing



71 – Patrick Rosal – My American Kundiman

72 – Stephen Motika – Western Practice

73 – Erika Meitner – Ideal Cities

74 – Adrian Matejka – The Devil’s Garden



75 – Lauren Slater – Lying

76 – Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles

77 – Rodney Jones – Imaginary Logic

78 – Maureen Seaton – Cave of the Yellow Volkswagen

79 – Jay Hopler – Green Squall

80 – Sharon Dolin – Whirlwind

81 – Patricia Smith – Blood Dazzler

82 – Craig Arnold – Shells

83 – Tao Lin – Richard Yates



84 – Forrest Hamer – Rift

85 – Patrick Rosal – Boneshepherds

86 – Terrance Hayes – Wind in a Box

87 – Lewis Warsh – Dreaming as One

88 – Brad Land – Goat

89 – Marcus Wicker – Maybe the Saddest Thing

90 – Ryan Teitman – Litany for the City

91 – Toi Derricotte – The Black Notebooks

92 – Brian Teare – Pleasure



93 – Jack Gilbert – The Great Fires

94 – David Wojnarowicz – In the Shadow of the American Dream

95 – Timothy Donnelly – The Cloud Corporation

96 – Dorothea Lasky – Thunderbird

…and I’m halfway through Kevin Wilson’s debut novel, The Family Fang, which I’m enjoying immensely and might finish before the end of the year, but I don’t want to rush it.

I spent most of this year trying to read contemporary poets and canonized gay poets that I probably ‘should have read by now.’ Which, I think, is the way to go. In 2013, I’m going to continue in that direction, but expanding to lesser-known writers and eco-poetics, and I also want to read more essay collections—since, you know, I’m trying to write those now. Or something. I’m not sure.

I read an excerpt from “We Take Me Apart” by Molly Gaudry.

There’s a new site called A Poem from Us, in which we average people read poems they love. It’s really neat. I recorded an excerpt of Molly Gaudry’s book-length poem We Take Me Apart for the project. Molly is great. She runs The Lit Pub, if you didn’t already know.

Anyway, you should check the site out…and contribute a poem you love!

Between applying to grad schools, graduating college, working, starting grad school, grading, etc., I managed to read 72 books in 2011.

I have to say, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to read 72 books in 2011. It was a year filled with monumental life changes, and I had only read 50 in 2010. But I told myself that if I’m going to be a “real” writer, I’ve got to read more. And that’s what I did. I’m hoping to hit at least 88 in 2012. Yes, that’s an arbitrary number I just came up with.

Now I’m going to talk about books that taught me something.

Erin Elizabeth Smith’s The Chainsaw Bears taught me that you can write a whole chapbook of poems with the same name and it won’t necessarily be intolerable. I had thought of doing it in the past, but Smith’s was the first that didn’t make me want to stop. Those wooden bears made me feel things.

xTx’s Normally Special taught me to be blunt. I’ve been having trouble saying what I want to say in my own work, largely fearful that it might be too much for readers to handle, but xTx taught me to throw those thoughts away. I shouldn’t be placing such restrictions on myself, especially in the early stages of writing. I can do what I want, and the right readers will find me. I am the right reader for xTx.

Kevin Young’s Jelly Roll taught me how musical short lines can be. Previous to Young’s work, I’d been quite adamant about my hatred for short lines—mostly because I find Kay Ryan’s work quite trite and, overall, terrible—but something in Young’s diction showed me that I shouldn’t make such sweeping judgments. His poems are incredible, and I’ve been writing in short-lined couples ever since. Emulation.

And Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution taught me a lot about language acquisition and interpretation.

Otherwise, I read a lot of fabulous books this year, of which I heartily recommend the following:

Molly Gaudry’s We Take Me Apart

Ryan Call’s The Weather Stations

Philipp Meyer’s American Rust

James Wright’s The Branch Will Not Break

Carl Phillips’s From the Devotions

and Roxane Gay’s incomparable Ayiti

So, that’s the year in reading. I’m looking forward to 2012’s book list—many of which are patiently waiting for me in a stack in my bedroom.

2011 Books 11-25

As previously discussed, I am not a consistent blogger. I’m dealing with it.

I in fact did not stop reading after finishing Cavafy (while I could have, he’s so good). I have now read 25 books this year, which is halfway to my (revised) goal of reading “at least 50.” Having done this about 15 days before the temporal midpoint, I’m feeling optimistic. The list:

12: Molly Gaudry‘s We Take Me Apart: It’s gorgeous but I’m not sure I ‘got it.’ The imagery is bold, bright, and I loved how the line breaks were naturally determined by the language’s pauses (or whenever a comma or ‘and’ would naturally be placed). It’s one of my favorite novels-in-verse and I’m definitely going to reread it at some point, to figure out what exactly happened.

13: Ariel Dorfman’s In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land: Poems from Chile concerning the dictatorship and ‘disappearances’ of his detractors. Extremely powerful poems, though more for their content than their poetic competence.

14: Michelle Cheever‘s You’ll Miss Me But That’s Good: This collection of short stories was released by the student-run Wilde Press at Emerson. I reviewed it here. Cheever is stunning and I’m sure she’ll make a name for herself in the years to come. You can read two of her stories here and here.

15: CAConrad’s The Book of Frank: This book-length series of poems is, well, odd. Lots of avian imagery, lots of unexpected twists. I’m still not sure what I think about it.

16: Miranda July‘s No One Belongs Here More Than You: I read this to prep for an interview that kind of fell through. Met her, though, and she’s so wonderful and soft-spoken. I don’t think I fully understand the things she tackles in her films, performances, or even these stories, but I find something in her character’s subdued decay fascinating and oddly humorous. She’s like a light version of Tao Lin. Maybe.

17: Julia Leigh’s Disquiet: This was a beautiful little novella (which Penguin labeled a ‘story’ because, I suspect, people are afraid of the word ‘novella’). The writing was pristine but all I thought while reading it was, “Wow, I guess rich people have problems, too.”

18: Blake Butler‘s There Is No Year: The book is physically gigantic. The sentences are pretty. The design was pretty. I have no idea what happened.

19: Jac Jemc‘s These Strangers She’d Invited In: I love the Greying Ghost chapbooks. I only own four of them, but they’re all gorgeous and, as expected, the writing more than keeps up. There’s something so charming about being introduced to a list of characters and that’s that. Jemc is one of my favorite up-and-comings and I can’t wait for her novel.

20: Brian Malloy’s Brendan Wolf: I will be gentle in saying this book was not my cup of tea. When I finished it I contemplating getting a Good Reads account just to vent.

21: James Kaelan’s We’re Getting On: I remember liking this but I can’t remember why. And I’m too lazy to go find it and refresh my memory. I think I wanted to post about this separately later anyway.

22: Sara Levine’s Short Dark Oracles: Buy this before they’re gone. These stories were wonderful and just-quirky-enough.

23: Rose Metal Press’s They Could No Longer Contain Themselves: I plan to post on this later, but I’ll suffice to say I loved three of the five chapbooks, was ok with one, and despised the fifth. The book itself is beautiful and a great idea; I hope to be included in such an anthology one day!

24: Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: I never say this, but I liked the movie better. It just had a sense of magic, of true story-ness, that I don’t think the novel had. I wish I could explain why.

25: Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping: Literally finished this right before making this list. The first paragraphs were too slow and then the ending seemed rushed. But I’m not complaining because each and every sentence was painfully beautiful: some of the best sentences I’ve read since her Gilead. I think I’ll try to read everything she’s written.


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