Nietzsche’s checking out Katharine Neville’s ass

After hitting up the bookstore tonight and picking up more Dumas, more Klosterman and the first book of Frank Miller’s Sin City, I stopped off at a local deli to pick up a cheesesteak and some stout. In other words, I was pretty much supplied for the weekend (except, of course, that I have to spend most of my day tomorrow grading exams, doing laundry and getting a haircut).

Anyway, as I was walking home, I couldn’t help but think to myself that I could hardly have picked three more dissimilar books, at least superficially (well, I could have made it even more of an odd collection if I’d remembered to stop back by the Philosophy section and pick up The Ego and its Own as I’d originally intended). Which is, to be honest, not entirely unusual for me. Here, for example are nine consecutive books from one of my shelves:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
Chaos Theory, by Robert P. Murphy
The Man Without Qualities, vol. I, by Robert Musil
Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov
Complex Analysis in One Variable, by Raghavan Narasimhan and Yves Nievergelt
Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada/Cien sonetos de amor, by Pablo Neruda
The Eight, by Katherine Neville
Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed./trans. by Walter Kaufmann
Roads to Santiago, Cees Nooteboom

For some reason, I’m always constantly amused by the odd conjunctions imposed by an alphabetical ordering system. Here’s Bob Murphy, with whom I’ve interacted quite extensively in online forums and who now teaches at a college I once (briefly) considered attending, sandwiched in between the incredibly hip Murakami and the modernist/obscurantist hero Musil. Neruda and his legion of soft-headed fans are looking down their noses at Neville’s formulaic plotline while Nietzsche checks out her ass. Nooteboom and Nabokov are trying to have an intelligent conversation, but with the Neville/Nietzsche melodrama looking like it’s headed for violence and 10 million annoying teenagers telling Neruda he’s “so, like, brilliant”, they’d settle for merely being able to hear each other.

As for poor old Narasimhan, I can’t decide if he’s trying to get someone, anyone to listen to his elegant proof of the Corona Theorem, or if he’s just sitting there wondering “What the fuck happened to me? Who are these people?”

One Response to “Nietzsche’s checking out Katharine Neville’s ass”

  1. Isabel Says:

    so I googled “narasimhan nievergelt” (or some similar string, I don’t actually remember) trying to figure out if anyone other than Penn uses this book. and look what I found!

    I don’t keep my books alphabetically, but if I did I’d probably have the Narasimhan-Neruda juxtaposition as well.

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