2011: What I Heard

December 29, 2011

2011: What I Heard, originally uploaded by erin m.

Of the many, many things about my life that have changed in the last 12 months (hi there, New York; two new tattoos? Sure!), there is one small, simple change that has had the most profound effect on me.

It’s the difference between telling someone “I shoot concerts” and telling them “I used to shoot concerts.” I used to do a lot of things in my life–I used to play the flute, I used to date guys I shouldn’t, I used to have long hair, I used to collect Star Wars trading cards. But when I stopped doing all those things, it was because I grew out of them, or they just weren’t something I felt was especially important anymore. But concerts? Live music? A year ago, you’d have had to pry my camera out of my cold, dead hands, the finger still twitching reflexively on the shutter, to get me to willingly stop taking photos of musicians on stage. Or, as it turns out, you just have to offer me a job in another city with a night schedule that makes going to concerts a virtually impossible luxury.

So this year, I’m celebrating the shows I saw, because somehow through it all I managed to see and shoot some incredible musicians this year. I did it because it’s important to me, and I did it because apparently I get twitchy if I don’t. I made the time to do it, sacrificing sleep, vacation time and sobriety, because standing around in a room full of 500 sweaty people watching a group of even sweatier people singing their hearts out is something I just really like to do.

5: Dismemberment Plan, 9:30 Club, January
For about 4 days last January, the D in D.C. stood for Dismemberment. We ALL went to the one of the shows, and The City felt like it was on a unified mission, and that mission was to have a fucking party. I went to the Sunday night show at 9:30 and stood on the balcony, surrounded by people I knew. I’ve often described this night to people as the reason I finally decided to move to New York, because as I stood up there gripping the rail, it felt like I knew everyone there. I loved that place because of that, and I needed to move because of that. Here’s a clip of the Ice of Boston at the end of one of those shows. One. Big. Fucking. Party.

4: Weakerthans, Bowery Ballroom, December
The Weakerthans dedicated each of their four nights at the Bowery to one of their main albums; I took the two in the middle as vacation days from work and lived a sleep-coffee-bowery-sleep-repeat schedule for two days. After months of no shows at all, these two nights made me feel normal again. Here’s a version of “Reconstruction Site,” the title track for Night No. 2. And here’s John K Sampson all by his lonesome, being quirky and Canadian and waxing slightly-less-than-poetic-but-no-less adorable about Occupy Wall Street before launching into “One Great City.”

3: Avett Brothers, DAR Constitution Hall, February
I wrote this show up for We Love DC, and also got to shoot it for them, and everything Deep and Meaningful (and Long and Rambly) that I have to say about the Brothers Avett you can find there. With the benefit of 10 more months’ reflection, I’ll just add: The Avetts sing in “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” that you should “decide what to be and go be it.” If that night at D-Plan was one of the reasons I moved to New York this year, that Avetts line was one of the things that got me thinking about it in the first place. Here’s a slightly cruddy version of that song from that night (included mostly so you can see Joe Kwon ROCKING the hell out of that cello).And here’s “I and Love And You” from the night, because it’s simply beautiful.

2: Middle Brother/Dawes/Deer Tick, 9:30 Club, March
This was my very last night as a DC resident. I got to spend it shooting Dawes. Without the usual first-three-only limitations–I had the ENTIRE show, right up at the stage, no rail. I wrote it up for We Love DC, and I’m done using words to try to convince every single person I know to listen to Dawes and Middle Brother (and Deer Tick now, too, because this year’s album sold me on them), because they’ve heard it all before. This was probably the single greatest concert experience I had in Washington, DC. It probably would have been the greatest show I saw this year, but for …

1: The National, Beacon Hall, December
Yeah, that’s right. I’m putting The National ahead of MIDDLE BROTHER. ME. I’m doing that. That’s how good this show was. This is the exact moment I was fully committed to the decision that this show–their first of six in a row at the Beacon–is the best I’ve ever seen. I was pretty much already there thanks to this one, though. And this one. I’d always liked the National somewhat passively, and I lucked into a photo pass because I have amazing friends who have amazing sisters, so going into the night I was just jazzed to SHOOT again. Glad to know the rules, glad to do something I’m good at, glad to try my hand at something I’d been getting rusty at. And them BAM, out of nowhere (well, actually, straight out of Bryan Devendorf’s drumkit), a band I’d always kinda sorta liked on studio albums became the band that put on the greatest live show I’ve ever seen.

Today is Dec. 29. You know what I’m doing tomorrow, on the second to last night of the year? Going to a concert.


Atticus Tour @ 9:30 Club

I was talking to a friend this weekend about concert memories, and again today the “what was your first show” conversation popped up on Twitter. Craig’s was Primus, at the 9:30 club; mine was Lilith Fair in Hershey. Jim chimed in about the week in 1993 when he saw both Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, prompted by my own memory of a really shitty Pumpkins reunion show at 9:30 Club about four years ago–one that taught me an important lesson about revisiting things I had loved as a teenager. (Also, because DC is the world’s biggest small town, it turns out Jack recorded that show from directly below where I stood on the balcony, resulting in a clip that I watched a few dozen times years before I even met him.)

But the other night, I was listening to Dismemberment Plan’s “Emergency & I,” an album I associate with all things DC: the 9:30 Club balcony, friends at afterparties with the band, hearing first-hand memories of the songs’ origins in the ’90s, J. Robbins’ Office of Future Plans opening, Travis in a Frager’s t-shirt. That weekend, everyone I knew saw one of the D-Plan shows, including the many friends who stood on the balcony with me. There was drama there, too, that I mostly wanted to ignore, so I could stand there, hold the familiar rail, and think, “This. This is what I love.”
(That was also the show that helped cement my plan to move away from DC. I love the place, but for someone nursing a craving for a little more anonymity, that room seemed awfully small at times that night.)
So still, that show’s probably in my Top 5. Last summer’s Delta Spirit show at 9:30 is probably secure up there, too. They’re just these nights that you walk out of knowing you got more than the sum of your ticket and service fees.
And so now I’m curious. I have friends spread out across Facebook and Twitter, thus the resurrection of this mostly dead blog space, because I want to hear from both of them, and I want them to hear from each other, in a space that isn’t limited by character counts. So come on team, tell me about your favorite show.

9:30 Club

Sometimes, after a breakup or a falling out or some crazy emotional experience I need to distance myself from, I lose music. The songs that once offered a soundtrack to a connection have to go into hibernation for a while until the battered parts of my psyche repair themselves enough to deal with hearing a particular melody or a chord again.

Last summer, I lost Postal Service, because a boy I cared about had a habit of strumming Recycled Air on his guitar. (Once, hanging out after wed broken up, I begged him not to play any new songs, because I couldn’t deal with losing more music. He played a Radiohead song, and I muttered a silent thank you in my head, because who gives a damn about Radiohead?)

I measured my return to normalcy by how I would feel when a Postal Service song came on, which, in the hipster-infested corners of DC, happened a few times a month. One night in October or November, drinking with Dave and Jack at Wonderland, it launched me into a rant about how Over It All I was, which of course meant that I really wasn’t. One afternoon a few weeks later, I was feeling confident and used the album to launch me through an afternoon of designing at work. “I got Postal Service back,” I e-mailed to Katy, and I had, mostly. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” was still pang-inducing, but that one had the double hit of being a breakup song ABOUT SOMEONE LIVING IN DC, so it took a while longer.

In the meantime, I found Owl City, which sounds exactly like Postal Service but doesn’t have all the baggage my brain associated with the latter. This is vital, because I need some sort of background music to my life sometimes, something I dont have to listen to but that can alter my mood on a dime. And the ambient background nature of artists like Owl City and Postal Service do that pretty well, which lets me get down to the business of designing something or writing something or photographing something. Losing Postal Service for a while meant losing time while I tried to concentrate on doing the things I love.

Late one night at the end of February, stopped at a rest stop in Maryland on the way back from securing a place to live in New York, “Such Great Heights.” I had just accepted a job that would take me away from my city and my friends, the two main sources of strength I had come to rely on over the last six years. The move was (is) the right call, but that doesn’t mean I don’t waver about it from time to time. Hearing it then, near midnight on a Saturday night when it was just me, my friend Dave and the lonely Cinnabon worker who was getting me some hot water for tea, I knew everything was going to be OK.
But now, two weeks into New York, I’ve lost other songs. The Washington Songs — Dismemberment Plan’s “The City” (“all I ever say now is goodbye”), Magnetic Fields’ “Washington DC” (“It’s paradise to me”), all of Fugazi, a few fun Henry Rollins videos on YouTube — these sounds have a sense of place and that place screams Washington. The songs that are about the Washington D.C. I loved have to go hibernate for a while.

2010: Things I Did

December 31, 2010

2010: Things I Did

A few years ago, I testified before a house subcommittee. Officially, I “testified before Congress.” Unofficially, it was Eleanor Holmes Norton and a room full of empty chairs. But it was still the coolest thing I did that year, and it got me thinking along the lines of marking the passage of time by making sure I did one cool thing every year. One thing I could be proud of. One thing that would stand out. That was 2008. I went back and applied it to the few years before that–2007: Europe. 2006: grad school. In 2009 I actually ended up testifying again, and that was also the year I did MPW, which, among other things, helped me think about photography with a language and a vision that I hadn’t been able to come up with on my own.

Then came 2010.

And suddenly one event, one interaction, one moment couldn’t even come close to representing a year.

There are moments about this year that will be frozen in my memory. Dancing on my roof with a boy who, at least in that moment, said he thought the world of me, and I of him. Cooking. Eating a clementine and listening to the world wake up. They’re nice moments. They made me hopeful, many of them. But you can’t build a life on moments.

And there are moments I’d just as soon forget. Standing alone at a show with an extra ticket unused in my pocket. Waiting, because 7:00 means more like 8:30. Giving up. They’re sad moments. You can’t build a life on moments like that.

What you can build a life on is relationships. Romantic, platonic, casual, sexual, whatever label you want to give them, what matters is the people we know and how we treat them. Or, sometimes, how they treat us.

There is a magical serendipity at work when some people enter and leave our lives. I don’t understand it completely, and I think trying to would only lead to confusion, rather like putting your hand in a sunbeam and trying to catch the dust. I have worked this year, sometimes unconvincingly, to simply accept the movement of people in and out of my life. And what put the balance of this year so far into the positive were the people who came into it, and the people who were already there.

Every time something bad happened this year, there were people who made it hurt less. I was surprised to see how badly some people could behave, and how tolerant I could be of that misbehavior. What swelled my heart, though, was the reliable kindness and generosity of my friends, and of a few perfect strangers. I have tried, throughout the year and as it draws to a close, to make sure they all knew how much I appreciated them. Cookies were baked. Thanks were given. I still don’t think it was enough.

A lot of this happened in public view, on Twitter. And a lot of this happened because of Twitter, too. I’ve often told people this year that you absolutely cannot learn everything about a person just by reading their 140-character bursts; indeed, some of my most meaningful conversations happened in real life, but they were were with people brought together over Twitter. “Sure, @person, come on out and join us for a drink at Passenger.” One of my favorite parts about this year was meeting someone who simply liked what I had to tweet and suggested that we become friends. And now, we are.

This is the year I learned about community. This year wasn’t about one girl going through trying times and friends helping her. I mean, yes, at times, I felt frustratingly one-dimensional, and my dimension was blah. But the active communities I live in — built by my friends, by their own networks, by this city, by the networks of people online — being involved in them, taking advantage of them, living in them, THAT’S what made this year better. And by extension, the worst of it simply faded away.

In March, I was walking around PAX in Boston, taking portraits of anyone who would let me. A guy dressed as Captain Hammer from “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog” caught my eye, and as I asked if I could photograph him, he asked if he could sing to me. Eight months later, in that weird way that life works, Captain Hammer — Jacob — sat on my roof with me here in DC. We shared a drink and talked about music and dancing and life. He is currently beating me quite fiercely in a game of Words With Friends.

In May, I joined the fine group of people at We Love DC. It’s been more than half a year, and I’m still figuring out what I want to be there, but as the months have gone on I’ve been grateful for the chance they’ve given me to experiment. I had forgotten, in my many years of being an editor, how to write. Or that it was something I was capable of being good at. And they help me get passes to stand for a few precious moments in front of the rail at the 9:30 Club with my camera. My first year in DC, I stood on the balcony one night watching the people in that spot, and I thought, “How cool must that be?” Thanks to We Love DC, I got to find out.

In September, I ran a 5K. I stood in front of 300 people to awkwardly deliver a speech about photography just because standing in front of strangers and talking is something I was afraid to do. In October, I shot my first and only roll of Kodachrome, one that expired six years before I was born, on a camera that was also older than I am. At least six or seven times — so often that I have lost count — I boarded an early morning bus to New York City just to walk around by myself for the day. On one of my favorites, in late July or early August, I sat on the Brooklyn Bridge as the mid-afternoon heat index neared 95 or so, and I just…watched. The water, the city, the tourists, the commuters. I love the part of me that decided to embrace wanderlust this year. I love the part of me that is excited by the possibility of spending a few hours on unfamiliar streets. I love visiting New York City.

I failed at a lot of things this year, but somewhere along the way, I succeeded at collecting a truly stellar group of people. Because of them, I had the opportunity to take better photos, write a few things I was proud of, to tread in unfamiliar territory. The mistakes will fade, but the successes and the people I got to share them with will stick in my mind and offer something on which to build an even better 2011.

2010: Things I Saw

December 30, 2010

2010: Things I Saw, originally uploaded by erin m.

2010: Things I Saw

This has not been a good year for movies. The summer was long and dry, and E Street, try as they might, just didn’t seem to have much to offer for large chunks of the year. (Sorry, guys, I still love you!) There’ve been years when this has been my hardest list to compile, such was the bounty of good films. I suppose that just makes the good ones this year all the more precious.

Top 5 Things I Saw in 2010:

“Hubble 3D” Sometimes it’s the movie, and sometimes it’s the way you see it. The evening I saw “Hubble 3D” at one of the Smithsonian’s IMAX theaters on the Mall was an especially good one for a lot of reasons not related to the film, but because of that the 45 minutes of pure science! will stick in my memory for a long time. For camera nerds, for space nerds, for movie nerds…it packed more drama and more pride in humanity into its short running time than pretty much anything else I saw this year.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” doesn’t have much good to say about humanity or science, but when you’re having that much fun, who cares? I saw it twice in the theater, and I have friends who saw it more frequently than that. Actually, just writing this paragraph makes me want to pull out the DVD and watch it again right now.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” was just plain fun. Everyone I know who saw it wanted to talk about it, and that got people who rarely step into a theater to step inside one for this movie. (Hi, Samer!) I think it was the only sold-out movie I saw this year, and the experience is marked in my memory as involving sitting in the front of a cramped dark room with 200 people frantically trying to figure out the game going on onscreen.

“True Grit,” which I saw on Christmas Eve, single-handedly saved the movie year for me. The scene where Mattie Ross is dealing with the man who sold her dead father a group of ponies is pure Coen brothers, and by the end it felt like watching a verbal dance, equivalent to any routine in “Black Swan.”

Speaking of, “Black Swan” is sliding into this final slot, even though I still have not yet settled exactly on how I feel about it. I love some movies because they make me laugh or forget or give me somewhere to disappear to for two hours; I love others because they dig in, grab my brain, and don’t let go. It’s so rare to see a film (a drama, even!) that features a complicated female lead at all, let alone one that’s actually good. A lot has been said about the male gaze and femininity and how they relate to the reception of this film, but beneath that there is just a well-crafted, well-performed story.

I also saw a lot of really, really bad movies this year. I used to be able to appreciate romantic comedies as light fluff, but this year they were so horrifically bad and joyless that even that guilty pleasure seemed lost. 2011, I am counting on you to give us better films than “Leap Year” and “When in Rome” (see: “Easy A.”)

2010: Things I Heard

December 29, 2010

2010: Things I Heard, originally uploaded by erin m.

2010: Things I Heard
In 2010, I listened to more new music and saw more live shows than any year ever. On that basis alone, this year has been a rousing success. In a year that veered wildly off the tracks at times, there was always someone or something there to help refocus my head; the simplest, quickest, most easily accessible trick to change a moment from angst to its opposite was to simply cue up a good song. I spent a lot of time with my iPod in 2010.

Top 5 Things I Heard this year:

Dawes, North Hills. One random day in February, I met a friend at Iota in Clarendon to see two performers I hadn’t heard of a week before: Dawes, and Cory Chisel. Technically, they were co-headlining, but Dawes came first. By the time their set ended, I felt bad for Chisel, who had to come out and follow a bunch of guys who left everything they had onstage (he did just fine). In the hour they played, I watched a room full of people convert from passive listeners to rabid fans, all of them aware that they were seeing a band at the cusp of something truly great. I was lucky enough to interview the band this summer and to hear lead singer Taylor Goldsmith describe that very moment when the band knows they have won over the room.

I enjoyed the Dawes show in February so much that when I heard they were playing in New York City in May, I figured what the hell, I might as well go up to see them. They were opening for some guy named Josh Ritter, who was touring in support of his latest album, “So Runs The World Away.” The album contains so many perfect lines, like this one from “Lantern”: “So throw away those lamentations, we both know them all too well/If there’s a book of jubilations, we’ll have to write it for ourselves.” It comes about two-thirds of the way through the song, most of which he has spent lamenting the difficulties of life. What I love about Ritter is that you can hear the joy in his voice every time he sings, and he can barely contain himself as he races to the most joyful part of the song. The iPod shuffle I go running with is loaded with nothing but Ritter albums.

Sometimes, music is just about having a damn good time. The Delta Spirit show at 9:30 Club in early July was like that. It was hot, it was crowded, it went late, and I don’t think a single person left that club disappointed. Same with the Drive-By Truckers at the end of July: a hot night, a sold-out crowd, people out for nothing more complicated than a good night with good music and good friends.

And then sometimes, you’re not interested in partying, and you’re not interested in the words of a lovelorn (if talented) boy with a guitar and a fountain pen. That’s where Spoon came in: “Transference” came out in mid-January, and I dutifully downloaded it and took a few turns through its tracks. I liked what I heard, but, well, the year got busy and I moved on. And then a funny thing happened: You know that iPhone app Shazam? You hold it up to whatever song is playing, and it tells you the name and the artist. I did that four times in two weeks songs from this album, twice for “Mystery Zone” alone. The album kept creeping up on me, and it kept being exactly what I wanted to hear.

What I love about music–and about this year–is that this list could have easily been 10 times longer. Old 97s had a new album this year, and so did the Truckers. Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans put out a disc together, and holy hell, the new Gaslight Anthem is incredible, and so is the one from The National. I discovered Owl City this year, and Cory Chisel up there made an album I could not stop listening to. Delta Spirit and Alejandro Escovedo both had new albums, too, and both got played into the double digits. 2010 pretty much rocked.

2010: Things I Read

December 28, 2010

2010: Things I Read, originally uploaded by erin m.

Last year, I lamented that I had wandered away from books and words. This year, I think I read even less. I still always carry one in my bag, but something about my habits has changed so significantly in the last few years that I read fewer books than I once did. I still look at it as a temporary thing, and I embrace the other pursuits that have taken the time once devoted to stories between pages–including the words that come to me in other ways, maybe in a shorter format or a digital one.

Still, though they are fewer, they are no less mighty. Here, then, are the Top 5 Things I Read in 2010:

This essay by Neil Gaiman, reviewing a show by his fiance, Amanda Palmer, as she reunites with Brian Viglione to perform as the Dresden Dolls again. The essay speaks beautifully of love, creativity, partnership, friendship, loss, healing and the quiet moments that can exist when people give each other the space to be who they are.

“Cash,” by Johnny Cash. I started this book years ago; the bookmark left in it was an Amtrak stub from a trip home in 2006. This spring, I grabbed it again one morning on my way out the door, and it was a grand way to spend a few afternoons at Peregrine. The life was not an easy one, but the sentences relating its stories are pure poetry. I would have expected nothing less from Mr. Cash.

Which is why I also picked up “Composed,” by his daughter Rosanne. One exceptionally angsty August afternoon, I desperately needed to get out of my apartment, and Rosanne Cash was scheduled to speak at 6th and I Synagogue downtown. I went, fell in love, stopped to buy the book on the way home, and devoured it in a day or two. The Post’s Jonathan Yardley wrote a love letter to Cash and her book in which he says “Rosanne Cash isn’t just a writer and performer of songs, she’s a writer, period.” Just as you can hear the legacy of her father in some of Cash’s music, the structure of her writing has similarities to her father’s way of telling stories. It’s an honest structure, built with sentences that wrap you up in their twists and leave you feeling wiser by the time you finally reach the end.

This was also the year I finally finished “Pattern Recognition,” by William Gibson. The first in a trilogy of sorts, this one builds the universe in which “Spook Country” and “Zero History” also take place. It’s a universe I like inhabiting for a while and, like a lot of Gibson’s stories, you read it with the tingling sense that it’s more a cultural manual than a mere fiction.

Finally, it might not have been the smartest idea for me to pick up Nick Hornby’s “Juliet, Naked” this fall, but reading it actually told me a lot more about my own emotional health than I could have discovered without the book–namely, that it was in better shape than I had expected. Nostalgia? Heartbreaking music? A long, drawn-out breakup? Christ, Erin, are you sure? As Hornby often is, though, the book was just the right story at just the right time, and I was able to appreciate it as just a really good story told with the usual self-deprecating British charm that makes his world such a thoughtful one to visit from time to time. But man, after the year I’ve had, I wouldn’t want to live there.

T-Minus 1 hour

September 27, 2009

hey hey hey…

I’m sitting in a hotel room in the middle of the country, waiting for the minutes to tick down to begin a photography workshop. In an hour, I can pick up a loner camera and a freshly formatted card and begin to wander the streets of Small Town America in search of 40 decent shots and a story to focus on for the week.

I. Am. Panicked.

My Plan A story, the one I thought about before getting here and was giddy to find was still a possibility this morning, may be trashed because someone else beat me to it. Which means it was either (A) Not that special a story anyway, or (B), So awesome that everyone else thought so too. What happens when someone else has homed in on my Plan B story? And my Plan C story? What happens when all the real photojournalists get there first? Soon, we will find out.

We’re all panicked, I think, all 30 of these people here with me. The backs of everyone’s minds are suddenly racing with comparisons, and the “What do you do” and “Where are you from” questions have never seemed so loaded.  The consolation is that by now I know enough about my own insecurities–and my strengths–to know how to circumvent the nerves.

“On photography: never let yourself get comfortable.” Someone just posted that on Twitter in what might be the most well-timed post I’ve seen. Thanks, Katy, for unknowingly helping me calm the fuck down just now. The point here is to be out of my comfort zone, to stretch what I can do beyond its current limits. So no, I don’t want to be comfortable this week, and these nerves are something I should embrace, not fight.

I probably didn’t help matters by having four cups of coffee this morning.

So as proof and a reminder to myself that I do know what I’m doing, here’s a set of shots from the great midwestern city:

hello, traveler

August 15, 2009

I’m home in PA for a week, running around with a camera and generally staying off the Interwebs. I’m making time to post a few shots, though, and dreading the time I’m going to spend sorting the few hundreds shots I’ve already taken halfway through this little break of mine. I think I’ve hit about 1,000 since Wednesday, and we haven’t even gone to Gettysburg yet.

The one above is from the Susquehanna River this morning, taken after the fog had started to burn off. It really, really is gorgeous up here, and I have to remind myself how not-fun it is to actually live here.

books tell stories

A few years ago, a friend and I sat down one summer night and watched “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It was the first in a these-days-aborted attempt to watch all the movies on AFI’s top 100 movies list. I’d seen a good chunk of them already, he’d seen another batch, and there were about 30 that were new to both of us. We got through “Singin’ in the Rain” (#10), “Maltese Falcon” (#23), “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (#30), “Network” (#66) and a few others with the help of Netflix queues and the AFI Silver Theatre, but somewhere along the way we stopped actively attacking the list. (“Rebel Without a Cause” (#59) is playing tomorrow night at Screen on the Green.)

The lesson here? I approach top 100 lists with enthusiasm, and then that enthusiasm wanes. The lists, in short, are like many other aspects of my life.

The last time I tried similar project for books, I settled on the Time 100. It came out in 2005 and had a few main advantages over other lists, such as the good sense to include “Watchmen” and the noticeable absence of Ayn Rand and  James Joyce (I’m looking at you, Modern Library).  That’s as far as I got, though: settling on the list. I think that was about four years ago.

And so, inspired by someone else’s attempt at that good old Time list, I’m trying again. As this journey of 100 books begins with a list, a few thoughts emerge already:

— Two books (“Grapes of Wrath” and “Watchmen”) are already part of my book project photo set.

–Several authors (William Gibson, Willa Cather, Evelyn Waugh) are well-represented on my shelves, but I’ve somehow skipped the particular books on this list.

–I Do. Not. Want. to read “Revolutionary Road.”

–Speaking of movies, the adaptation of James Dickey’s “Deliverance” isn’t on AFI’s main 100, but it’s #15 on the thrillers. I wonder how many other movie/book crossovers there are among these collections? For their Dashiell Hammett entry, Modern Library went with “Maltese Falcon” (#23 on AFI); Time here picked “Red Harvest.” Oh, and here’s “Gone with the Wind” on both, too (#4 at AFI).

–I swear among the 6 or 7 times I was assigned to read “Beloved” between 11th grade and graduating with a BA in English, I actually did read it at least once. But in those five years, that book was so dissected, so ripped apart, so analyzed as to no longer resemble anything worth reading. I want to try it again for fun without having to hand in a paper at the end of the semester. (No book reports here, right?)

–My favorite part about the Time collection is how few books on it I’ve read

And now, the list:

The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow

All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

American Pastoral, Philip Roth

An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser

Animal Farm, George Orwell (* but I should probably reread this)

Appointment in Samarra, John O’Hara

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume

The Assistant, Bernard Malamud

At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien

Atonement, Ian McEwan

Beloved, Toni Morrison (*yeah, probably ought to reread this, too)

The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

Call It Sleep, Henry Roth

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron

The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen

The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell

The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West

Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

A Death in the Family, James Agee

The Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen

Deliverance, James Dickey

Dog Soldiers, Robert Stone

Falconer, John Cheever

The French Lieutenant’s Woman, John Fowles

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (*actually in progress now)

Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (please note the Web address you are currently visiting)

A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene

Herzog, Saul Bellow

Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

A House for Mr. Biswas, V.S. Naipaul

I, Claudius, Robert Graves

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

Light in August, William Faulkner

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Loving, Henry Green

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis

The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

Money, Martin Amis

The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Naked Lunch, William Burroughs

Native Son, Richard Wright

Neuromancer, William Gibson

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

1984, George Orwell

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosinski

Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

A Passage to India, E.M. Forster

Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion

Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth

Possession, A.S. Byatt

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

Rabbit, Run, John Updike

Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow

The Recognitions, William Gaddis

Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (ugggghhhh)

The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles

Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

The Sot-Weed Factor, John Barth

The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

The Sportswriter, Richard Ford

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller (Do I get half credit for reading Anais Nin’s diary?)

Ubik, Philip K. Dick

Under the Net, Iris Murdoch

Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

White Noise, Don DeLillo

White Teeth, Zadie Smith

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys