Geri says, “I have, in Long Island, about seven skyscrapers of books piled around my bed, ranging from Dante to the relatively new book about Oppenheimer. Also The Portable Oscar Wilde, and a book of Pound’s and one by Jasper Fforde. I have Philip Larkin’s collected poems, and Jose Saramago’s Blindness, and this book by Anne Michaels—she’s a poet, but this is prose—Fugitive Pieces, and an anthology that I taught literature with, opened up to, let’s see . . . oh, it’s a Donne sonnet, “Batter my heart . . .” and so on. And there’s a book of Frost’s early poems, opened to the poem about the woodpile.
In Athens, the skyscrapers rise and fall, depending upon a paper I might be working on. The most recent skyscraper is now in pieces, was comprised of books like Salih’s Season of Migration to the North, and Abani’s Song for Night and Ngugi’s Grain of Wheat and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and soon there will be books of criticism that will replace the books that are on the coffee table in the study (also in skyscraper form). They will rise up to haunt me until I tear the goods from them, dismantle the skyscraper and return them unharmed to their cozy snoozing spots on a library shelf.”
The PhD candidate on the eve of her orals, updated her skyscrapers with “just a quickie—reading like a lunatic . . . in NY . . . a book called Oreo by Fran Ross, an African American Jewish writer. It kinda got lost; it’s funny and really satiric, about a girl’s search for her Jewish father, a Joycean journey with jokes that are sharp, almost-but-not offensive. Fran Ross wrote for Richard Pryor—and I never heard of it, oddly enough. I’m asking my Black Jewish nieces if they know it (guessing they do).”