"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 31, 2008

Japanese Great WriterYukio Mishima's short film "Patriotism" (Excerpt)

If you don't like bloody stuff don't watch the above excerpt of Yukio Mishima's one and only film he directed and wrote "Patriotism." Often compared to Jean Genet's short film, this is based on a short story by Mishima. Ask for me (Tosh) at the bookstore and i will lead you to the book. Criterion is going to be putting this out in June 2008.

Book of the Week - The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

James Ellroy calls Power of the Dog “the first great dope novel since Dog Soldiers thirty years ago.” He’s not joking. This sprawling badass of a novel covers decades of … everything: CIA, DEA, FBI, NSA, NAFTA, Irish mob, Italian mafia, cold warriors, Sandinistas, contras, high-priced whores, corrupt priests, Reagan, Bush, Giuliani, Colombian drug lords, Mexican cartels, campesinos, Gomeros, torture, despair, murder, sex, love, etc… The most absorbing, intense, fast-paced, and just plain motherfucking badass book I’ve read in a long time. Read this. I dare you. (Robert DeNiro just bought the rights to Winslow’s latest, The Winter of Frankie Machine, so read this guy before he blows up!)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Books As Art

Book binding and authorship are art forms in and of themselves, but I have taken a recent interest in artists who use books as a medium. Literature and art are, in my opinion, intrinsically linked. Illustrated works, book jacket designs and curated publications of artwork are undeniably credible in their artistic merit, and although it is worth mentioning, it is a different subject entirely.

A somewhat recent artistic phenomenon features the deconstruction, reclamation and reconfiguration of texts. Oftentimes, the artist will incorporate and play on the themes of the literary work.

Uncovered by Thomas Allen is a prime example.

Artist Alex Itin premiered an animated piece entitled, "Orson Whales," which incorporates two copies of Moby Dick laden page-by-page with Itin's drawings. The audio is apparently taken from a Welles reading juxtaposed with Led Zeppelin.

A work by Robert The:

Accumulation is another common style in this particular medium.

A large scale installation entitled "The Defrauder" by Jonathan Callan is a great demonstration of this:

This particular work by Barton Lidicé Beneš is one that I am even more smitten with. His play on the ancient African practice of object accumulation as collected memory is brilliant.

The most prominent style, I would say, is the eradication of books to create an entirely new object.

One example from Cara Barer's porfolio:

Vito Drago's "Which Direction":

A work by Doug Beube:

My final example is from the Moleskine notebook exhibition at Detour. The clip features artist Antonio Jorge Gonçalves:

I must mention that this is one of countless examples. The exhibition is really worth investing time in.

It is nearly impossible to reference all of the contemporary artists who are working with this medium, and if there is an artist that you feel is worth noting that I've left out, I encourage you to make a note of them. This style of artwork is one that I find to be provocative and relevant to avid readers for its obvious qualities and correlations, as well as a refurbishment of a familiar concept and object.

- a

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Visual Tribute to Norman Mailer

A lot of my co-workers at Book Soup are huge fans of Norman Mailer. In one of his last signings he totally charmed the staff at the Soup. Here's some visual treats of the man and his work:

Norman Mailer vs. Rip Torn

Norman Mailer on the Gilmore Girls

Mailer vs. smart women

Mailer reading his last novel

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sebastian Horsley & his brief visit with the U.S. Customs

At the moment I am reading this hysterical British memoir by Sebastian Horsley "Dandy in the Underworld" which deals with his affairs with various drugs and sexual adventure. it is sort of a 'must-read' for those who want to be entertained from a great and safe distance from Mr. Horsley's remarkable charms. But charming bad things! Nevertheless Horsley was turned down and forced to fly back to the U.K. by the U.S. Customs in New York. Horsley's trip to the States was for the purpose to promote his memoir.

It may have been Horsley's clothing (he was reported to be wearing a top hat and painted nails) or the nature of his 'past' life. Nevertheless we here at the U.S. are losing the opportunity to see and hear what i think is a remarkable author. Surely he will be allowed in the U.S.?

- Tosh

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Paramo in Print

A week ago Slate published a wonderfully comprehensive article by

Tosh on..........

When you get down to the nitty gritty, I am a reader. And according to the Goodreads.com There are 5 titles on my "currently-reading" list as well as the 237 titles on the "to-read" list. I am number 11 on the "People with the Most Reviews on Goodreads" list as well as number one on the list for "People Who have Written the Best Reviews on Goodreads this Week" as well as number 2 on the "All Time Best Review" list. So as you can tell I spend a lot of time on Goodreads. website I have read (so far) 1,237 books.

And to be honest with you, I go on Goodreads while working at Book Soup. Yes, as I am helping you the customer at the back counter I am actually on the computer writing a review for Goodreads at the same time. And yes, I will find or order that book for you at the same time. But to be honest with you my mind is on Goodreads.

An old Book Soup co-worker Marion invited me to join Goodreads. Of course I totally ignored the first invitation, and for the sake of manners the second as well. But sometime in September 2007, I flipped out. It may have been due to a financial crisis I was going through at the time, or an ongoing plumbing problem, but I had the urge to put my entire library online and I thought 'why not on Goodreads.' Being a private person I thought it was a unique way for me to meet others as well as sort of write a memoir based on my book collection.

So the little librarian in me went over my entire collection and put it on the Goodreads website. After that I thought, "that's not enough. I need to write reviews for all the books on Goodreads." But even that's not enough. I had to add friends. And who are these friends? Some are obsessive people like me that have a dramatic need to document their reading habits as well as the occasional lonely soul looking for love, companionship and so forth. And to my surprise I actually found old friends –even an old love or two. I thought that they hated me, but alas not true. They were just slightly disappointed in me for not calling back about 25 years ago. My how time flies.

Obviously Goodreads has only served to accentuate my book obsession. And I do have a book obsession-- I work at a bookstore full-time as well as publish books and spend a lot of my time just thinking about books. And let's be honest it's a sickness. And Goodreads is basically (and let's be really honest) a collection of sick souls sharing a sick obsession. These sickos live everywhere from Pasadena to Iran (I actually have a lot of 'friends' in Iran) as well as distant towns and villages in the U.K. It's awesome that one can spend hours behind their computer and yet express themselves so widely to the world regarding their book fetishes.

The question you may be asking is why?

Since I can't answer the question for the millions on Goodreads, I'll try to answer it for myself. There is something intimate about a book that can't be shared. Unless you like to read with someone over your shouldey you – like most of us - read alone. And I think it's the alone part that adds to the pleasure of reading. The social part comes afterward, sort of the reward for one who spends their enduring time to read a book. Humans need to share. I for instance like to share my manager's girlfriend, but that's another issue. But books are for better or (never) worse the ideal object to get lost in – and I think the Internet is another medium to get lost in. So the combination of solitary reading and sharing something on the Internet is quite natural.

My name is Tosh; I read books and am part of the Goodreads family.