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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Greatest Writer in the English Language: PG Wodehouse (according to the book buyer at Book Soup)

Shakespeare is very good with the English language, but to be honest, I prefer the works of PG Wodehouse. All you have to do is open the front page of any of his novels, and you are totally swept away to a different area of your brain. The roots of British wild and crazy humor can be traced to Woedhouse's novels of the 1920's.

Which one of his hundred or so novels is his best? A very difficult question, but a simple answer: all of them! The wonderful Overlook Press for the past ten years have been publishing his books in beautiful smart editions. I have ten at home, and have 90 in my desire box. Here is this a random few from the Overlook Press:

Here are a few quotes to capture this man's wit and genius:

"He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say 'when.'"

"I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don't know what I did before that. Just loafed I suppose."

"It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought."

"She had a penetrating sort of laugh. Rather like a train going through a tunnel."

"The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun."

"It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

She's baaaaaack. Chelsea Handler, the queen of late night comedy, is back with her third, and maybe her best, book. Chelsea's matured from her amazingly successful book, Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. She's no longer sleeping with large quantities of men, instead she is sleeping with just one man, and maybe a dog every once in a while.

This is Chelsea at her most adult. But don't be scared, she still has a penchant for Vodka and practical jokes. It's just that now she has a live in silver fox and a need to keep her riotously funny father from being sued by the unsuspecting tenants at his Martha's Vinyard house (just to give it away the house isn't as clean and nice as one might hope).

Through her acerbic wit and never ending string of outrageous stories Chelsea once again had me laughing out loud and staying up way past my bed time with a nice glass of Belvedere, completely unable to pry myself away from the almost unbelieveable stories of her now vertical life.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Spiritual Investigation Into What It All Means

Title: Devotion: A Memoir (Signed Edition)
Author: Dani Shapiro
Price: $24.99

"Shapiro's newest memoir, a mid-life exploration of spirituality begins with her son's difficult questions-about God, mortality and the afterlife -- and Shapiro's realization that her answers are lacking....Absorbing, intimate, direct and profound, Shapiro's memoir is a satisfying journey that will touch fans and win her plenty of new ones." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955

A collection of artist journals, or, serial publications as a subset of the artists' book.

Editors Philip E. Aarons and Andrew Roth, and Victor Brand present an extremely detailed study of artists' serial publications. Brand and the editors hoped to make "an aesthetic leap from what readers expect to find in a magazine or postcard to something of an entirely different artistic order." A quick look at the photographic reproductions reveals each serial as a piece of art. Though I didn't read all of the book's text, I would imagine that many of these artists were influenced by the publications of the Dadaists and Surrealists. It was probably assumed by the editors since the book deals with serials from 1955 onward. But, if you've seen the published work of Tzara, Picabia, Breton and the rest of the associated writers, poets and artists of the time, then that output is a fair approximation of what you will find in In Numbers. Of course, you'll see how the serial artform has evolved to become more violent, graphic, atmospheric and occasionally even more daring than the dada/surrealist groups had been.

One of the more interesting journals profiled is Amokkoma, which has existed since 1992, published by Klaus Baumgartner, Carsten Holler and Johannes Lothar Schroder with Diego Castro. The first issue reproduced the final chapter of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species, with artists' photographs around the text: photographs that have biological elements to the work.

There's reproductions and text from Situationist Times, Semina, Die Schastrommel/Die Rossel (which was a vehicle for Gunter Brus confrontational work), and Permanent Food (constructed from images from magazines), amongst others.

This book is a great way to educate oneself on the history of artist serials, from those who weren't aware of their existence to the casual reader and the committed collector.