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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Johnny Marr talks about the beginning of the Smiths


We are gearing up for Tony Fletcher on 1/16/13

We are longtime Smiths fans here at the Soup.  We are pretty excited about Tony Fletcher's new book A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths.  Mr. Fletcher will join us at 7pm on Wednesday, January 16th to discuss and sign his book.  It is essential reading for Smiths, Morrissey, Marr fans!



We love Jeff Buckley too!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker" edited by Rob Young





Personally, my life would be kind of empty without the sounds of Sparks and Scott Walker.  Both are on this world, yet they seemed kind of removed from the world as well.   And both have huge cultural baggage of sorts, but cannot be put in a box or simply explained.  They have to be experienced - and "No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker" is a super enjoyable read (i.e. experience) that goes through out the career of Scott.  

The book is put together by Rob Young via the great British music magazine 'The Wire.'   And this is the perfect publication to do an anthology all on the subject of Scott Walker's music.  Included are late interviews with the composer/songwriter/singer, but more interesting to me are the essays on certain aspects of Scott Walker's albums.

To give one who isn't exposed to the world of Scott Waler, it is best that I give him and his music a brief introduction.  Scott Walker was a member of the Walker Brothers (none were actual  brothers), from America but went to London during the British invasion.  Unlike the Beat groups of that time, The Walker Brothers specialize in Phil Spector style big production ballads - with Scott as lead vocalist.  An incredible voice who knew how to relay a lyric like it was a simple act of putting butter on a hot piece of toast.  Over a short period of time they became teen idols of sorts, and for Scott this was a sign of total despair.   A man of humor, but a sort of humor that laughs with Ingmar Bergman films than say the Carry on films.



In the mid-60's to late 60's he made a series of solo albums that are now considered to be classics.  And they were very odd albums compared to the swinging 60's of London.  Huge orchestrations, beautiful voice singing Jacques Brel songs as well as his own material - which at the time were very much influenced by Brel and the whole French style of singing about personal and earthy narratives.  While everyone in the world of pop was tuning in- or dropping out - Scott was sort of a hipper version of Jack Jones (a singer he admired at the time) or a throw back to the pop crooner.   So that alone made him stand out with respect to the Pop explosion of the 1960's.



In the 70's he lost the pilot of sorts (and reading this book now I have second thoughts on this period)  and sort of sang for his supper - till the late 1980's where he made a series of albums every 10 to 12 years that are totally unique, odd, beautiful, disturbing, and well, fantastic art.   This book covers all different aspects of Scott Walkers very long but fascinating career.



The longest piece is by Ian Penman, focusing on the albums that no no really cares about - including Scott!  But here you can see how this 'dead' period gave fuel for him to make his future masterpieces - and therefore cannot be denied!  The beauty of Walker's life in music is that they are all pieces of a puzzle - and you have to spend the time going over those pieces or putting them together to see the whole picture, which of course is a masterpiece.  And this book helps the listener put the pieces together.   Pennman with great wit, writes about the down years of Scott that to me are not wasted, but career wise must have been a downer for him.



And there is not really a downer of an essay in this book.  Young did a remarkable job in giving an intriguing picture of Scott Walker.  I am so happy that this book exists.



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Download: John Alan Friedman's "Anatomy of a Comic Strip"



Hot on the heels of Fantagraphics' new deluxe edition of Josh Alan and Drew Friedman's Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead (available online at Book Soup!)... Black Cracker Online presents Josh Alan Friedman's "Anatomy of a Comic Strip," a free e-zine that includes original, annotated script pages for "The Joe Franklin Story," the notorious 1980 collaboration with his younger brother, the caricaturist and cartoonist extraordinaire, Drew Friedman. 

Also includes a new essay, rare panels, photos, & video. 
Download this prize piece, here.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Live Event: "Gainsbourg" with the author Gilles Verlant, Translator Paul Knobloch, and TamTam Books' Publisher Tosh Berman




  
ARTBOOK @ Paper Chase, Book Soup and Tam Tam Books invite you to the launch party for Gainsbourg: The Biography.

Join us for a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, the French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and the country’s most beloved pop export since Edith Piaf. The evening will feature Gainsbourg videos and music, and a discussion with the Biography author, Gilles Verlant, in conversation with translator, Paul Knobloch and Tam Tam publisher, Tosh Berman.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012
7:00 pm

RSVP@dapinc.com

FREE but RSVP required and will be accepted until venue capacity is reached

 
ARTBOOK | Paper Chase
7174 Sunset Boulevard
(corner of Sunset and Formosa)
Hollywood, California
(323) 969-8985

Serge Gainsbourg redefined French pop, from his beginnings as cynical chansonnier and mambo-influenced jazz artist to the ironic “yé-yé” beat and lush orchestration of his 1960s work to his launching of French reggae in the 1970s to the electric funk and disco of his last albums. He was the self-proclaimed ugly lover of such beauties as Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, the iconic provocateur whose heavy-breathing “Je t’aime moi non plus” was banned from airwaves throughout Europe and whose reggae version of the “Marseillais” earned him death threats from the right.

Gilles Verlant’s biography of Gainsbourg is the best and most authoritative in any language. Drawing from numerous interviews and their own friendship, Verlant provides a fascinating look at the inner workings of 1950s–1990s French pop culture and the conflicted and driven songwriter, actor, director and author that emerged from it: the young boy wearing a yellow star during the German Occupation; the young art student trying to woo Tolstoy’s granddaughter; the musical collaborator of Petula Clark, Juliette Greco and Sly and Robbie; the seasoned composer of the 
Lolita of pop albums, Histoire de Melody Nelson; the cultural icon who transformed scandal and song into a new form of delirium.

Special thanks to the evening's bookseller, Book Soup.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"The History of NME" by Pat Long



And to think it all started with accordion music.  The flame that started the fire that was heard all around the world.  Well Polka is not that far from punk really, but nevertheless New Music Express (NME) started off as a newspaper focusing on the accordion music scene that was happening in the early 1950's  - and of course one has to presume that it lead to the pop music of its era.   And strange enough NME, in 2012, is still with us.  In fact its the second thing i see on the Internet.  First is Dennis Cooper's blog, then NME, after that the Guradian for news.  So you can see what's important in my life!

Pat Long's book on NME is really good, and being designed orientated, this is a  perfectly designed book with respect to its subject.  A lot has happened in Pop music over the years, and its amazing that a press can still exist after so many generations.  And without a doubt NME had or has its dives into the underworld as well as its highs - but as a paper it had some remarkable writers  - to be specifically the wonderful Nick Kent.   The rock n' roll writer who didn't have a guitar to throw around, but his pen was pretty mighty.  

This book by its very nature of its subject matter also has ties to England's pop culture history -and really, this book could have been five or six books.  One on the fifties, one on the sixties and so forth.  But beyond that this is a really good introduction to pop history and more important the presses that were beyond and supported such pop movements.   Buy it for the beauty of it all!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"New York Mon Amour" by Jacques Tardi




Jacques Tardi is pure gold.  I almost want to say he's my favorite filmmaker, but he's not a filmmaker, he's a graphic novelist/artist. He has done everything from turn-of-the-century Paris noir to classic crime noir, to this book "New York Mon Amour," a snapshot of 1980's New York...that is noir.  One feature length story and three short one's - and what he captures is the foreigner's on their last legs looking at NYC as an exit to even maybe even a worst world out there. 

The first (and the most longish) narrative "Cockroach Killer" (written by Benjamin Legrand) is about a refugee from World War Two, who lives and works in NYC as a bug exterminator.  Which means he travels through out the city going for the dirt and the inner-lives of its citizens.  A sort of 'another take' on the William Burroughs exterminator character, but this character is not as tough, he's just surviving on the filth that was (or is) NYC.   On one of his jobs he visits the 13th floor of a Manhattan building, because normally there isn't a 13th floor - nevertheless he comes across a school of mysterious  assassins. For a brief moment his life is thrown into a world of a haunted and chased man.  The narrative being used to examine the inner-life of New York as it is being slowly destroyed.

What's left is two short stories by Dominique Grange, who is married to Tardi, that examines the life of a troubled assassin who couldn't complete his mission and the other on a woman from Vietnam who is tracking down someone from her past in Manhattan.  And again, both stories are snapshots taken from a foreigner's point-of-view of going through hell, and that state of mind is the landscape of New York.  

Tardi's own story "Manhattan" is nothing but that.  Probably the most ultimate alternative view of a tourist coming to NYC to ....  well you should just read it.  Nevertheless, Tardi has a master's touch in capturing the coldness in life and I really feel he's a master in his field.

Excerpt from "New York Mon Amour"

Jacques Tardi



Saturday, May 19, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Cruise of the Rolling Junk"





Such a small book one can fit it in their back pocket, yet, this small object had a profound affect on me. Written as a magazine piece for the upscale Saturday Evening Post, the article eventually found a home in a less prominent publication - a car magazine.

Originally written as a serial, "The Cruise of the Rolling Junk" is 'On the Road' for F. Scott Fitzgerald and his somewhat nutty but beautiful wife Zelda. One morning Zelda had a passion to have fresh biscuits and peaches from her natural home in Alabama. So taking off from Connecticut, in a very unreliable car - the re-named "Rolling Junk" they go on the road to pleasure. But alas, things don't work out.



For one they have consistent problems with their automobile on this trip, which often left them stranded in the back woods of even badder hotels and in the hands of a series of rotten car mechanics. But in reality they are sort of 'the truth' vs. the unreality of the Fitgerald's. In what seems like a nice weekend trip turns into an obsessive journey to the couple's inner world. The landscape of this piece is 'charming and funny but there are very dark overtones that takes over the reader in the 21st Century.

Written while he was working on The Great Gatsby, F. Scott's attenna was up and working. But sadly and quite disturbing is his attitude toward Black Americans. The cruel side of his observations comes to front, so that alone makes it difficult to 'like' him as a narrator. And Zelda's personality (via Scott) is sort of troublesome as well. She is sort of a combination of a nagging so-so and a spoiled child. What must have been read in the early 20th Century as funny becomes somewhat sad and disturbing in the 21st Century.

Which brings up to mind does Fitzgerald's writing has something to say to people now in 2012? Well, for one, this book is very close to the edition that was originally published in "Motor" in 1924. The book comes with photographs of Scott, Zelda, and the Rolling Junk as the adventure happens. So it is very much a period piece of its time - but what's contemporary is the mental attitude of Fitzgerald as he and Zelda wonder back into the Southern past, that for sure will bring failure.



Like the image of most male americans, Fitzgerald is not one with his car. A cowboy has his loyal horse, and the male has his relationship with their car. Here The Rolling Junk practically rebels against Scott's wishes for a solid car outing. The humor in this book is a good few chuckles but the real 'dark' humor is the failure of communication, the lack of understanding of machine, and the need to entertain a wife who is slowly going out of the picture.

The trip ends as a failure of sorts, and Fitzgerald for sure sees this as an aesthetic that things rot from the inside to the exterior. A throw-away literature but what I think is a masterpiece from F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald reading Shakespeare

Some film footage of the couple.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Soup: Summer Reading Lists (Dan Edition)


(The two rules of summer: always bring sunscreen and always bring a book.)

From Dan: 

There are six books that I must read before Labor Day.  I'm sure I'll find more but I will definitely finish the books on this list.  And I will be tanned too.  And well rested.

Eisenhower in War & Peace - Jean Smith.  I visited the Eisenhower Library in Kansas as a small boy and I'm pretty sure my parents "Liked Ike," but I must confess it's Mad Men that has really kick started my interest in the Eisenhower era.

Home - Toni Morrison.  Always a surprise, always moving.

Family Fang - Kevin Wilson. A weird family of performance artists - enthusiastic parents and mortified children.  Sounds like a hoot!

Thomas Hart Benton - Justin Wolff.  I'm really into the regional artists right now.  This biography of Benton looks promising.

Wonderland Avenue - Danny Sugarman.  I have started this book twice and it is amazing and scary. I know it is taking me to a dark place so I have to steel myself for the journey.

Then Again - Diane Keaton. An amazing woman and an endearing tribute to her mother.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Osamu Dazai's "Schoolgirl"



Whenever i put pen on to a paper or I type words I think of Osamu Dazai.   The craft of his writing with the mixture of his character equals a major influence on me, and I suspect on contemporary Japanese literature as well.  For instance, Mishima's major influence was Dazai.  Well, sort of.  He didn't want to be a Dazai, in fact, he hated his work.   But the truth is hatred of Dazai's character and work was a sign of love and respect to the great decadent literary figure - and Dazai was extremely decadent in the Japanese context.   Drinker, womanizer, cad, drug addict, and extremely handsome - and a writing talent that is extremely superb.  Dazai is one unique writer, and a day doesn't go by where I don't think about him.  Hmm, perhaps this is really an obsession on my part, but let's put that aside for the moment.

"Schoolgirl" is a snapshot of the day in the life of a young girl, with her inner thoughts, her 'childish' impressions mixed in with great awareness of her world.   It reads like a narrative poem, with some quiet beautiful moments, but with a 'punk' attitude.  Well, punk attitude in 1939 Tokyo!  You can smell the coming disaster in these pages, and they a writer/poet can smell the culture as it happens - and Dazai is one of those writers who for sure knew how the wind was blowing at the time of his writings.  This small book is under a 100 pages, but it hits hard like a heavyweight fighter.  One of the great writers of the 20th Century, and "Schoolgirl" is small in size, but huge as a classic piece of literature.




Friday, April 20, 2012

"Secret Historian" by Samuel Steward


A remarkable world that Samuel Steward lived in.   A collage professor turned tattoo artist who also happened to be a great sex adventurer - Justin Spring really captures the underground world of Gay sexuality and life in the 20th Century.   But for that we have to be thankful for Steward's zeal for keeping track on all his sexual adventures.  Steward built up an erotic museum of sorts - and this gentleman of pleasure is a wonderful figure in Gay social history.  Essential read for anyone who is interested in the counter-culture and the sexual world via the world of Hustlers and tattoo artistry.  And now I have this incredible urge to read his "Phil Andros" novels.



Sunday, April 1, 2012

"The Story of The The Kinks: You Really Got Me" by Nick Hasted


The Kinks couldn't do no wrong from 1963 till the early 1970's. By all means and reason they were my favorite band. With Ray Davies, one had a writer that was up there with Cole Porter and (more likely) Noel Coward. In the early 70's I went to see the band whenever they came to Los Angeles - and the shows were more music hall than rock n' roll. Davies always came off to me as slightly like Laurence Olivier in the Entertainer. When you go into a Kinks album, it is very much of a world that doesn't exist anymore. Post-War England as re-imagined by The Kinks.

This is a very good biography by Nick Hasted on Ray, Dave Davies (the brother), Pete Quaife, and Mick Avory. Although in the big picture extremely successful, but in the miniature details a life full of doubt and pain. For whatever reasons the brothers can barely stand each other - and the other two musicians in the band had often suffered under their tortured relationship. Ray and Dave, raised in a house full of sisters, are very eccentric in their ways. Yet totally opposite in character. Dave dived into the world of London 60's and Ray stood by the side and caught it all on paper and music. If one was to get a book on the Kinks - this one is it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Full Service" by Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg



"Full Service" indeed.  Scotty Bowers memoir is the not-so-secret of the sexual lives of the cinema famous and the great.  Gossip is an important social function in the world, and "Full Service" is not afraid to go into that territory.  And being a visitor, by reading this book, I find it really interesting.  I am always fascinated with the image more than the truth.  One of the reasons why I like the cinema is the fact that dreams are being projected on a screen - and i never really was (or is) concerned what is real or not real.

So with that in mind I have no reason to doubt Bowers tales in this book.  I am more interested in another shadow world where desire leads to adventures.  And what I got from this book is not the actual sex acts - plenty of that - but the fact that it was a world that was full of secrets - and secrets are very very seductive.  So one should dip into "Full Service" as not as if it was true or not (does that really matter) but the fact that one can go into Scotty Bowers world with a full appreciation of a life that was well-designed and in many ways beautiful.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Proud Beggars" by Albert Cossery







A beautiful and very young prostitute gets killed in the beginning of “Proud Beggars” which sets off a journey of self-discovery. Also everyone is likable, including the young girl's murderer. Welcome to the world of Albert Cossery!

The narrative takes place in what we believe is in Egypt – perhaps Cairo? Cossery is from the Middle-East but lived in Paris most of his life. A hardcore member of the St-Germain crowd, Cossery is a writer of incredible charm, that is full of poison. What is fascinating is that via this novel we enter into a world of beggars – where it is not only a choice for some, but a desired lifestyle. Poverty worn as a sign of pride. Of course there is anxiety in knowing where one is going to sleep that night, or where the next meal will come from (if any at all), but the sense of freedom that goes with the lifestyle is the addiction where these characters roam with great joy.

Albert Cossery


The detective who is investigating the murder, is a closeted homosexual who is deeply attracted to the people he's after. A strange dance or chess game with all the characters who are expressing a certain school of existentialism – Cossery, as a writer, has the knack of expressing a culture in a light hearted way but again, with a sense of great wit, and this book is a very dark comedy. The murder was committed with no real purpose, which is shocking, but what is more shocking is how the characters react to the crime. A very strange book in that sense and it reminds me a bit of Paul Bowles' work. Maybe because its a strange culture to me, but the surrealism of the scenery and the joy that the beggars (at least the main characters) have with life is kind of upsetting. This is another remarkable novel by a great writer.

Albert Cossery

Albert Cossery

The Dandy Albert Cossery

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writer Jean Genet's great little film

Jean Genet

"Indescribable, by his own design. As he writes:

'The mechanism was somewhat as follows. (I have used it since). To every charge brought against me, unjust though it be, from the bottom of my heart I shall answer yes. Hardly had I uttered the word -- or the phrase signifying it -- than I felt within me the need to become what I had been accused of being . . . I owned to being the coward, traitor, thief and fairy they saw in me.' -- The Thief's Journal

He is the ultimate, little eros machine."

--Tim

Book Soup carries most of his novels and plays, but Our Lady of the Flowers, The Thief's Journal, and Prisoner of Love are good introductions to his work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Diane Williams

Diane Williams is the literary daughter of Gertrude Stein and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the more eccentric (which is saying something) literary sister of Lydia Davis.

We carry three of her books. Vicky Swanky is a Beauty, published in a beautiful hardcover by McSweeney's, is her latest and easiest to find. We also carry Romancer Erector and Excitability, which are more difficult to find, and therefore, a bit more exciting. Excitability, in particular, is interesting because it's an earlier collection, and she's not as solidified in her opaque style. She's finding her way to it, which is fascinating to observe, and then to experience in full force in Vicky Swanky and Romancer.

She's not for everyone, but if she's for you, you will love her. For me, it's the closest that prose comes to poetry, the kind of poetry that comes the closest to music, communicating a mood or a feeling in a way that transcends words. Her writing defies explanation, which you can gather by a quick glance at her blurbs, as the reviewers vaguely but enthusiastically endorse her. In light of this, I've included a story from "Excitability" below, which I think is a pretty good example of what she's all about:

Clouds

How it was in the aftermath of it, was that her body was in the world, not how it had ever been in the world before, in her little room or in their rooms--the people who own the rooms--or at least were managing the rooms, their hallways, or the stairwell, which was not hers either, that she went through and through and through. A man laughed at her for what she had said, and then someone had brought her to this bed.
She looked at the bed stacked high with so many coats, and she decided, It all stops here.
She was clearing up to be helpful before she left, steering herself, when she saw her purse go flying and then it fell down into a corner.
She was down too, walloped by a blow, by some man, and she thought, I understand. She thought, This is easy. She thought, it's as easy as my first fuck. She had opened up so wide.
In the street, crossing to go home, her purse swung on her arm by its strap. She thought the dark air was so soft to walk through.
And for all that the girl knew there had not been a jot on her when she looked--no proof JACK WAS HERE! on her skin in red and in bright green ink, with any exclamation she could see, about them doing things, or about any one of them being of the opinion that her tits sucked.
And for the rest of her life, the girl, the woman, she never made a mark on anyone either that proved anything absolutely for certain, that she could ever see, about what she had done at any time, and this does not break her heart.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"The Inertia Variations" by John Tottenham


I stumbled across John Tottenham's book of poetry during a fit of procrastination-induced depression. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the three selves--self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-indulgence--and this seemed like fate. This book, by perfectly and wittily articulating my angst, freed me from it. For now.

Poems such as:

The Challenge

If I am not doing the work
That for some obscurely grasped reason
I believe it is my duty to perform,
Then I cannot, in its place,
Allow myself to do anything else
That is pleasurable or productive.
The main challenge, ultimately,
Is not to fall asleep during the afternoon.

Feelings

I may as well face the fact
That I am no longer capable
Of doing what I once believed
I was capable of doing.
Not that I had any reason to assume
That I was capable of it.
It was just a feeling that I had.
And now I have a different feeling.

If you think you can't relate to poetry, this is the book of poetry for you. If you are a writer, artist, creative individual, or any other type of human being, this is the book of poetry for you. If you take naps, this is the book of poetry for you.

Mr. Tottenham is a local poet, and he's roused himself up off of his sofa long enough to sign a few copies for us.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Scamp" by Roland Camberton



Slowly but very seriously reading every novel that takes place in Soho London, and "Scamp" by the mysterious Roland Camberton is one of the best.  Written and published in 1950, this novel tells the tale of a 30 year old who is pinning a lot of hopes on a new literary journal he wants to start called Scamp.  But of course he has to raise the money as well as get the writers - and here we have an incredible snapshot of Boho London as well as a London still affected by the war.

The beauty of this book is not really its plotting but its sense of place and time.  Camberton is a wonderful observer of London life and people just barely making it.  One Soho bar or coffee (cafe) after another - you can basically taste the lukewarm weak tea and the even warmer beer off the page.  What makes it for me is Camberton's take on this world - slightly mocking towards its subject matters - but still you get a full understanding what makes these citizens of Soho tick.


Portrait of Roland Camberton by Julia Rushbury

The original and current cover for "Scamp" by John Minton
As usual, when you get a Iain Sinclair introduction, that makes the book a must.  And this new press that seems to be devoted to one of my favorite subjects - London circ. 1950's is a sign of superb editorship.  New London Editions is the press and the three other titles I have read so far - makes this an exciting discovery.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Richard Seaver's "The Tender Hour of Twilight"


Without a doubt Richard Seaver and his world (Barney Rosset, John Cadler, and for me, the Malcolm McLaren of publishers, Maurice Girodias) are the one's who inspired me to do my press TamTam Books.  Which in turns means that I have a small collection of books on these publishers that always looked at the big picture, and usually (and hysterically) fail in some form due to the devil details of publishing.  The release of the late Richard Seaver's memoir "The Tender Hour of Twilight" is a remarkable journey of American publishing at its best.  Taking chances and fighting the good fight for literature that needed support from the guys behind the writers.  Publisher's memoirs are usually like the great crime heist book.  You always get a set of interesting characters doing something impossible.  And publishing sometimes looks and reads like "Mission Impossible."

Seaver's book is in two parts.  His life as an magazine/literary editor and his first sighting of Samuel Beckett as well as with the wild man of alt-lit Alex Trocchi - his partner in crime at the time.  Its a very heady and beautiful portrait of Paris in the late 1950's and it has that romantic tinge that makes one want to re-live or re-imagine his life in the Left Bank.

The second part deals with his life at Grove Press - the revolutionary and super cool publishing house controlled by the late great Barney Rosset.  Here we have the relationship between the two guys plus people like Maurice Girodias, who is a great character in life and literature.  For those who consider themselves book nerds or anyone who is interested in the cultural history of publishing - Seaver's book is extremely important.  This is what one may call a keeper.

Charles Fourier's "The Hierarchies of Cuckoldry and Bankruptcy"


This can be a handy handbook for those who are into the Occupy movement as well as being a jealous lover.  Two subject matters all in one volume.  Or maybe they're related to each other?  Nevertheless Charles Fourier (1772-1837) was a philosopher who had a deep interest and concern for Society of his time and age.  And of course, none of this have been dated at all.   "Cuckoldry" and "bankruptcy" is both an unfaithful wife and economy.  The two roads to ruin!  

Fourier was much admired by Marx, Barthes, Walter Benjamin, The Situationists, and The Surrealists - and one can see why.  Fourier has a very dry wit, and he also has a clear headed view on the culture of marriage and banking.  The one big sour note in this book is that he wasn't much of a fan of the Jews.  Because Jews were the bankers, blah blah.  But still, don't throw the bath water out of the tub, or whatever that saying is.  Wakefield Press, the publisher, is a remarkable press.   Their books are small, but large in importance.  I would buy their publications blindly.    Please look over their site at http://wakefieldpress.com/index.html


Friday, February 3, 2012

"Adrift in Soho" by Colin Wilson

About three years before Swinging London hit the headlines, Colin Wilson of "Outsider" fame was writing about the down and out (and in) Soho.  This was Wilson's second novel which reads like a memoir, and is a really beautiful snapshot of boho London before it was defined by the popular media of the time.  For some life was very causal, and for the hardcore Soho citizen a way of life that totally ignore the mainstream view of life.  Colin Wilson always struck me as a romantic, but in a very good way.  And this is a very solid and a very quick read into the world of Soho, London and its citizens.  And like any good book on London, the city becomes a character in the story.  The edition I read is New London Editions and it promises to be an important press.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Open Love Letter to Aleksandar Hemon


Dear Mr. Hemon,

I've gone to bed with you every night for months (first there was The Lazarus Project, then The Question of Bruno, now Nowhere Man) and subsequently, I suffer from the delusion, shared by people in love, that I will never find anyone else who makes me feel the way that you do -- no one whose prose satisfies me the way that your prose satisfies me. I have felt this way before, and when it ends, as it must, there are always a few unsuccessful liaisons (very nice books, but) before I find some new author to be faithful to, for at least as long as their novels last. I am sure that you will make other readers very happy, and I am only jealous of their ignorance of you, the pleasure of opening you for the first time.

At least, there is comfort in the knowledge that I can return to you, in a few years, when I am older and perhaps wiser. Rereading your body of work with my new hypothetical wisdom, I may grow to feel that my previous affection was merely childish infatuation compared to the depth of feeling that suffuses me in this hypothetical future. Still, in the midst of a passionate one-sided literary affair, I find it hard to imagine it ending. To clumsily paraphrase you, you are like everybody else because there is no one like you.

Yours,

Emily

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Year's Book Resolutions: Sam


This year I will finish "In Search of Lost Time."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year's Book Resolutions: Tim

"Heaven grant that the reader, at this moment as brave and ferocious as the words now being read, may, without being disoriented, find a savagely dangerous path that leads through the desolate swamps of these sullen, poison-soaked pages. For unless a rigorous logic and a concentration of the mind equal to defiance is brought to this reading, the deadly emanations of this book will dissolve the soul as water does sugar. It is not right that everyone read the pages that follow; very few will be able to taste this bitter fruit without danger. Consequently, timid soul, before penetrating any further into such uncharted regions, stop, turn around, go no further. Listen to what I say: stop, turn around, go no further . . . "

He says this stuff at the beginning about making sure you're ready to read his book. I reckon he's probably serious, and I haven't really felt up to it before. In any case, it keeps falling off my shelf.

New Year's Book Resolutions: Paige


I am knitting this whole year!

New Year's Book Resolutions: David


Started it. Didn't finish it. It's really long. But it's good.