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

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.

New Year's Book Resolutions: Rebekah


Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson" by Kevin Avery

Paul Nelson's life narrative  is too good and too tragic.  A man who didn't compromise, and paid the price for his stance in the world - nor could he really take care of himself as well. in other words the dark noirish side of being a professional rock n' roll critic.

Nelson was one of the first important figures in Bob Dylan's professional life and eventually signed the New York Dolls to Mercury Records, where he worked as an A&R man.  A job for sure that wouldn't last forever.  The great aspect of Nelson's work as a critic and even as a human being is his ability to see through the artist's work and really define it on a very personal level.  That I think is a critic's job, and Nelson nails it to the written page.

The painful thing about reading this book beautifully written and edited by Kevin Avery is a lot of people are going to identify with Nelson's love for culture and what it means to him/us/them.   Any person who loved Jackson Browne as well as the New York Dolls is able to see beyond the veil of pop machinery and just focus on the work on hand.  The fact that he went all out to get the Dolls signed is an amazing narrative.  No one in the music biz liked the Dolls except for a handful of critics - and Nelson was the one who really stopped at nothing to get them signed and that alone we can be really grateful for Paul Nelson.

But here is a man who didn't drink alcohol, but consistently had two cans or bottles of coke with his daily hamburger (he is sort of a Popeye Wimpy figure) and led a life devoted to his interests and nothing else.  Also the fact that he ended up working at a video store is both tragic and great at the same time.

The tunnel vision that made him unique is also what killed him in the end.  And again, that is the scary part of someone who is so devoted to comment on music, film (a huge film fanatic as well as music) and living on the side of noir despair.  A very sad book.  But the interviews with his fellow critics and friends (most love him to bits) is quite moving and a tribute to those who write to expose how 'their' feelings are attached to the shine or the mirror-like image of pop culture.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year's Book Resolutions: Daniel

I wrote a paper on Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano in college, but I didn't quite have the time to read it. Now that it's 2012, I've decided this is the year I'll pop open a mezcal and make good on that essay.

New Year's Book Resolutions: Michael

If you do not want to read this book after reading these first few lines, you might want to check your pulse:

"Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and the scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants, and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, "Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men," and he would have meant the same thing."

I have never read a Steinbeck novel, so I am not a complete person yet; in other words, I have never understood certain truths and attitudes about people and places and this weary earth, things that only Steinbeck can teach me.

New Year's Book Resolutions: Ruth

No ships passing in the night . . .

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Year's Book Resolutions: Manny

Been meaning to read this big fella since the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation hit in October of 2007. That's a lot of procrastination. I'm telling the whole internet that 2012 is the year.

New Year's Book Resolutions: Emily

Whenever I think of reading "Don Quixote" by Miguel De Cervantes I feel like J. Alfred Prufrock ("'Do I dare?" and 'Do I dare?'"). But, since almost every Spanish language writer seems to write in the shadow of Cervantes, (Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," made me want to read it more than anything), it's time to stop being such a Prufrock, eat the peach, unroll my trousers, and shut those damn mermaids up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year's Book Resolutions: Dustin

I resolve to read "Save the Cat" whether or not this will be the year I write my my million dollar big time movie script is still a subject of debate. Book first, movie maybe next year.

New Year's Resolutions: Tosh

In true form, when asked to name a book he always meant to read, Tosh replied with a book that doesn't exist yet:

Morrissey's Upcoming Memoir

It hasn't been officially announced yet, but it will come. Morrissey wrote a memoir and Penguin Classics will be publishing it. Sometime either the end of this year or the beginning of the next year. Without a doubt this book will be a classic, due to Morrissey's character and very strong opinions on the pop music world, animal rights, politics, but also his very special sensibility that makes him one-of-a-kind. The fact that his written words will be part of the Penguin Classic series is a perfect marriage.

After a bit more urging, Tosh also provided a book that you can buy at Book Soup:

"The White Album" by Joan Didion

By all concern a classic book on non-fiction writing and one I have never read. First of all I always thought it was clever to name this book "The White Album." It is sort of like taking the Beatles thunder and making it into your own lightning. Also being bred and born in Los Angeles it is the essential book for a citizen to read - but again, it is something I have passed on and I am not sure why?

Yet the book lingers on my brain, and I actually even bought it, but I have put it off like a fantastic dessert that you are saving yourself for. I don't know if "The White Album" is that dessert, yet it lingers on my brain and I do see it in front of me as I write.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Book Resolutions

New Year’s Book Resolutions 2012:

Who needs to lose weight when there are books to be read? Certainly not the employees of Book Soup. If you are like us, you are haunted by the books that you haven’t read. Looming over your nightstand, taunting you from bookstore shelves, leering at you from the hands of attractive people at cafes—Who are these people reading interesting books at cafes? Are they really so attractive or is it just the allure of seeming to know more than you know? And if you had read The Master and Margarita, for instance, would you have some opening salvo, some witticism to offer that would translate into a lasting, fulfilling relationship?—Anyway, in these coming weeks, the employees of Book Soup will be bringing you the books they always wanted to read, always meant to read, and this year will definitely read. If you, dear reader, read these books, then you will impress all the attractive people at cafes that you want.

From Dan, our Assistant Store Manager:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I have never read Murakami. I find him intimidating, but I am ready to do it. This is the year! My hand is shaking. Is the room spinning?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The Map and the Territory" by Michel Houellebnecq


"The Map and the Territory" by Michel Houellebecq

His best novel.  The themes are basically the same, but Michel Houellebecq tells the tale again with great energy and in a large tongue in cheek manner.  On one level it is about the rise of an artist who doesn't really want to participate in the art market.  He has nothing against it, but his character is not one where he follows the market place.  Yet he's extremely successful in what he does.  The other textual parts are Houellebecq's fascination with what people do on their 'free' time - the need to be a tourist in 21st Century life as well as the issue of aging, fame, and the beauty of maps.  in many ways, of all his novels, this is the most Situationist like.  Houellebecq is for sure not Guy Debord, but he shares his sense of love (disgust?) at looking at culture and what that means to an artist/writer as well

There are major plot turns that makes this narrative into a policer.  The twists in the plot makes this a really fun read.  "The Map and the Territory" is the best novel of the year and its January 3, 2012.

Old BBC interview in English

Iggy Pop and Michel Houellebecq

"Paris" by Michel Houellebecq and Bertrand Burgalat

Houellebecq pop singer 4:33