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

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein & Stephen G. Bloom

In starry/smoggy Los Angeles it's easy to loose touch with what Sarah Palin calls "The Real America". The Oxford Project is a beautiful journey to a different time and place. If you want to get past the red state vs. blue state BS pick up a copy before some Angeleo turn this into a movie of the week.

"In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein set out to photograph every single resident of his town, Oxford, Iowa (pop. 676). He converted an abandoned storefront on Main Street into a makeshift studio and posted fliers inviting people to stop by. At first they trickled in slowly, but in the end, nearly all of Oxford stood before Feldstein's lens. Twenty years later, Feldstein decided to do it again. Only this time he invited writer Stephen G. Bloom to join him, and together they went in search of the same Oxford residents Feldstein had originally shot two decades earlier. Some had moved. Most had stayed. Others had passed away. All were marked by the passage of time."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eat Hell by Joseph Mattson

Hewn from the piss stained streets of Los Angeles, "Eat Hell" is filled with dirty hope-- the kind we need most in the worst of times. Enjoy.

"Joseph Mattson is a monster of a writer." -- Beth Lisick

EAT HELL: Plus Two Variations on the Heart Going Down in L.A. is the wrenching, funny, and gut-maniacal new book of stories of unrequited love by Joseph Mattson, author of the much-anticipated forthcoming novel Empty the Sun, which will include a Soundtrack by Drag City recording artist Six Organs of Admittance. A Los Angeles trio of love gone south, Eat Hell occupies a special crux where humility, humanity, and insanity come together in the name of exquisite oblivion. Cover art by the incomparable Mel Kadel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Favorite Japanese Authors by Tosh who Works at Book Soup

Yukio Mishima

Osamu Dazai

Junichiro Tanizaki

Edogawa Rampo (say his name really fast, then slowly)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

R.I.P. David Foster Wallace

When I was young my grandfather told me that "People who commit suicide are cowards."
I would have been very young but I remember clearly his argument for fastidious labor and strength in the face of life's adversity.
And but so last night America's greatest young writer hung himself in his home.
And still I know with all of my heart and mind that David Foster Wallace was a man of incredible courage.
I write not of his obvious and incomparable stylistic invention or of his formal acrobatics.
Better minds can and have written tomes dedicated to the intellectual fellatio of Mr. Wallace's hilarious/morbid/neurotic/exultant prose.
What brought me and bound me fast to DFW's writing was his relentless pursuit of Humanity.
Wallace NEVER dealt short his characters or his readers.
He constantly challenged himself in the search (the desperate search it now seems to me) for our shared pathos.
No one writing today has Wallace's fantastic ability to transport us so completely into the minds of people so foreign to ourselves and then make us identify with them entirely (read this recently published story in The New Yorker).
David Foster Wallace wanted above all to understand everyone and everything. To have his readers and himself feel compasion for people by entering their most private thoughts (read, the now eerily titled, The Depressed Person).
He offered us the best of what literature has to offer in every sense but most of all in this.
And what fucking courage this must have taken.
To never deal in the obvious or the easy.
To never pander to the public's notions of what certain people do and how they think.
To embark on the rigorous pursuit of what binds us all as human.
That takes courage.
And that is the great tragedy of this loss.
We have lost the writer who most challenged us to empathy and understanding.
The two things we now need most.

You're the bravest man I've never meet.
I know your brilliance and compassion will be missed in a literary scene so impoverished of both.
Most of all we send love to your family and friends who in this time need it the most.
Because that's what you would want from us.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal

In a comic masterpiece following the misadventures of a simple but hugely ambitious waiter in pre-World War II Prague, who rises to wealth only to lose everything with the onset of Communism, Bohumil Hrabal takes us on a tremendously funny, often deeply touching and satirical trip through 20th-century Czechoslovakia.

See the just released film directed by Hrabal's friend and collaborator Jiri Menzel.

"One of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague, an incredible union of earthy humor and baroque imagination."
--Milan Kundera

"An extraordinary and subtly tragicomic novel... Hrabal has told both the story of a nobody and a history of Czechoslovakia and found in their commonplace details everything that matters in life." --The New York Times

"I Served the King of England is a joyful, picaresque story, which begins with Baron Munchausen-like adventures and ends in tears and solitude, a modulation typical of Hrabal's greatest work." --James Wood, The London Review of Books

Good News Bolano Lovers

Just read this in the
New Directions September Newsletter:

Life after 2666

Roberto Bolaño saw himself as a poet rather than a novelist. (When asked why, he replied: "the poetry makes me blush less"). His first collection of poems, The Romantic Dogs, will be published alongside 2666 this November and will captivate Bolaño readers as if they were viewing momentary portraits of his life. To whet readers' appetites for Bolaño's poems, "The Worm" can be read here. More work from Roberto Bolaño is set to be translated and published by New Directions well into the next few years, including:

Next Year:

Nazi Literature in the Americas (paperback edition, May 2009)
The Skating Rink (novel, August 2009)

In the Not-too-Distant Future:

Monsieur Pain (novel)
Antwerp (novel)
The Insufferable Gaucho (novel)
Parenthetically (essays)
Assassin Whores (short stories)
Secreto De Mal (posthumous collection of writings-stories, sketches, poems, miscellany)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

-2007 Brive-la-Gaillarde Reader’s Prize
-2007 French Booksellers Association Prize
-2007 Rotary International Prize (France)
-2007 French Librarians’ Prize for Culture

Vogue: "A new book that plumbs the astonishing ways private lives and guarded secrets can come tumbling – for better or worse – into the open."

Publishers Weekly: "By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking . . . [Barbery's] simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts."

L'express (France): "The ultimate celebration of every person’s invisible part (Renée smells of cabbage soup but reads Husserl) constitutes one of the book’s operative factors."

Elle (Italy): "this second novel by Muriel Barbery, thirty-eight-year-old French author and professor of Philosophy, is among the most exhilarating and extraordinary novels in recent years."

Le Monde: "Fifty-five weeks after it release, Muriel Barbery’s novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog is still on all of the country’s bestseller lists..."

Repubblica (Italy): "The formula that made more than half a million readers in France fall in love with The Elegance of the Hedgehog has, among other ingredients: intelligent humor, fine sentiments, [and] an excellent literary and philosophical backdrop"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Angaza Afrika: African Art Now by Chris Spring

Angaza Afrika is an incredible catalogue of contemporary work from not only Africa, but the Black Atlantic as well. There are countless artists of all medium’s represented here. Check this out:

Africa's artistic landscape is immensely fertile. It has emerged from its colonial past, and is once again asserting its own identity. It is not only confined to the continent itself, but has spread throughout the world through the work of both those descended from the enforced migrations of the slave trade and also those who have more recently left their homes in Africa to take their place on an international stage. This book brings together more than 60 of Africas most creative contemporary artists. Drawn from across the African continent as well as from Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South America, the book illustrates the diversity and vitality of these artists. Their work leaps off the page with more than 350 colour images (many especially commissioned). In addition to painters, sculptors and photographers, there are a number of artists whose work embraces performance and installation. Many of the materials they use are as unorthodox as their imagery, with ready-made and found objects.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard"

Richard Brody's very long critical biography on one of the great film artists of the 20th Century is both thoughtful, damning (in a sense) and also provocative. I don't fully buy his theory that all the films he made in the 60's was about Godard's relationship with wife/muse Anna Karina. I think it is partly true, but it's for sure not the whole picture of the man and his work. But a big part...?

i really enjoyed the part of the book that deals with Godard's later years. It seems he consistently bites the hand that feeds him. Yet, he did so in a very brilliant way or technique. He put it in his films. However after reading this book, I feel Godard maybe one of the great memoir writers on film. Which means to me that he writes or films what he's thinking about life at the moment. He sees the medium of cinema as a self-reflective tool as well as how one sees history.

And it's the last part which gets him cranky with respect to the issue of the Concentration camps of World War 2 and how it isn't portrayed in the cinematic form to his understanding or liking. In a sense he feels let down by cinema by not either exposing the condition of the camps or commenting on them. i see Godard's point of view and I think it's an original thought. Ardono says that there can't be poetry after the camps, yet Godard (I think) feels that its an area that needs to be explored. i think one of his fears is something like that happening again - and how will the media/cinema deal with it?

But that is only one issue in many issues that are daily observations on an unique artist who sees the world in a very specific way - and in such a way consistently challenges himself to question such a world and his part in that world as well.

So if you are a Godard fan read it. If not, but care about the nature of cinema and what it means to you - still read it

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rosa Brogden's book of photographs "Metamorphosis"

Every once in awhile I come upon something so unique and unforgettable, that it’s hard for me to come to terms with it. At the moment I am obsessing over Rosa Brogden’s book of photographs “Metamorphosis.”

Rosa is a Japanese artist/photographer who lives in London and has a child named “Oscar.”

A small boy that may not be unique in turn-of-the-century London, but in 2008 is a force of nature that really stands out (side) in contemporary London. Even though there are no outside location shots, or even a mention of contemporary London, it seems to be a world that is shut out. And I love that.

I am a huge fan of Joris-Karl Huysmans’s book “Against Nature” (A rebours) and I think of it when I look at Rosa’s photographs. It’s a world that is totally artificial and woman-made. A very dandified environment where the outside world is closed off.

But what you do get is a very rich world with two very unique and wonderful figures. In “Metamorphosis” there are only portraits of her son Oscar and self-portraits of the artist. It’s a mixture of early 20th Century vaudeville and life that is thought out and lived.

One can think of contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman, but this is something more personal and therefore more urgent and live. It’s one of the few new books that came out this year that has a strong positive affect on me.

All photographs © by Rosa Brogden.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rin Tanaka's Harley-Davidson Book of Fashions

Rin Tanaka's at it again!

The publisher of the MyFreedamn! books has released an incredible new book of Harley-Davidson Fashion. Commissioned by the Harley-Davidson Museum, Rin raided their archives to produce THE definitive catalogue of all things Harley from 1910-1950.

312 pages filled with 600+ old fashion photos of Harley riders, motorcycle jackets, kidney boots, and hats.

A must own for every Harley-Davidson fan and fashionista.

visit: www.myfreedamn.com for more details
or call Book Soup - 310.659.3110

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ernest Borgnine Event Photos

Ernest Borgnine signs "Ernie"- Saturday, August 2nd

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

At once hilarious and heartbreaking, Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, is a look at pre-World War II idle classes of England. These are the Paris Hilton's and Kim Kardashian's of their day, the men and women who have all the money and all the time in the world, who go to glamorous parties, get photographed and scooped by the Daily Mail, and who have no idea that the party is going to end with a blitz that will change their lives forever. It is a tale of love, romance, tragedy and ultimately triumph, but one that takes those cliches and makes them new. Waugh is the great writer of his time and this is one of his best; it is still as relevant today as it ever was.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Power by Brian Bendis & Michael Oeming

.......is a series of comic books (turned into graphic novel format) that has been going since 2000. With the upcoming release of Watchmen, Alan Moore's Magnum Opus, Powers becomes even more poignant and important in the genre of alternative superhero stories, again proving that superheroes are more than just grown men in tights. Powers follows the lives of Detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, partners who work the homicide beat. There's just one thing different about these two, they work the homicide beat for the Powers, that is, they investigate murders of superheroes. Much like Watchmen, Bendis and Oeming go with the idea that in our world, if there were superheroes, they would be monitored by the Government. But what happens to Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker when a powers serial killer starts picking off the masked crime-fighters? And what is Detective Walker's connection to these superheroes? It's all in Powers: one of the best comic book series ever, by the master of comic book story telling, Brian Bendis.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marias

When you read these books you will wonder, as I do, how Marias has been largely ignored by the American literary community.
Though frequently compared to Faulkner, Proust, Beckett, Henry James & Dostoevsky, he is a writer unlike any other.
The meandering clarity of his prose is often breathtaking.
His obsessive exploration of human nature, reflection, perception, digression, is as disturbing as it is insightful.
Marias writes with the intellectual intensity of the mad. NOTHING in his universe is trivial.
Yes - This is a spy novel.
Yes - This is a historical novel.
Yes - This is a romance novel.
But like all great works it defies categorization.
While certainly not for everyone, this is a trip unlike any you've ever been on before.

The third and last volume should be out some time late next year.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano

Discovering a new author is one of the great joys in life. The feeling when you finish a novel and are halted, lost in a morass of needing--- MORE: more of the voice you've been traveling with, more of the world you've only come to know and for too short a time- this is why we read!
I know you reader. I know you read "The Savage Detectives".
And I know you wanted more. Can you wait until the November publication of "2666", Bolano's masterpiece?
You cannot.
And you don't need to.
New Directions Publishing has released 5 of Bolano's shorter novels of which this--------------------------->
is certainly the best.
And quite possible the most innovative and exciting of all Bolano's work yet published in English.
Start here. Then read EVERYTHING else. You won't regret it.
Nicole Krauss says it better than I ever could:

"When I read Bolano, I think: Everything is possible again. To Step inside his books is to accustom yourself, as much as is possible, to walking along the edge of an abyss. But how he makes on laugh! The laughter of someone who just escaped being buried alive, and suddenly remembers how badly she wants to live. No other writer in the history of the world could have written Nazi Literature in the Americas: it's lucid, insane, deadly serious, wildly playful, bibliomaniacal, and perversely imaginative; in other words, classic Bolano. – Nicole Krauss

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti is a national treasure, and his voice has become part of our collective conscience. Some of his most famous poems from this collection such as "I Am Waiting" and "Junkman's Obbligato" were created for jazz accompaniment. Written in the conservative post-war 1950s, his poems still resonate, as they will continue to resonate, with a joyful anti-establishment fervor that beats a rhythmic portrait of humanity. Ferlinghetti sings of a world in which "the heart flops over / gasping 'Love'," "cadillacs fell thru the trees like rain," and where "we are the same people / only further from home / on freeways fifty lanes wide."

This special 50th Anniversary Edition comes with a newly recorded CD of the author reading the 29 poems of the title section of A Coney Island of the Mind as well as selections from Pictures of the Gone World. Also available in a limited (200 copies) edition with a hard slipcase signed by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

"I got it signed when I was a teenager. I took the train to San Francisco, went to the bookstore and went to a nearby bar where I heard that he hung out, gave it to the bartender and said, 'Well, if he comes in, have him sign it for me, will ya?' And he did! There are great pieces in A Coney Island of the Mind--it feels very current in spite of the fact that it's fifty years old." --Tom Waits, on National Public Radio

“Lawrence is my favorite poet, to warn us of the coming of Big Brother. Lawrence gets you laughing, then hits you with the truth. From D-Day to 9/11 Lawrence is the poet who asks why the human race is trying to kill itself.” – Francis Ford Coppola

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Well Dressed Authors

William S. Burroughs

Oscar Wilde

Bret Easton Ellis

Noel Coward

Jean Cocteau

Joe Orton

Paul Bowles

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Song for Night by Chris Abani

My Luck, a West African boy soldier stripped of both his youth and ensuing manhood, is part of a mine-defusing unit in war-torn West Africa in Chris Abani's stunning, melancholic, savagely beautiful and most elegantly written novella, Song for Night. The boy is separated from his crew and walks the long, lonely road of death to find them, and redemption—redemption for family and love and innocence thieved—a road lonely in the company of the ghosts of war and the ever-damned. The story unfolds as an inner-monologue and known but silent screams—My Luck's voice has been surgically removed—and the closer he comes to Truth the further Abani leaves us entranced. Cancel all afternoon appointments, read it in one sitting, and spend the rest of the evening blessedly stunned.

-- Ulyss. T. W. Bluebird

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jim Krusoe

I am a mega-fan of Jim Krusoe and his new novel 'Girl Factory' is a must. Here's a link to an interview with Michael Silverblatt with Krusoe.

www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/ bw/bw080508jim_krusoe

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tony Visconti at Book Soup! June 21

Dear Ladies and (those who are) Gentlemen,

I am thrilled that Tyson and Charles booked the remarkable, the great, and if I can use this word (and will) legendary Tony Visconti. For those who are not in the know, Visconti is a great record producer who has worked with David Bowie, Les Rita Mitsuoko, Sparks, Morrissey, and of course the classic T-Rex recordings.

His memoir is a really wonderful read, and for those who are Bowie lunatics (and i am one) it's a must for the library. Just to tease our audience, Here's a brief interview with Visconti:

And for those who want to hear some of this man's great productions:

David Bowie "Heroes"

T-Rex "Bang a Gong"

Sparks "Get In The Swing"

And the great Les Rita Mitsuoko's "Le Petit Train"

And for our fellow employee Brian, here's

Morrissey "In the Future When All's Well"

And that's just a touch of Tony Visconti's talent.

Tosh (in London at the moment)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bernadette Peters!!!!!

Bernadette Peters is GORGEOUS. She hasn't aged a day since "The Jerk". And she's brilliant, kind, funny... I could go on and on. Check out these pictures, taken by our equally beautiful customer Judy, and if you have kids or love dogs pick up her book "Broadway Barks".

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock

If you know the film Gummo, you know the kind of world Donald Ray Pollock's "Knockemstiff" inhabits. If you don't know Gummo, then you're in for a treat. Knockemstiff, Ohio is a damned, doomed, deadend town, and it's inhabitants sling to their sanity in oddle touching ways (though you may have to reevaluate your definition of 'touching'). By turns ribald, disturbing, and hilarious (often simultaneously), Knockemstiff is fantastic new fiction.


In this unforgettable work of fiction, Donald Ray Pollock peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern American town to reveal the sad, stunted but resilient lives of its residents.

Spanning a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties, the linked stories that comprise Knockemstiff feature a cast of recurring characters who are woebegone, baffled and depraved—but irresistibly, undeniably real. Rendered in the American vernacular with vivid imagery and a wry, dark sense of humor, these thwarted and sometimes violent lives jump off the page at the reader with inexorable force. A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder. A psychotic rural recluse comes upon two siblings committing incest and feels compelled to take action. Donald Ray Pollock presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence, a bracing absence of value judgments, and a refreshingly dark sense of bottom-dog humor.

With an artistic instinct honed on the works of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews, Pollock offers a powerful work of fiction in the classic American vein. Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place.