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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Peter Hook's "The Hacienda"

The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club by Peter Hook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am going through a British pop star memoir thing at the moment, and I couldn't resist Joy Division/New Order's bass player Peter Hook's book on his (well co-owned by all of New Order) The Hacienda. It's interesting that he didn't write a proper memoir of life with Ian Curtis, etc. But perhaps he feels that there is already too much literature on that subject matter. So, instead he focuses on the legendary Manchester music club The Hacienda.

As a business venture it was a total disaster. Peter Hook was too drugged out, too drunk, or too busy making music with New Order to really suss it out. This book in a way is his self-discovery of the horrible mess that is called The Hacienda.

At first it was sort of an artist/collective vision from Factory Records paid fully by New Order's income. When E hit the fans, it came a paradise. But with paradise comes violence and criminals. And in the end, all the music-loving fans disappear and were totally taken over by tough gangsters.

And this is the most interesting part of the book, is Hook's slight admiration and fear of these men (and sometimes women). Like all the other British pop music memoirs, this is also a book about how the British sees themselves. But how groovy can turn into horror within a very short period of time.

Peter Hook is a great bass player, and maybe a fantastic DJ, but his character is not as strong as others in his world with respect to his book. Various gangsters, Tony Wilson, the New Order manager - all of them have a strong individual - eccentric- even streak in their make-up. Hook is pretty normal compared to his pals and enemies. Hook is totally likeable, but at the least in his writing, he doesn't show much character - for instance like Jah Wobble in his memoir.

But in the end of the day, it is an important document for those who are interested in Manchester pop culture - but it's not the best book in the field. Tony Wilson's "24 Hour Party People is a much better book.

View all my reviews >>

Raw footage of New Year's Eve 1991 at The Hacienda

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 30, 2009


If you call the store sometime in the next week, don't be shocked if you are greeted with a Hulk Hogan accented, "THANKS FOR CALLING BOOK SOUP! HOW CAN I HELP YOU, BROTHER?"

The Hulkster will be in the store on November 6th at 7 pm. You could say we're a little excited. Even if you were not a huge wrestling fan, it is impossible to deny the effect this man had on our cultural landscape from the 80's on up to today. Hulkamania imbedded itself in our psyche swiftly as an atomic leg drop. It was more than yelling and yellow spandex and ripping your shirt off. It was about the Four Demandments: Training, saying your prayers, taking vitamins, and believing in yourself. Hulk's message was quintessentially American.

(Click here to order a SIGNED EDITION of My Life Outside the Ring)

Los Angeles Noir

Have you visited our new Los Angeles Noir section? Check it out.....if ya got the guts.
It's overflowing with gangsters, gun molls, rogue cops, and con men.
We've got all your favorite writers: Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, James M Cain, Ross MacDonald...writing about the sun bleached streets of Los Angeles and the glittering denizens within.
Drop in. Pick something up....if ya got the guts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book News Oct. 29th

~Margaret Atwood is perfect + totally adorable.

Top Ten Lists Already!!! It's not even November yet. There's 1/6th of the year left. The trend toward publishing these lists earlier and earlier in the year is ridiculous. I think PW needs to rein in their "passion" a little bit. The two best book's I've read this year aren't even out yet! [Your Face Tomorrow V.3 and The Autobiography of Fidel Castro] My favorite book from last year, The Hakawati, came out at the very end of December and found inclusion in no lists I saw. This is not an attempt to praise my own judgment, more an observation that these lists have become less about praising and publicizing great books and more about publicizing the list makers themselves. So credit where it's due- The Morning News "Tournament of Books" might be the only "top" anything worth paying attention to. Thanks TMN.

~LA Bizarro, one of our bestselling books for weeks, presents a great argument in the book vs web debate. Who still uses guide books? Our customers apparently.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crumb Giveaway Winners

Here are the winning sketches for the R Crumb ticket giveaway. Congrats to Sherri, Scott and Valerie!

James Ellroy is a Mad Man

James Ellroy came to the store on October 14th, 2009. He yelled at us for about an hour, signed several hundred books, and then went home. For those of you who doubt the Devil Dog's existence, I submit this internet video footage.

Vegan Baking Has Taken Over My Life

In the Lower East Side, there is a tiny little bakery. It is kitschy and brightly painted. There is wonderful 60's music playing. The employees wear the cutest blue and white striped uniforms. It is overflowing with cupcakes and cookies.....but best of all, all the sweets are vegan, gluten-free, and (mostly) sugar free!
Erin McKenna's bakery has been a great success, and now she has given us a cookbook!
Those who swear by the bakeries creations include Jason Schwartzman, Mary-Louise Parker, and me! When I lived in New York I tried to visit the bakery almost every day and inhaled everything they had to offer. Now that I am back in Los Angeles, I thank my vegan stars that I have the cookbook!
Also, McKenna has stated that she will be opening a second location in downtown Los Angeles in 2010.....

Also on the vegan baking front....
If you are interested in cupcakes or cookies, you will have heard of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, founder of the Post Punk Kitchen.

VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD was her first devotion to vegan sweets, and now she has created VEGAN COOKIES INVADE YOUR COOKIE JAR, which has 100 amazing cookie recipes, including the addicting Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows, which I think I have made at least five times now.

That's it for the vegan baking news for now.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good, seriously actually good, Book Trailers

I was planning to write about the overwhelming crapfest that is the Book Trailer World. What I would have done was subjected you to numerous crummy trailers and then explained how the poor craftsmanship actually makes people LESS interested in reading the books.

Instead, after many hours of searching - and weeping - I found a few trailers that are not only watchable, but actually pretty good. Check em out.

Book Trailers are evolving, very slowly. The majority are overwhelmed by crummy rights-free music, poorly recorded voiceover, text that attempts to explain the entirety of the plot, and a drought of creativity. We need trailers that embrace the author's world, their words and characters.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Two Favorite Blondes

"I am Eloise. I am six. I am a city child. I live at the Plaza."

Eloise. She is the cutest little girl who lives on the top floor of the Plaza Hotel and pours water down the mail chute. I love her so.
The Eloise books were written by Kay Thompson: singer, dancer, writer, model....you may remember her from the opening scene of 'Funny Face.'

"Once there was a little doll. Her name was Edith. She lived in a nice house and had everything she needed except someone to play with. She was lonely!"

My other favorite blonde is Edith, "The Lonely Doll" from Dare Wright's book, published in 1957. Dare Wright was quite a doll herself, and posed Edith for many haunting black and white photographs.

Eloise and Edith are both dolls and are deserving of a modern audience! They await you at Book Soup...

R Crumb Ticket Giveaway

Good news! The kind folks at UCLA Live have given us two pairs of tickets to see R Crumb on October 29th to dole out however we please.

Here's the deal: Draw a Crumb inspired self-portrait and send it to devin@booksoup.com. The first two illustrations I get will each receive a pair of tickets. Easy peasy. We won't be judging for quality, first come, first served.

Happy sketching.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tosh Talks...about music books (via last September

Tosh Talks

The great world of Jah Wobble

This is a very warm and funny memoir by the great Jah Wobble. Or "Mr. Bass" as I like to call him. For those who don't know the know, Wobble was the original bass player for PIL (Public Image Ltd.

Public Image Ltd. "Public Image" (Wobble sitting down playing the bass and looking uber-cool)

John Lydon (Rotten) and Wobble in classic TV interview mode. Why aren't bands like this anymore? Can you imagine Bono doing this?

Public Image Ltd. "Poptones" One of the great bass playing ever. Beautiful song indeed.

Jah Wobble on British music show "Never Mind The Buzzcocks" Guess what song he's doing?

Jah Wobble Chinese Dub, which is his latest project.

But back to his memoir, it's an excellent read and I strongly suggest it if you have any interest in London circ. culture via the 70's.

Mary Blair

Many people may recognize Mary Blair's colorful work for Disney in 'It's a Small World,' and not many realize what a mastermind she was.
She started working for the Walt Disney company in 1940 and served as a concept artist on 'Cinderella,' 'Alice in Wonderland,' and 'Peter Pan,' among others.
Her work is instantly recognizable, unique, almost shocking, and does not fit into the Disney mold at all.
Now Disney has paired her original artwork for the films with modern children's authors to bring you some amazing retellings....



They are beautiful, densely hued, and overflowing with Mary Blair's brilliance!
Curiouser and curiouser......

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday video bonanza

We've been having a lot of fun lately. Great events. Smart people. Incredible writers. Here's just a small sample.

First up is Jonathan Shaw. This clip is of Jonathan reading from his poetry book, Love Songs to the Dead. The poems were all written between 1970 & 1976, during which time Mr Shaw was hanging out with the likes of Jim Morrison and Charles Bukowski. While the influence is certainly discernible, the language, rhythms, and heart are all Jonathan.

Next, David Alan Grier. "Barack Like Me" is a chronicle of DAG's reflections on what Obama means for race in America. Here he explains why our new president represents the death knell of the "angry black man".

Lastly, we have an extremely interesting event coming up on November 1st. Broadcaster and memorabilia collector, Bob Brill, developed (at the age of 6) a slight obsession with 50's burlesque stripper Patti Waggin. He eventually acquired Patti Waggin's estate, literally tons of photographs, letters, contracts and film reels. After wading through this life-time of records, Bob put together "Letter's to a Stripper: A Patti Waggin Tale", a history of Burlesque told through photographs and fan letters. Here's an inside look at Patti Waggin and Bob Brill.

Coming soon... James Ellroy, Robert Greene & much much more.

Book News - Oct. 23

~I'm sure this is true, though they've still released no numbers to support the claim, but I've never seen anyone using one....
Contest - take a picture of someone using a Kindle, email it to me - charles@booksoup.com - and you'll get some kind of physical book related goody tbd.

~A positive take on eReaders. Getting a little of the "Indie Bookstore" message anything that encourages/facilitates people reading is a good thing. Though I wonder what they're reading. And this totally changes the used book and lending markets which are untrackable and have irritated publishers since Gutenberg. I'm interested to learn more about the Nook's "lending" feature.

~This is just adorable.

~HAPPY BIRTHDAY MYSTERY BOOKS. And many returns of the day.
I hope all of you plan go check out the incredible roster of authors they have signing there tomorrow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book News - Oct. 22, 2009

I fail to understand what could possibly be gained from banning a book. Wouldn't the children of Westminster have a lot more to gain from the greater understanding of the world, the experience and beauty Maya Angelou's work offers? Perhaps Ms. Aherns and the school board would to better to spend their energies EDUCATING and nurturing their children rather than sheltering them from the world.

~The American Booksellers Association has taken action in the loony Amazon/Walmart/Target book price slashing war.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taschen's "Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon - The Greatest Movie Never Made""

Taschen this November will be releasing the ultimate Stanley Kubrick book project "Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon - The Greatest Movie Never Made."

I had the honor to see some of the images and the actual design of this impressive book in New York last Spring. Without a doubt it is one of the great books on a particular film project. What impresses one the most is Kubrick's obsession and passion on the subject of Napoleon. He kept a series of index cards that list the daily life of Napoleon from birth to death. Watch the documentary that was made and produced by the fine people at Taschen Books.

Down below are images of what one can call a book. It's more like a book within a lot of books. The release date is November 17th.

Again, the release date is November 17. Call or e-mail us if you want to be called when the book comes out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love All the People

Bill Hicks was comedy's black poet. He was Chomsky with dick jokes. He was Goat Boy. He was heir to Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor... since his death in 1994 no one has filled his shoes. They were to damned massive.

Bill was not exactly looking inspire laughter. Laughter was often incidental. His aim was to bring about catharsis - Laughter meant you were on his wavelength, rage meant you were somewhere close.

For the past few weeks, "Love All the People" has been flying off our shelves. This is hands down the best book with a comedian's name below the title. This is not a memoir or a collection of rants written quickly to fulfill a book deal, but, instead, it is a direct transcription of Bill Hick's perfectly honed stand-up routines, letters and lyrics.

Reading it, you'll see his genius of mixing some of the most vulgar comedy with his beautiful, enlightened philosophy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And on the 8th day, the Lord created R. Crumb

First off, all bibles hence forth ought to have disclaimers such as the one on Crumb's book, "Adult supervision recommended for minors." What happens in the Book of Genesis - the first of the 5 books of the Torah handed down from God himself to Moses atop blustery ol' Mt Sinai - just what occurs in this introductory chapter to the most influential piece of literature in human history that is so bad kids need a permission slip just to look inside? Namely, sex and murder. There's even an explosion.

What Crumb has done here is nothing short of epic. Understand, this is not Crumb's Genesis or the book of Genesis according to Crumb - you won't find Mr Natural hanging out in the garden of Eden - no, the world of Genesis is already sex-obsessed and bloody enough to out Crumb a thousand Crumbs. The text, narration and dialogue, is culled from the King James Bible as well as Robert Alter's translation of the Five Books of Moses. Any commentary or interpretation is left for the Afterword where Mr Crumb shines a major light on the overlooked matriarchal aspect of the Bible.

So, what you get, simply, is a straightforward version of Genesis with just about every single line illustrated with obsessive, almost monomaniacal, detail. The usually dull pages of Blah-blah son of Blah-blah begot Blah-blah now have faces to go with the names. Faces that appear in the backgrounds of stories of the more well known characters. Faces that are native to the Middle-East setting of the story, full of age and character.

The Book of Genesis and R Crumb are a perfect marriage. I'd really like to see what he could do with Exodus. Or the New Testament. For the moment though, this will work nicely. It is Crumb at the peak of his talents, a hell of a work of art.

*R Crumb will be speaking and signing books at UCLA Live on October 29th at 8pm.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Change of Season, Changing Opinion

Oh I admit it, I look at those blogs featuring the sexy stylish well-dressed men of Paris, Milan, Rome. With the cuff in perfect balance with the jacket sleeve; the trouser hem cutting the shoelaces of the bespoke loafer (or at the very least just-shined loafer) to perfection. And the buttons on the sleeves of their tailored jackets actually open and close....I sigh...sigh....

I have more than once thought to myself, "Oh why why can't American men be as chic?!"

Well boys the gig is up, it seems you can, or so says Robert Bryan in the new book "American Fashion Menswear" published by Assouline.

Chock full of images and words, yes this is menswear, on the seminal role American men and their apparel have played on the world of fashion.

Mr. Bryan even argues that menswear is more important and influential than womenswear. (Oh come on Mr. Bryan leave the ladies something please!)

What makes me happy - this may be selfish on my part. What I may not see on the streets of LA I can see on the pages of this book. For me a well dressed man is sexiest and second only to a smart and funny one, put all three together. Well...ummm...

Maybe I can scan some pages and leave them lying around LA as a sort of community service?

"Ask not..."
All images from American Fashion Menswear by Robert E. Bryan published by Assouline