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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tosh Talks Apr.29.2011

"Tosh Talks" about his family via the great Charles Brittin book of photos. A must- have of course!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Fatale" by Jean-Patrick Manchette

A tough little superb French noir novel that is sort of a revenge against the rich and mighty, but also a snapshot image of class difference and hatred due to that difference. The main character is sort of a professional serial killer, who is a shark looking for the rich to kill. And like all classic noir novels, there is not a wasted word in the book. Manchette for sure has that "it" quality down, and i pray that more of this late writer's work will come out. So far three novels and two graphic novels in English. More? More

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"The Form of a City Changes Faster, Alas, Than The Human Heart" by Jacques Roubaud

By reading these Paris city poems by Jacques Roubaud, one can sense that there is an "Oulipo" stance with its wit and presence. But then again, this is probably one of the best 'poetic' books on Paris. In fact it reads like a map - and for some reason I am drawn to the visual aspect of Paris and how its streets are placed in sections and how it is attached to the big boulevards.

There is a dual aspect to these poems. One is the importance of a language that investigates Paris, but also it is an accurate portrait of a city. So what we have here is Paris as it is laid out by Roubaud's wit and observation. And it goes back to Baudelaire, Queneau, and various French Surrealist poets, with respect to how writing is very much a form itself -and that form represents Paris itself. So not a critique on other writings on Paris, but a nod and a tip to the hat to those who came before and was seduced by Paris' presence.

My only complaint about this book is that it isn't bilingual, but then again I am sure there were budget considerations. And the translation by Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop is pretty readable and fun - and fun is a big part of Roubaud's work.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tosh Talks Apr.23.2011 Serge Gainsbourg

"Tosh Talks" about "Gainsbourg Inside" Look into the inner world of the magnificent Serge Gainsbourg

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kurt Schwitters' "Three Stories"

The mega-great artist Kurt Schwitters is also a fantastic poet. But what we have here are three (very) short almost like fairy tales, one poem, and an appreciation by artist E.L.T. Messens, and a response from Schwitter's son Ernst. 
The book is only 32 pages, and sort of the perfect read for a good soak in the bathtub, or a bus ride from Silvelake to Hollywood. Elegantly designed as well. Nothing fancy, but just a nice object to behold. The stories themselves are modest, but for sure worth the read, and the poem reminds me of his visual work. One got the impression Schwitters walked around London and just picked up its vibe for his poem. Love it.


Anyone who knows me (do you?) knows that i have a strong passion for this particular Japanese chain store. Muji has been around since 1980, and it specializes in minimal great designs and fantastic practical products. Everything from the bicycle to the Umbrella to a cotten white dress shirt to dresses to underwear to kitchen stuff. So basically they offer the napkin to the pre-fab Muji designed house. 
I discovered this store in 1989, and have been a huge fan since then. Besides Japan, they opened up stores in Europe. London and Paris has superb Muji outlets and in New York City. What got me stuck on them was their stationary products - specifically their writing instruments and blank notebooks. What they offer was something that had no identity, but perfectly designed. A weird combination perhaps, but there no logo stance is actually their logo. 
"Muji" the book pretty much describes the seduction of a clean interior with very minimal designed products. A perfect world to me is a house (designed by Muji) with their product. The only thing i haven't tried Muji is their food line. Mostly crackers, ice cream and various types of drinkable liquids. But I am not sure if I want to open the packaging because it looks too beautiful, too perfect. The packaging maybe more important than what's inside it. Perhaps? 
Nevertheless a fascinating book on a fascinating company. Long may they live!

"Gainsbourg Inside" by Yannick Ribeaut

A remarkable photo book focusing on Serge Gainsbourg home in Saint Germain des PrĂ©s Paris  The book works on two levels.  One its a document of his home at the time of his death - and his various collections of antique dolls (kind of creepy) to military metals and bullet castings.  Gainsbourg is a hero of mine, so of course anything on this great artist is of great worth.  What impresses me about the interior of the location is how small it seems, and how every object in the house has some importance to its owner.  A good interior should convey the owners personality but also its poetic quality is very important as well.
The second level is Gainsbourg's relationship with his man-servant Fulbert Ribeaut.   Gainsbourg left lots of notes to him asking him to buy specific or the latest publications (including the complete works of Mallarme) and of course smokes!
The photographer Yannick Ribeaut was the nephew of the butler, and with Charlotte Gainsbourg's request, he photographed the house.  This book is both a tribute to Gainsbourg's aesthetic as well as the relationship between Serge and his faithful butler Fulbert.  Almost Proust like intensity!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tosh Talks about the great poet Jack Spicer Apri.15.2011

One of my favorite poets of all time Jack Spicer. Commentary on his collection "My Vocabulary Did This To Me."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Janet Jackson - live and in the flesh - at Book Soup 4/15/11

Reflections On What Will Be Madness
by (our new & awesome manager): Dan Graham

There are few days like the one where your GM tells you that Janet Jackson is doing a book signing at your store. Suddenly my carefully cultivated cool was replaced by an even more carefully mimicked Rhythm Nation dance. Yes, I am not too embarrassed to admit that I was once a chubby little queer boy meticulously recreating Janet's call to social justice daily in my room, and for five minutes each time I played the song I wasn't alone. I was a part of a Rhythm Nation! It was the first CD I bought with my own money.

The phone started ringing off the hook a month ago, about the time Ms. Jackson posted on her website that she would compliment her Number Ones concert at the Gibson Ampitheatre on Friday, April 15th with a book signing for her inspirational memoir
True You at Book Soup. We have the honor of hosting Ms. Jackson this Friday, and we're expecting quite a turnout based on pre-sales of her book and heavy call volume from a truly energetic fan base. I suppose that is because Janet Jackson is a pop star of the kind they just can't make anymore.

I won't entertain any notions of actually meeting Ms. Jackson this Friday although I will be working that day. Mostly because I would probably freeze in place and softly mutter "You're great" (my default when I meet favorite authors). The truth is I'm more likely to tell her I want a red rider triple action shot gun than I am to tell her that my literal idea of Heaven is a dance floor where everywhere I look I see a friend, some passed on and others separated by distance and time, but all smiling. The song that's playing is
Together Again. My guess is that there will be a hundred stories like that one in line this Friday.

A playlist for the signing line:
That's The Way Love Goes
Rock With U
Got 'Til It's Gone
I Want You
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
All For You
Young Love
Rhythm Nation
Make Me
Love Will Never Do (Without You)
Together Again
Any Time, Any Place

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tosh Talks Apr.01.2011

"Tosh Talks" about Wyndham Lewis' "Blast" publication as well as The Vorticists & The Futurists. My favorite episode I think .... so far...well at least today!