Friday, May 29, 2009

In the Woods by Tana French

I love the subtly creepy typography on this cover. When the paperback came out, Penguin distributed a copy to each of its employees because they were that excited about it. I'm glad that they did because I might not have picked it up otherwise. I don't read that many mysteries (though I do enjoy a good one now and again), but this one is particularly compelling, though I will say that the ending is a bit of a disappointment.

The paperback of The Likeness, a follow-up to this book, just came out, and I am hoping it is just as gripping and entertaining--and more importantly, that the ending is more satisfying!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson

The piece of gonzo journalism from the legendary Hunter S. Thompson was reissued by Taschen a few years ago, but when I was hunting for it the book had been inexplicably out of print for years. And since I was a college freshman at the time I was not about to spend the $50+ it was going for on eBay (it seems laughable now that I couldn't bring myself to drop a measly 50 bucks for something I really wanted).

I finally found a cheaper copy, but regretted the purchase since the spine was kind of beat up and the glue so dry that I sweated over turning the pages to read it for fear of the whole thing falling apart (which, I am sad to say, just happened about an hour ago as I attempted to scan some of the pages). No matter though, it was inevitable--and it is now readily available in a brand-new version that will not fall apart, I bet. Sigh--another one for the list.

The book, by the way, is HST's coverage of the 1980 Honolulu Marathon and his subsequent stay in Hawaii, which involves miserable weather, colossal waves, and fishing.

The book is illustrated by Ralph Steadman, who accompanied HST on the 1980 trip to Kona. In some cases the illustrations appear in little boxes like this, but sometimes they take over the page, overlapping with the text.

All in all, a great book, and one of my favorites by HST. I really have no idea why it was ever out of print but hopefully it remains available.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

I bought this Penguin UK edition of this PKD novel at the great Glass Eye Books in Florence, MA--while a little more mainstream than some of Dick's brain-melters (this is the only way I can describe what happened to me while reading Ubik, and I assure you I was sober), it's still paranoid enough to feel like classic Philip K. Dick (which it is).

Interestingly enough, it seems that the man pictured on the back is not Philip K. Dick, but fellow science fiction writer Ted White, whose picture Dick sent to the publisher as a joke.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers

In the hardcover edition of Dave Eggers' first novel, the story begins on the front cover, the second page of text continuing on the endpapers. (The copyright information is included on the inside back cover.)

Upon reading Dave Eggers' wikipedia page just now, I've learned that a second version of this novel was published as a book called Sacrament that includes 49 additional pages that could potentially alter the way the novel is perceived. I remember liking it, moreso than I do his short fiction (never read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, though it's been on the to-read list for years), so now my curiosity has been piqued. I might have to check the paperback edition (which includes the 49 additional pages) out from the library. Or I could try to buy the hardcover edition of Sacrament, which is also published in a pretty-looking edition with the story beginning on the front cover, although it seems like it is a little bit hard to come by (and pricy for that matter).

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I read this book the summer before my freshman year of high school (it was on the summer reading list). I had to read the first few pages several times but after awhile I began to understand the crazy futuristic slang and after that I couldn't put the book down--I more or less shut myself inside my room for 2 days so I could finish it. I even made a glossary translating Nadsat to English so my mother could read it (she never did).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birds and Words by Charley Harper

Ever since first seeing Charley Harper's illustrations I've been hooked. This book collects his drawings of birds, which are especially sweet.

I love the chickadee endpapers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

This was the first book by David Sedaris that I read. I can remember sitting in the cafeteria at school laughing out loud. I still think it's his best.

I like the wallpaper pattern on the spine and back.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Impostor by Jean Cocteau

I was first attracted to this book by its cover. I know I've read it but I don't remember anything about it. Another one to pick up again!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Remember by Joe Brainard

This book is an adorably tiny pocket size, which seems perfect for what it is--a series of recollections by the painter Joe Brainard. (For instance, "I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream." Or, "I remember when, in high school, I used to stuff a sock into my underwear.") Painful, funny, wistful, blah blah blah. This was first introduced to me in college when I was assigned to write my own "I Remember," which proved to be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Once I got going I kept remembering more--one association led to another and another.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record's been a long time since I've read Hubert Selby, Jr. There was a time when I considered him to be my favorite writer, though I will admit that not all of his books live up to quite the same level. The one thing I do remember about his writing is that he had a strange use of punctuation.

I think maybe I ought to revisit this book.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles

Another Black Sparrow book, this is a collection of autobiographical tales by Eileen Myles, who was the writer in residence my sophomore year of college. I regret not taking greater advantage of the fact that there was this great writer who, several hours a week (or whenever her office hours were) was sitting there on campus, making herself available to students to answer questions, chat, advise, whatever.

Strangely, the back is the same as the front but printed in white, creating kind of a ghost image.

Read a chapter

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture by Thurston Moore

In the age of the ipod I still cling to making mix tapes*, which is kind of an art form for me. You have to time it just right (because who wants a song to get cut off at the end), orchestrate the shifts in mood and tone from quiet to loud to fast to slow to happy to depressing, etc. And then of course there's the tape cover art, labels, etc. I've seen some spraypainted tapes, which looks cool but then you risk rendering the tape unplayable.

Edited by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, this book showcases mix tapes belonging to the likes of Glen E. Friedman, Richard Kern, Allison Anders, and other musicians, writers, filmmakers, painters, designers, etc. From simple track lists scrawled on Maxell tape covers, to collages to crayon drawings, etc., this is a great tribute that highlights all of the things I love about tapes.

Tobi Vail, to Slim Moon

Mac McCaughan

Cynthia Connolly

Karen Lollypop/Mike Watt

Tom Sachs

Tom Greenwood

*I will admit that lately I have been making more mix CDs, simply because my car does not have a tape player. This is a much-maligned issue for me, and I did complain to the car dealer about it. He told me I could have a tape player, it would just cost extra. Not acceptable.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

God Save My Queen by Daniel Nester

When I was in college I interned at Soft Skull Press, then in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. This book of prose poems (one for each song by Queen through the album Hot Space) was released that season. The author, Dan Nester, was an editor there at the time, and occasionally stopped into the office, which was also a small bookstore. I can attest that he is indeed a pretty huge Queen fan.

The book's trim size is the same as a 7" record (when the first boxes of books arrived at the store, Dan was there slipping them inside plastic record sleeves, which is how I still have mine stored). I innocently asked him if the 7" trim size was on purpose, the answer being, "uh, duh, yes." (Or something along those lines.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jar of Fools by Jason Lutes

I think I first heard of this graphic novel because it was referenced in Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. As with many of the books I've been digging out to photograph, it's been a little while since I've read this tale of a washed-up alcoholic stage magician and his senile mentor (or so the cover copy tells me), but I think it was a pretty good read. Maybe I'll read it again!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson

I've read some of Denis Johnson's novels (Angels, The Name of the World, Tree of Smoke) but this book is still my favorite. The stories are funny, sad, surprising, blah blah blah, and the small, almost pocket size of the book somehow makes it even more appealing. I'm kind of indifferent to the cover, which apparently has been recently repackaged to some improvement (I like the font) but it still doesn't do much for me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Most Secret Desire by Julie Doucet

This hardcover volume by one of my favorite comic artists Julie Doucet is beautifully packaged, with gorgeous striped endpapers, and of course her frenetic, grotesque, and cluttered (in a good way) black and white drawings. This collection is a record of her dreams, and they're exactly what you'd expect from her--she's a man, she has a baby with a tail, her teeth fall out, and so on.