These occasional bibliographical reports of what publishers have seen fit to send my way are spurred by both a need to widen the scope of literary conversation and to make up for the narrowing coverage of literature (or at least book publishing part of it). Humble ambitions, I must acknowledge but fueled by my sense that I now read the few remaining newspaper book review pages to discover what is not being noticed more than to once again recognize that pretty much the same few books are being publicized.
Robert Duncan: Collected Essays and Other Prose by Robert Duncan , James Maynard (University of California Press)
The Hole by Oyvind Torseter (Enchanted Lion Books)
Enchanted Lion Books are guided by a wonderful sensibility and I have all the titles I have had in my hands wonderful in everu way a book can be. The Hole is no exception.
Natural Takeover of Small Thingsby Tim Z. Hernandez (University of Arizona Press)
Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe and the Scandal That Changed Hollywood by Greg Merritt (Chicago Review Press)
The original Hollywood Scandal—surprising that there has been no movie version.
Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch (Little, Brown and Company)
Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David Henry & Joe Henry (Algonquin Books)
Pound for pound Richard Pryor was the funniest man alive. I love his Mudball character an elderly black man who, in one routine intoned, “There are no old fools. You don’t grow old bein’ a fool.” Which, if understood correctly is a statement about survival.
Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit & Rebecca Snedeker (University of California Press)
If you are not aware of Rebecca Solnit and her expansive ouevre now is the time to correct that deficiency.I was enthralled by A Paradise Built in Hell. And her righteouness was wonderfully expressed at the notion that Haitians, after another devastating natural disaster were described as “looters” as they were on the cusp of starvation and malnutrition. A rich sampling of her poltical essays can be found at Tom Dispatch
George Orwell: English Rebel by Robert Colls (Oxford University Press)
A paradigm of journalistic integrity, George Orwell continues to fascinate biographers. Robert Colls is latest and one review points out
Bringing his expertise as a cultural historian to bear on Orwell’s early books on tramps in Paris and London and workers in the North of England, Colls details how middle-class leftists, literary, anthropological and photographic, were tumbling over one another in Lancashire and Yorkshire in a rush to document an “authentic” working class. He shows how Orwell wanted to get under the skin of the Northerners, but they spotted Eton a mile off and clammed up tight. Burma and the North discomfited Orwell, but he learned from both places.
David Aaronovitch credits Colls with pointing out
George Orwell was…“deracinated”. He went to Eton but he was not of the ruling class. He served as a colonial policeman in Burma but he was alienated from the Raj. He became an intellectual who disliked intellectuals, and a socialist who distrusted almost all forms of socialism. He belonged nowhere.
Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson (Two Dollar Radio)
Freedom Now!: Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggleby Martin A. Berger(University of California Press)
Not quite forgotten as many people never paid attention to the Movement at the time. It’s doubtful whether public school systems have history texts with images of people being lambasted with water cannons or attacked by snarling German Shepards which makes this tome doubly
useful It is a hopeful sign that in recent years the photos of Charles Moore and Ernest Withers have landed in mainstream public view.
The Errand of the Eye: Photographs by Rose Mandel, Susan Ehrens, Julian Cox (Introduction) (Prestel)
Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera by Wayne Lawrence, David Gonzalez (Foreword)(Prestel)
Will You Be Alive 10 Years from Now?: And Numerous Other Curious Questions in Probability by Paul J. Nahin (Princeton University Press)
Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor by Ruth Richardson (Oxford University Press)
The MetamorphosisbyFranz Kafka, Stanley Corngold (Translator)(Modern Library)
The Metamorphosis: A New Translation by Franz Kafka, Susan Bernofsky (Translator), David Cronenberg (Introduction)( W. W. Norton)
Forgiving the Angel: Four Stories for Franz Kafka by Jay Cantor (Knopf)
Two new edition’s of Kafka’s most well known story—one a new translation which is only noteworthy because of a new tome by Jay Cantor which fictionalizes four people who were close to Franz Kafka. Is this effort Kafkaesque?
Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%by Kari Lydersen (Haymarket Books)
The feisty (or as some have said, profane)former chief of staff of the Obama White House carries on the tradition of craven power occupying the mayoral swat of the great city of Chicago. Mike Royko’s Boss is a wonderful background for this unsparing portrait of Rahm Emmanual
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Oscar Martinez , Daniela Maria Ugaz (Translator) , John Washington (Translator) , Francisco Goldman (Introduction) (Verso)
The Taste of America by Colman Andrews (Phaidon Press)
White Girls by Hilton Als (McSweeney’s)
Moments That Made the Movies by David Thomson (Thames & Hudson)
David Thomson is the gold standard of film historians and scholars.Which plays out in his sure handed grasp of cultural history of the last hundred years or so. i spoken with him a few times here and here.
Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview by Jonathan Cott (Yale University Press)
I was surprised that I found this conversation with Susan Sontag, a reigning intellectual diva of the fin de siecle western culture, the likes of which we may never see again, boring and jejune.
New Concise World Atlas (Oxford University Press)
My favorite annual is the Oxford University Press’s Atlas of the world and this volume as it states is a concise version of the majestic complete edition
Around the World: The Atlas for Today by Andrew Losowsky (Editor) , S. Ehmann (Editor) , R. Klanten (Editor)( Gestalten)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Juliette Michaud , Michel Hazanavicius (Foreword)(Flammarion)
The Spectre of Alexander Wolf ( by , Bryan Karetnyk (Translator) (Pushkin Press)
The Big Book: Volumes One and Two [Facsimile] W by Eugene Smith, John Berger, William S. Johnson (Introduction), Katharine Martinez (Foreword) (University of Texas Press)
Eugene Smith was a master photographer during a period when photography was more thoughtful and deliberate.
em>The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
I don’t quite see the point of this iteration of Ambrose Bierce’s magnum opus. Its a lackluster paperback with not even the basic gestures of a dictionary. You’d be better served by looking at Library of America’s Bierce volume.
Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion by Robert Gordon ((Bloomsbury USA)
I am a fan of musical history books and biography that contexualize the music—Nick Tosches,Peter Guralnick and Arthur Kempton being writers particularly adept at cultural commentary. Last year Mark Kurlansky’s Ready For a Brand New Beat: How “Dancing in the Street” Became the Anthem for a Changing America (Riverhead) showcased Berry Gordy’s Motown plantation and now Robert Gordon’s new opus surveys the Memphis based Stax record label and the diverse characters that contributed to its success. Now that two major centers of late 20th century race music Detroit and Memphis have been spotlighted its time that Chicago’s rich scene have its day.
Currently reading Lost for Words by Edward St Aubyn (FSG)