Literature

V. Vale and RE/Search Publications

GOLDIES 2008 Lifetime Achievement winner: The monkish punk elder of counterculture in the Bay
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Call him the monkish punk elder of counterculture in the Bay and fringes wherever they may fray. Behind a monochromatic, black-clad, black-banged façade and unassuming demeanor, V. Vale is a man of so many interests and accomplishments that it's hard to know where to start. How about with Vale as Punk Showman?

"In 1984 I'm sure I put on one of the greatest shows ever to celebrate our J.G. Ballard book," the 50-plus publisher says. Read more »

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books

GOLDIES 2008 Lifetime Achievement winner: Anything but a vanity press
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The first book I held close to my heart was Italian poet Antonio Porta's 1987 Kisses from Another Dream, number 44 in the ongoing City Lights Pocket Poets Series. I bought it on a trip to the city from Santa Cruz when I was around 17, and I savored every line, whipping out the book at coffee shops and other high school hangouts, in attics late at night, at beach bonfires, and even for a speech at one friend's funeral. Read more »

Magazinester

Mr. Peanut is back! A trip through the latest racks
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My heart's made of paper and held in place with two staples: I'll always love zines. Recent issues of David Brazil's and Sara Larsen's biweekly roundup Try include Dana Ward's languorous thoughts on feeling and some playful lyricism courtesy of Julian Brolaski (e-mail trymagazine@gmail.com.). Runx Tales #1 is a collection of comics by Matt Runkle (runkle.matt@gmail.com). Read more »

Speed Reading

Wolfgang Voigt -- Gas and The Book of Lists: Horror
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WOLFGANG VOIGT — GAS

By Wolfgang Voigt

Raster-Noton

128 pages with CD

$46.49

One of many noms de guerre of Kompakt Records founder Wolfgang Voigt, Gas represented the vanguard of a techno-ambient hybrid that flourished throughout the 1990s. Read more »

Surrealism's island

Breton's Martinique still works like a charm
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REVIEW Since his death in 1966, André Breton has received more than his fair share of knocks. I've heard both critics and poets call him "fascist," though if pressed, they can only cite Breton's sometimes dogmatic leadership of the surrealist movement. Such loose talk is tiresome and ahistorical. A staunch Communist, Breton was nonetheless the first to denounce the totalitarian Stalin when the rest of the French Left turned a blind eye. He never went for Mao like the Tel Quel crowd. Read more »

Speed Reading

Chuck Klosterman's Night Owl wakes up sleepyville
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DOWNTOWN OWL

By Chuck Klosterman

Scribner

288 pages

$24

Nothing ever changes. Until it does. Then everything is different.

Such is the case in pop culture laureate Chuck Klosterman's first novel, Downtown Owl. It tells the story of a sleepy town that isn't really there. According to Walter Valentine, the principal of Owl High, "You're going to like it here. It's not Monaco. Read more »

Garrison killer

ISBN Real: Death in a Prairie House revisits the Taliesin murders
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ISBN REAL On Aug. 15, 1914, seven people were murdered at Taliesin, the famed Prairie-Style Wisconsin house that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for himself and his out-of-wedlock companion, Mamah Cheney. The victims of the gruesome occurrence were Cheney, her two children from a previous relationship, and four men in Wright's employ.

The Taliesin murders have been recounted many times by Wright scholars, but William R. Read more »

McShhhhh!

Quiet, Please scarcely scratches the surface of the library experience
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REVIEW Whether you admired his fierce intelligence or considered him a negative influence on the young, you have to admit that David Foster Wallace was one of the few contemporary writers who managed to pin down and unpack questions of writerly narcissism and grasp their implications. The McSweeney's brand owes its greatest debt to Wallace. Read more »

Manifestos and sodas

Lit Crawl 2008: Joshua Clover wrangles popular poetry and the poetry of pop
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INTERVIEW Joshua Clover is probably just as well known as alter ego jane dark. It's the pseudonym under which s/he writes sugarhigh! (janedark.com), which makes equal space for dialectical thinking, pop and country music, and film. I've spent time talking with friends about his criticism and his two books of poetry, 2006's The Totality for Kids (UC Press, 76 pages, $16.95) and 1997's Madonna anno domini (Louisiana State University Press). Read more »

Bend Sinister

Lit Crawl 2008: Bucky Sinister hits bedrock and breaks the self-help mold with Get Up
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With Litquake fast approaching and his new book hitting the shelves, the time is right to check in with San Francisco writer, comedian, and reluctant self-help guru, Bucky Sinister. Yes, you heard that right: self-help guru. Move over Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew and every other faux-folksy TV platitude-puss. Mr. Sinister has the kind of wisdom — and writing skills — that can only come from experience. Read more »