Literature

Years of Lead

Autonomia revisits Italy post-'68
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REVIEW Reflecting on his work on millenarian Europe, the autonomist and political philosopher Antonio Negri stated, "This is certainly one of the central and most urgent political paradoxes of our time: in our much-celebrated age of communication, struggles have become all but incommunicable."

Long an influential campaign in Negri's native Italy, autonomia, or self-rule, has received little critical attention from the English-speaking world. Read more »

To be, or to be autonauts

Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop parody the travel book and reinvent the road story
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REVIEW Certain travelogues can be likened to love letters to a destination, though rarely does actual romance play a part in their construction. But when acclaimed postmodern Argentine author Julio Cortázar took to the road with his third wife, Carol Dunlop, it was a journey precipitated by mutual fondness as much as a desire for discovery.

In Autonauts of the Cosmoroute (Archipelago Books, 354 pages, $20) an author best known for his nonsequential opus Hopscotch and collections of surreal short stories approaches the task Read more »

Speed Reading

Complete Minimal Poems by Adam Saroyan and Comin' at Ya! The Homoerotic 3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield
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COMPLETE MINIMAL POEMS

By Aram Saroyan

Ugly Duckling Presse

283 pages

$20

Clear the dross and bric-a-brac from your brain and start anew with Aram Saroyan's minimalist poems. The quickest thick-book reading experience you'll ever have (unless you take the time to savor its simplicity), this collection of Saroyan's writings from the '60s offers pages of poems that make haiku seem lugubrious and cumbersome; only Taylor Mead's poems are similarly immediate. Read more »

Speed reading

Xiu Xiu and Celine Dion: together at last, under the rubric of music books
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In 2005, Xiu Xiu embarked on a tour and invited their fans to send them blank Polaroid instant film and an SASE. In turn, photographer David Horvitz took on the task of documenting the group's travels, snapping shots in places ranging from backstage nooks to hotel bathrooms. Each day, Horvitz mailed packages containing 10 unique candid photos to the fans who provided film and envelopes: anyone who participated was rewarded with personal art from the tour. Read more »

Your cassette pet

Rob Sheffield writes the book of mixtape love
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REVIEW How's this for a universal truth: if you've ever given a good goddamn about music and you've ever been touched by someone in your life (or wanted to be touched, as the case may be), you've surely sat yourself down and made a mixtape to put all of those feelings into 90 minutes or less. Read more »

Bound for better

Slingshot organizes your life with joyful chaos
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kimberly@sfbg.com

INTERVIEW You probably stumbled over it during your holiday shopping travails: a little 2008 pocket date book branded "Slingshot" with a hand-drawn cover of kids wearing engineer boots and "A is for anarchy" garb, picking flowers, vegetables, and fruit in an idyllic garden scene, a cityscape looming in the distance. Read more »

Thrower's flames

The video nasties of Nightmare USA still apply
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johnny@sfbg.com

REVIEW You can judge a book by its cover when the cover is as scarily impressive as the one for Stephen Thrower's Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents (Fab Press, 528 pages, $79.95). It's a map of the United States, with each state composed of a fragment from a low-budget horror film. Blood drips from the edges of the South. The entire top of the Midwest is blocked by a large image of someone in an asbestos suit. Read more »

Pinball Machine

Toni Mirosevich trucks through unrestricted territory
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amanda@sfbg.com

INTERVIEW Toni Mirosevich thinks imagination has a prominent place aboard the great ship of nonfiction, and she knows that vessel travels on waters as wide as an ocean. The Rooms We Make our Own, her first book of prose and poetry, was published in 1996 by Firebrand Books; most recently, she's authored a collection of creative nonfiction, Pink Harvest (Mid-List Press, 203 pages, $16). Read more »

"Hello-Now, From Everywhere"

Drawings and text by Veronica De Jesus
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On the corner of 20th and Valencia streets, there's a window that makes people think of the dead. The reason is a series of annotated sketches that, over the past few years, has gradually accumulated on the glass to the right of the doorway at Dog Eared Books. Read more »

Initials B.B.

Bill Berkson's Sudden Address bridges poetry, painting, and passionate love
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johnny@sfbg.com

REVIEW A few months ago, at a bookstore in another city, I came across a few copies of the '60s arts and literature journal Kulchur. Scanning them, I discovered that the Bay Area poet Bill Berkson had contributed some film essays and that his writings on cinema were followed an issue or two later by reviews from a fledgling critic named Pauline Kael. The presence of Berkson's and Kael's movie notes in Kulchur reflects a time when the boundary between making art and writing about it wasn't so fixed. Read more »