Literature

Where's Otto?

Alex Cox repossesses the graphic novel with Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday
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>a&eletters@sfbg.com

ISBN REAL Graphic novels, obviously, aren't just movies with a lot of missing frames. In the hands of artists like David B. or Craig Thompson, the elastic potential of their subjects, and of the panels that hold them, is realized in a manner entirely at odds with the medium of film.

From the perspective of screenwriters, however — particularly ones beaten repeatedly over the head with the knotty stick of the studio system — that's nothing that can't be worked out over a cup of coffee. Read more »

Big book, tiny topic

Some eccentric notes on a favorite tactic of the publishing industry
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johnny@sfbg.com

REVIEW This week, I'm reviewing a book about toothpicks, a book about citrus, and a book about pigeons. When I first mentioned this plan to a fellow editor, she said it prompted visions of a surrealist game of Clue: the orange stabbed the pigeon in the study with a toothpick.

In truth, my motivation is pragmatic. I want to draw attention to the publishing industry's love of big books devoted to tiny topics. It seems that one surefire way of selling a nonfiction tome is by focusing on a very specific subject. Read more »

One ear to the ground

Yousef Al-Mohaimeed's storytelling transcends bans
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>a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW Ah, the morality police — you've gotta love 'em. At least artists who get free publicity from the overzealous watchdogs should. Read more »

Ghost writer

Roberto Bolaño travels from the grave to the future with Nazi Literature
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REVIEW In the English-speaking press, Roberto Bolaño is widely touted as the hottest novelist to come out of Latin America since Gabriel García Márquez. There are no levitating virgins in the work of Bolaño; he depicts instead a more recognizable if still defamiliarized Western Hemisphere, full of intellectuals, tragic activists, poets, queers, prostitutes, and drug dealers. Read more »

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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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

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 »