Recent Posts in books

April 11, 2014

Good Inn

Created in the explosive space between the surreal and the concrete, The Good Inn follows Solder Boy--the lone survivor of the explosion of the battleship Iéna--as he wanders aimlessly after the accident, falls deeply for an innkeeper's daughter, and even more deeply into a bizarre, alternate universe he discovers through a hole in his bedroom wall.

The world he finds exists at the intersection of art and violence, and introduces readers to the very real (and surreal) characters who created the first narrative pornographic film. The Good Inn weaves together real characters from the history of French cinema with darkly whimsical illustrations by Steven Appleby and recreates the lost story of La Bonne Auberge, as seen through the eyes of a shell-shocked soldier.

Through Soldier Boy's journey as the subject and star of the world's first stag film, we explore the power of memory, the simultaneously destructive and healing power of light and how the early pioneers of these stag films helped shape their industry for generations to come.

Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, film and prose, reality and surreality, The Good Inn bends readers' minds and holds its own against the best surrealists--from Lynch to Dali to Serling. It is sure to challenge our conceptions of history, highbrow and lowbrow and how we consume art in all its forms.

The above description is of Pixies frontman Black Francis' debut novel, The Good Inn (written with co-author Josh Frank), which is being celebrated with a book launch in Brooklyn on April 25 at The Powerhouse Arena (37 Main St). The event runs from 6-8 PM, and will feature Black Francis, Josh Frank and the book's illustrator Steven Appleby. TIckets are on sale now, can be applied as credit towards the purchase of The Good Inn.

Meanwhile, the Pixies are over in California this weekend for Coachella. If you're not there, you can stream it live.

April 9, 2014

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Literary and postmodern icon William S Burroughs, who died in 1997, would have turned 100 this year and there are Centenary celebration events happening all over the world. In New York, WSB100 (which was [and still is] being funded by an Indiegogo campaign) is happening the entire month of April at various venues around the the city:

Help us celebrate 100 years of America's preeminent avant garde literary iconoclast: William S. Burroughs. As ferocious, provocative, disturbing, and exciting as the artist himself, NYC's month-long WSB100 features extraordinary original performances, films, readings, panels, and world premiere tributes in honor of the legendary mindbending troublemaker himself.
You can buy a festival pass for $100 that gets you in to all the WSB events, or buy individual tickets.

On the musical side, the WSB100 takes over The Stone this month through April 20. Tonight is Kenny Wollesen at 8 PM and Ariana Reiens at 10 PM. Other notable nights include Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth played on WSB's 1990 album Dead City Radio) on April 17; John Zorn and Bill Laswell on April 19; Hal Willner, Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang and Lenny Pickett on April 20. No advance tickets for these shows.

Then on April 21 at Issue Project Room, Elliot Sharp and Steve Buscemi will have a collaborative performance, creating "a collage of sound and words integrating texts by William S. Burroughs with Elliott Sharp's vast soundworlds." Buscemi spent a lot of time with Burroughs in the author's later years and currently has a screenplay of Burroughs' Queer in development. Tickets are on sale.

On April 22 at the Incubator Arts Project it's a collaborative performance by Lydia Lunch and Quintan Ana Wikswo. Tickets are on sale. Then on April 23 at Poetry Project, there is a "reading marathon" featuring Anne Waldman, Penny Arcade, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, JG Thirlwell, Lydia Lunch, Elliott Sharp, Sam Mickens, and many more. Full line-up and more info is here.

There are more events happening too. Details are at WSB100 but the full schedule is listed, along with a few Burroughs-related videos, below...

Continue reading "William S Burroughs Centenary Celebration underway (events scheduled around NYC and the world)"

March 27, 2014

WIsh I Was Here

If you're of a certain age, Zach Braff's Garden State, and most specifically its soundtrack which features Coldplay, The Shins, Iron Wine covering The Postal Service, and more, is probably a little generation-defining (love it or hate it). Ten years later, he's going for it again with Wish I Was Here, the first film he'll be directing since Garden State. Zach tells Entertainment Weekly that the very Zach Braff-sounding soundtrack will feature a song by Cat Power (written by Coldplay's Chris Martin), plus original music from Bon Iver, The Shins and more. Will this be be the new sappy soundtrack to a generation of indie-discovering teens?

The film hits theaters on July 18 in NYC and LA, and July 25 everywhere else. You can check out the Kickstarter video for Wish I Was Here below.

Speaking of Garden State being generation-defining, it's one of the things namedropped in former SPIN editor (and NY Times writer) Mark Spitz's new book Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film. The description reads:

Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that's embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee's roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.

Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney's, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel--all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.

In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it--from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee--the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the '70s and Hip Hop in the '80s--showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.

That book will be out on June 3.

Wish I Was Here trailer below...

Continue reading "Bon Iver, The Shins, Cat Power & more on soundtrack for new Zach Braff film; 'Twee' book being released"

March 20, 2014

No Slam Dancing

Long-closed, famed NJ venue City Gardens is getting the documentary treatment, and now authors Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico have written a book, No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens, which was published by DiWulf earlier this month (3/10). A press release reads:

Amy and Steven conducted well over 100 interviews for the book including the likes of Henry Rollins (a onetime Trenton resident and Black Flag/Rollins Band frontman), Daily Show host (and former City Gardens bartender) Jon Stewart, Dean Ween, Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame), Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order), Oderus Urungus (GWAR), Al Jourgenson (Ministry), Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers), Harley Flanagan (Cro-Mags), Tesco Vee (of The Meatmen and Tesco Vee's Hate Police), Dead Kennedy's outspoken frontman Jello Biafra, City Gardens promoter Randy Now, plus bouncers, moshers, punks, skins, and other miscreants...to name but a few! Rollins and Tesco also provide back-cover blurbs re-stating the importance City Gardens held in the underground music scene of the '80s and early '90s.

No Slam Dancing is the product of the true, grass-roots, D.I.Y.-ethic. Self-published, promoted and distributed by the authors, the book's printing was financed through a successful Kickstarter campaign that surpassed their intended goal. The people who backed this project are the ones whose lives were deeply impacted by what City Gardens meant to them, and now the rest of the music-loving world will get a small glimpse as to why.

Amy and Steven will be doing a few book signings this month and next, which will feature "dramatic readings by contributors to the book and audience members and the like." One of those signings/readings happens in NYC on April 19 at Jonathan Levine Gallery (529 W 20th St #9) from 3-5 PM.

All dates are listed below...

Continue reading "City Gardens book 'No Slam Dancing' out now; signings / readings happening in March & April"

March 11, 2014

Keith Richards in Japan last month w/ the Stones (more by Dana (Distortion) Yavin)
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Keith Richards has time on his side. The Rolling Stones guitarist/skeleton is slated to follow his 2010 autobiography, Life, with another book this year. It's um... a children's book called Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar and is due out on September 9 via Little, Brown and Company's Young Readers division (LBC also handled Life). It's unsurprisingly Richards' first foray into writing for kids, and will be a collaboration with his illustrator daughter Theodora Richards. "I have just become a grandfather for the fifth time, so I know what I'm talking about," Mr. Richards said in a statement. OK, Keith.

Anyone have an alternate title?

March 10, 2014

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Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, Gothic Archies and other projects certainly has a way with words. He'll be using that talent for a book of poetry titled 101 Two-Letter Words. Illustrated by Roz Chast, the book consists of four-line poems based on the 101 two-letter words accepted in Scrabble. Here's "Yo":

The country folk say "howdy-do"
but here in town, it's "yo";
they'll say it in the country too
in twenty years or so.
101 Two-Letter Words will be published by W.W. Norton in October.

In other news, Magnetic Fields satellite members Sam Davol and Claudia Gonson performed with Tanya Donelly in NYC over the weekend.

March 3, 2014

by Doug Moore

Jason Netherton w/ Misery Index (left), Union Pool, 2010 (more by Samantha Marble)

Though Maryland deathgrinders Misery Index recently announced that they're releasing their fifth album in May, they've been unusually quiet for the past few years. That's partially because drummer Adam Jarvis has been pulling triple duty behind the kit for Pig Destroyer and Fulgora, but other members have been busy too -- specifically, frontman and sole original member Jason Netherton has been working on a book about the history of death metal. Entitled Extremity Retained: Notes from the Death Metal Underground, the book will recount the genre's history in a Studs Terkel-esque oral history format:

Extremity Retained: Notes From the Death Metal Underground is a sincere and exhaustive contribution to the oral history of death metal music and culture. The outcome of three years of research and interviews, Extremity Retained intends to capture the experience and ethos of the international death metal scene from its origins in the late 1980s, through the successive incarnations and evolutions that made it the subcultural force it is today. Comprised entirely of first-hand stories, anecdotes and memories, the book reflects on such diverse areas as the early fanzine and tape trading culture, regional 'scene' reports, death metal performance and technique, the recording process, as well as life on tour, all in an effort to identify the vitality and unity that gives the underground its enduring spirit. Ultimately, the idea is to explore the scene through the voices of those who helped create it, in order to understand better how the death metal underground 'worked' in its early incarnations, how it has evolved, and where it is going. Featuring original cover and section art by Matt "Putrid Gore" Carr, incidental art by Gary Ronaldson, with design and typography from Tilmann Benninghaus and title page by Timo Ketola.
Other writers have addressed the same part of music history in book-length formats -- the most notable example I can think of is Decibel showrunner Albert Mudrian's Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. Netherton's take on the subject should be novel for two reasons. The first is the oral-history format; while these books are usually full of block quotes anyway, it'll be interesting to see what happens when its subjects are left to speak almost entirely for themselves. The second novel bit is Netherton's own perspective. Unlike most writers who've tackled death metal history, Netherton was an active participant in the scene he's covering, recording his first work with Dying Fetus in 1993 and tracking a demo even earlier.

Extremity Retained will come out on April 11 via Handshake Inc. (recently responsible for putting out the new Gridlink album, among other things). Stream some crusty early-'90s Dying Fetus with Netherton on bass and vox below...

Continue reading "Jason Netherton of Misery Index wrote a book about the history of death metal, out in April"

February 21, 2014

By Doug Moore

The Jesus Lizard at Irving Plaza, 2009 (more by Lori Bally)

Storied American noise rock unit The Jesus Lizard originally broke up in 1999, but reunited for a bit between 2008 and 2010, during which they played some memorable shows in NYC and elsewhere. The band are technically back together as of last year (they scheduled, and then canceled, an appearance at the 2013 All Tomorrow's Parties in Australia last October), but you wouldn't necessarily know it. When the members have engaged in publicly visible activities at all, it's mostly been oddball collaborations or solo work, like vocalist David Yow's long-awaited solo LP or guitarist Duane Denison's Unsemble collaboration with members of Einstürzende Neubauten and Silver Jews.

At least now there's evidence that the band still exists in some form, in the shape of an official Jesus Lizard coffee table book. Yes, for real. The book is a characteristically cock-eyed retrospective of the band's original 12-year run. According to its publisher Akashic Books, it offers the following:

The Jesus Lizard Book is a coffee table affair of exclusive photography, art, and other imagery with written pieces by all four members of the seminal indie rock band the Jesus Lizard. The layout is stylish and elegant, particularly in contrast with the harshness of much of the band's music. Included are many Polaroids by David Wm. Sims, a delicious recipe by David Yow, a concise list of every show the Jesus Lizard played, and writings by two producers who recorded the band--Steve Albini and Andy Gill. There is biographical material of each member that covers childhood to the demise of the group. Other contributors include Mike Watt, Alexander Hacke, Steve Gullick, Rebecca Gates, Jeff Lane, Sasha Frere-Jones, KRK, Bernie Bahrmasel, and many more.
If you need further empiric evidence that the Jesus Lizard still exist, you're in luck: the band are doing a couple events around the book's release. They'll have a signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square on March 25 (more info); and then a a book release party at Greenpoint's Word bookstore on March 26. The festivities start at 7pm; entrance is free, and Brooklyn Brewery is providing refreshments for the event. Visual contact with David Yow's hairy torso not guaranteed.

Sounds a little weird, but not nearly as weird as David Yow's recent and characteristically Yow-esque book of illustrated cat puns (also an Akashic book). You can read an interview with Yow about this crowning artistic achievement on Catster.com. A brief excerpt:

What's been the strangest reaction you've had to one of your illustrations?

Well, a homeless guy came in the gallery and saw "Catnip" and started masturbating.

It's that kind of interview, unsurprisingly. Check out a few of Yow's cat pun illustrations below...

Continue reading "The Jesus Lizard ready coffee table book w/ two release events in NYC; David Yow wrote/illustrated book of cat puns"

December 13, 2013

by Bill Pearis

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I've been reading a lot of music books of late, spurred on by travel, TV shows being on hiatus and my realization that there were some cool new books out. It kicked off with Morrissey's Autobiography and has kept going (with much better books, to be honest). So it seemed like a good opportunity to round up some of the year's more notable releases, including books about Everything But the Girl, Johnny Cash, 4AD Records, The KLF, and one that attempts to take in the entirety of the modern pop era. Check out the list below...

Continue reading "Tracey Thorn, The KLF, Johnny Cash, Mudhoney, Donald Fagen, 'Yeah Yeah Yeah,' & more in 2013 music book roundup"

December 8, 2013

your arsenal

Sorry Morrissey fans. The NYC book signing that was announced for this Thursday (12/12) at Barnes & Noble Union Square is not happening. Don't blame Moz, though. Says B&N:

There was a miscommunication solely on the part of the store and Morrissey was not scheduled to make an appearance here on 12/12/13 as we had announced in error. We hope to see him in the future, but there is NO scheduled signing for Morrissey at this time. We greatly apologize to his fans and our customers for any inconvenience this has caused.
Well that's a bummer.

In other Morrissey news, February 24 sees a reissue of his 1992 album Your Arsenal on heavyweight gatefold vinyl or a CD that comes with a DVD of Morrissey's October 1991 concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre.

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