Went to my favorite bookstore today to get a copy of The Borrowers for my daughter and to replace a copy of Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo, which I bought last month, read, and then gave away to a friend. I still aim to write something about it on the blog (hence replacing it), but short term: The book is extraordinary—metatextual, intratextual, very, very funny, filled with erudite citations and scathing humor. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it until now.
So, as I went to replace the copy I’d bought in May with the same edition, I spied this mass market paperback edition, which kinda sorta matches the copy of Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down—which hey look at that cover, how could I not pick it up?
I also found a copy of Nell Zink’s novel The Wallcreeper, which I’ve heard good things about from smart people.
Victor Hussenot’s The Spectators is a gorgeous new graphic novel from Nobrow. I’ve read it twice now (“read” as a verb seems inadequate but—), and will get to a proper review later this week. Excellent stuff. Nobrow’s blurb:
What if we are merely shadows, our characters defined by a simple inflection of light? The realm of possibilities opens up, because in our world we are nothing but spectators.
The Spectators unfolds as a poetic and philosophical introspection on the nature of man. Victor Hussenot‘s palette is awash with subtle colour, gently carrying the narrative and allowing the reader to envelop themselves in the lyricism of the work. Reminiscent of French New Wave cinema with its clipped dialogue, gentle pacing and departure from a classic narrative structure, The Spectators is an exciting new graphic novel.
Jon Frankel’s Gaha: Babes of the Abyss is simultaneously familiar and estranging, a bizarre California crime-noir-dystopian shot through a druggy haze. It’s funny and weird, part caper, part adventure story, where everything’s just a little off (and more than a little sleazy). The easy comparison to Philip K. Dick is not unwarranted: Frankel’s satire is a dark mind-bender and a propulsive page-turner. Civil War, a genetically-altered ruling class, sex, violence, drugs, and real estate. The title is new from new indie imprint Whiskey Tit (Ms. Miette’s the honcho there, so you know it’s good stuff). Their blurb:
She was seventeen and all leg, banging the hell out of a pinball machine. I watched her play, my back to the bar. There was a cigarette going in her left hand with a cone of ash hanging off the end. The muscles in her bare thighs tensed up every time she bumped her pelvis into the coin box. As the ball shot toward her flippers she turned her feet in and banged with the right and then the left hand, knocking the ash to the floor. The red light on top of the machine started to turn and a police siren went off. It barked, “Pull off to the side of the road!” and she slapped the flipper, sending the ball up into a thousand-point hole. While the lights flashed and sirens sang she took a long drag off the cigarette.
I should have known better.
So begins Jon Frankel’s unflinching saga of Bob Martin, real estate pimp of Los Angeles in the year 2540, and his hapless, hopeless efforts to stay out of trouble in the company of 17-year-old Irmela von Dorderer and her big sister Elma. He should have known better, indeed.
Miles Klee’s collection True False is new from indie O/R. You can read some excerpts at their site.
“Miles Klee demonstrates a delightfully prehensile grasp of the more oblique peculiarities of sentience. Very highly recommended.” —William Gibson
“Miles Klee is a fresh genius of the American literary sentence, and his every paragraph is aburst with nervous, agitative exactitudes. So much gets itself zanily and definitively rendered in the crackle of his ultravivid prose that True False is not just a joltingly original collection but the essential record of the inner terrors of our hyperurban era.” —Gary Lutz
A collection of stories that range from the very short to the merely short, these forty-four tales evoke extraordinary scenes in an understated manner that’s marked Klee one of today’s most intriguing writers. From the apocalyptic to the utopic, from a haunted office building to a suburban pool that may be alive, a day in the mind of a demi-god Pythagoras to a secret race to develop artificial love, True False captures a fractured reality more real than our own.
I spent the past couple of days in NYC, visiting friends and museums &c., and while to my shame I didn’t make it to the famous Strand (I blame my young children’s limited patience), I did visit Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers in Brooklyn, where I picked up this handsome Tom Clark collection for the friend who took me there, along with John Fahey’s collection How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life (which the same friend had loaned me 15 or so years ago, and I had actually returned). I also bought some kids books which I didn’t photograph because my kids absorbed them already.
The Syllabus is the third Festschrift from Verbivoracious Press. Their blurb:
A monument to our insatiable verbivoracity, The Syllabus is an act of humble genuflection before the authors responsible for those texts which have transported us to the peak of readerly nirvana and back. The texts featured, chosen in a rapturous frenzy by editors and contributors alike, represent a broad sweep of the most important exploratory fiction written in the last hundred years (and beyond). Featuring 100 texts from (fewer than) 100 contributors, The Syllabus is a form of religious creed, and should be read primarily as a holy manual from which the reader draws inspiration and hope, helping to shape their intellectual and moral life with greater awareness, and lead them towards those works that offer deep spiritual succour while surviving on a merciless and unkind planet. Readers of this festschrift should expect nothing less than an incontrovertible conversion from reader to insatiable verbivore in 226 pages.
I’m one of those contributors—I have a piece in there on Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two Birds.
So I finished my second full reading of Gravity’s Rainbow today. And then I read the last section three more times. And my brain feels fried. I was thinking about rereading V. after this, but I think a break will do nicely. So I picked up Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo on Pynchon’s recommendation (“check out Ishmael Reed,” the narrator tells us on page 588 of Gravity’s Rainbow). A stroll through the lit crit section led to my spying (okay, looking for and finding) the 20th Century Views collection on Pynchon. So we’ll see how that reads.