Important Artifacts & Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan & Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, & Jewelry by Leanne Shapton
Taking its place alongside a whole host of fascinating books on chance encounters with found objects published in the last couple of years (c.f. Taking Things Seriously from Princeton Architecture & Karsten Bott’s document of his collection of everyday objects One of Each), Important Artifacts… presents the story of a relationship, told (like George Perec’s Things, a Novel of the Sixties) through objects, presented as part of a fictional auction catalog. Leanne Shapton brings an artist’s eye (also in stock is her beautiful book of pen and ink drawings, Toronto) to the subject, and reveals that outside the commercialization and packaging of taste objects continue to tell their stories and come to life. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.50
B.S. Johnson was the perfect subject for a brilliant biography, and new interest in his work has been sparked by the recent republication of The Unfortunates (a novel about a sports writer in which you can sort the unbound chapters of the book in any order). While it’s easy to get lost in his works, each of which is an utterly unique attempt to reinvent storytelling from scratch, his life ranks with that of Vladimir Nabokov in competing with his own works for interest. Jonathan Coe won a host of awards and accolades when this came out a few years ago, but the book is still best recommended with this quote from The San Francisco Chronicle: ‘It’s as if Paul McCartney wrote a song about John Cage, and it made you want to listen to them both all over again’. Continuum, $23.95
This will be the unprecedented 16th reading from the ground-breaking anthology published by Seraphim Editions. The reading will begin at 7pm on Wednesday, March 4, at the store. Attendance is free.
Readers include NY Times best-selling crime fiction novelist, Rosemary Aubert; multi-talented artist and author of over twenty books (including his latest, Scalawags), Jim Christy; 2008 GG Poetry Award nominee, Ruth Roach Pierson; author and psycho-therapist, Barry N. Olshen. Also featured are classical pianist and poet, Sue Chenette; and adult literacy worker, Guy Ewing, who recently completed his first full-length poetry manuscript.
Hosting the event will be Steven Michael Berzensky (Mick Burrs), who co-edited the significant book with Allan Briesmaster.
When I was in my twenties I carried around like a talisman an old Art News Annual which dealt with the notion of the avante-garde. It was also a conversation starter in that people would ask what Nancy the cartoon character was doing popping in and out of masterpieces of modern art on the book’s cover. The creator of those irreverent but somehow serious collages was Joe Brainard, the author of I Remember which inspired Georges Perec to write Je me souviens. Those Art News Annual collages plus many even more playful have been collected lovingly by siglio press. This book includes Brainard’s collabourations on the Nancy theme with poets Ted Berrigan, Bill Berkson, Robert Creeley, Frank O’Hara and Ron Padgett as well as essays by Ann Lauterbach and Ron Padgett. Some of these images are horrifying, but horrifyingly funny. Siglio, $43.50
Too many scenesters have the mistaken idea that ennui, boredom, smugness and jadedness are the same as hip. This book puts the notion of hip into historical context by going back to the days of slavery when it was more than a coping mechanism for West Africans, to the development of American Transcendentalism, and to the breakthrough of jazz into the popular mainstream. And that’s only the first fifth of the book. It necessarily goes off the rails bringing the hip into current culture. Saying what’s hip now would be so un-hip. It has many interesting footnotes which are testimony to Leland’s thorough research. Why did Bob Dylan call one of his last albums ‘Love and Theft?’. Harper Perennial, remaindered at $9.99
Everyone I know who has read this book has a different interpretation of its conundrums, but none of those readers ever expressed confusion on their part as they read this lovely book. That’s because it has been so beautifully conceived and carefully crafted. It’s both smart and hearty. There are moments which may move the reader to laughter and other scenes which are incredibly poignant. W.W. Norton, $13.95
As the buzz surrounding the Cohen Brother’s No Country for Old Men has quieted and anticipation for the film adaptation of The Road is at its peak, now is the perfect moment to present a couple of titles that we can imagine Cormac McCarthy wishes he’d written.
Going Down, by David Markson, best known for his trilogy of books which recycle bizarre factoids about artists and writers, but who is also the author of the pulps Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Deadbeat, as well as the ‘straight ahead’ western The Ballad of Dingus McGee. This novel, set in Mexico, is heavy with the same brooding prose, sublimated violence and endless episodes of ever more surprising and genre subverting climaxes found in the recent work of McCarthy, but distinguishes itself not only for having been first published in 1970, but for its strange erotic explorations. Shoemaker & Hoard, $20.50
The Drop Edge of Yonder, by Rudolph Wurlitzer. While compared on its covers, by the likes of John Ashbery, Patti Smith, Gary Indiana and Judith Thurman none-the-less, to everybody from Samuel Beckett, Guy Maddin, and Jack Smith, to Schoenberg and Mel Brooks (?), Wurlitzer’s attitude towards the violence and lawlessness of the American west has a profundity of vision and dark metaphysical quality that can only be described as McCarthyesque. Two Dollar Radio, $18.00
Just released in paperback, Eric G. Wilson’s ‘gleefully misanthropic treatise’ is a critique of self-help manuals, armchair philosophers and contemporary cults of positive thinking in general. Long overdue and coming at the right time of year Against Happiness ends up being most interesting for what it has to say about the grouping of (mostly literary) personalities that Wilson uses to illustrate his argument. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $14.95