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BOOK LIST
updated @ various times

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell

Okay, so I'm trying to read some "biz" books and this one compares the spread of word-of-mouth buzz to the spread of epidemics. Can you beat that? If you wonder why The Arcade Fire or Joanna Newsom went ape-shit this year, you might enjoy this for a nerd-reading night.

A&R
by Bill Flanagan

Not great, by any means. But a fun look into the world of the big-boy labels. A bit like the movie Laurel Canyon, but not as rewarding. This falls somewhat in the line of wanting to read some "biz" books. But as always, The Music Business never comes off as well or as entertaining in books as it does in visual or verbal stories.

Three To See The King
by Magnus Mills

My least favorite of the Mill's books I've read lately. Somehow his tricks weren't as trickey, though as always some of the sentences and word pickings are totally astounding. If you're a big fan (I'm a new fan) you shoud read it, and if you do, perhaps you can tell me if I've missed something there.



Monday, August 9, 2004
The Scheme for Full Employment
by Magnus Mills

After reading "The Restraint of Beasts" I had a feeling similar to that of finding a record by a band you've never heard, loving it wholly, and then discovering the band has a back catalog. Sometimes that scenario is a let down, but with my second Mills book I'm happy to report that things are still fine! Not as solid as "Restraint", but damn good and fully inventive. Carries a Working Class flag like "Restraint", but this time with a sense of humor that I found to be less dark and more carefree. Concept maybe a bit stronger than story here, but a fine read all things considered. Still searching bookstores for a copy of another Mills book I've been hearing about. Struck again here by his word economy. Nothing wasted, and I definitely want to read more.



Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The Restraint of Beasts
by Magnus Mills

God damn! Nothing like buying a book cause "it looks good", and then loving it! You know, you're at the Half-Price store and you see this book with good artwork, some decent blurbs... maybe you've heard the author's name mentioned, you just can't remember where. Well $1.00 got me one of the best novels I've read in a good while. Three men build fences in Scotland and England; a mismatched team with a reluctant foreman. This is the story of how these boys manage to fence their own crew in, so to speak. There's a certain amount of trickery here with the story, but it's a trick I buy, not some Hollywood half-thought. Class politics play a role, but nothing heavy-handed. Overall a fantastically quirky tale told with compelling word economy. Precise and clever. Since reading this I've picked up two other books by Mills, and look forward to digging into them.

Travels with Charley
by John Steinbeck

I love Steinbeck. I want to read 'em all. Second time through this little gem. I first read this in college during a class about "Road Novels", and this one stood out as the LEAST like the others. It felt classier than "On the Road", less overt than "Lolita", etc. Steinbeck heads out at 58 years with a truck built with a camper and his trusty poodle Charley "to hear the speech of the real American, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light." A great highlight here is Steinbeck's near-documentary style of describing the troubles of early school intergration in New Orleans. Fully engaging. For anyone who's clocked a fair number of miles driving around this country, please read this book so you can find out what it might have been like before CD players and 75 MPH speed limits.

Garden State
by Rick Moody

I remembered that this book had some stuff about a band in it, and since I've been working on a new book involving a band, I thought I'd revisit the title. Garden State is the first book of Moody's I read a few years back. Wasn't impressed with this one then, and still not super into it on second time around. I've loved several of his other books, but there's something missing here. And the fictional band seems so lame...

The Unforbidden is Compulsory (or, Optimism)
by Dave Eggers

I love Dave Eggers and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Those that talk shit can try as they might to hide 'em, but the true colors their shine right on through. This is just a little piece, a small book that is to be part of a larger work. Two politicians battling for a local office. Feels like an open-ended short story, or a well done character sketch. Will look forward to the full work when it's available all together. Most interesting and promising character here is the Republican's campaign-brain. Want more of him, please.



Thursday, May 20, 2004
Lennon Remembers
by Jann S. Wenner

One full and incredibly in-depth interview that stretches to 150 pages. Here is John Lennon just before the release of "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band", not too far after the Beatles called it quits, and my god does he have some things to say! On the back cover, Uncut is blurbed saying "This is the only voice that will ever articulate what it was really, really like to be in the Beatles when it all went wrong - caught in a moment, rasping, raving, and flaming mad." That explains half of what I found inside this book well enough (and that shit is certainly nothing less than fascinating), but there's another side of Lennon here which looks forward from where he stands - and that's the part that got me; the picture of Lennon in his own words as clear thinking artist, but one unafraid to muddy his conclusions once he's used up or become bored with them. The way Lennon moves his thoughts into the future, onto the songs and records he's going to make without the Beatles... well, the book turned me on to the solo records, which I'd never spent any time with in the past. I suppose I can thank interviewer. Oh, and as a side note to fans... Yoko's present for the entire interview and chimes in now and again. I take no side in the issue of Yoko's role in the Beatles demise, but if you're one of those conspiracy hacks, be warned: Sometimes she finishes his thoughts and sentences!



Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Fargo Rock City
by Chuck Klosterman

Here is a book you MUST read if you're a fan of rock music. But be warned: It's about 80s glam / hair metal, a brilliant memoir written by Klosterman who is now a bigwig at Spin Magazine. I never really listened to hair metal, although I did and do love GnR's Appetite for Destruction, a record that Klosterman gives very high marks. Itís possibly I would have gotten into hair metal if I wasnít 1) afraid of it and 2) scared of what my mom would say. So, maybe you didn't like the shit either. And maybe if you did dig Poison and Motley Crue, you'd like to forget about it or at least not let too many other people know. But in either situation, this book's gonna help you feel okay about what happened to music in the 80s. Fully unashamed, Klosterman will make you re-think those men armed with aerosol, eyeliner, lipstick, and nasty chicks. It's not that he's convinced me that hair metal was worthwhile, but he's definitely shown me why it mattered to some folks, and done it with a biting humor that lacks snobbery and does a good job avoiding that self-deprecating shit that is too often an easy tool employed in the memoir. Thereís a been a bit of a resurgence with hair metal, and some old heroes are back with new bands, etc. Iím sure Klosterman has plenty to say about this, but try remember that this book was written well before The Darkness had their first band practice. Itíll ruin it a bit if you let the ironic return of 80s metal get to you. God, I loved this book!



Monday, Apr. 19, 2004
So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance
by Gabriel Zaid

This book challenged and beat the shit out of many of my hopes and dreams for writing and small-press publishing. The good news is that all the stuff this book tore up in me needed to go! An absolutely liberating read, I swear to you.

Drop City
by T.C. Boyle

My first Boyle, and I liked it. I've since bought another one of his books, and will try to read THAT one without thinking of the movie they made about it. I hated the movie... Good stuff here in Drop City. Tough on hippies maybe, but also quite fond of the grubby little bastards. Thought a lot here while reading about what it is that makes a story a novel, and more importantly (and maybe scarier, too): What makes a story into a long novel?





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