I began my adventures in reading with such names as Bill Peet and Shel Silverstein. Then there was the Wayside School series and several others by Bill Myers and R. L. Stine. Next up were the delightful books by Brian Jacques. After a regrettable one or two years with very minimal reading outside of the required school lists I discovered Orwell, Salinger and DeLillo. Thus, we have my palette to date:
...And here is some more inspiration.
*** March 2010 Newsletter Pick ***
Its the brink of the 60s! Val and Judy are growing up fast! As a sucker for grand tales and epic journeys, the trials that a young girl must go through from 13 to 18 couldn't be more fascinating; especially when told through the cheeky and exacting whit of John Stanley. Beyond the simple appeal for nostalgia, this collection pops with a simplicity that simultaneously embodies and re-imagines an iconic style deeply rooted in time. This book is an instant charmer with its heavy-handed punch lines and caricatures. The young rascals' pulp romances and fiery attitudes evoke those zany impulses that you stuffed away with all your old pleated skirts and Chuck Taylors - a great book for everyone from those going through their own formative years to older comic book collectors and enthusiasts. With these gorgeous reprints on antiqued paper that stay true to the original issues, it's not difficult to lose yourself in space and time.
*** January 2010 Newsletter Pick ***
Superb binding, fantastic paper quality, the most comprehensive selection commonly available and, most importantly, one of the strongest and most beautiful translations to date. This volume combines re-worked and re-imagined versions of Edward Snow's previous translations with his latest look at The Book of Hours. The new translations are a testament to Snow's relentless efforts toward an understanding of language's endless malleability. Snow captures Rilke's ability to simultaneously charge his words with the most intimate breaths of secrecy and the roaring winds that blow across all humanity. Each line seems to both whisper something right into the soul and ring out from the bells of mankind's cities. Snow also provides over forty pages of critical commentary and luminous amounts of historical context and background to specific poems and creative periods during the poet's life. As Snow points out, "Rilke went so far as to characterize even the Duino Elegies as 'a further shaping of those fundamental inspirations that had been bestowed in The Book of Hours.'" The Poetry of Rilke provides a terrific chronology to the poet's career and allows the reader a full resource to easily discover interconnected relations and forms between all the collections.
*** November 2009 Newsletter Pick ***
Whether you're looking for a seminal yet oft-overlooked American classic or simply a concise and well told story, this book is for you. Without turning the story into any sort of jeremiad, Fante addresses the clash between religious piety and social humanism; the fine line between selfish lust and sacrificial love; the strife within filial affection; and the humiliation and early inbreeding of racism in a way that still resonates with astounding clarity. Yet, all of these broad issues couldn't be more implicit to the story's characters and their situations. This book introduces us to Arturo Bandini, an American archetype as classic as Huck or Tom, in a way that will immediately peak your interest toward the rest of his saga. Read if you enjoy anything from S. E. Hinton to Bukowski to Kerouac to Knut Hamsun or Raymond Carver.
This classic is arguably the most passionate “love affair with the English language” as the author so aptly re-phrases it. Words melt off the page as this controversial love story unfolds. A necessary read for any lover of puns, pulp and suggestive poignancy.
A massive text that takes you into the vast array of America’s late 20th century underbelly with a number of characters to match any Russian classic. Jumping from infamous baseball games to the uncharted paths of great garbage ships to deadly rocket scientists to monasteries that teach you the details of tying a shoe, DeLillo paints the most elaborate tableau of the dark recesses of the social subconscious. A book to truly get lost in. RIYL: David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Kurt Vonnegut.
Part of a collection of three works, Brautigan’s absurdism is told ever-so-straight-facedly in this novella about a librarian in San Francisco. The most tender and frank of love stories that is certain to peak any newcomer’s interest in the rest of this essential Californian’s work.
Author of “Ghost World” and “Art School Confidential” tells the story of a young man in search of personal identity, his father and the perfect butt. This acclaimed graphic novel revels in self-reflection and genre. At times you’re sitting in a cheap noir flick, in others a Bergman film. RIYL: Picture Books.
Who is Catherine Tekakwitha? As many have already put it, this book is beyond accurately descriptive words. A huge linguistic departure from Leonard Cohen the musician, “Beautiful Losers” tells the story of a bizarre love triangle through two very questionable narrators and gorgeously combines the spiritual quest with tremendous amounts of sensual overtones. RIYL: Henry Miller, James Joyce, Charles Bukowski
Initially panned for shedding a mockish light on the city, this shorter work from the author of “Man With the Golden Arm,” has proven to be one of the most lasting and revealing insights into the history and context of Chicago. Algren beautifully blends prose and poetry with a distinct vernacular and multitude of historic references that you quickly learn to jive with. RIYL: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson.