We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde.
Let it not be said that I never made noise on behalf of the books and artists I love.
1. Bobbie Louise Hawkins has a new book, Absolutely Eden, available from Small Press Distribution. This book adapts pieces from her celebrated one-woman shows 'Life As We Know It" and "Take Love, For Instance".
2. Danielle Dutton has a small and graceful book, Attempts at a Life, from Tarpaulin Sky Press. Gorgeous, inventive and daring. We'd expect no less.
3. Gary Young has a new book of prose poems Pleasure. A pleasure, indeed! New readers should still begin, I think, with his earlier masterpiece, No Other Life.
4. At the moment, Lucia Berlin's 3 brilliant books of stories are available from Amazon.com. They appear to be waffling in and out of print. The Library of America ought to issue these stories on acid-free Bible paper with silk bookmarks. Until they come to their senses, you'd better grab what you can. Begin with So Long. If that one isn't available buy Homesick or Where We Live Now.
5. Two books of Kenneth Patchen's brilliant picture poems, We Meet and The Walking-Away World are being re-issued in fancy combined volumes. And we say, it's about damn time.
6. Have you seen all the recent work of Tokyo artist and illustrator Akemi Shinohara? Visit her website and check out some of the portraits, as well as posters and illustrations.
7. The best reading discovery I've made this year is Sunflower by Gyula Krudy, an early 20th century Hungarian writer. There's just nothing like it.
8. I would like to here go on the record as saying that Salman Rushdie's new book The Enchantress of Florence shows that the master is again at the height of his powers. While it may be that Rushdie's own mama does not love the man as much as we do, Fury and Shalimar the Clown did not produce as many screams of ecstasy as his previous work. (However, I have been known to become hostile and aggressive toward anyone who disparages The Ground Beneath Her Feet. I've seldom, if ever, had such a good time reading a book. Imaginary goats!)
9. Kevin Coffee has opened a new bookstore, Oasis Books, in Lafayette, Colorado. Kevin Coffee is part of the family that hauled me in out of the gutter in the mid-nineties--without whom I would have been one dearly departed guttersnipe. I am hoping this bookstore will be a grand success, so that I may some day have a job.
But maybe that's not such a good idea, because it occurs to me that I have stolen books, at least a few, from every bookstore where I have ever worked. (I'm very moral, really I am, except when confronted by things I really want.) In my defense, I also spent at least half of my wages on books and, I believe, increased bookstore sales overall by thrusting books upon unsuspecting customers. In my defense, I only earned $5.25. That said, why don't you purchase your books from Tattered Cover and Barbara's Bookstore, thereby reducing my karmic debt?
Do you know artists and writers who demand trumpeting? Who is on your list of People Who Ought to Be Famous ? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Review copies happily accepted. We aren't so wealthy. And you'll keep us from theft.