Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Thanks to my friend Winslow's suggestion, I decided to post a list of all the books I read last year. Other than the first ten, which I picked as my favorites for the North Coast Journal, they're in no specific order. There might be a few I forgot. This year I'm going to make an effort to get off the new release treadmill and read more older stuff.

  • The Professor by Terry Castle
  • Long, Last, Happy by Barry Hannah
  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • Role Models by John Waters
  • Weathercraft by Jim Woodring
  • Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1
  • The Insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolaño
  • X'ed by Charles Burns
  • Antwerp By Roberto Bolaño
  • Zero History by William Gibson
  • Spook Country by William Gibson
  • The Ask by Sam Lipsyte
  • The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
  • Lowboy by John Wray
  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  • C by Tom McCarthy
  • Wilson by Dan Clowes
  • Point Omega by Don DeLillo
  • In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • In-House Weddings by Bohumil Hrabal
  • Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati
  • You Are There by Jean-Claude Forest and Jacques Tardi
  • Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
  • Reality Hunger by David Shields
  • Life by Keith Richards
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • A Bomb in Every Issue by Peter Richardson
  • Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris
  • Griftotopia by Matt Taibbi
  • The Whites of Their Eyes by Jill Lepore
  • On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno by David Shepard
  • Apathy for the Devil by Nick Kent
  • American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
  • Listen to This by Alex Ross
  • The Second City Unscripted by Mike Thomas
  • I'm Dying Up Here by William Knoedelseder
  • But Beautiful: A Book about Jazz by Geoff Dyer
  • Hail, Hail, Euphoria! by Roy Blount Jr.
  • Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong by Paul Chaat Smith
  • Love and Rockets: New Stories 3 by Los Bros. Hernandez

Since I haven't posted here in over a year, I think it's safe to say that this blog is kaput. It's been fun, and I hope to do a completely updated new blog somewhere else soon. Don't hold your breath though.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Love In Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet (Soft Skull)

A collection that uses the lives of real historical characters and their
interactions with animals to create short stories that display a rare mix of
intelligence, humor and emotional resonance. Some are heartbreaking, some
are funny, and a few are just weird. Madonna shoots a pheasant on her
English estate and muses on the Kaballah, Thomas Edison electrocutes an
elephant, Noam Chomsky tries to unload his granddaughter's gerbil habitat at
the town dump, and in the title story a famous psychologist's scientific
objectivity crumbles in an alcoholic breakdown. Millet has wit and style to

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)

Mazzucchelli abandoned a potentially lucrative career in mainstream comics
to develop his art and follow his muse, and this is the glorious result. The
story of an arrogant, emotionally stunted architect who hits bottom and
reclaims his soul, this graphic novel is both complex and affecting. The art
uses varying muted color palettes to suggest narrative time and mood, and
the characters are rendered in separate styles to indicate their their idiosyncratic perspectives. What could have been just a cold formalist exercise in style is in Mazzucchelli's hand a groundbreaking creative work that equally
values both head and heart.

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
by Robin D. G.
Kelley (Free Press)

In this biography Kelley dispels more than a few myths about the
legendary jazz pianist and composer. A scholar of African American
history and a pianist, he deeply understands both the music and the milieu that
Monk functioned in, and shows that Monk was better schooled in music than
condescending critics of his time knew. Kelley also makes clear that Monk
suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disorder most of his life and was very
fortunate to have strong women in his life who nurtured his genius - from
his mother, who indulged his early interest in music, to his wife Nellie and
the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who supported him financially in
lean times. A detailed and definitive look into the life of a central figure
in twentieth century American music.

Big Machine
by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau)

The story of an ex-junkie named Ricky Rice who is initiated into a secret
society called The Unlikely Scholars and undertakes a quest to find a
mysterious Voice that has haunted African Americans for hundreds of years,
Big Machine takes big chances. LaValle has a gift for creating an epic that
functions on an intimate human scale though, and his demotic wit keeps the
sometimes fantastic proceedings earthbound and believable. His combination
of potboiler suspense and literary panache suggest a Stephen King novel as
written by Ralph Ellison.

by Dave Eggers (McSweeneys)

The real life story of a Syrian American contractor who was snared in a
post-Katrina Homeland Security nightmare, Eggers tells Zeitoun's tale in a
crisp self effacing style that makes the book all the more powerful.
Abdulrahman Zeitoun stayed behind in New Orleans during the hurricane and heroically
helped rescue both people and animals from drowning in the early stages of
the flood, only to be arrested without charge and held without communication
for months in a makeshift Guantanamo style concentration camp on our own
shores. A book that provokes disbelief, anger and admiration for Zeitoun's
dogged resilience.

And some others I enjoyed in the past year:

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer (Pantheon)
The Skating Rink by Roberto Bolaño (New Directions)
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press)
Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong by Paul Chaat Smith (U of Minnesota Press)
Chronic City
by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday)
The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling (Del Rey)
Stitches by David Small (W.W. Norton)
Low Side of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns (Broadway)
The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty by Dave Hickey (U of Chicago Press)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Some of my blogging friends have been much more industrious than I, so why not check them out?

Deric has a pretty snazzy and skeptical new blog called The Interrobang Tribune, Jesse just posted his top ten art shows and records of the year at Trophy Shot, and Steve has yet more interviews illuminating the strange world of Sasquatch enthusiasts at bIGFOOT'S bLOG.

Do visit them, won't you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I reviewed Jonathan Lethem's latest novel in the Journal. The image above is from the British cover, which is so much better than the American version.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


While listening to Barbara Manning's song about Dock Ellis I found this great animated version of the story of his LSD no hitter. A true sports hero.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I reviewed Thomas Pynchon's new stoner detective novel here, and below he himself narrates the trailer for the book.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I reviewed the recent documentary about Harlan Ellison here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Quimby The Mouse from This American Life on Vimeo.

(Thanks to Charlotte)

Thursday, July 02, 2009


My review of Barney Hoskyns' new biography of ol' rusty throat can be found here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


My review of his latest novel, The Caryatids, is in this week's North Coast Journal.

His blog, Beyond the Beyond, is worth a look too, especially his recent post Eighteen Challenges in Contemporary Literature.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Who knew that Keith Richards was the Yogi Berra of rock n roll?

The artifacts on auction from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch are just as creepy as you'd expect.

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny's Metal Machine Music.

Also, in late breaking news, Arlen Spector joins the Wu-Tang Clan.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Missing Link Records opens in Arcata and adds a needed flavor to the local music scene. Matt and Adam are cool folks with good taste. I support their quixotic venture, and you should too.

(store mascot above by Lush Newton)

Pinky shows that nature always prevails. He's been documenting the street art of Portland of late.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


A funny parody by Harry Partridge, son of Andy from XTC.

I liked it much more than the movie, and it took a fraction of the time to watch.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Barack Obama is sick of your motherfucking shit. (via Steve)

Did Bruce Springsteen rip off a tune from Kiss?

Etgar Keret (whose book The Girl on the Fridge you must read) meets an old friend in an Israeli bomb shelter.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


My friend Steve, proprietor of Bigfoot Books in Willow Creek, has just started a blog.

There you can read an exposé on Bigfoot that was too hot for the North Coast Journal to print, plus his photo collection of Bigfoot roadsigns, statues and vernacular art.

Way back in the late 90s we, along with Reverend Lord, were the founders of The Church of Bigfoot, Scientist, an organization for which I designed the religious icon seen below....

We wrote a broadside "Message from Bigfoot" flyer
, posted in the dark of night throughout Arcata, that pissed off a few humorless hippies, a few of whom actually felt physically threatened by Bigfoot. Many were torn down in anger after a day or two.

Bigfoot Lives!