Literary Review

Sharpeshooter

Tom Sharpe

In case you hadn't heard, Porterhouse is the name of the most notoriously lax, gut, gout-inducing college in Cambridge University. The Porter of Porterhouse is a thick-skinned, pipe-chewing, half-simian thug named Skullion. And Porterhouse Blue is not an athletic team or the college colors, but is instead a description of the distinctive malady induced by Porterhouse's most notable feature oh these past five centuries or so, its rich repasts and its over-stuffed wine cellar -- in short, complete physio-psychic toxic shock. Welcome to Porterhouse Blue.

If there were any question that we are in Tom Sharpe country, consider just one sentence from the opening of this remarkable satire: "An evening to remember Master," said the Senior Tutor sebaceously" Read more »

Cartoon by Ken Krimstein

Ken's new hardcover book The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth (Bloomsbury Publishing) will be released on September 25, 2018. In the interim, please order his previous book, the very astute Kvetch as Kvetch Can.

A Yard Sale Of The Mind

moz-book

by Simon Goddard (Ebury Press)

Andy Warhol surrounded himself with a variety of freaks, drag queens, and speed heads. The miscreants of Manhattan. He used them in his films, took Polaroids of them, and provided their short and tragic lives with a longevity they wouldn't otherwise have attained. There is a trace of Warhol in Morrissey's supporting cast of stragglers. The difference between him and the silver-wigged wonder is that his are obscure, misunderstood, and largely unknown to the person who admires them so. Read more »

Oscar Time!

Ken's new hardcover book The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth (Bloomsbury Publishing) will be released on September 25, 2018. In the interim, please order his previous book, the very astute Kvetch as Kvetch Can. Read more »

Crumb Transmutes Kafka

 crumb-kafka-book Kafka By R. Crumb & Dave Zane Mairowitz (Kitchen Sink Press)

Franz Kafka was the master of the transformation, the dive into darkness, the unpeeling, the alchemical combination of right and wrong, up and down, matter of fact and out of your mind. Which is why, were he with us in the flesh, I'm sure he would approve of the Kismet that brought his story (and his stories) together with artist R. Crumb. It is an artistic marriage made in heaven -- well, to be precise, in hell. Read more »

The Dispossessed

The concept of ownership — items, people, ideas — is the heart of master storyteller Ursula Le Guinn’s 1975 masterwork The Dispossessed. Winner of the Nebula and Hugo awards, the highest lliterary awards for science fiction writers, this story transcends that genre’s boundaries. It is a story of a man Shevek, a physicist/anarchist, from the arid and socialistic planet Anarres who creates The Principle of Simultaneity — instantaneous communication — something that will revolutionize interstellar communication between all worlds. This is a tome about philosophical and ideological differences and how one views what is truly the best utopian society or how two neighboring planets occupied by anarchists and capitalists view/exploit Shevek's discovery.

The book's narrative timeline is non-linear, so one may feel compelled to reread certain passages or chapters, but once you understand the author's intention and cadence the rewards of the narrative will unfurl in perfect order. In fact, I reread the opening chapter several times to unlock a deeper understanding of the protagonist's predicament.  Read more »

Voyage to Anomie

Voyage to AnomieSome people find travel broadening. Some people travel to relax and get away from it all. When Geoff Dyer travels, the world is like a million hammers, pounding him into himself, creating a strange and wonderful hall of mirrors that, while it can be trying -- even depressing -- is strangely exhilarating. That's the basic story and feel of Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It, Dyer's irrepressible but annoying memoir/travelogue, published in 2003.

Dyer is a thinker/writer. Thankfully, he has a comic's touch; sometimes he can be very funny indeed. Most of the humor comes out of the situations he, pathetic geek that he is, puts himself in. There are a couple of "jokes" which ring out discordantly, but overall, the humor is organic and tinged with some pretty deep, pretty depressing thinking. Read more »

Life Isn't Good, It's Excellent

david-robilliardDavid Robilliard was a poet and painter who lived from 1952 to 1988.

EATING OUT
You're like a potato.
You'd go with anything.

"David Robilliard was the sweetest, kindest, most infuriating, artistic foul-mouthed, witty, charming, handsome, thoughtful, unhappy, loving and friendly person we ever met. Read more »

Walk on the Wilder Side

Lou Reed: A Life
Anthony DeCurtis (Little, Brown and Company)

Lou Reed has to be one of the most audacious and iconic rockers to have committed his dark muses to his music and poetry. And writer/professor Anthony DeCurtis's new must-read bio of Mr. Reed perfectly captures the ethos of this misanthropic rocker. Let's be clear, Lou's outrageous life story is truly stranger than fiction. But then again, so are many of our most celebrated artists, especially those who not only create but also live on the edge/fringe of society, pushing their artistic vision on, for the most part, a rather pedestrian audience.

From Lou's humble middle-class upbringing on Long Island that included his life altering electro-shock treatments to his dying breath, his life was filled with passion and for pushing people, fans and critics alike, to explore the darker side of life; to if not to "walk on the wild side," at least explore it. Make no mistake, Lou's work was groundbreaking. His art-rock band The Velvet Underground remains one of the most influential bands ever. The music is timeless, the subject matter startling and disturbing; it's easy to understand why many consider them the true originators of the entire alt-rock genre. Read more »

Poetry Time!

CC staff writer and critically lauded poet Steve Dalachinsky will be part of two essential poetry slams this weekend. If you're not hip to him, or any of the other poets name-checked below, please mark your calendar and witness their glorious words and inspired readings in person.

The poetry event Dial-A-Poem Marathon, will take place at Red Bull Arts New York -- 220 West 18th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) -- on July 29th as part of the Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno project. Readers include Penny Arcade, Janani Balasubramanian, Anselm Kerrigan, Alexis Bhagat, Billy Cancel, Todd Colby, Steve Dalachinsky, Helga Davis, Chris Funkhouser, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, David Henderson, Shelley Hirsch, Bob Holman, Christopher Knowles, Julie Martin, E.J. McAdams, Jonas Mekas, Tracie Morris, David Boscovich, Tommy Pico, Nicole Sealey, and Edwin Torres. Read more »

Dead On, In Spite of Everything

Dead Ringer
By Charles Borkuis (Blazevox Books, 2017)

The idea of the doppleganger, identity theft and mix up of characters has always played a big part in literature since early on. The piece that initially always comes to mind is Dostoyevsky's "The Double." Read more »

Wicked Wilson!

In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett
By Tony Fletcher (Oxford University Press)

The art of writing bios is no easy feat, but for British-born/NY-based scribe Tony Fletcher, well, he makes it seem all so easy even though his research is exhaustive. His bios on R.E.M (Remarks Remade - The Story of R.E.M.), Keith Moon (Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon), The Smiths (A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths, to name but a few, are must-reads. His latest on the turbulent life of R&B legend Wilson Pickett -- In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett -- may be his best yet.  Read more »

90 Playwrights and a Nikon: Susan Johann’s “Focus on Playwrights”

"I'm the end of the line," Arthur Miller once asserted. "Absurd and appalling as it may seem, serious New York theater has died in my lifetime."

Many might argue otherwise. In fact, the best proof that theatre is still alive and kicking is Focus on Playwrights, the new coffee-table book, the cover of which showcases the life-crinkled face that once overlooked the birth of A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and The Crucible. Yes, photographer Susan Johann’s scintillating collection of over 90 playwrights, whom she’s shot over 20 years -- and the inclusion of sharply revealing interviews with some of the same, is the best retort to anyone ready to cremate modern drama. Read more »

Merry Chrispmas, Mr. Crisp

quentin-crisp

England is viewed by the wider world as a nation of eccentrics. This is considered a genetic characteristic, and something to be celebrated. Like most assumptions, the truth lies somewhat wide of the remark. Quentin Crisp, one such "National Treasure," is now rightly revered as one, but his journey from pariah nuisance to that of sage-like venerability was a long and winding affair. He migrated to New York, remaining vital till the end, an amalgam of defiance and disappointment worn as wit.

Some considered him a latter-day Oscar Wilde, a comparison he didn't much value, remarking that he'd known many who'd been sent to prison for crimes of the flesh like Wilde's, without being broken or penning such bad verse. Read more »

Happy Thanksgiving, 2016!

From Ken Krimstein's book of cartoons, Kvetch as Kvetch Can. It's a family-friendly affair!

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