Take Ten - Matt's Picks

Matt Riedl is our March Take Ten staff member. From Mamie: "Matt challenges me to read boldly. We hope he’ll take you outside your comfort zone too. Regarding his ten choices he says, “This month I ‘Take Ten’ with a mix of quality oral histories and downright unusual fiction. I love each of these books personally and could go on, but aim to be brief in my descriptions here.” Here’s his bio: "58. Married. Dour cynic (good sense of humor, though). Reader. Old punk (musician-writer syndrome applies)." "

Edie Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802134103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 14th, 1994

The first oral biography I ever read, one that sticks with me. Edie Sedgwick: beautiful, wealthy, flighty and famous, falls in with Andy Warhol's coterie in exploding mid-60s New York. Told by a vast array of would-bes, weres and hangers-on, the tale of what happens next (brilliant and bad) is edited to crystal perfection and tragic in its detail.


Knockemstiff Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780767928304
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - March 10th, 2009

Donald Ray Pollock and Irvine Welsh deliver blows to the soul. The characters are broken, mean and real to the core in both books, the action depraved and desperate - Welsh's book is more difficult and experimental in style, Pollock's more matter-of-fact. Both books, however, absolutely gleam with malice.


Marabou Stork Nightmares Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780393315639
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 1st, 1997

Donald Ray Pollock and Irvine Welsh deliver blows to the soul. The characters are broken, mean and real to the core in both books, the action depraved and desperate - Welsh's book is more difficult and experimental in style, Pollock's more matter-of-fact. Both books, however, absolutely gleam with malice.


You Bright and Risen Angels Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780140110876
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - December 1st, 1988

Starting from a premise in which the insects of the world are revolting and demanding the overthrow of the inventors of electricity, Vollmann spins vast webs of insane, wild beautiful prose, writing I simply can't stop reading. Wolfe's classic tells the tale of Ken Kesey's acid-fired ‘60s adventures, ending up in the same place texturally: I care less about what these books are about now, more about how to fall through these lovely walls of text.


The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780312427597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - August 19th, 2008

Starting from a premise in which the insects of the world are revolting and demanding the overthrow of the inventors of electricity, Vollmann spins vast webs of insane, wild beautiful prose, writing I simply can't stop reading. Wolfe's classic tells the tale of Ken Kesey's acid-fired ‘60s adventures, ending up in the same place texturally: I care less about what these books are about now, more about how to fall through these lovely walls of text.


We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780609807743
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Three Rivers Press (CA) - November 13th, 2001

The tale of the brief rise and fall of Los Angeles punk rock, told by competing factions in oral history style. Massive talent, a hotbed of art and poor impulse control, bad dealings, great creations. I had a seriously hard time picking this one out of so many great punk oral histories, so ask me for more if you need some.


Last Exit to Brooklyn Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802131379
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - January 13th, 1994

Utter grim masterpiece here (see also his Requiem for a Dream), spiraling and interwoven tales of lives so twisted, hopeless and vain that their terrible ends come as mercies. I know, that doesn't sound like a recommendation! But the prose is so evocative, the dialogue at first hard to parse then recognizable as pure NYC mid-20th century shoutscape, the pure justice and injustice of it all: so harsh, so beautiful.


Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399588808
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - May 24th, 2016

Speaking of justice and injustice, this Nobel Prize winning oral history covers the time of post-Soviet Russia and the rise of Putin. Often confessional in nature, brutally honest and clearly rationalizing by turns, these personal stories are heartbreaking, all of them. What happens to citizens of a nation forever at war?


Well Cover Image
$13.00
ISBN: 9780802141439
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - June 2nd, 2004

These novels leap from mind to mind, situation to toxic situation so gracefully. Once again, it's clear that access to interior monologue fascinates me, and I hope it does you, too. Terrible things happen to the characters in both books, which is bad (Barry's is relentless and harrowing, in fact). But we're deep inside their heads and can't look away, their eyes are ours: great writing!
 


Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780684838465
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 10th, 2000

These novels leap from mind to mind, situation to toxic situation so gracefully. Once again, it's clear that access to interior monologue fascinates me, and I hope it does you, too. Terrible things happen to the characters in both books, which is bad (Barry's is relentless and harrowing, in fact). But we're deep inside their head and can't look away, their eyes are ours: great writing!