August 2022: Matt
MATT RIEDL: songwriter, writer, musician, old punk, bookseller, reader.
Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson (BenBella Books) is a surprisingly zesty and full-throated takedown of GO ASK ALICE, the “anonymous,” “nonfiction,” “diary” released more than 50 years ago that shook American society in ways until now mostly uncommented upon. Rick Emerson exposes each lie, documenting the repercussions of Beatrice Sparks’ Molotov title—its web of suicides, court rulings and gullible, hungry press. An eye-opening, enjoyable but outraging read.
The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc (Enchanted Lion Books) is a very sweet book: it’s light syrup! The text is sparse here, letting the unique and folksy art take the fore. The warm, simple sentiment lifted me up. I return to it often before sleep. Good night!
The Business Secrets of Drug Dealing: An Almost True Account by Matt Taibbi & Anonymous (OR Books) is sarcastic; it’s sharply funny and oddly warm in the genuine tone of its advice; it’s probably useful for a segment of the population not following the latest book news. Matt Taibbi tones down his muckraking side here and delivers a very slim, precise, and fact-filled volume.
Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman (Soho Press) is an ecological science fiction thriller. I don’t usually respond to thrill-writing, but this is a grabber. Don’t let the weird title throw you, although the fish in question is at the heart of the book. The concepts here seem esoteric, while the action is exceptionally vivid. Highly recommended!
In All Cats Welcome by Vivian Mineker, Susin Nielsen, Illustrator (Atheneum Books), Lonely Leonard the cat meets new pal Mariposa and has an outlandish series of adventures. But he breaks his boy’s heart! Everyone learns a new language, sees New York City, new friends are made, and there’s an extra happy ending. Dig how Vivian Mineker draws cats—they’re just adorable.
Be Here to Love Me at the End of the World by Sasha Fletcher (Melville House) is so far my favorite book of 2022! I don’t see it being dethroned, either. I can’t, just can’t, describe its tone: soft apocalypse, vaguely drawn, manic rushes of thought slowed by cooking soliloquies, sped by political rants, derailed by shocking events. Troubled lovers Sam and Eleanor are living through slow motion panic and extended joy, constantly face-slapped by recent history. Fathomless cynicism, luminous happiness, an end so beautiful and long expected that its very incomprehensibility is pure wonder. It's also featured on a past episode of Bookin'!
Want to know more about Detroit’s history and geography, its layout and politics, its broad Black music history? Have you ever considered what makes music “funky”? Are you a fan of rap and hip-hop in its vast and shimmering forms? Electronic music, and the nuts and bolts of how it works? Then it’s Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm by Dan Charnas (MCD) for you!
Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise and Fall of SST Records by Jim Ruland (Hachette Books) is the story of SST Records. The California label, run by Greg Ginn of hardcore band Black Flag, opened new horizons of both music distribution and sheer variety of jams. From huge sellers like Bad Brains, Meat Puppets and Husker Du to the tiniest of acts Ginn championed personally (and some real head-scratchers), SST was iconic and long-lived.
Harrow by Joy Williams (Knopf) is another favorite from this year but a whole different mood. Harrow is bleak, jarring, grimly great. This is hard apocalypse, once again drawn broadly, but clearly of climate crisis territory; an entire world on fire and at war with nature itself. Violent, gloomy, enervating: We readers endure such for the beauty of observation, the invitation to ponder the dark at leisure, the love of a good sentence. Do we not?
Animal by award-winning and suddenly visible Lisa Taddeo was among my favorite recent novels. Her newest work, Ghost Lover (Avid Reader Press), is a collection of short stories in which she admirably pulls off many vibes stylistically while pulling no punches emotionally. They’re good, brutal. The exchanges between her characters have the ring of the genuine, and I can see these being well-suited for something visual.
"Unmask Alice by Rick Emerson goes a long way to showing what investigative journalism could be in the right hands . . . this book is undeniably buzzworthy." —Portland Book Review
"An absorbing and unnerving read . . . this book demands to be finished in one sitting." —Booklist
One autumn day, a lion finds a wounded bird in his garden. With the departure of the bird's flock, the lion decides that it's up to him to care for the bird. He does and the two become fast friends. Nevertheless, the bird departs with his flock the following autumn. What will become of Lion and what will become of their friendship?
In real life, there is a person like "Anonymous", who, for the sake of this story, I'll call Huey Carmichael. I was friends with this person for a while before I learned about his other life. The real Huey knows more than a thing or two about the weed business. He keeps rules.
A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism from the Booker-listed author of The Teleportation Accident.
In this sweet and affirming picture book, two cats discover they don’t need to share a language to become friends.
Leonard adores his human. “Stay! Let’s play!” he says when it’s time to leave for work. His human just hears “Meow.”
Sometimes Leonard gets lonely. So does Mariposa, who is new in town.
A love story set in a bad dream about America, concerning permanent debt, secret police, making dinner, and unpaid invoices—right up until the end of the world.
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
"This book is a must for everyone interested in illuminating the idea of unexplainable genius.” —QUESTLOVE
Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time chronicles the life and legacy of J Dilla, a musical genius who transformed the sound of popular music for the twenty-first century.
A no-holds-barred narrative history of the iconic label that brought the world Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, and more, by the co-author of Do What You Want and My Damage.
Greg Ginn started SST Records in the sleepy beach town of Hermosa Beach, CA, to supply ham radio enthusiasts with t
In her first novel since the Pulitzer Prize–nominated The Quick and the Dead, the legendary writer takes us into an uncertain landscape after an environmental apocalypse, a world in which only the man-made has value, but some still wish to salvage the authentic.
“Raw and searching...Taddeo returns with more ruthless explorations of the feminine mystique.” —Entertainment Weekly, “The Best New Books of the Month” * “Provocative.” —Los Angeles Times
From the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Three Women and “our most eloquent and faithf
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