Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frightened City - The Shadows

The beautiful Shadows. Even the name of the band brings a sense of magic to me. Hank Marvin is such an incredible guitar player. So underrated. And Jet Harris on bass. The name alone deserves a standing room clap.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"On Elegance While Sleeping" by Viscount Lascano Tegui

On Elegance While Sleeping (Argentinian Literature Series)On Elegance While Sleeping by Emilio Lascano Tegui
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With the title "On Elegance While Sleeping," of course I had to read it.   Its by a writer i never heard of before,  a man who is a total mystery to me.  Which added the appeal for me to pick on this book as well.

A sweet little tale of a murder-to-be via his diary.  But no, this is not a serial killer's rant and ravings, it is a highly beautifully written dreamy (in other words Surreal) observations on sexuality, family, and one's place in the 'outer' world.  Which in other words can be "dandy" world.

These two paragraphs i find beautiful:

"One day she wasn't among her friends, but still feeling the strange power of that fragile girl -destined to die far too early - her friends fell silent as they passed me, same as on all the other day, without the least self-consciousness.  Not a single one looked at me.  And I knew the truth.  Isabel was dying.

Having decided a few days later to inquire about her health, I installed myself again along the bend in the road,  where I soon heard a song coming down the way. The women from the factory of supersensitive telephone receivers had replaced their dead friend with a song."

A wonderful little book.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jacques Tardi's "The Extraordinary Adventures of ADELE BLANC-SEC

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-SecThe Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacques Tardi, I think, is quite remarkable.  While everyone is singing the praises of other graphic novelists, Tardi is focused on having one foot in the past and the other foot in the contemporary world.   This is a very elegant edition of his two graphic novels which is part of a series called "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec."  Both stories connect to each other in a 1930's style of serialization.  

Very pulpy, with Victorian overtones, but with a wit and a great sense of charm.  And I love Tardi's drawings.  Extremely detailed and a magnificent tribute to one of the main characters in the story - Paris.  Mysterious pathways, the always haunted vibe of Jardin des Plantes (I stayed across the street, its a scary place), and characters that are a mixture of criminals and heroes at the same time.  Love it.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Albert Cossery

Albert Cossery's "The Jokers"

A pal of Boris Vian's and a citizen of the Saint Germain-des-prés, Albert Cossery is a writer with a wicked sense of humor and has a deep understanding of human folly.  His novel "The Jokers" is about a group of revolutionaries (in Egypt?) who fight the power by showing noting but the highest respect for that power.  It is sort of a revolution via The Marx Brothers than anything else.

Also there is a joy in life that is actually revolutionary - and how they apply that in a political take-over or the removal of the Governor, is quite profound.  "The Jokers" has a light touch but the message against authority is clear, very enlightened, and a wonderful read.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Shazam!" The Golden Age of the World's Mightest Mortal" by Chip Kidd

Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest MortalShazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal by Chip Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chip Kidd is not only a great book designer but he's a man of great passion - with respect to comic book history.  But it is not only the history of a particular comic, it is also the history of the by-products of that work - meaning the cinema, the toys, and interesting enough, the clothing.  In his latest book he covers Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel via the eyes of the 21st Century is a poor cousin to Superman - but alas, Captain Marvel is much more then that.  Young boy Billy Batson yells out the word "Shazam" and he becomes super hero Captain Marvel.  What boy would not want to have those powers!?!   And that is the inner-beauty of Captain Marvel connection to the youth at the time.
One also admires the beauty of the toys, the wrist watches (that can't break!), bean bags, and the Captain Marvel costume that was made for the Republic serial.   This book is more of a fetish object than anything else.  It drips with passion and beauty of the drawings and lettering of a classic comic.  Beautiful production job as well.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

David B. & Pierre Mac Orlan's "The Littlest Pirate King"

My interest in this graphic 'novel' is the author Pierre Mac Orlan. A hero to Guy Debord, Mac Orlan was the Bohemian's Bohemian. Although a major writer in France, there is very little English translations of his works that are out there in the world.

I don't know the origins of "The Littlest Pirate King" except I have to presume that the narrative was written sometime in the early or mid-20th Century, and recently turned into a graphic novel by David B., who I know nothing about. But beyond that this is a wonderful little story about dead pirates who are somewhere between being a ghost and nowhere. All they do is float on their death ship from sea to sea. They can't even get enjoyment of killing another boat load of people, I due that they're dead - and therefore that's it. All they have is their memories. 

But alas, they find a living and healthy baby from a shipwreck and therefore they become sort of parents to this child. A splendid book and hopefully an introduction to the mysterious (at least to me) Pierre Mac Orlan.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Shadows - Wonderful Land

The Shadows - FBI (Live Crackerjack 1961)

"Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths" by Simon Goddard

Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The SmithsMozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths by Simon Goddard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Totally fascinating and perhaps even perfect.   The book is basically Morrissey culture as an encyclopedia and what is great is that you don't even have to like Morrissey to enjoy the book.  Of course the author Simon Goddard goes through every Smiths/Morrissey song or album, but more important focuses on Morrissey's influences on his work.

On one level this could be the ultimate biography on Morrissey, but the the great thing about it is that its about the singer's work and what one gets from his music/lyrics.  Favorite films, songs, and people are represented with a small bio - and it is truly a remarkable feat in getting in someone's head and how that person or artwork influenced the artist.

And Morrissey is the perfect artist for this type of book.  He's a walking open book with respect to his love for British or European culture - its books, its music, its films and for certain social groupings that also fascinated Morrissey through out the years.

If you are going to get one book on Morrissey - this is it.  And again if you are not a fan, but just interested in one's particular taste in pop culture - this is an incredible reference book for the purpose of exploring Morrissey's bookcase, record collection and films for future enjoyment.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Lettrisme, letterism, letrismo, poesia sonora

Lemaitre-Maurice Le-film-est-deja-commence(1951) part2

Thierry Jonquet's "MYGALE"

a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/918645.Mygale" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px">Mygale (City Lights Noir, 4)Mygale by Thierry Jonquet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great 'making you pay' story that reminds me of Franju's "Eyes Without a Face."  It has that slightly surreal horror aspect to it.  And many years later I am in Paris and looking for something to read in English, I found Joquet's "Tarantula."  I purchased it and once I got on the plane i  realized it was the British edition of "Mygale."  So that was a disappointing moment.  But alas I re-read the book.

Its a masterpiece!  As I mentioned it does have that Franju horror aspect, but it is also a very nasty revenge story.  Almost on the surreal level of violence and behavior.  I have read that Pedro Amodovar is doing a film on this - and I can him doing it campy.  But alas it is truly a horror story.  A great noir horror thriller.

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