Books Aloud – August 2008

Bomb The Suburbs
William Upksi Wimsatt
Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint
Street: 4.15.08
Originally published in 1994, Bomb The Suburbs is a collection of hip-hop articles written to defend and define a culture transitioning out of what was then a means of political statement into the watered down commercial version of hip hop culture we see today. Wimsatt writes articulately and intelligently about a subject that he obviously knows a great deal. Wimsatt tackles racial issues, graph safety and method, and discusses hip hop music as a genre. Motivated by suburban development, the blatant separation of classes, and an overall disregard for inner-city dwellers, Wimsatt calls for a strike on the suburban lifestyle. Not asking for the literal “bombing” of the suburban neighborhoods that surround the outskirts of any large city, “Bomb the suburbs means let’s celebrate the city. ... Let’s stop fucking up the ghetto. Let’s start defending it and making it work for us.” –Ben Trentelman

Jim Goad’s Gigantic Book of Sex
Jim Goad
Feral House Publishing
Street: 08.2007
Jim Goad presents everything you could possibly ever want to know (and even some things you would probably be better off not knowing) about everyone’s favorite taboo time-killer in this book. Jim Goad’s Gigantic Book of Sex lives up to its name and then some. There are articles, essays and even amusing images all about sex. The book is divided into four sections: fake, real, personal and opinion, and Goad fleshes out each section nicely. I laughed, grimaced in disgust and even learned a few things while perusing this book. Don’t look to this book for advice on how to woo members of the opposite sex, but casually leaving the thing out on your coffee table at your next party will spark up a conversation and may even get you laid. –Jeanette Moses

My Mother Wears Combat Boots: A Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us
Jessica Mills
AK Press
Street: 12.2007
This book covers such a broad rangebirth to age 5that it is best appreciated as a starting point rather than specific advice. Let’s focus on the positives first: it started as a collection of columns from Maximum Rock n’ Roll, and the chapters that focus specifically on being a musician and a parent are probably what set this book apart from other parenting books. Two other chapters stand out: one on setting up a cooperative childcare group, and the second on setting up an alternative preschool. Most of the remaining chapters are a pretty standard mix of childcare advice and memoir. The author is honest about her shortcomings when ideals and reality clash, but she’s still as preachy as some of the other “mainstream” parenting guides, if not more so. I have two main gripes: first, for all her talk about parents sharing the load equally (and even encouraging women to strike at home if it’s not equal), we never see how she and her partner work as a team. For all but one chapter, it’s just mom and daughter with no sight of dad. Second, there’s a lot of talk about letting children be who they are and not forcing them to be what you want them to be, but still she refuses to buy the frilly dresses her daughter loves so much. She acknowledges the hypocrisy, but only budges the tiniest bit. In all, like many musicians, the book’s not bad, but it’s not nearly as good as it thinks it is. –Heidi Bennett

No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980
Thurston Moore and Byron Coley
Abrams Image
Street: 06.01
1970’s New York: a time of polemic filth and fury with displaced art kids crashing head first into the detritus to form bands without which we would have no Rapture, LCD Soundsystem or (insert any name here). Framed around this incredible collection of black & whites are interviews (conducted by the Thurston Moore and writer/editor/et cetera Byron Coley) with artists deep in the thick of said scene (i.e. James Chance, Glen Branca, Ikue Mori, Robert Quine and the ever-verbose Lydia Lunch), club owners, iconic groupies and passersby, including Brian Eno who gives his perspective on the immortal Eno “produced” No New York compilation. Having been active participants during this era, the authors do a spectacular job of detailing the tenuous camaraderie, insular tension and the seeds of No Wave’s demise. Not simply for those who know the difference between “No Wave” and “New Wave”, the eye candy and history lessons make for an illuminating, universally appealing document. –Dave Madden

Plays From Behind the Zion Curtain
Various Authors
Juniper Press
Street: 2008
This collection of plays written by local playwrights and originally produced by Plan-B Theater Company is a convenient reminder of all that is humorous, interesting, ironic, and devastating about living in the west, and Utah in particular. The writers take on such issues as down winders, inconsistencies in political policies, homosexually in a conservative community, and local ghost storiessome enjoy more success than others in this endeavor, but all with the neighborhood flare that makes us proud of our local talent and theater companies like Plan-B. The real gems of the collection are Exposed by Mary Dickson, Facing East by Carol Lynn Pearson, and Lavender & Exile by Matthew Ivan Bennett. This is the first collection of full-length, original plays published by any Utah theatre company. The collection was released fittingly in conjunction with SL AM’s fifth birthday where two of the plays had their Genesis. If you have a knack for proofreading, this may not be the book for you. It is riddled with typos. However, overall, this book is acknowledgement of our talented local artists. –Kate Crawford

Photo Art: Photography in the 21st Century
Edited by Uta Grosenick and Thomas Seeling
Aperture Foundation
Street: 06.2008
As more and more companies discontinue production of specialty film and family-owned photo shops are forced to close their doors, all signs seem to point to fine-art photography becoming obsolete. And honestly, in an age where almost anyone can afford a digital SLR camera, this book couldn’t come at a better time. This mammoth-sized release from Aperture features a few pieces from over 100 of the most impressive contemporary photographers. The book gives you a nice visual sampling of their work without being overwhelming. Also included are descriptions that make one crave to see more. The list of “amazing” would take up far to many pages, but Wangeclli Mutu, Valerie Belin, Luc Delahaye and Alec Soth were some of my favorites. Grab this mini-encyclopedia and get ready to be inspired. –Jeanette Moses