Books Aloud – January 2009

The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love
David Steritt and John Anderson
Da Capo
Street 10.15
This book is the third in a series of Da Capo Press “best of” offerings. Their A List tome chronicled the greatest films of all time, and their X List volume guided us through some of history’s sexiest films. This installment scrapes the bottom of the vat, compiling synopses and memories tied to various film critics’ experiences with B cinema. The essays treat well know films like Pink Flamingos, Eraserhead and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as other cult and horror films from the 1960s to the present day. Some of the essays are insightful, and others tend to be opportunities for some smarmy fuck from an east coast daily to talk about how much he hated Platoon (I’ll bet he loathed Full Metal Jacket as well). Overall though, this is a good read. For the most part, it throws caution to the wind and zooms in on films whose conception, lurid upbringings and dubious character traits would drive most people away. This is a fantastic resource for cult film buffs the world over. –James Bennett

Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats
Pannonica de Koenigswarter
Harry N. Abrams, INC.
Street 10.08
This book is rad. I could not write anything else and you would have to see for yourself how awesome this book really is, but I will indulge you. At the very beginning of the Jazz movement, there was one individual, Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who was quite friendly with most (if not all) of the jazz greats. Pannonica got to know them really well and even had the legends Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk stay with her in her home, which was nicknamed “The Cathouse” for all the cool cats that would hang there. She started to compile heaps upon heaps of Polaroids of the Jazz musicians in their most natural state. This was only a start and before long she had started asking the musicians to write down the three wishes they would ask for if they could have three wishes. I found it quite funny that my favorite jazz player, Dizzy Gillespie, pretty much asked for exactly what I would ask for if I had three wishes. Not only does it talk about the musicians, but it gives quite an extensive background on Pannonica’s life and its well worth your time to read it. – Adam Dorobiala

Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl
Princeton Architectural Press
Street: 11.10
Faythe Levine gives us a sneak peak at her upcoming documentary with this literary release of Handmade Nation. In her introduction, we learn how Levine came to be a prominent member of the indie-craft scene and opened her own store, Paper Boat. Handmade Nation covers the entire spectrum of craft mania while profiling what Levine considers the top the top of their class, including some of my own favorites from Sublime Stitching’s embroidery queen Jenny Hart and Renegade Craft Fair’s creator Susan Daly. The book also gives a brief timeline of how the scene developed from a few small knitting crews to the sold out attendance of many DIY fairs. Levine gives us just enough to get your interest peaked and makes you want to blaze your own trail of entrepreneur fame. Watch for the documentary to be released in 2009. –Meg Griggs