Books Aloud – March 2008

I Got Thunder
LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Da Capo Press
Street: 11.30
There is not a whole lot written about black, female singers/songwriters. While there has been a ton written about Ray Charles and Madonna, you would be hard-pressed to find much on Dionne Warwick. And while there are probably sexist and racial reasons for the dearth of scholarly prose on this segment of entertainment history, LaShonda Barnett has decided to level the playing field. This book features histories, discographies and primary source interviews with virtually every leading black female songwriter of the past several decades. Represented here are conversations with Tracy Chapman, Gladys Knight, Chaka Kahn and many, many others. The interviews, conducted by Barnett herself, give insight into the creative processes and wider histories surrounding some of modern music’s biggest names. It is an ambitious project, but a project that comes together beautifully. This is not only a good read, but a fantastic resource for those looking to know more about the societal contributions of female, black entertainers. —James Bennett

The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America
Michelle Tea
Street: 10.10
Today I would like to provide you with a recipe for success that will allow you to write this book and become a darling of the shiftless indie generation we all love and emulate. First, be born. Next, become angst-filled, smoke cigarettes, drink booze, date a man, date a woman, date a man and different women simultaneously, drink more, fuck quotation marks, break up with a man, delve into feminism, date a woman, realize that this woman is insane, continue to date her, become a prostitute, move across the country with the emotionally abusive girlfriend, move back, write up all your adventures in a stream-of-consciousness format, and submit them to a publisher. If the publisher refuses to accept your manuscript, please refer said publisher to this book and say that someone somewhere is publishing the exact same thing. Roll in the dough and enjoy being an icon for a vapid generation. –Joey Richards

Punk 365
Holly George-Warren
Street: 11.07
Ever wanted to read a concise history of punk rock, but you’re literate-challenged? Well, congratulations on making it past that first sentence, and welcome to Punk 365! Chock full of 365 photos chronicling the movement from the proto-punk days to the present, Punk 365 is an interesting alternative to some of the often boring and word-heavy traditional punk history books. Physically speaking, Punk 365 is great: it’s a chunky little book with a huge photo printed on the right page and a small explanatory paragraph or quote on the left page. However, some of these explanations feature inaccurate information or offer little insight. There are also a few notable omissions from the book (Descendents, Husker Du, The Misfits) and a couple of questionable inclusions (Madonna and those cute, Jamaican “Pass the Dutchie” kids). Punk 365 would make a fine bathroom book, but there’s no reason it should take up valuable real estate on your bookshelf. –Ricky Vigil