Staff Picks mid-July 2012


Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl
by Tiqqun; translated by Ariana Reines

Ariana Reines' English translation of Tiqqun's Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl was just released by Semiotext(e). Originally published by the collective in French in 1999, this text underlines the ways in which self-proclamation as we see it today is tantamount to willfully turning oneself into a moronic marketable product. Incisive, on-point and playful, every page of this book is collage-like: fragments of critical theory are intertwined with snappy catchphrases about boyfriends, bodies, selves or trends (all in different fonts) - precising as the book progresses what the Young-Girl is. "The Young-Girl is herself the product of misogyny, but the theory of the Young-Girl is not. Open up any women's magazine and you'll see for yourself."

by Ariana Reines

Speaking of poet Ariana Reines, I strongly suggest you read her latest book of poetry, Mercury (March 2012). Her voice is appealingly assertive and it has this shameless toughness to it. Reines' poems are built on personal visions, relationships and experiences where gender, desire and commodities clash as much as they co-exist in a very sophisticated and contemporary way.


Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
by David Foster Wallace

This book was recommended to me by a client. I was talking (probably too loudly) with a colleague about how I'd never launched into DFW's body of work, and how I wanted to but didn't know where to start. After completing our entire transaction in French (he was francophone), he turned away from the cash, and then turned back long enough to shyly say, "Start with Consider The Lobster." He had a really eloquent reason that I can't remember, but then what more reason could you need than the shockingly readable review of a book of grammatical usage with its digressions into class and racial implications of language?

by Haruki Murakami

Now in a pb three-volume edition which makes just WAY more sense than that original (and equally beautiful) Chip Kidd design. You guys! Can I just repeat how this is a crazy page-turner of awesomeness? I don't think you get it -- I paced myself while reading 1Q84 and its thousand pages lasted me a scant three weeks. I have not fallen so deeply into someone else's world since 2666. 1Q84 is totally and delightfully absorbing. I'm not sure it's my favourite Murakami book, but there are some amazing moments in it.


I Wonder 
by Marian Bantjes

This is one of those books that I have a very hard time describing as it is nothing short of magical (in that it seems supernatural and remote from daily life). In fact, I Wonder, written and designed by typographic illustrator Marian Bantjes, is actually about all that is rooted in everyday life: it's about art, history, family, design, type, memories, the bombardment of screen culture, patterns, etc., etc., etc. But it's designed in such a way that it worked to truly shift how I approached and consequently thought about the said subjects matter., it's sparkly.


Elsewhere, California 
by Dana Johnson

I'd never heard of Dana Johnson before, and I have to admit that I was drawn to her book initially because who isn't attracted to a Hockney-esque painting of a pool amidst the sweat of these July days, you know? However! It was a lucky aesthetically-driven choice! And now I am recommending it anytime someone asks me about good new fiction. This is a story of dualities, of the tensions of class/racial/gender differences, and of how those tensions infiltrate art, family dynamics, and relationships. Elsewhere, California is the story of Avery, immediately engaging and relatable, often torn between friends, family members, her husband, the various identities that are put onto her by everyone around her, and her own evolving identity and voice. One stream of the dual narrative is told by her childhood self, of growing up Black and lower-middle-class in an overwhelmingly white middle-class suburb of LA; in the other, she is in her forties, married to a "self-made man" type, a wealthy Italian with a working class childhood, struggling to make her way as an artist, and haunted by the sporadic presence of her cousin, whom she shared her childhood with, but whose life turned out vastly different from her own. Seriously worthwhile read!


Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice  
by Ivan Brunetti

Ivan Brunetti is a big deal in the world of comics, not only as the cartoonist of the weird and twisted Schizo series, but also as an editor, illustrator, and curator of comics. He’s also an art teacher in Chicago and a hell of a funny man. In his book Cartooning, Brunetti offers a concise version in his 15 week art course on comic storytelling. The drawing exercises are really fun and his cynical sense of humour is equally amusing. Brunetti is clearly a huge fan of comics, and his passion shines through the whole book, as he himself says: “I often think that, were my arms to be cut off in some tragic accident, I would still feel compelled to scrape my gums against the sidewalk in order to create a comic strip with my own blood.” Wouldn’t we all...


The Investigation 
by Phillipe Claudel

I've read only a few reviews for this so far, but it seems so perfectly strange and beautiful that I can barely wait (I'm trying to save it for my upcoming vacation). A detective novel deconstruction, Claudel's protagonist is an unnamed private eye in an unnamed town who's trying to find out more about the spate of suicides at an electronics factory called "The Enterprise".

Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces 
 by Cory McLauchlin

It has its detractors and I haven't read ACoD since I was a teenager, but I remember that I loved it then, reading it all the way through during a long bus ride across New Brunswick. Years later I found about the story of its author (Toole was unhappy with the manuscript and hid it away. His mother discovered it after his suicide and it finally saw publication twelve years after his death, winning the Pulitzer in 1981) and meant to reread it but never did. I just may get around to revisiting it, now that this book has crossed my path.

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