Staff picks September 2012

The Rider
by Tim Krabbé

A classic in cycling literature (if that is indeed a genre), The Rider is a punchy and, dare I say, thrilling fictional account of the very real Tour de Mont Aigoual in France, a 137km road race. Originally getting this book for my boyfriend (enabling him with his frightening obsession with cycling), it has now found itself in my hands on the personal behest of said boyfriend. A quote at the back of the book boldly states: " say that the race is a metaphor for life is to miss the point. ...Life is the metaphor for the race." And while this is a very (very) silly statement...I get it. Presenting all the excitement, banality, pain, anger ego, humour, spite, goodwill, and fatigue of everyday life, The Rider manages to both engage and alienate the reader. In the best way possible.


Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009
by Ai Weiwei, edited and translated by Lee Ambrozy

This is a fascinating edited selection of translated posts from Ai Weiwei's now-deleted-due-to-censorship blog. Ai Weiwei, China's most famous artist, began blogging at the request of Chinese media portal site He quickly went from "barely being able to type", to posting lengthy pieces (at least one per day for four years - 2006 through 2009) on anything from the trouble with international/Western perceptions of Chinese art and culture, to thoughts and theories on architecture and space, to immediate responses to political events in China. The last of these is what eventually seems to have gotten the blog deleted by the Chinese authorities - for instance, Ai Weiwei was unapologetically harsh in his criticisms of the Chinese government's cover-up of the shoddy construction of a school that collapsed and killed several thousand students during an earthquake in 2008. This collection is one of the only ways to access these writings, since they are now impossible to find online. Ai Weiwei has referred to his blog as his biggest sculpture, art that was able to reach more people than any gallery exhibition or architectural project. It feels incredibly fortunate that we can still access parts of this sculpture, even when its foundations have ceased to exist.

Pass the Spoon: A Sort-Of Opera About Cookery
by David Shrigley, David Fennessy, and Nicholas Bone

David Shrigley is one talented fellow. He’s an illustrator, painter, photographer, sculptor, animator, and musician. And now, one more title to add to the list: king of the opera. That’s right, David Shrigley just wrote an opera. Produced with the help of David Fennessy and Nicholas Bone, the work features an alcoholic egg, a giant butcher, a dung beetle, and two peppy cooking show hosts. Although the piece is no longer performed live, Shrigley incorporates some funny little illustrations to help us imagine the hilarious action at hand. I love everything this guy does, and well, you should too.

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination
by Margaret Atwood

From the introduction:
In Other Worlds is not a catalogue of science-fiction, a grand theory about it, or a literary history of it. [...i]t is an exploration of my own lifelong relationship with a literary form, or forms, or subforms, both as a reader and a writer. 

A collection of Atwood's essays, reviews and previously unpublished lectures, In Other Worlds analyzes the work of esteemed and legendary writers like Ursula Le Guin, Kazuo Ishiguro, and H. Rider Haggard from the POV of a lifelong admirer of the genre(s). A really entertaining read, Atwood's chapter on the covers of Weird Tales magazines is worth the cover price alone.
Message to Adolf, Part 1
by Osamu Tezuka

Message to Adolf is Osamu Tezuka's acclaimed historical-fiction thriller. This masterful work is now out as a beautifully designed hardcover by Vertical, well the first volume is - volume 2 will follow in November. This intensely gripping story sees the lives of three Adolfs intertwine more and more as a Japanese journalist uncovers the secret that got his brother murdered: Adolf Hitler might have Jewish blood. As you can imagine, guilt, fear, despair, anger and incomprehension are on the menu. Tezuka is not nicknamed "The God of Manga" for no reason, maybe you should find out why. Also, this book is Korben Dallas-approved.

Rookie Yearbook One
Edited by Tavi Gevinson

I also HAVE to make a shout out to the beautiful Rookie Yearbook One D+Q just put out. I am obsessed. Since its release I've been reading it every day, making sure i don't miss a single word. The print-version of the website truly offers a brand new, more hands-on, Rookie experience, but it also compiles its best articles, advice columns, tutorials, and fashion editorials. It is a fun, honest and smart read for any age and any gender, and obviously a necessity for anyone who has a soft spot for Tavi's wit and vision.

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