Staff Picks 2012: Julien

 Summer of Hate 
by Chris Kraus

Hosting two readings with Chris Kraus this fall has been an incredible honor and pleasure for us. I've flooded the blog with praise for Kraus and her new novel in the past few month but let me re-iterate in case you haven't caught on yet: Kraus is a relevant, fearless and arguably flawless writer.
Summer of Hate stands out with its honest, self-aware and insightful questioning of high culture in relation to the real world - and its subsequent probing of said real world in the light of its problematic politics. As a possible stand-in for poet and writer Eileen Myles puts it in the book: “Isn’t it weird, how nothing coming out now even mentions what’s going on?” We still have a few signed copies left!

Drawn Together
by Aline and R. Crumb

I hope y'all realize how big this is: Drawn Together collects every single comic ever published and drawn collaboratively by the most important comics couple. Ever. Crumb is an icon, a masterful illustrator and an artist in the true sense of the word: for decades now he has been making art regardless of taboos and whatever expectations people had of comic artists.

But let's take a moment to gush about Aline, who always steals the show for me. Her art is beautiful and raw, and she is so entertaining and relatable. I love her sass and tough-girl attitude, and how she's literally physically strong too. And she doesn't try to hide it when she has her embarrassing moments. She's so cool!

Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl
By Tiqqun, trans. by Ariana Reines

Preliminary Materials is an incisive and entertaining critique of social publicity as a form of violent and global imperial oppression. It takes the form of a collage incorporating several types of writing and sources, from situationist theory to sassy slogans, from Cosmopolitan speak to some mind-numbing sitcom.

As seminal as it is polemical, this profoundly engaging text is bound to produce some kind of strong reaction. I got chills of epiphany and guilt, translator Ariana Reines got migraines and she puked. Read this phenomenal piece from the LA Book Review if you want to know more about this book.

Rookie Yearbook One
Ed. by Tavi Gevinson

The print-version of the best website for teenage girls (but not just) offers a brand new, more hands-on, Rookie experience - but it also compiles its best articles, advice columns, diary entries, tutorials and fashion editorials. It is a fun, honest and smart read for any age and any gender.

The book features must-read interviews with John Waters and Dan Clowes, as well as contributions by Lena Dunham, Miranda July and so many articulate teenagers.

by Ariana Reines

Poet Ariana Reines, who I just mentioned above for her English translation of Tiqqun's Preliminary Materials, came out this March with a new book of poetry. In Mercury, Reines' tough and shameless sharing of romantic and less romantic moments feels like our obsessed and longing collective inner voice was just put on speakerphone. Her poems communicate the ecstasy of resisting the commodifying language of modern life.

Ed the Happy Clown
by Chester Brown

Originally serialized in Yummy Fur in the 1980's, Ed the Happy Clown follows Ed's bizarre adventures in a universe of parallel dimensions. Twisted and surreal, this work is one of the most outstanding to come out of the second generation of underground cartoonists: a no holds barred exploration of the darkest corners of the labyrinthic and contradictory human psyche. The detailed notes section at the back is an amazing addition to this long-awaited hardcover edition.

Anjin San
by George Akiyama

Published in French by Le Lézard Noir (Moomin, Suehiro Maruo), Anjin San is a collection of moral tales following the descendant of Buddha, a modest little guy traveling through the disenfranchised but goodhearted Japanese countryside of the seventies.

In these slice-of-life stories, Akiyama provides Buddhist concepts for characters and readers alike to reflect on. This one-shot distinguishes itself with the way it incorporates weight and dynamism to meditative sequences and its inventive, gekiga-inspired, panelling.

by Shigeru Mizuki

Another masterpiece by one of Japan's most legendary gekigaka. NonNonBa is a moving memoir in which Mizuki revisits his childhood: the young GeGe grows up concerned with the presence of spirits around him, but meanwhile Japan is transitioning into modernity, unsure of carrying forward with its ties to traditional mythology.

A magnificent account of growing up and coming to terms with injustice and human contradictions, NonNonBa was the first manga to win the Angoulême Prize for Best Album.

The Uprising
by Franco "Bifo" Berardi 

In The Uprising, writer, theorist, and activist Berardi warns against the myth of economic recovery and exposes the ineffectiveness today of traditional ways of protesting financial capitalism. Bifo then argues in favor of poetry as a solution for emancipation, and healing from a linguistic crisis and the loss of togetherness.

Féminismes Électriques
Edited by Leila Pourtavaf

A brand new publication from Montreal's La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, Féminismes Électriques is a bilingual book covering the last decade of exhibitions and performances programmed by one of the oldest artist-run centers in Quebec.
It features a great interview with Chris Kraus, on the history of avant-garde publishing house Semiotext(e) - who put out half of my favorite books of the year (did you notice?) Other highlights of the book include appearances by Dominique Pétrin, D+Q artist Amy Lockhart, Leyla Majeri, and more.

Honorable Mentions:

The Opening Ceremony book, Semiotext(e)'s Animal Shelter magazine, Yoshihiro Tatsumi's brilliant Fallen Words, Thermae Romae Volume 4 (en français, but volume 1 just came out in English!),  and Vie de Mizuki: Tome 1 - L'Enfant, the first volume of Shigeru Mizuki's autobiography, published in French by Cornélius.

Click here to check out Helen's top 10 books of the year!

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