2009 is the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I was reminded of this fact when I recently bought a new copy of Obama’s inaugural address, which contained a copy of both of Lincoln’s inaugurals as well as the Gettysburg Address. Very interesting reading. The bicentennial isn’t the only reason Lincoln is interesting, of course. It might take an event such as this to get Australian readers (apart from Civil War historians and others) interested in him, but he contributed massively to the American national imagination. I enjoyed seeing Obama’s inauguration speech set out on a page, because this way I could see echoes of Lincoln in what he said. I won’t make any more Obama/Lincoln comparisons, since they’ve been done to death.
Even if you’re not as interested in this part of history (and its echoes today) as I am, you’ll enjoy the suspense and real-life-crime aspect of this book. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Abraham Lincoln’s Killer. It’s very exciting, and completely avoids the dry bogging-down in details that some well-researched historical books fall into. Very exciting, a good historical account of an important point in US history. If you’re looking for a book that will make history exciting to anyone, or you’re just interested in US history, this is a book for you.Filed under Books that deserve a look | Tags: History, Recycled Books, Your two cents worth - book reviews | Comment (0)
The 15th of November is America Recycles Day. A little bit closer to home, Clean Up Australia Day events are in March 2010, and the Australian Sustainable Cities awards will be presented in October.
Here at JimmyD’s we’re committed to recycling every week of the year, and we were before those chic green shopping bags came into vogue. We recycle our packaging, don’t use plastic bags, and we like gifts that are environmentally friendly, like these journals.
And of course JimmyD’s is full of good-quality recycled books. Come in and buy a second-hand book today! Ride your bike, run, or walk. Refuse a bag or buy one of our nice durable shopping bags! Write your eat-local shopping list in one of our Australian-made recycled journals! Buy some locally made coffee (we buy our coffee off a local roaster) and make an environmentally friendly day of it in Springwood!Filed under Uncategorized | Tags: Australian food, book store, journals | Comments Off
This is a rather long review: You can read a short summary here, or scroll down to read the whole shebang.
A very interesting book that challenges (vehemently) the way we think about art and politics. Prepare to have your opinion challenged — what is avante-garde? What is popular art? Read the whole thing, or dip in using the index. Perfect for anyone who likes thinking about culture, but I think it would be especially particularly useful to the “unique post-modern aesthete” that most of us know. $10, a bargain for some meaty summer reading!
An interesting book, this one. You take one look at the cover (picture of the Venus de Milo with a bikini textaed on) and the title and think it’s going to be a pop-culture journey, one of those books that’s all about travelling from the audience of The Price is Right in America to the set of a strange Japanese game show, via a fashionable Kaballah ceremony in Los Angeles and a shopping village in London. Which is fine — I love books like that. They critique culture while they’re immersed in it, and other such fashionable sociological terms. But you only need glance at the subtitle of this book (Quantulumcunque Concerning Materialist Esthetix) and you know this book is… different from that. Is it a parody? Is it a serious, weighty tome? Will the inside be peppered with incomprehensible graphs and even longer made-up words, or with semi-pornographic images in the name of “cultural exploration”)?
I took a gulp of coffee and decided to take a look. First of all I got a bit worried that in my first cursory look I might have overlooked some crucial piece of irony or satire, so I jumped on Google and had a look what some other reviewers (most considerably more informed than I am) had to say.
One reviewer on Amazon.com described the book as “dizzyingly brilliant”. “Okay,” I thought, “As long as I don’t read it while I’m standing up, I’ll be fine”. I wouldn’t want to fall over and hurt something. I ponder exactly what that “dizzyingly” means. Is the book utterly incomprehensible? Or just brilliant?
I further learn that the book is a “treatise on aesthetics”, and further that it is “stridently polemical”. In other words, it’s a book that seeks to be deliberately controversial as it defines aesthetics, our art, our perceptions of beauty. What sort of aesthetics? Does the author try to make sweeping generalizations about culture? At the end of this little research session I’d decided that the book must be quite meaty – but well-researched and probably relevant. No equating Hollywood divorces with the decline of culture or something like that – a dissection of what makes the artistic sensibilities of “our culture” (I put that in inverted commas because there are so many cultures you see mentioned in the news every day) tick. Thusly armed, I opened the book to take a look.
…And then my head exploded. Nah, only kidding.
The first couple of pages aren’t so much incomprehensible as they are “murky”. What is this guy trying to say? The Amazon reviewer I quoted before also mentioned that the book is “…food for difficult thought”. From the first pages, Watson is trying to change the way we think about art. Brian Eno, an artist who many people see as a benchmark of the Avant-Garde, is dismissed as “easy listening”. Dr Dre and Stevie Wonder engage in “materialism of sound”.
In the Introduction Watson explains that “…in today’s rapidly changing world [this is one of my least favourite sentences, but I won’t hold it against Watson since he has much more important things to say], the objective separation of manual and mental labour has resulted in a raw and painful Cleavage between the sciences that deal with Art (aesthetics) and Class (politics)”. Sorry if you read all this way thinking a that the “cleavage” of the title was actual cleavage — it isn’t. It’s metaphorical cleavage, though, which is even cooler. I imagine, (as I think Watson wants the audience to) two statue boobs, one emblazoned with the word “Art”, the other with the word “Class”. Cultural aesthetic, indeed.
This book is really, really interesting stuff, and to say that it is full of hard-to-read overpolitical raves would be to sell it short. Watson has some very important social critiques, and he organizes his thoughts well even if he does trend slightly toward ranting. In fact, I would hazard that most knee-jerk criticisms of the book probably stem from the fact that Watson doesn’t hesitate to shake the foundations of people’s perceptions of art, and it might be a hard (but necessary!) thing to hear that you are not as original or avant-garde as you think you are, that your supposedly apolitical idea of art is anything but. I think aesthetics need to be challenged, and Watson does it well.
You don’t have to attack this book from front to back. I quite enjoyed leafing through the (well-appointed) index and checking on what Watson has to say on certain subjects. And he does have a lot to say. Watson is anti-elitist, so it’s a good idea to look past his initial political ranting and take what he has to say at face value, since it’s very important. He uses a lot of footnotes, but in an entertaining way, as a way to comment on what he’s saying in the text, not supply a dry extension.
I think this book is perfect for anybody who likes to think about pop culture (and art) in an analytical way. And if you’ve got a friend or family member who’s stuck in one of those terrible ruts where they’ve convinced themselves that they’re member of an enlightened post-modern aesthetic of uniqueness, you might want to show this to them, too. It’s a great, audacious book that is meant to challenge our perceptions of ourselves and of our art, instead of back-patting and shoring up snobby opinions. I can’t wait to delve deeper into it, it’s very complicated and I’m sure I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
The book is $10 and you can find it in the shop today! What a bargain for some intellectual summer reading!
-Agnes.Filed under BOOKS, Books that deserve a look | Tags: Your two cents worth - book reviews | Comments Off
Did you know that Bookland is a fictitious country? There is such a thing, and this one was created in the 1980s to reserve an EAN (European Article Number) for books, regardless of which country they come from. This helps the EAN to catalogue books by ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Most products have an EAN, but the Bookland code lets the EAN combine the two.
Almost every book published since 1970 has an ISBN. Books that are published privately do not have ISBNs. Here at JimmyD’s ISBNs are just one of the things we use to catalogue our books. Our catalogue enables us to look up books and know immediately if they are on the shelf, even if all we have is a title or an author’s name. It’s very useful, and it helps us serve you better, too. So if there’s a certain book you’re looking for, come into JimmyD’s and we’ll help you find it.
Have a look here for more info on ISBNs.Filed under Boost your brain | Tags: book store, Books store | Comments Off
If you liked E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, you’ll also like Due Preparations for the Plague by Janette Turner Hospital. Turner Hospital is an Australian author, although the book is set in the US. Lowell is traumatised by the hijacking that killed his mother. Samantha survived a hijacking and cannot let go. Together the two investigate a mysterious sports bag crammed with documents and tapes. The book has the sensibility of a thriller but is much more complex emotionally — sort of like Proulx meets Le Carre, really.
The book is very emotionally descriptive and it has the same dreamy quality to the plot that some of Proulx’s stuff has. It’s an absorbing, intelligent book, with just a hint of the dark humour that I loved in The Shipping News. It has a dark tone and doesn’t mind delving into the fear and suspicion of our post-9/11 world.
You really can tell that the author loves words, too. Have a look at this quote from the front page:
Brightness falls from the air, and so do the words, which rush him. They swoop like starlings from the radio hooked to his belt, though before brightness, before Queens have died young and fair, the broadcast was blurred murmur, bits of music, bits of talk, voices heard but not listened to. Now the phrases flock about Lowell and he bats at them, distressed. Dust hath closed Helen’s eye, I am sick, I must die–but no, Lowell thinks, I must not–Lord, have mercy on us, and yes, Lowell prays, Lord have mercy, because in spite of the fact that the reader has a mellow voice, a soothing and expensive poetry-reading voice, an unmistakably National Public Radio voice, what Lowell can hear is his own father in shallow duet, word for word and line for line, and then suddenly, with a sharp change of tone, Forty thousand feet, he hears, severed fuselage… the fatal plunge…
And a little bit later:
He throws himself forward across the steeply pitched roof and lies sprawled there. The tiles beat against his heart like frightened birds.
Most of all I think that both authors share the belief that emotional trauma can be escaped by their characters, but through a slow process of learning and redemption, not through the usual cathartic soap-opera tricks. Very gentle, beautiful writing.Filed under Books that deserve a look | Comments Off
“I let go of the gun and took hold of his wrists. They were greasy and hard to hold. The Indian breathed gutterally and set me down with a jar that lifted the top of my head. He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I can be bent. I’m not the City Hall. He bent me.
I tried to yell, for no reason at all. Breath panted in my throat and couldn’t get out. The Indian threw me sideways and got a body scissors on me as I fell. He had me in a barrel. His hands went to my neck. Sometimes I wake up in the night. I feel them there and I smell the smell of him. I feel the breath fighting and losing and the greasy fingers digging in. Then I get up and take a drink and turn the radio on.”
That is a quote from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely.
He was a plump, dark, youngish man of medium height, broad through the jaws, narrow between the eyes. He wore a black bowler hat, a black overcoat that fitted him very snugly, a dark suit, and black shoes, all looking as if he had bought them within the past fifteen minutes. The gun, a blunt black .38-calibre automatic, lay comfortably in his hand, not pointing at any-thing.
This is a quote from Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man
If you love crime fiction, why not go back to the source and read some of the classics? Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were the first to write about the LA detective, a witty, hard-boiled guy who didn’t melt down under pressure and who survived to tell his sometimes-confusing tale in a dark, cynical tone.
Readers of any crime fiction will love these hard-boiled classics. There are some hallmarks of hard-boiled crime that you won’t find anywhere else, at least not this clear-cut. The plot is usually linear and the audience doesn’t know that a man is about to come through the door with a gun in his hand until he does. Likewise, if the detective gets conked on the head and knocked out (that may very well happen, since while hard-boiled detectives are often shrewd and very smart, they’re not superhuman or endowed with the catlike reflexes of some of our more contemporary heroes), we don’t know what’s going to happen until he wakes up. This close, almost claustrophobic POV highlights the seamy underbelly of Los Angeles, where most of these early detective novels are set.
The detective himself is a cynical, world-weary type. He’s more intelligent than he is a thug, but he won’t hesitate to take out his gun and menace people. He’s often principled and well-read, so you get the feeling that this is a detective who oscillates between wanting to be in the world he is in (wanting to stand up for his client, wanting to solve the crime or simplify it) and condemning it, as if he landed in this world of greys, of lies and half-truths, of crime and virtue, by no fault of his own. Chandler’s Philip Marlowe explains in his first novel appearance, The Big Sleep, that he is a college dropout who worked for the DA until he was fired for disobeying orders. Later on we see that he grew up in a small town and that he abhors the thought of that stultifying life: working in a hardware store and marrying the boss’s daughter. Although he hates the lies and murky morality that some of his clients surround him with, he prefers this life to another. He values his education and is widely read, but he feels smothered in rich settings. He enjoys living by his wits. Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer is a similar knot of contradictions. Archer has a past as a juvenile delinquent, and although he falls in love with many of the women he meets we know that he is divorced and that he is often disgusted with himself when he falls in love with another femme fatale. Archer hates being a tough guy, but he can’t help it.
The detective is always just a little bit detached, a little bit of an outsider. He’s tailor-made to observe and pass silent (and sometimes not-so-silent) judgement.
Many hard-boiled detectives have a quirk that makes them more reflective, something they use as a sort of escape from their work: Chandler’s Philip Marlowe often makes observations informed by the chess games he plays against himself.
If you’re a crime fiction fan (as I am), come in and have a look at our classics. We have plenty of Ross MacDonald, some James M. Cain, the last of Chandler’s novels and a couple by Dashiell Hammett. It’s refreshing to see the roots of the hard-boiled crime fiction we see today, and they’re always a great, breathless read.
- AgnesFiled under Cool Crime Writers | Tags: Classic Crime, Cool Crime Writers, Recycled Books | Comments Off
The incredible book of the incredible movie. We love: the messy melty zombieness, and the feeble attempt at a swirling hellish background. Also the subtitle exclamation, sans deserved punctuation: “he is a human time bomb”. Blurb extract: “On the run from… the dreadful organism which had taken possession of his flesh, turning him into a fiendish nightmare but leaving his mind intact to cringe from the murderous horror he had become”. Disgustingly wonderful. Incredible, even. All this could be yours for five bucks. ONO.
L’YanFiled under Covers so bad we love 'em | Tags: Covers so bad, Recycled Books | Comments Off
I’m not much of a cat lover, but I just had to post about this book that just came in. It’s full of cats and very Japanese, and it’s called Kittens in Japan (unsurprisingly, perhaps).
The dust jacket tells me that the book is a companion volume to “… the ever popular KITTENS ON VACATION…” It seems that some people can never resist a kitten, and after flicking through this book I can see why.
Obviously, it’d be a great gift for a cat lover, or a great desk/coffee table book. And for the more internet-savvy among us, I can imagine that it would be great lolcat fodder.
Take a look! Let the cuteness take over!
We have quite a few catty books in the shop at the moment (including Christmas Carols for Cats and A Curious History of Cats), so come in and take a look.
What is the Zeony?
What is the Zeony?
One part water shifting
Over breast untrembling.
Noting a branch of melaleucas,
Unguent at its leg.
Its knees are bent and
Shine like pomegranates.
The Auguries of its
Left hock speak
To lacing on
© Patrick Hromas, Child of Equus, 2009 www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/h/hromasFiled under Uncategorized | Comment (1)
Do you have a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love” in very good condition? We have a number of people wanting this title. So come on in and recycle your copy! We buy books in very good condition, or can offer store credit if you want to get another book…Filed under BOOKS | Comment (0)