Lit

Rearview mirror

YEAR IN MUSIC 2011: It's a retromaniac's world, but lookin' back ain't so bad. Plus: the top 10 live shows of 2011

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

Year in Music "Out of all the records I've recorded, that was the worst experience," says prolific Dinosaur Jr. bassist and Sebadoh guitarist Lou Barlow. He's speaking of Bug, the classic, feedback opening alternative rock album Dinosaur Jr. released on SST in 1988.Read more »

Lit shorts: Cocker, on paper

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Mother, Brother, Lover
By Jarvis Cocker
Faber and Faber
208 pp., hardcover, $17

 
Books of lyrics — words uprooted from the music and set down naked on the page — are traditionally published with either self-congratulation or doubts by songwriters. Jarvis Cocker has some doubts.

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Lit shorts: 'Beck' by the book

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Beck
By Autumn de Wilde
Chronicle Books
176 pp., hardcover, $35

 
For more than a decade and half, pop culture photographer (and video director) Autumn de Wilde has chronicled Beck, the iconic songwriter and her personal friend, on tour, in the studio, and as he’s posed before the camera — the latter especially.

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You grow, girl?

BOOKS ISSUE: From Blair Witch to blazing weed -- Heather Donahue's book takes on the weed community

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caitlin@sfbg.com

HERBWISE The average celebrity autobiography follows an arc of learning and growing. The earnestly-made mistake — whether in the form of childhood shenanigan or adult infidelity — and then the ensuing redemption. But rarely do book-sized treatises emerge from the decision to leave the celebrity fold for the greener fields of bud agriculture. Leave it to the girl from the Blair Witch Project to produce that one.Read more »

Justin Bua brings his hip-hop legends to the Bay

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Justin Bua's new book Legends of Hip-Hop would look nice in your living room, but if you get a chance to snag the renowned portratist on his promotional swoop through the Bay Area this weekend (Thu/10-Sat/12) don't feel like you have to call it a coffeetable book. This thing's got wisdom to impart to the Beyonce feat. J. Cole generation. Read more »

"And that's when I came"

SEX ISSUE: A steamy tale of SF sex from Bawdy Storytelling

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By Airial Clark

SEX ISSUE 2011 I'm a writer, mother, and social science researcher (in chronological order) who is passionate about poking and prodding at perceived cultural norms while raising two tweenage sons. Bawdy is the best outlet for my raucous compulsion for over-sharing. Here's a tale I shared at a recent installation of the series:

I'm a sex geek. I'm working on a master's degree in sexuality studies at a local university. It's a social justice program focused on oppression and stigma.Read more »

Trash Lit: Demon hunting with John Wayne Cleaver

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I Don’t Want to Kill You, By Dan Wells
Tor, 320 pages, $11.95

One of the reviews on the back of this book says that “regardless or your age or your genre preferences, you will find this story both profound and enthralling.” The usual blurb crap, but it did make me think that this could be another series like the Maximum Ride books --stuff my 12-year-old son and I could share.Read more »

Sk8 or die! "Tessa & Scott:" a sartorial appreciation

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Taken as a sports glory confessional, Tessa & Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold (Anansi, 192 pages, $19.95) is pretty standard. It has more than its fair share of inspirational sound bites (“The young couple faced difficult challenges, but they were sustained by their love for skating and the knowledge that they could be champions.”). It’s also packed with glossy photographs and mildly amusing anecdotes. Yet, taken as a study in the evolution of dancing facial expressions, body chemistry, and ice dancing fashion choices, the book becomes exponentially more interesting. 

In terms of facial features, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada's 2010 Olympic ice-dancing champs, among their many accolades) were born to dance to together. They’ve got the distinctive “Are we siblings or are we lovers?” look that’s become a prerequisite for the sport. The fuzzier the line, the better. Ambiguous sexual preference is suggested, but not mandatory. Both Scott and Tessa have creamy skin and thick – slightly wavy – chocolate brown hair. It’s versatile enough to be tightly wound back, gelled, and hair-sprayed into oblivion, pre-show. Yet, they can also rock the slightly mussed-up, sweaty, post-dance routine look. Tessa is a huge fan of ponytails, though her go-to look for the ice is an intricate top bun. She’s got a strict anti-bangs policy. Scott has a fantastic variety of smiles (including a grimace that strikes a fine balance between warm and fierce), though he’s lacking a bit in the upper-lip department.

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Lit review: "Ambient Parking Lot"

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Ambient Parking Lot (Kenning Editions, $14.95) is a 187-page book about one band’s quest to capture the world’s most perfect ambient noise in a parking lot. Wait, don’t go away! It's great ... I swear. Author Pamela Lu’s novel follows the Ambient Parkers, a fictional collective of musicians and artists, as they rise to heights of fame or alternately cower under the weight of their shortcomings.

Their peaks and valleys shape a familiar refrain if you’ve ever been in a band; Lu uses the Ambient Parkers (they are otherwise anonymous) as a foil by which she is able to draw the whole business of the so-called underground art establishment under her perceptive and witty lens. The performance artist who joins the Ambient Parkers for a night of experimental dance, the respected radio DJ who rebukes their creative advances, and perhaps most impressively of all, us, the fickle and demanding public: these are just a handful of the cogs in a not-at-all-well-oiled (and certainly well worn) machine.

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Clare Rojas' safe space

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As far as books go, Everything Flowers (Chronicle Books, $22.95) may just be my favorite to come out of the Bay Area this year. And not for its revelatory prose or whip-smart characters (it has neither). The small volume is filled with Clare Rojas' quietly woman-centric, garden-toned designs that – can a book do this? – make me feel supported. I found myself breathing deeply while reading it, as if I'd just shook an asymmetrically packed satchel from my shoulders.

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