DRUG LIT The psychedelic experience is perfectly, if unintentionally, expressed in a poetry collection: Too long I took clockwork as a model instead of following the angle my inclinations make with the ground. So writes Rosmarie Waldrop in A Key into the Language of America (New Directions, 1994), a book based on Rhode Island founder Roger Williams's 1643 guide of the same name. The most "meditative" poets, from Milton and Blake to James Merrill and Denise Levertov, are often those who have reworked historical texts. Read more »
1. Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973. When jazz singer Anita O'Day found herself stuck with an odd group of musicians who weren't drinking alcohol or smoking anything between sets they were reading books she considered such behavior the other side of life. A very Pynchonian phrase. I know more people (two) who claim to have read this novel on acid than any other the writer Kevin Killian and the poet Joshua Clover.
2. The Soft Machine, William Burroughs, 1962. Read more »
REVIEW UC Santa Barbara sociology professor William I. Robinson was recently in the news for having the temerity to criticize the Israeli military's assault on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Right-wing groups including the ADL orchestrated a campaign attacking Robinson with the implication that any criticism of Israel's military abuses in the occupied territories somehow equates to anti-Semitism.
It would be nice if Robinson also received some press for the incredibly rich body of work he has produced in his career. Read more »
INTERVIEW Nestled in the corner of the old New College building, true seekers will find Goteblüd. Matt Wobensmith's zine emporium keeps the building's dedication to countercultural self-publishing alive. As characterful as it is small, Goteblüd places shelves of photocopied DIY writings amid a brown shag paneling motif that wittily references the cat-scratch antics found within Ed Luce's comic Wuvable Oaf, the store's main link to contemporary publications. Read more »
QUEER ISSUE As May gave way to June, news arrived that a veteran gang of gay magazines Honcho, Inches, Mandate, Playguy, and Torso were printing their last glossy naked pages, no thanks to the unending onslaught of Internet porn and hookup sites. For print fetishists of the queer variety, this would seem like a sign of the gloomy end times. But signs can be wrong. Read more »
Best-selling author Richard North Patterson stays out of the local limelight, but he's a San Francisco resident and we caught up with him May 21st to talk about his new book, Eclipse, and the role that U.S. oil companies play in Nigeria.
Before Nigerian environmental activist (and Goldman Environmental Prize winner) Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged in 1995, PEN, the international writers' group, wrote letters and organized protests against the execution. "I was very impressed by Saro-Wiwa," says Patterson, who was on the board of PEN at the time. Read more »
REVIEW Mass market novels of the mystery and thriller kind are not known for their progressive politics. The most popular authors of the political adventure set are the likes of Tom Clancy, who thinks we're still at war with Japan and ought to be at war with China. The detective novelists tend to glorify law enforcement and disparage those weak-willed sorts who would rein in the mighty and righteous gun-wielding police. Read more »
AFRO-SURREAL Sadly, the mythology of poet Bob Kaufman almost rivals all we have left of his poetry. However, to place Kaufman within a mere "cult of personality" (along the lines of some of his contemporaries) undermines the innovation of his process and what it brings to the tapestry of American poetics and the complicated and surreal orality of his poems.
Called "the American Rimbaud" by the French, Kaufman lived as a poetic assassin. Read more »