Literature

Speed Reading

The Face in the Lens and Blank Spots on the Map
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THE FACE IN THE LENS: ANONYMOUS PHOTOGRAPHS

By Robert Flynn Johnson

University of California Press

208 pages

$45

A shop in the Tenderloin sells anonymous photos. The pictures are messily packed in boxes and labeled according to whether the subject, sometimes but not always graphic (there are plenty of head shots of failed actors, for example), is heterosexual or homosexual. Read more »

Speed reading

Against Happiness and A Field Guide to Melancholy
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AGAINST HAPPINESS

By Eric G. Wilson

Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

166 pages

$12

Contemporary perkiness has an enemy and timeless melancholia has a defender in Eric G. Wilson, whose Against Happiness is a largely poetic and occasionally prosaic screed. Read more »

Speed Reading

San Francisco Noir 2, Warhol Live, and Andy Warhol: Blow Job
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SAN FRANCISCO NOIR 2: THE CLASSICS

Edited by Peter Maravelis

Akashic Books

300 pages

$15.95

San Francisco has many legacies, including the social movements of the 1960s and '70s. But before more recent utopian impulses, SF was the Barbary Coast — and Chinatown, North Beach, and the Financial District were havens for gambling, prostitution, and crime. Read more »

Speed Reading

The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics creeps out
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THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST HORROR COMICS

Edited by Peter Normanton

Running Press

448 pages

$17.95

It probably comes as no surprise that post–World War II Americans decided Hitler was a lot scarier than the Boogeyman. It's a little more shocking to see that fear realized in their comic books. Read more »

All mod cons

Fakers journeys through mazes of truths and falsehood
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johnny@sfbg.com

How can any of us forget 1835, and the heady discovery of spherical amphibians, blue goats, and petite three-foot zebras frolicking on the moon? In Fakers: Hoaxers, Con Artists, Counterfeiters, and Other Great Pretenders (New Press, 245 pages, $24.95), Paul Maliszewski relates that time, when the New York Sun brought news of lunar life to an increasingly large readership that craved delightful information during an economic drought. Read more »

A scar is born

Gary Indiana casts a warm but scathing eye at Utopia's Debris
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johnny@sfbg.com

What does Gary Indiana think of Obamamania? I have to ask, because Indiana is a peerless dissector of contemporary American political symptoms. The evidence includes his blistering appraisal of Jerry Brown's blank gaze and sun-scorched face and other facets of the 1992 presidential campaign in Let it Bleed: Essays 1985-1995. Read more »

Just dandy

Modern Menswear outfits the new aesthete's imagination
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Men dress up. Yes, we do. We dress like animals: peacocks, roosters, cats. We dress like weapons: blades, pistols, and straps. Men dress up. Always have. Always will.

Something has been happening in men's fashion lately, an evolution that's taken place underneath just about everyone's noses. For the longest time it was assumed that men's fashion was about function over style, resulting in an array of boring, drab clothing. Read more »

Speed Reading

Ishmael Reed's pugnacious Mixing It Up
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MIXING IT UP: TAKING ON THE MEDIA BULLIES AND OTHER REFLECTIONS

By Ishmael Reed

Da Capo Press

320 pages

$15.95

Ishmael Reed is one of the most prolific writers, seers, and pundits of the 20th and 21st centuries. The author of nine novels, six books of poetry, six plays, and four books of political essays has been a constant presence and persistent thorn in the sides of various official experts. Read more »

Shock and awe

Aurobora Press and the end of an era
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

After 15 years of a labor of printmaking love in what has become the artistic heart of SoMa, Aurobora Press has to be out of its home at 147 Natoma Street by the end of the month. When the landlord came forward with a tenant able to pay three times what the press was shelling out for the historic back-alley building, built in 1907 with bricks from the rubble of the earthquake, Aurobora — no stranger to our languishing economy — was forced to pack its bags. Read more »

The wayward west

America is not a freeway in Jon Raymond's Livability
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

The world falls away again and again in Jon Raymond's short stories. The 10 pieces comprising Livability (Bloomsbury, 272 pages, $15), the Portland, Ore., author's first such collection, are introspective ellipses enshrouded in the march of everyday life. We may hear about a job or spouse in passing, but Raymond submerges his characters into stunned states of contingency. Read more »