Scratch 'n' Sniff

For the “Shrivelled Up” & the “Stupefied” I have written a serious & proper chorale. This chorale is a sort of bitter preamble, a kind of austere & unfrivolous introduction. I have put into it all I know about Boredom. I dedicate this chorale to those who don’t like me. I withdraw. Image © Simon Miller

A Mammal’s Notebook: The Collected Writings of Erik Satie

Erik Satie

“The first collection of Satie’s writings available in English… A pivotal character in the French avant-gardes from the 1880s to the Dada movement of the 1920s. Dismissed as a bizarre eccentric by most of his contemporaries, Erik Satie is recognized as a key influence on 20th-century music.”

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 192 pages


The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America’s Great Lyricists

Philip Furia

Although rock lyrics (especially those by Dylan, Lennon and Morrissey) are subject to endless analysis, second-guessing and assignments of cultural importance, the truly astonishing lyrical craftsmanship of Tin Pan Alley in the early part of this century has been given short shrift. Lyricists such as Lorenz Hart, Dorothy Fields, and especially Johnny Mercer contributed bodies of work that not only influenced but also captured a certain corner of Americana as it has too rarely been explored before or since. While the author occasionally gets a mite technical for the average reader (who cares about how syllables were split in “Too Marvelous for Words”?), books that look seriously into the craft of Tin Pan Alley lyricists are far too few, and books this well-informed always have a place in the music aficionado’s library. SH

Publisher: Oxford University
Paperback: 336 pages

Progressive German Graphics, 1900-1937

Leslie Cabarga

Explores the aesthetic, historical and social influences on German and Austrian graphics between the wars—before Hitler’s heavy hand of kitsch descended on the design world. Posters, packaging, trademarks and more are strikingly arranged to showcase the commercial artist’s mastery of weight and severity (echoes of calligraphy and woodcuts), contrasted with muted color palettes, richly textured surfaces and (surprise) a German sense of character and humor. GR

Publisher: Chronicle
Paperback: 132 pages

Psychology of Music

Carl E. Seashore

Spanning clinical laboratory analysis and standard music theory, this valuable introduction written in 1938 helped in the establishment of pyschoacoustics and led to a greater study and understanding of how our sensory capacities distinguish between pitch and frequency, tone and dynamics, and how our conscious perception of sound affects musical aesthetics. BW

Publisher: Dover
Paperback: 408 pages

Pulp Culture: Hard-boiled Fiction and the Cold War

Woody Haut

An old-line Marxist interpretation of “pulp culture”—really the hard-boiled detective and crime novels of the ‘40s and ‘50s as exemplified by Thompson, Goodis and Himes. And like most sweeping lit-crit analysis, it’s full of gaping holes. But given the paucity elsewhere of criticism going beyond the usual hard-boiled trinity (Hammett, Chandler, MacDonald), a wise reader can skim the bits about monopoly capitalism and the crimes of the state to pick up tips on many of the lesser known paperback tough-guy writers such as W.P. McGivern, Lionel White and Robert Finnegan. JM

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 230 pages

The Queen’s Throat: Opera and Homosexuality

Wayne Koestenbaum

Addressing the long-observed affinity between homosexual men and opera, this book combines the many colored threads of this complex and frequently intense codependency. Organized into seven chapters, the broad topic headings include the major theme “Opera Queens,” as well as “The Shut-In Fan: Opera at Home,” “The Unspeakable Marriage of Words and Music,” and “A Pocket Guide to Queer Moments in Opera.” Meditations include the transcendent imagery of opera LP labels—”The two central images adorning the labels of opera records have been the dog and the angel. Bestial. Celestial. When you listen to opera, are your desires doggy or divine?”; and the complex relationship between divas and self-mutilation—”Diva self-mutilation helps the show go on: before a performance, Maria Malibran took a pair of scissors and cut away the blisters around her mouth; Geraldine Farrar told Carl Van Vechten that ‘at every performance she cut herself open with a knife and gave herself to the audience.’” The author also notes that “there’s a bizarre affinity between divas and dismembered anatomies: diva Brigitta Banti died in 1806 and left her larynx, preserved in alcohol, to the city of Bologna; Olive Fremstad’s piano was graced by a pickled human head sliced in half so she could show her students the vocal and breathing apparatus.” While the author has produced a work of both scholarly research and deep introspection, he never forgets to leaven the mix with keen wit. A compelling work of cultural history and literature, this book will appeal to everyone, regardless of sexual persuasion, interested in the meaning attributed to one’s erotic and aesthetic experiences. JAT

Publisher: Vintage
Paperback: 271 pages

R. Crumb’s America

R. Crumb

From the right-on ‘60s and ‘70s to the bitterness and disillusionment of the ‘80s and ending with the futility of fighting the all-powerful system, Crumb covers a variety of political attitudes while retaining his original anti-Establishment opinions. PH

Publisher: Last Gasp
Paperback: 80 pages

R. Crumb’s Carload o’ Comics

R. Crumb

“It’s classic Crumb in a great collection! Mr. Natural and Flakey Foont, the incorrigible Mr. Snoid in a 14-page story done especially for this collection, and classic counterculture characters like Honeybunch Kaminski, the ‘drug-crazed runway,’ and Jumpin’ Jack Flash run riot through the pages of this dynamite gathering of Crumb’s best comics from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, underground comix golden age!”

Publisher: Kitchen Sink
Paperback: 176 pages

Road to Rembetika

Gail Holst

“Rembetika, the music which began in the jails and hashish-dens of Greek towns and became the popular bouzouki music of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, has many parallels with American blues. Like the blues, the rembetika songs were the soul music of a group of people who felt themselves to be outside the mainstream of society, who developed their own slang and their own forms of expression. Road to Rembetika is the first book in English to attempt a general survey of the world of the ‘rembets,’ who smoked hashish while they played the bouzouki and danced the passionate ‘zembekiko’ to release their emotions.”

Publisher: Harvey
Paperback: 181 pages


Jane and Michael Stern

The highway bible to America’s sleeves-up eateries. “How to find the restaurants that serve the most succulent barbecued ribs, the crustiest skillet-fried chicken, four-star hot fudge sundaes and blue-ribbon apple pie-in small towns, in city neighborhoods and along the Interstate.” Visit Pink’s Chili Dogs in Hollywood: “Step right up and meet a hot bow-wow every street food scholar ought to know: Pink’s chili dog, an all-beef wiener topped with mustard and onions, then a load of chili sauce. This dog is a beaut, steamed until it seems ready to burst out of its crackling skin. It is normal-size, so you won’t likely see it beneath all the topping. It tastes great, just garlicky enough to have some punch but not overwhelm the rest of the package. It is muscular, juicy, a rewarding chew.” State-by-state reviews of more than 400 steak joints, oyster dives, chicken houses, waffle pits, BBQ huts and other roadside diners. GR

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Paperback: 489 pages

Rockers: Kings of the Road

John Stuart

“‘The Rocker image reflects the experience of working-class life in the mid 20th century—boredom and disenchantment on the one hand and an intoxicating energy and escapist thrill on the other. There is a potency, an epic simplicity about bikes, leathers and rock ‘n’ roll during this period.”
Along with the advent of the “teenager” in 1950s England came the Rocker. Modeled after such icons as Brando, Dean and Elvis, the Rocker’s style was “a very English interpretation of American ‘glamor.’” This book is a chronicle of the evolution of that style, the classic look that has never gone out of fashion. This volume is lavishly illustrated with black-and-white photos and news clippings of Rockers leaning on things, smoking cigarettes, hanging out, dancing, rioting, posing and interacting with motorcycles. Little details such as the cut of jackets and boot types give the pictures a distinctly British feel. Nuances and variations on the theme are illustrated. This book covers a huge hunk of time (by fashion standards) in which a style has remained remarkably constant. SA

Publisher: Plexus
Paperback: 128 pages