Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions, 1928-1932

Edited by José Pierre

The transcript of a round-table discussion between all the big-name Surrealists when the given topic is sex sounds like the hoot to end all hoots, doesn’t it? Well, uh, it isn’t. Goes to show that even the avant le avant couldn’t really shake their… stick… at the great libertines of yore, be it the second earl of Rochester (read Graham Greene’s jaw-dropping bio) or de Sade himself. Especially fun to learn what a prude Breton himself was. It is a great read, though. And the (mildly) edited debates, if not especially revealing or revelationesque, are an interesting fly-on-the-wall experience, even though far too similar conversations can be overheard on a daily basis at any given latte joint in the galaxy. JK

Publisher: Verso
Paperback: 215 pages

Opus Maledictorum: A Book of Bad Words

Edited by Reinhold Aman

Compiled and published by Dr. Reinhold Aman, who since the mid ‘60s has collected all forms of maledicta (Latin for “bad words”), this book is a brilliant appetizer before devouring Aman’s also-brilliant International Journal of Verbal Aggression. Written in a style similar to G. Legman’s classic Rationale of the Dirty Joke, Aman’s compendium covers the scope of the human insult with clarity and wit. The instinctive balance of the writing makes for a highly entertaining read. With just the right amount of scholarship, of populism, of anthropology, of highbrow and low, the Opus Maledictorum will enrich your vocabulary and explain the heritage of malicious slang (which is, of course, as old as mankind). JK

Publisher: Marlowe
Paperback: 364 pages

Rock and the Pop Narcotic

Joe Carducci

In the world of academia, the lengthiest arguments revolve around issues of authenticity, thoroughness of research and the way in which disparate facts are connected. In the world of rock writing these issues aren’t usually given the time of day. In recent years books on punk rock have become more and more common, ranging from the idiotic (Greil Marcus, various titles that started as college papers) to the entertaining (Please Kill Me, Rotten’s autobio) to the purely confused. This book belongs in the latter group since it is not only just about punk but is an attempt to, uh, explain rock in a bizarro-world version of Cutler’s File Under Pop.
Rock and the Pop Narcotic is a mishmash, and as such is difficult to completely dis or dismiss, or for that matter take seriously. Carducci is preoccupied with what in rock ‘n’ roll history does or does not “rock.” And how “pop” has watered down “rock” (a bunch of “fags” are to blame for this says the author). Saint Vitus “rock” and so does Black Sabbath and a lot of other bands Carducci likes. Bands he doesn’t like don’t “rock”. The Pet Shop Boys or New Order don’t “rock.” Pretty simple. This goes on for 500 pages.
Carducci spent his formative years in the SoCal hardcore scene (at SST Records) and is deciphering the world of rock ‘n’ roll music from his own point of view, which is interesting (in the same way as is any piece of historical or cultural writing attempting to explain a huge and complex subject from an extremely limited perspective). Carducci may come off as more sincere than Marsh or Marcus et al. but one should still remember that Rock and the Pop Narcotic is a rant book, by a rabid rock ’n’ roll fan who frequently stumbles over the line separating the fan from the kook. JK

Publisher: 2.13.61
Paperback: 532 pages

The Whip Angels

Anonymous (Diane Bataille)

Hardcore filth by Georges’ wife! And the crowd goes wild! This was originally published by the Paris Olympia Press in 1955 using one of the shortest (and finest) pseudonyms in the history of smut: “XXX.” Why it was written is anybody’s guess. It was published seven years before the death of Georges Bataille, at a point when he had conquered most of the controversy and arrived at the position of a grand old guy of letters, complete with the appropriate financial security, so it wasn’t like they needed the money… .Neither Kearney, De St. Jorre nor Girodias have much more than this to say about the book in any of the tomes on Olympia. JK

Publisher: Creation
Paperback: 192 pages