Unexplained!: 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena

Jerome Clark

This reference guide covers not only the familiar unexplained phenomena such as the Yeti, the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and the Loch Ness Monster, but also such lesserknown enigmas as bloody rain, the Chinese Wildman, and Thunderbirds. This book brings back fond memories of, and nostalgia for, the von Daniken years of the early ’70s which were rife with such volumes. Unlike those books, Clark’s provides many firsthand accounts which give a fresh look at unexplained phenomena. He carefully annotates and footnotes his sources on nearly every page and includes such revered sources as Fate magazine and UFO Quarterly. Many scholarly references are sited in his documentation of cryptozoölogy. Often the mundane solution he offers to certain mysteries takes the edge off the glamor. For example, the phenomenon of bloody rain is casually dismissed as buzzard vomit descending upon unwary pedestrians. Clark ties together his variety of sources without being preachy, proselytizing, patronizing or paranoid. MM

Publisher: Visible Ink
Paperback: 443 pages

Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend

Karen Essex and James L. Swanson

Among the many books available on the memorably beautiful Bettie Page, this one is written with her cooperation, providing a unique glimpse into her childhood and early adult years before and after she became a model. The resurrection of the icon of Bettie Page over the last 10 years and the assimilation of her image as a pop culture phenomenon is also thoroughly examined. Her own insights and reflections on her life provide a poignant foil to the pop culture myth of Bettie Page and her enduring allure and influence in style and fashion. The numerous illustrations depict the canon of Bettie’s actual work (including many of her classic bondage poses, nude beach poses and swimwear modeling) and contemporary derivative art, fashion and invented scenarios inspired by her vulpine body, raven hair and captivating smile. Forward by Bettie Page. MM

Publisher: General
Hardback: 288 pages

Va Va Voom! Bombshells, Pin-Ups, Sexpots and Glamour Girls

Steve Sullivan

A veritable Plutarch’s Lives of “Bombshells, Pin-Ups, Sexpots, and Glamour Girls,” this book is a compendium of feminine pulchritude, lushly illustrated with hundreds of suggestive black-and-white and color photographs. The author’s thorough research clearly documents both the life stories and all of the major media appearances of his subjects. This surprisingly serious study of the fates of variously famous, notorious and nearly forgotten women ranges from the depths of the downwardly mobile, the dead, the washed-up, the forgotten, the bankrupt, the drug-addicted and the recovered, to such heights as fame as a still-respected sex symbol; an older exercise maven; working actresses; employment in late-night TV, or porn; coverage in magazines; the conventions, periodic revivals cult followings; and posthumous fame.
This book is a social history of the sexual mores, the exuberance and the darker side of post-war America. Va Va Voom! captures the irony that some women like Julie Newmar can achieve fame, happiness and success spanning decades while others like Marilyn Monroe achieve more fame through their unhappy lives and tragic deaths. The anecdotes alone are positively riveting. For example, it tells of stripper Candy Barr’s associations with Jack Ruby, Mickey Cohen and Hugh Hefner; Tempest Storm’s career as a stripper and Bunny Yeager’s transition from pin-up to photographer. A must-have for any aficionado of popular culture or any man who reached puberty between World War II and Vietnam. MM

Publisher: General
Paperback: 200 pages

Conversations: The Autobiography of Surrealism

André Breton

Only Breton would have the nerve to call this book the “autobiography” of Surrealism. It is in fact a truer portrait of him than of the history of Surrealism. Breton had a profound need for what is now called “damage control,” and was guarded about what he said about the Surrealist movement. His circumspect view and the manner in which he presents it provide an eerie and intriguing look into the workings of his mind. The book consists of a series of what might loosely be termed “interviews.” But Breton not only carefully crafts each and every response long in advance, he also provides the interviewer with the appropriate questions—giving the reader a stimulating, interesting yet wholly selective view of Breton and Surrealism. A marvelous, tantalizing book. MM

Publisher: Marlowe
Paperback: 264 pages

Surrealism and the Occult: Shamanism, Magic, Alchemy, and the Birth of an Artistic Movement

Nadia Choucha

The first half of this book is a compelling look at the late-19th-century occult revival in France and how it influenced art and literature that became influential in the development of Surrealism. That the resurgence of ritual magic imagery influenced such people as Huysmans, Baudelaire, Moreau and Rops is undeniable, and the author initially promises the reader much. While there are some interesting observations on the Theosophical influences on Kandinsky and Mondrian, some of this occult “influence” becomes less direct as the books wears on. In the chapter on automatism, the author spends a good deal of time discussing Austin Osman Spare, declaring that while he did not influence Surrealism as he was unknown to the movement, his style of automatic drawing parallels their automatism. The argument is intriguing but not wholly convincing. Her discussion of Duchamp is also vague. The subject matter she continually returns to in the second half of the book—that of eroticism, the union of opposites and the androgyne—may have their sources in occult literature but also may not. She may well be on the mark with her analogies but sometimes fails to adequately support her arguments. MM

Publisher: Destiny
Paperback: 144 pages

What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings

André Breton

“Contrary to prevalent misdefinitions, Surrealism is not an aesthetic doctrine, nor a philosophical system, nor a mere literary or artistic school. It is an unrelenting revolt against a civilization that reduces all human aspirations to market values, religious impostures, universal boredom and misery.” This collection of writing and manifestos by Breton continues to be one of the most thorough introductions to Breton and Surrealism, outlining the basic tenets, history and influencing factors of the movement. The book presents his work in chronological order, and includes a selection of documents and writings. The reader gains not only a sense of Breton and his significance in the spread of Surrealism, but also gains some familiarity with his fellow artists and writers; how alchemy, Freud and Hegel influenced Breton; how he employed unusual creative techniques such as automatic writing; but most of all how Surrealism is a way of viewing the universe rather than just another “ism.” MM

Publisher: Pathfinder
Paperback: 557 pages

Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West

Anne Seagraves

Colorful, if not socially acceptable, ladies of easy virtue were a definite part of the early West. Wearing ruffled petticoats with fancy bows, they were glamorous and plain, good and bad, and many were as wild as the land they came to tame. Women like “Molly b’Dam,” Mattie Silks and “Chicago Joe” blended into the fabric of the American Frontier with an easy familiarity. Others, such as “Sorrel Mike,” escaped through suicide, Lotte Johl chose marriage, and the Chinese slave girls lived a life without hope. Illustrated with rare photos, this strong book provides a touching insight into the lives of the ladies of the night. MM

Publisher: Gem Guides
Paperback: 175 pages

Secrets of a Super Hacker

The Knightmare

This book offers an abundance of technical information, yet not so much as to overwhelm the casual reader or novice computer user. What the author best describes is the tactical problem-solving enterprise with which hackers work. They root out weaknesses in systems, and rather than being defined by limitations, they learn to exploit these to their own uses and to their own ends. Sometimes those ends are sinister and sometimes not. There are two whole chapters on the art of social engineering, which is rather like hacking a human being. The hacker approaches his subject just as he would a computer—researching, analyzing, and then piercing through the chinks of peoples’ personal armor until they end up divulging some seemingly harmless detail which may just allow one to penetrate their computer systems. In this way hackers appears to be grifters par excellence, but the author paints them as romantic social rebels.
This is a great book on the mindset of those who watch and prey on people, whether they use computers to do so or not. The psychological profiles in the book are enough to scare any system operator into examining the necessity of updating computer systems. Though this book was published in 1994 (nearly a millennium ago by computer standards), the information is ever timely. Although computer technology such as firewalls can be developed, hackers, like other con men, have already cataloged and organized the human psyche, making it only a matter of time to overcome any new obstacles. MM

Publisher: Loompanics
Paperback: 205 pages

Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond

John Maizels

This book is easily one of the most definitive surveys of Outsider Art. There are other books on the art of the insane, Art Brut and strange architectural expressions, but few that encompass this wide of a range of subjects as well and as beautifully as does Raw Creation. Maizels looks first at European examples of these genres, then American ones, dividing works loosely among Art Brut, folk art and marginal art. There are chapters on well-known artists Adolf Wölfli and Jean Dubuffet, and another is devoted to the artists of the clinic at Gugging. One section is devoted to the topic of preservation, citing such destroyed works as Charles Schmidt’s House of Mirrors, and current efforts to preserve works like Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village. The book is lavishly illustrated with paintings, drawings, sculpture, architecture and all manner of three-dimensional art. The examples of heterodox architecture, such as Finster’s Paradise Garden, Cheval’s Palais Ideal and Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, are superbly photographed. The book’s design is as stunning as its subject matter, and the typographic design perfectly complements the text. MM

Publisher: Unknown
Hardback: 240 pages