A Class Apart: The Private Pictures of Montague Glover

James Gardiner

Cock’s-eye-view of the working boys of London in photos taken between 1918 and the 1950s. The pictures are compelling—and so are the boys, even fully clothed! Street hustlers with hardons. Butch buddies modeling kilts, army uniforms and wet shorts. Boys in bed, boys shaving, boys hitching up their pants. And then there’s curly-haired Ralph… the blue-collar, blond Adonis. The roving, randy “middle-class toff with a camera” who snapped all the shots was architect/ex-army officer Montague Glover. These rare glimpses into the gay past “document the three obsessions of his life: the search for ‘rough trade’ on the streets of London; men in uniform; and the handsome East End lover with whom he shared his life for over 50 years—surmounting all obstacles of prejudice, class difference and separation.” Also includes Monty and Ralph’s torrid love letters. The result is “a remarkable story; not only of the private life of one gay man, but of the whole hidden history of what gay men really looked like, felt and dreamed of in the first 50 years of this century.” GR

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 144 pages

Man Enough To Be a Woman

Jayne County

Witness here the life of Jayne (formerly Wayne) County in all its messy glory, from picking up queen fuckers by the road side to breaking heads on the stage at CBGB’s. She did it first, if not best, and her antics put rock’s other drag hags way in the shade. MG

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 184 pages

Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock

Simon Reynolds

The subject of Blissed Out is ostensibly the “alternative” side of ‘80s rock, from grunge to acid-house, but more importantly, perhaps, the book reveals how Reynolds became the art world’s resident rock critic—second only to the slightly more ubiquitous Jon Savage. The chapter headings give the author away: “Miserabilism,” “The Powers of Horror” and as a grand finale, of course, “The End of Music.” Reynolds is no run-of-the-mill hack—he’s done his homework in French theory, and he wants everyone to know it.
To be fair, the rock “text” has been slighted for too long by the thumbs-up/thumbs-down school of scribblers, or worse, by those who employ it as a springboard for stream of consciousness rambling à la Lester Bangs or the confessional musing Nick Kent. In Blissed Out, Reynolds attempts something much more rigorous, unobjectionable were it not for the orgy of quotation that ensues. From Situationism to Simulationism, no buzz-concept is left untouched. A dash of the abject from Kristeva; a pinch of the obscene, courtesy of Baudrillard; and several generous helpings of that perennial Barthesian favorite jouissance—et voilà!
Those interested in the ideas behind the music of Nick Cave, My Bloody Valentine or Loop will surely be disappointed. Here, rock is only a pretext for airing a reading list, which is actually quite limited. JT

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 192 pages

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

Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds

David Toop

The author traces a series of lines running just slightly afoul of the traditional course of Western musicology, a series of stops and starts, of wrong turns and dead ends, of auspicious experiments and outright failures which have been scattered like crumbs to history. Often unrecognized in their time, they are here reconfigured into a kind of trajectory consistently pointing toward “the way out.” Debussy’s encounter with the Javanese gamelan at the Paris exposition of 1889 sets the ball rolling; yet it is up to Debussy’s friend Erik Satie to really run with it—the outcome being his musique d’ameublement, or furniture music. From there, it’s just a few steps further to Muzak and Brian Eno’s notions of ambience—a music without beginning or end, without progression or narrative development, and without motifs, the plural giving way to a single motif indefinitely sustained. The author grants equal time to the ethnographic, the avant-garde and pop camps, interviewing many of their principal representatives and figureheads along the way. From Lee “Scratch” Perry to Terry Reilly to Kate Bush, the range could not be broader, and with the prose restlessly shuttling backward and forward in time, and from one continent to the next, the point sometimes gets lost in a maze of tenuous connections. Above all, though, Toop sees the current craze for ambience as a resurgence of the kind of sensual sophistication which dominated the Symbolist movement at the turn of the last century. Taking his cue from such Symbolist antiheroes as des Esseintes and Dorian Gray, he attempts to expand his obsessions with exotica and armchair travel into a viable musical program for the next millennium. JT

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 306 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

Let It Bleed: Essays, 1985-1995

Gary Indiana

A collection of essays on contemporary culture written between 1985 and 1995. Ranging in subject matter from Paul Schrader’s Mishima to the art of Gilbert and George to reflections on Euro Disney (“it presumes a universe in which human beings no longer have any minds at all”), Let It Bleed, as the title suggests, pulls no punches and makes no apologies. Sometimes subtle, at other times blunt—but always direct. Occasionally condescending and annoyingly peevish, Indiana’s insights are consistently on target: arch, unique, unexpected and challenging. A sample of his thoughts on the French writer Herve Guibert, who died from AIDS in 1992: “One of the glories of Guibert’s book is its intense specificity: the narrator’s plight isn’t generic, its extremity doesn’t lead him to abandon the habit of precise observation…” The same could be said of Indiana’s own powers of observation. MDG

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 300 pages

Four Dada Suicides

Edited by Arthur Cravan, et al

Selected texts of four writers on the fringes of the Dada movement in 1920s Paris: Arthur Cravan, Jacques Rigaut, Julien Torma and Jacques Vaché. All took the nihilism of the movement to its ultimate conclusion and played a significant role in the formation of the French avant-garde. Their work is viewed as a by-product of their extraordinary lives, as all lived to the limit in the spirit of Dada, with ferocious nonchalance and tragic abandon: Vaché died of a drug overdose; Rigaut shot himself; the other two simply vanished. Complete with notes, sources, translations, related publications and short, insightful biographical introductions to each author followed by a personal recollection by one of their contemporaries. A labor of love and respect. MDG

Publisher: Serpent's Tail

Ask Dr. Mueller

Cookie Mueller

“Cookie Mueller was a fiction writer, cult movie star, art critic and a fixture on the downtown New York scene until her death from AIDS in 1989. An art columnist for Details, an advice columnist for the East Village Eye, Cookie also wrote fiction which was eminently amusing and refreshing. Included here are the best of her Details columns; the funniest East Village Eye pieces, on everything from homeopathic medicine and health-care to how to cut your cocaine with a healthy substance; and her strongest pieces of fiction, including some from Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black and High Risk. This collection is as much an autobiography as it is a map of downtown New York in the early ‘80s—that moment before Bright Lights, Big City, before the art world exploded, before New York changed into a yuppie metropolis, while it still had a glimmer of bohemian life.”

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 320 pages