2013: books, roadtrips and the return to Shoreditch…

Prompted by the invitation to write something for Windmill’s round-up, with authors, agents and other folk: WHICH IS HERE>>>  http://www.windmill-books.co.uk/index.php/books-of-the-year-3/ –

A lil more:

13.  Started the year with a black eye.   The American border people still allowed me into their land of roadtrips, and we took the wheel from San Fran to Mexico.  In an RV – sleep n ride, baby.  I rolled in the rocking chair at City Lights – the Poet’s Chair.  Stopped at Henry Miller’s Memorial Library before some rocks in the road turned us back up the Big Sur to take the wine route into LA.  In the desert, we weirdly homed into the place where Gram Parsons died.  Other pitstops included the IntegratronNoah Purvifoy’s scrap-art graveyard, the Grand Canyon, and Arcosanti – Paolo Soleri’s commune.  Came back via Vegas.  Epic.

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Leaving Chateau Marmont bungalows – in the morning sunshine of LA
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Joshua Trees
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Geoff Nicholson camera flashes near Taschen HQ

Books:

In addition to the Windmill mentions

At the Miller Library I picked up Crazy Cock – post-humously published, a brilliant and terrible debut.  Reassuring to read ill-kempt, overwrought drafts.  Armistead Maupin’s taking his 92-year old transgender superstar on an American roadtrip in 2014, The Days of Anna Madrigal in 2014.  Also good to hear DBC Pierre’s got a new one coming out.

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I love discovering new writers: Ben Lerner was my American darling of 2013, like Sam Lypsyte was in 2012.  Lerner’s Leaving Atocha Station is exactly the self-conscious, post-terrorism era that I’m stoked to leave behind. He’s very minimal, like Paul Auster, although a little less parred down, unfortunately.  I’d had connections with Madrid whilst reading the British edition, and loved the ballsy biographical flavour.

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I scan John and Irvine blattering about on Twitter, makes me feel like I’m at the quiet end of the pub table, but I met Niven recently – and he’s a classic.  I forget titles if they’re not on my reallife #shelfies or stacked up by the bed – yet, upon a beach in Serifos this summer, I consumed his Straight White Male on an iPad.   I used to write A LOT about music, so the books for much of my twenties were rock biogs.  I’ve since consumed far fewer, but caught up on the staggeringly honest Anthony Kiedis’ Scar Tissue.  Also loved John Waters’ Role Models. Also got through a graveyard of dead writers (my favourites this year being Sylvia Plath – I knew of her life than her work, so got into Ariel et al.  Maggie Gyllenhaal’s reading of The Bell Jar is magical.)

Over Christmas I’ll switch my iPad on for Damien Barr’s memoir Maggie & Me.  Next year’s salonniere’s memoir that I’ve pitched into, is by Salena Godden.  She lived with us in Old Street in the 90s for a short while, and started the Book Club Boutique, where I first read poetry.  At the Book Club Boutique’s summer party, I met Lemn Sissay and subsequently sought out his witty poem collection.  He’s working on a biog which’ll perhaps open new audiences up to some of the realities of migrancy, not that I believe his route to British shores was traditional in any way, but what journeys are?  Rebel Cities by David Harvey was one of my most interesting academic reads.  My pal Robert Pereno turned me onto Platform by Michel Houellebecq Geoff Nicholson has a new book out for pavement pounders, like me, Walking In Ruins.     

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Photobook-wise, Nick Waplington’s Alexander McQueen Working Process features several friends, and captures the genius of a life left too early.   Next year, I’m looking forward to Dougie Wallace’s book on the Hoxton Mini Press.  

And also, I’m super-excited to have a book I’ve done for the culturally progressive, RED Gallery in Shoreditch, out early next year.  Designed by Tomato, with images from Jason McGlade of Freestyle.  It uses conversations with creative innovators to explore the effect of subcultural commodification, and how cultural environments can be reproduced for pluralistic societies. 

 

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