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This is the case with Peter Trachtenberg’s beautiful and disturbing The Book of Calamities, which makes greater demands on your emotional capital than on your economic capital. Trachtenberg takes the reader from Ground Zero to Rwanda, from upstate New York hospitals to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.

Still, if the stories—testimonies, really—that make up a great part of the book are poignant and horrifying, they are also inspiring.

A blurb on the jacket of Charles Yu’s short story collection Sorry. Please. Thank you. Stories. compares the young author to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, and while I can see why Yu might call to mind Vonnegut (less so, Adams), I found myself thinking more of the French postmodernist philosopher Jean Baudrillard than either of these two science fiction writers.

Why Baudrillard?

In Wonderland: Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists was the first international exhibition of art created by female surrealists in Mexico and the United States. The exhibit was organized in 2012 by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in cohort with the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. Its corresponding book explores the work of over 40 artists, female photographers, painters, sculptors, and multimedia artists and a filmmaker.

I have a great respect for collectors. Hoarders even. There’s something reverential about taxonomies (boxes, toys, little glass dachshunds, paper clips)—a mesmeric quality to so much like with like. Like walking through a cemetery.

Memoirists are similar. Like collectors, they acknowledge that before something can be remembered it has to be dismembered, de-limbed, cut off or separated from—so as to remember—itself. It is in such a spirit of re-collection that Sea Monkeys, the new ‘memory book’ from cult novelist, Kris Saknussemm (Zanesville, Enigmatic Pilot), proceeds.

by Claire Shefchik

6 Nov 2012


The stereotype of the rock bassist is that he’s an underappreciated second banana. But Mike Watt, who burst onto the scene in the late ‘70s with LA punk pioneers the Minutemen and whose artistic energy hasn’t flagged since, has never been content to let his instrument do the talking. This is lucky for us, because as On and Off Bass demonstrates through its lush, contemplative photography, prose and verse, Watt has plenty more that deserves to be heard.

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