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Sunday, January 1 1995

Earl Hooker Bluesmaster by Sebastian Danchin

Poverty, ill-health, endless one-night bookings, and little critical or financial reward characterised Earl Hooker's life. In the midst of all of this he established himself as Chicago's premier guitarist in a career of constant gigging and far too few recordings. This is a tale of art, barely recognised, blossoming in the face of hardship and suffering. This is the blues.


Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Richard Russo has been quietly building his reputation as one of America's better novelists, not by writing the ever-elusive 'Great American Novel' but by writing novels about life in small towns filled with characters who have real concerns and real struggles, and who are so deftly drawn that we forget we are reading a book at all.


The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

Writing for the 'New York Times', Anthony Quinn summed up 'The Elementary Particles' as a 'bilious, hysterical and oddly juvenile book.' Michiko Kakutani's judgement is even more devastatingly succinct: 'It is a deeply repugnant read.' Naturally, I could hardly wait to begin.


Extra Innings: Writing on Baseball by Richard Peterson

I wouldn't give this one much more than a handshake unless I was very well-read and madly in love with baseball.


The Days of the Bitter End by Jack Engelhard

Each day that lives in infamy presents a new criteria for learning, an opportunity for reflection. No act of terrorism, no defining historical moment, stands alone. When the prize is the American dream, the fight can be both devastating and exhilarating.


The Desirable Body:  Cultural Fetishism and the Erotics of Consumption by Jon Stratton

The Desirable Body can give the reader a handle on why Impressionism was such a dynamic earth-shattering movement; on the difficult issues which the birth of photography presented; on the role play of blue movies and other titillating visual culture which was for many years relegated to hidden places; and on the presence of the gynoid in sexually aware society.


Darwinizing Culture: The State of Memetics as a Science by Robert Aunger (editor)

. . . is at once the reiteration and clarification of memetic theory.


A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice

. . . by young writer Christopher Rice (progeny of gothic writer Anne Rice and poet and painter Stan Rice), is a mystery and gay-coming-of-age story that is powered, in part, by the current of hate pulsing through America.


The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Motley Crue, with Neil Strauss

[Motley Crue's The Dirt] and its candid tales of porn stars, overdoses, and glam-metal makes the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll memories of other bands seem almost as sweet and innocent as that book by Britney Spears and her mother.


Interview with John Shirley

Alternately disturbing, depressing, bleak, and painful, these stories are bound together by an acute observation of the shadows of the human soul, which makes them so powerful and compelling.


Dogwalker by Arthur Bradford

Each story confronts us with a certain oddity or malformation, which is treated in such a childlike, open-eyed way that the narration renders these subjects almost absurdly normal.


Deadlock: The Inside Story of America’s Closest Election by David Von Drehle

It's flash history created by the instant-gratification culture of Internet analysis and sound-bite news. One fears that, to the general public, source is irrelevant, content is king. But there exists a subversive group of individuals who want to know how information was attained, the validity of the source, the bias of the reporter.


Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

This isn't going to be the book you'll hand to someone who's never read King before, but it may be one for the die-hard King fans, if only to see him make up for the alien-ridden debacle of 'Tommyknockers'.


Darkness Divided by John Shirley

Alternately disturbing, depressing, bleak, and painful, these stories are bound together by an acute observation of the shadows of the human soul, which makes them so powerful and compelling.


Destroy All Monsters by Ken Hollings

Expands upon this fusion of high and low culture, using mass-media tropes to elaborate on endlessly dense themes. The novel is most easily summarized as an 'alternative history,' a what-if scenario.


The Donald Richie Reader: 50 Years of Writing on Japan by Donald Richie (edited by Arturo Silva)

Throughout his work one point is central: the greatest contrast and point of confusion between the Japanese and Westerners lies in their respective concepts of the surface of things. While Westerners are wary to a fault, distrusting surfaces and ever obsessed with the true meaning behind them, the Japanese exist in an eternal 'now' that renders all of their expressions true.


A Cormac McCarthy Companion: The Border Trilogy by Edwin T. Arnold & Dianne C. Luce, eds.

In the 1990s, this community of McCarthy fans extended its territory into the world of the American academy with the establishment of something called, in this volume, 'McCarthy studies', practised by a weird enclave of literary critics and pop cultural historians who, judging by the essays here, are immersed in the intricacies of their intellectual obsession.


The Cornelius Quartet by Michael Moorcock

A virtual cipher of a character, and his adventures are prolonged studies in existential action.


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