Thought

Review by Meg Duke
Groovy & soothing

Burn Down The American Plantation

Review by Meg Duke
A must-read for all folks engaging with abolition. Starting with a scathing situational and historical analysis of the US's racist and genocidal history, the book cites multiple autonomous movements as examples of equitable, self-organized communities and discusses the common threads that connect resistance and enable movements' longevity.

The Coming Insurrection

Review by Meg Duke
Sharp critical systemic analysis with some brief but practical inspiration for applying direct action into everyday life

Judenstaat

Review by Bill Svoboda
I've found Simone Zelitch to be an easy author to get to know-and like. And her novel "The Confession Of Jack Straw" is a minor masterpiece-easily rating 5 stars. Unfortunately, rating "Judenstaat" even 4 stars feels a little like a stretch. There's plenty of good stuff going on- her basic style, lots of ideas, lots of good intentions and her love for/knowledge of history. That's the problem-it's too much for the basic structure/format-( a 301 page novel). A longer novel would have worked better (maybe even a trilogy?!?) -or best of all a series of inter-related short stories set in her alternate historical universe.

Paradise Rot

Review by Kyle Venooker
Paradise Rot is a strange, moving novel as amorphous and shifting as the foggy city of Aybourne in which it is set. Djaoanna (Jo for short) is a Norwegian student who finds herself in a city similar to the world we find ourselves in -- though with differences just slight enough to be thoroughly unsettling. A strange, handmade poster lands Jo in an abandoned brewery with Pym and Carral, and the ensuing relationship which burgeons between them explores just what happens when one partakes of the apple which has been expressly forbidden. Themes of Eden, the corruption of the flesh, and the sweet, stinky savor of rot pervades the senses as the walls between Jo and Carral, Jo and Pym, Pym and Carral, and the reader and all of them slowly, subtly lose definition amidst a veil of soft, downy fungus. Paradise Rot gets inside you, slowly, and eats its way to your very core.

How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life

Review by Bill Svoboda
cv (?!) the eclectic master of American primitive guitar "I'm sick and tired of carrying things around. " - John Fahey curmudgeon misanthrope ************************************************************* In "fish" the author fights to land a monster alligator garfish while having unpleasant flashbacks of being molested by his father (WARNING: Not for the Easily Triggered). "Communists" revisits Holden Caufield as a juvenile terrorist. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (mainstream sellout ad campaign): There is a little bit of everything in this funny, dark story collection.(la la la!) ************************************************************* labor of love by his friends-he actually got to see this before dying-after years of poverty, squalor, bad health (physical & mental) he DID go out on a high note. RIP. ********************************************************* SPOILER ALERT: Bluegrass music did NOT, in fact, ruin John Fahey's life. Bluegrass music isn't even mentioned until late in the book. Much of the book is not even about music.

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

Review by Bill Svoboda
This is like watching a medley of "Eraserhead" along with other David Lynch films -intercut with "Helter Skelter"....or rather, it's like a dream of watching them-an uneasy, weird, sometimes funny dream that trembles on the edge of a nightmare.

Terrorism: Theirs & Ours

Review by Meg Duke
Published in 2001 from a lecture given in 1998, this book gives one hard slap of historical context to any American (manipulated by the mass media) worried about "terrorism" --> which neither the government nor the media defines

The Compleat Moonshadow

Review by Meg Duke
Art so beautiful it kept me reading despite the underwhelming and plotless storyline. Classic loss-of-innocence story, the highlights being interesting/grotesque representations of capitalistic society, its ability to cloak the means-end relationship, and a caricature of those who control it.

Stray Toasters

Review by Meg Duke
Enticing art style + disturbing storyline = extremely engaging

Nonviolence Ain't What it Used to Be: Unarmed Insurrection and the Rhetoric of Resistance

Review by Ruth Davidson
Overall this is a fun read that makes a lot of interesting points about why protests do and don't "work." The theme that really resonated with me is that context matters when weighing different strategies for public protest-picking the right strategy is impossible without considering social contexts such as likely media coverage and the race/class/gender of the participants. This book was originally a Ph. D. thesis, and parts of it read like one-heavy on the jargon, though the author does take pains to define their terms well.

The New Left: A Documentary History

Review by Ruth Davidson
I loved this compilation-the analysis by the editor Teodori is a reminder for those of us not alive during the 60's that it was hard to see where things were headed politically in 1968-1969. But the real value of this book is simply that it's got so many essays and transcripts of speeches by historical figures such as Stokeley Carmichael. It's always illuminating to see primary sources and reflect on how and why things get misrepresented in historical analysis.

T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone

Review by Meg Duke
radical prophetic hypnotic linguistic magic

The Art of Self-Directed Learning

Review by Aidan Fay
I read this in 2 hours or less and it was time very well spent. It made me inspired to work hard in creative ways but also to respect the power of my autonomy and ability to say "no" when people "force" hard work upon me. Kind of a merging of all the good aspects of the philosophies of the counterculture and the dominant culture in relation to work and education. It suffers in that it still kind of revolves around makin money and success stories of naturally highly motivated people instead of finding the success in initial failure, but it still vibes high if you know how to extract the good stuff.

The Gay Revolution

Review by Ruth Davidson
This book has a lot of deep background and it's clear the author was very good at interviewing her sources. It was nice how the context was set for the strategies chosen by various activists. The only thing that was a little distracting was the goofy descriptive language used seemingly in an attempt to humanize various people.

The Sandman: Overture

Review by Danny Canham
Both sequel and prequel to the original series, this standalone story bookends the narrative arc of Dream's adventures. It's probably my third favorite entry after Brief Lives and World's End. Filled with the kind of beautiful, vibrant art and fantastic storytelling most of us have come to expect from Gaiman and his collaborators, it's a stunning collection

The Unknown Revolution: 1917–1921

Review by Bill Svoboda
This is a solid 4 star-except for the 2019 intro. In his intro, Iain McKay spends 89 pages saying exactly what Voline goes on to say in the main section of the book- and Voline's prose, as well as his arguments are clear, forceful and easy to read. This is a book that would benefit so very much from a current day exploration of (relatively) non-ideological matters of viewpoint, context and nuance (example: the conflicted role of the SRs)-instead, McKay spends it "beating a dead Bolshevik". In regards to the main text of this book, anyone seriously interested in 20th century history or leftist ideology will want to at least skim parts of it (one of the great advantages to reading non-fiction is that it can be read "out of sequence", skimmed and or read in small bits and pieces). One of these small pieces-Voline's conversation with Bukharin- pp. 244-245, was, for me one of the most revealing parts of the entire book. ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Trying so hard to look over our shoulders, we march backwards into the future.

Cloud Atlas: A Novel

Review by Bill Svoboda
Yet another "3.5 stars". "Cloud Atlas" is not as good as David Mitchell's later novel "Bone Clocks"-or really any of the best modern/postmodern novels, sci-fi or otherwise. Arguably, the most valid reason for having "Cloud Atlas" is that it was made into a very fine big budget film - a rare case where I thought the movie was better than the book. Lest I sound like I'm being too harsh-and to give you an idea of how high my bar is for "Exceptional" - check out Robert Stone's "A Flag For Sunrise" and "Damascus Gate" Hari Kunzru's "Gods Without Men" or (especially-since it covers very similar ground) Kim Stanly Robinson's "Years Of Rice And Salt". It is NOT that David Mitchell is unlikeable and/or bad as a writer ("Bone Clocks", for instance has some amazing and memorable chapters)-it's that (so far) he has problems (structural and otherwise) with his novels-and ends up with a finished product that is less (as opposed to greater) than the sum of it's parts (and yes, that happens to be one of my main criteria in judging the quality of a book's contents-fictional or otherwise.)

Hellboy Volume 4: The Crooked Man and The Troll Witch

Review by Ryan Schafer
Hellboy is my latest addiction. Chalk full of zany reinterpretations of obscure folklore, european mythos, and history, it's brilliant and imaginative and original. This series has more in common with the Sandman, Preacher, and Swamp Thing than with superhero franchises like Daredevil or Batman. I devoured the first 9 volumes and then discovered that we did not have the 10th! Hope you all will give the series a try and consider the merit of adding the rest to our collection ;)

Arcana: Musicians on Music

Review by Future Man
Arcana: Musicians on Music is an incredible collection of essays by many great modern composers and improvisers of the American avant-garde. Edited and including a preface by John Zorn, this collection includes a sprawling array of writings, including a piece by Marc Ribot disparaging the technical short-fallings of the guitar, an essay on silence by pianist Anthony Coleman, who was featured in the recent installation of our Future Jazz series, and an essay and set of notated exercises by Bill Frisell, which are as minimal yet profound as his guitar playing.

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