Past Stories

Camera Obscura

Wonderful small press books often slip by us. Elizabeth Hand’s novel Generation Loss published last April by Small Beer Press in Massachusetts was almost one, until we stumbled on a copy in our local library. The book’s int...


Gatsby Goes Gonzo

“History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit . . .  ” –Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas What more do we need to now about the Good Doctor Hunter S. Thompson that he…


Sound and Fury

Jazz critics have made a living declaring that John Coltrane was the most influential saxophonist of the modern jazz era. But listen to the current crop of practicing sax players and very few of them sound like Coltrane. In fac...



Naughty and Nice

The Christmas foundling is a storytelling staple. “Long Lost,” from Richard Lange’s collection of short stories Dead Boys, is one such tale but without the holiday cheer; a found child story inside a found child story. Sp...


Boy Howdy!

Detroit-based CREEM magazine was truly one of a kind in that its rock & roll critics and chroniclers rocked harder than the bands they helped bash into general consciousness—hence, the quite literal claim of being “Amer...


HINDSIGHT 2020

The road to the Mexican presidency, past and present, is littered with manipulation and corruption. In 1988, “the people’s candidate” was leading until the electoral computer went down. When it came back on line days late...



RADICAL DUDE

Turning radical was easy during the Vietnam War. With the draft ready to interrupt one’s life big time, politics got personal fast. And when politics get personal, people get political. Same holds true today. Lots of us could...


GROWING UP BLUE

Your college English prof calls them “coming-of-age” novels. But we like to call tales of teenage angst “thumbsucker lit.” Thumbsuckers include everything from J.D. Salinger’s 1951 classic The Catcher In the Rye (the ...


BAD MONKEY

There’s a lot to puzzle over in Haruki Murakami’s new short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: a monkey is accused of identity theft; a man sees his own reflection where there is no mirror; another man is so col...



RESIDENCE OF THE SOUL

Iran. Say this word to most Americans and a flurry of connotations come to mind: Tehran, the 1979 hostage crisis, Islam, America, violence, war. Vague specters of xenophobic dread and geopolitical doom haunt our notions of the ...


BLAMM!

Outside New York, The 9/11 Commission Report attracted only passing attention from the general public. Earlier generations poured through The Warren Commission Report on the Kennedy assassination and, later, the Watergate trans...


STIFFED

Like you, I’m a working stiff. I’ve held any number of jobs, under good management and bad, and I’ve been self-employed. Currently, I have an important day job that pays poorly and is badly managed. To get by, I supplemen...



SPOOKY SCIENCE

There’s one thing you can say for all the hubbub that’s aired about intelligent design—it’s made Charles Darwin bigger than a dead rock star. The past few months have seen the publication of The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, Da...


RUDE BOYS

The alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners discovered recently in the United Kingdom focused negative attention on that country’s young Pakistanis. To believe the corporate media, they’re all frustrated Muslim fun...


Global Hatred in a Nutshell

The Beatles famously sang “All You Need Is Love,” but world history over the last 75 years suggests a very different reality. In addition to World War II where some odd 60 million souls lost their lives, there’s since bee...



He of Ennui

if Tom Perrotta (Election, Little Children) has a gift, it’s that he can manage to give a novel a mounting sense of dread, even when there’s nothing specifically dreadful inherent to a situation. You watch his characters go...


Cold Miscalculation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a distant, arrogant commander, more interested in politics than policy and surrounded by a coterie of men who put ideology over facts, manipulates intelligence to serve his own agenda, sends ...


Down the Caspian Drain

“There’s such a thing as too much hope,” the character known only as The Tango Dancer tells Yass, the little girl who narrates Gina B. Nahai’s fourth novel, Caspian Rain. In this simple sentence she cuts to the chase of...



Hot, Sexy Midget

Confuse the demented and downright dirty short stories of Jerry Stahl with those of O. Henry? I don’t think so. But Stahl himself poses the O. Henry comparison in one of the tales that make up his first collection of…


Something To Shoot For

Sociologist Lisa Jean Moore doesn’t mince words in her book Sperm Counts: Overcome By Man’s Most Precious Fluid. Gizzum, cum, spunk, baby gravy and a few terms new to me (gentleman’s relish) are all there, in the first se...


HIGH ON HUNTER

Confession: we didn’t think much of Ralph Steadman’s bug-eyed illustrations for Hunter Thompson’s FearandLoathingIn LasVegas when we first saw them. Maybe it was the drugs we were on. A friend explained it best:  “Stea...



ART ATTACK!

We were reminded of the power of images recently when Target stores, under right-wing, pro-capitalist pressure, decided to discontinue a CD case sporting Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s picture. The attacks from the Wall Street J...


Letting Pynchon Be Pynchon

Once a novelist is declared one of our best living writers, are critics obliged to kill him off? Or does he do himself in? In the strange and stranger case of famously reclusive Thomas Pynchon, both seem true. Pynchon came…


Merchants, Myths and Missionaries

If you think America’s current foreign policy in the Middle East is delusional, compare it to that of 1795. Then the fledgling U.S. government was paying 20 percent of its total revenue to the Barbary states to prevent its me...



Coming Clean

Ron Jeremy! You’ve just had sex with 4,000 different partners (some more than a few times). What are you going to do now? The answer, as Jeremy relates in his new autobiography Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz...


Tune Peddler

Of all the things believed to be capable of changing the world back in the 1960s—love, drugs, rock & roll—only rock delivered. Love, a delusional concept for centuries, didn’t really change anything—people just went...


BookWhentheLightGoe_

Gray Sex

Even fictional men get old. But do they learn anything? We first met Duane Moore over 40 years ago in The Last Picture Show, the landmark novel of small-town decay by the prolific Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms Of Endearm...



booksSHADOWLAND_

Diggin’ Deitch

Our choice for the Great American Novel is not about a boy named Huck, a sailor obsessed with a whale, or a jazz-age millionaire. It’s about a cat—an evil, hallucinatory blue cat—named Waldo. And it’s not a novel at all...