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Showing posts from October, 2015

Obscure (& Awesome) Books Unearthed from the Upstairs Dollar Section of The Last Bookstore in Historic, Art Deco Era, Downtown Los Angeles, Part I: A Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter

If you've been there, you know.  You know that The Last Bookstore is the best bookstore you've ever been to.  For me, there's not a close runner-up, not even from my memory of a defunct legend like Acres of Books.   Much has been made of The Last Bookstore's spectacular style; yet it's substance is just as spectacular, particularly for bibliophiles who put on their camouflage and go hunting deep inside their virtual jungle of dollar books.  Case in point: A Couple of Comedians by the late great Don Carpenter.

Don Carpenter was a revelation to me when several years ago I first read the NYRBs reissue of his first published novel Hard Rain Falling, which was actually the fourth novel Carpenter had written, but the first three he wrote, according to his website (currently undergoing maintenance or I'd have linked it), are lost.  Or rather destroyed by Carpenter.

Who was Don Carpenter?  He was a talented novelist and screenwriter: those are the two most pertinent …

Not Exactly Water and Power by William L. Kahrl

Mulholland Drive is a paved snake winding its sinuous way for dozens of miles through the curvaceous contours of the Hollywood Hills.  Pause at a precipitous turnoff, careful to avoid parked cars whose occupants have fogged their interiors; and gaze southward, where iconic canyons steeply recede into riparian mysteries and rustic enclaves of musicians and artists; or, glance north, and if its night, all the stars will have fallen from the sky, still alight, in gaudy boxy grids, a matrix of massive and enmeshed illumination, this sunken panorama otherwise known as Los Angeles and the Valley.

Mulholland Highway extends further out west, gaining altitude as it slithers along the crest of the fire drenched Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu before dead-ending, like so many damned California dreams before it, on the rocky cliffs confronting the Pacific. What little rain falls rarely reaches the ocean except for whatever runoff escapes the concrete lagoons either side of PCH. Come autumn,…

A Fabulous Opera by Tropic of Ideas

What could the following ninety-six titles listed below -- novels mostly, some poetry, memoirs, a how-to manual on caring for goats, treatises on linguistics and literary criticism, as well as other unclassifiable, though delightful, oddities and arcana (including one movie review) -- possibly have in common? . . .  Go ahead, peruse the eclectic list.  Take your time.  Say to yourself, "I've never heard of that."  I insist.  Some of the titles you're sure to recognize.  How many have you already read? Me?  I've finished twenty-four of them. Began and abandoned another quarter of that. Five of the twenty-four I've read shook me up enough that I was prompted; no, compelled to scribble my inmost thoughts about them.  But, damn, I've digressed.  What do the books below have in common?--that was the question! . . .

2666 (2004) by Roberto Bolano,
A Book of Common Prayer (1977) by Joan Didion
A Drink Called Paradise (1999) by Terese Svoboda,
A Passage to India (192…