Damian's Picks

a NYC expat in Louisville; a whiplash girlchild in the dark.


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Some New Kind of Kick: A Memoir By Kid Congo Powers, Chris Campion (With) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780306828027
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Published: Hachette Books - October 18th, 2022

This guy is among the poster children for Rock And Roll Good Guys, and he's got the resume to prove it: The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, along with his excellent solo work and with the Pink Monkey Birds. The stories of growing up a gay Cholo punk in Los Angeles start us off and, through the years and the tours, the bands and the icons, we get a full picture of a man who has paid his dues and come out the other side as one of the most respected people in American Music. A fun, good-hearted romp through a scene not known for it's kindnesses.

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Everything Keeps Dissolving: Conversations with Coil By Nick Soulsby (Editor) Cover Image
By Nick Soulsby (Editor)
ISBN: 9781913689438
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Published: Strange Attractor Press - May 16th, 2023

Coil were a groundbreaking, genre-bending group with fingers in many pies: hallucinogens, queer magick, many friends in many disciplines, and sonic experimentation as ex-members of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. With an eye towards new ways of expressing ancient ideas and an ear towards new technologies, Coil were able to make music that dealt with taboo subjects that sounded like nobody else. This collection of interviews more or less spans the bands timeline, offering windows into the thought processes that lurked behind the often opaque musical output. Funny, sad, poignant, and revelatory, Everything Keeps Dissolving is the perfect title for this mutable, hallucinatory story.

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On the Move: A Life By Oliver Sacks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804170932
Availability: Not currently in stock, but we are happy to backorder and notify you when it arrives.
Published: Vintage - February 23rd, 2016

Oliver Sacks, British neurologist, brought his field into the mainstream with his warmly empathic, beautifully written stories of his unique patients and his relationships with them. Eschewing the traditional in his personal life both in academia and on his motorbike, this unblinking memoir shows him finding ways to embrace his idiosyncracies while swiping away his biases and hesitations. Through feats of strength, long swims in salt water, and a detachment befitting a clinician, he comes to realize the ways in which his life can be more fulfilling. He brings the humor and humanism of his acclaimed case studies to this inspirational story of a brilliant man whose life was ended far, far too early.

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The Art Of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition By Joan Reardon, M.F.K. Fisher Cover Image
ISBN: 9780764542619
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Published: Harvest - March 5th, 2004

When I'm asked about who, living or dead, I'd invite to my Fantasy Dinner, one of my attendees is always MFK Fisher. A hero of mine, she travelled extensively, loved deeply, lived heartily, and ate. A lot. And then she'd write about it all, beautifully. Part travel writing, part memoir, part food writing, part anthropology, her books cross the boundaries of genre and of experience. This volume collects 5 of her shorter, more "Bon-Vivant-y" titles, spanning continents and frames of mind in both love and war. I find the title a bit of a misnomer; I think it's more akin to The Art Of Living. Enthusiastically recommended

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The Best of McSweeneys By Dave Eggers (Editor) Cover Image
By Dave Eggers (Editor)
ISBN: 9781938073595
Availability: The book is not currently in stock at our stores. Please call us for price and availability.
Published: McSweeney's - December 31st, 2013

I am notoriously not a fiction reader, so I bought this thinking some short fiction mixed with comics and other formats could kickstart me, and holy cats did it ever. The A.M. Homes, Chris Adrian, and Kevin Brockmeier short stories are worth the price of admission alone, and I'll definitely be diving deeper into their other work. Fantastic stuff I cannot shake a week later. Heartbreaking works of staggering genius, indeed.

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The Mezzanine By Nicholson Baker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802144904
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Grove Press - July 13th, 2010

My brain works in odd ways sometimes, and reading this book provides a window into it for me, as well as providing a window out from it. This story deals deeply with the minutiae amid the mundane, the possibly unnoticed moments among the memorable. The parts about shopping at CVS are relevatory and very funny. By the surprising yet quotidian ending, this little story about the vague exactings of a mind's wanderings dug deep. As with his other work, highly recommended.

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The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature By David George Haskell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143122944
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Published: Penguin Books - March 26th, 2013

This marvelous book chronicles a single tiny wooded plot of land on a Tennessee hillside throughout one year, roughly. He lives nearby and visits regularly, and organizes his visits like diary entries. Beautifully considered and deftly written, this book calls to us to embrace the seasons, provided we live in a place with them. It is part passionate science lesson, part poetry. But don't just take my word for it! This book received a ton of accolades: it was winner of the 2013 National Academies Communication Award for Best Book, a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, a runner-up for the 2013 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature, and the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award.

Me Talk Pretty One Day By David Sedaris Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316776967
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Back Bay Books - June 5th, 2001

This book needs no blurb, and Sedaris needs no introduction, but here is a recommendation: read this book. For me, it is the best entry point into his world, the place where he hit the sweet spot of escapade and thoughtfulness, of humility and hubris. Hilariously funny, totally stupid, and poignant somehow, this book is a very quick read, only lengthened by how many times I put it in my lap to wipe the laughter tears from my eyes. Also: see him read live if you can. I hear the new one, out in paperback now, is great, too.

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The Year of Magical Thinking (Vintage International) By Joan Didion Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078431
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Published: Vintage - February 13th, 2007

About a month after my husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly, an acquaintance said I should read this book, so I went out and bought it. I had enjoyed some of the more article-y things of hers I'd read, so... sure. On the way home from the store I ran into a friend, and I showed her the book and she said "Under no circumstances are you to read that within the next year." So I shelved it. I waited about 4 years, then I read it. She was totally right; I'd have been reduced to rubble. The language Didion uses and the set-ups for the harrowing mundanity of fresh grief shine a bright light into the eyes of the cold stare into the abyss. It's not for the freshly bereft, but those with some distance can gain some insight, some comfort, even, through Didion's unflinching clarity. Beyond the obvious subject matter, the writing is classic Didion. I don't think her haters will be sudden converts, but the acolytes will find much to applaud. Consider me an acolyte.

Cosmic Scholar: The Life and Times of Harry Smith By John Szwed Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374282240
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 22nd, 2023

Harry Smith, film maker, archivist, mystic, and a hundred other descriptors, is best known for his groundbreaking art films and for compiling the seminal 1952 Anthology Of American Folk Music, which provided inspiration for a young Bob Dylan, among others, who did their own versions of many songs learned from it. It seems Smith knew nearly everyone, and biographer John Szwed (biographer of Miles Davis and Sun Ra) appears to have interviewed hundreds of his contemporaries. Smith had no concept of money beyond needing it to make art and to get drunk and high, so he spent as much time scounging for and squandering it as he did making art and films, documenting Native American songs and customs, and building unconventional collections. The ultimate polymath, Harry Smith had a thumb in nearly every pie he could probe. He is, to me, a lot like Brion Gysin in a few ways, but mostly in his ability to be involved in so many influential occurrences while having his name broadly removed from many histories. One possible reason for Smith's name falling out of circulation could be his cantankerous and often violent nature, a Jekyll-and-Hyde type often buckling under the weight of his own mind. I was already a fan, and now I am lowkey obsessed. This book is a strong contender for my 2023 Book Of The Year.

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