Summer Reads

July 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Well, summer’s here now, and on vacation this year, a couple of seven hour plane rides lie in front of me (not to mention some trains, but not automobiles – I’m the family driver).

So here’s a few I hope to get through

1. Richard Hell – I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp

So much myth and legend surround Richard Hell. Did he invent punk? Did Malcolm McClaren rip him off? Did he write “Chinese Rocks?” What’s true is that he was a member of Television, the Heartbreakers and recorded two very good solo LPs before quitting the music business in the eighties.  I love memoirs. I’m sure Hell’s won’t disappoint.

2. Jon Savage – Teenage

Jon Savage is best known for his fantastic book about punk England’s Dreaming. Subtitled the prehistory of youth culture, the book details the creation of this thing called the teenager across a variety of national identities.


3. Jared Diamond  – The World Until Yesterday

This one’s just too bulky to take on the plane (no e-reader for me!), but it’s first when I get back. Diamond is a fascinating, articulate author, and his latest book examines what we can learn from past societies.

4. Gustav Flaubert – Madame Bovery/ Cervantes – Don Quixote /  Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina

I’ve started all of these at one time or another and I’ve put them down too. Summer seems like the only time I can devote to these important tones. I haven’t decided which one I’ll tackle.

5. Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Do I really need to write anything about the author of Coraline, The Graveyard Book and the Sandman comics? Thought not.

6. Matthew B. Crawford – Shop Class as Soul Craft

A  colleague of mine recommended this book to me, and it’s quite clever. The author is a graduate, with a PhD in political philosophy from Chicago, but who runs an auto shop. The author’s premise is a simple one: that so-called brain work, office work, is every bit as soul-destroying as assembly line work. He looks to a dignity of labour in trade skills, something which our current education system does not value.

7. Michael Moorcock – The Runestaff series

I read all of these when I was in my teens. Moorcock’s books usually run 150 pages and can be burned through very quickly. Intelligent SF/fantasy novels. Part of Moorcock’s “Eternal Champion” books which of course include his most famous creation Elric.

8. Leon Trotsky – The History of the Russian Revolution

OK, leaving aside Trotsky’s particular take on Bolshevism, it’s still a marvellous book.

9. Greil Marcus – Lipstick Traces

I read Marcus’ secret history of the 20th century because I liked the Sex Pistols. I didn’t know much about this Situationist business. It’s been twenty years, so it’s worth reading again.

10. Lemony Snickett – Who Could That Be at This Hour?

I blogged about this when Mr. Snickett gave a reading in Toronto earlier his year. Time to read the book now.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to read that book on Atlantis, the Lenny Bruce trial transcripts, Herodotus, etc… Sigh… Life is too short.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Hannelore Headley Old and Fine Books

June 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

For the first two years that I lived in Canada, I was in St. Catharines, Ontario. St. Catharines is the sort of town with a great future behind it. The big industry is GM, but when that plant eventually closes that will be in. You can see the town decaying just by driving on its streets.

But I digress. 

I bought my first copy of Marx there. A copy of the Communist Manifesto from Coles in the Penn Centre. It felt very special reading it, although I’ve no doubt I didn’t understand much of it then (I hope I do now).

Some time after that, I made a trip downtown to visit a used bookstore a friend had mentioned. Hannelore Headley’s used bookstore on Queen Street was, well, something to be experienced. Crammed into a relatively small space, with what seemed to be almost no order within the sections were thousands and thousands of books. From floor to ceiling in precarious piles and old bookcases. Every inch of the store was filled with books. Over the years as I returned to the store more books filled it, but the level of chaos seemed about the same.

I left that day with a copy of Marx’s critique of Proudhon The poverty of Philosophy   and Lenin’s The Alliance of the Working Class and Peasantry. I later bought more Marx and Lenin, Alexander Berkman, Mao Tse-Tung (a Lin Biao edition of the Red book), Crane Brinton, and countless more. Science fiction, poetry, drama, history etc.

Eventually a second location was opened on St. Paul street a few blocks away. Despite the bigger premises, the new store followed the same organizational pattern. It was the archetype used bookstore. No best sellers, but if you were lucky, you might find that book you’d been searching for.

I got an email this morning from my mum telling that Hannelore had passed away last weekend. I never spoke more than a few words to her whenever I bought stuff, and I hadn’t been in the store for years, but that store was an important resource for me in St. Catharines. I’ll miss her and that time. 

Here’s the notice from the local paper.

Permalink 2 Comments

Fathers’ Day Recommendation: Day Tripper

June 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

If you’re giving gifts this year, my recommendation is Day Tripper by Brazilian wunderkinds Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.

The lead character is a writer. Each chapter tells a story and ends with a death (usually that of the storyteller). Moving without being maudlin, and beautifully illustrated.

C’mon your old man deserves it.


Permalink Leave a Comment