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West of the West
Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State
Mark Arax
With his reportage and essays, Arax is mining territory somewhere between Rebecca Solnit and James Ellroy—here you'll find both thoughtful musings on geography and intense crime investigations. Written with real vitality and engagement, this book makes...
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Three Novels
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett
Beckett's trilogy has to be one of the greatest feats of voice and language ever written. This is the book that turns woe into exhilaration. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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The Sheltering Sky
Paul Bowles
This book is brave, imaginative, and brutal; and just when you think it's gone far enough, it goes farther. Bowles spent most of his life in North Africa, but his genius is not in his familiarity with the culture; rather, it's in brilliantly recreating...
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Troia
Mexican Memoirs
Bonnie Bremser
For those who are interested in the Beats and want to dig a bit deeper beyond the usual suspects, this long-neglected memoir of hard life in Mexico is raw, naked, honest, full of feeling, and sometimes barely in control. While avoiding statements about...
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Black Mountain
An Exploration in Community
Martin Duberman
Duberman's unconventional and very smart history is a juicy one for those who care about questions of communal living, pedagogy, and artistic creation. What a lovely, messy experiment. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Debt
The First 5,000 Years
David Graeber
An history of debt written by an anarchist-sympathizing anthropologist (and a respected one, mind you)—who better to dig beneath the assumptions taken for granted by the Western science of Economics? From blood debts in moneyless societies...
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Red Dust
A Path Through China
Ma Jian
Red Dust is a rich, strange, searching travelogue through the outposts of communist China by an adventurous, dissident poet. Author Ma is often compared to the Beats--but imagine if Kerouac had to escape from a Kafka novel in order to go "on the road"...
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The Dispossessed
A Novel
Ursula K. Le Guin
This classic is an exemplar of the most enjoyably intelligent, thought-provoking, humanistic side of the science fiction field. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Christ Stopped at Eboli
The Story of a Year
Carlo Levi
A genuinely wonderful portrait of a place (southern Italy) and its people: vividly rendered, humane, and surprising. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Hopeful Monsters
Nicholas Mosley
A hefty novel of ideas, but one written from the heart and the gut. Mosley has an extraordinary way of making the tumult of 20th century history feel quite personal, real, and immediate. The book feeds the intellect with its depiction of intelligent...
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Soul
And Other Stories
Andrey Platonov
A Soviet author heavily censored in his time, Platonov writes about work, progress, war and love with incredible earnestness, dreamlike strangeness, and a uniquely animistic sense of the universe. The title story here is unforgettable: at once truly...
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House of Prayer No. 2
A Writer's Journey Home
Mark Richard
Based on its subject matter and jacket copy, this might have been an inspirational memoir. But in Mark Richard's hands, the story of his own life is weird and unsettling and haunting and very much like an ocean hiding outlandish fauna somewhere beneath...
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The Book of Monelle
Marcel Schwob
A dark, haunted book by a man who was a secret literary influence on an astonishing number of great avante-garde writers. Schwob wrote this about, and for, a young girl of the streets whose death shattered him. He channels both the thunder of...
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Two Cheers For Anarchism
Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play
James C. Scott
James Scott taught us what's wrong with seeing like a state. Now, in his most accessible and personal book to date, the acclaimed social scientist makes the case for seeing like an anarchist. Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of..

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