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Girl in a Band
A Memoir
Kim Gordon
This sharply observed, collage-like memoir of a life in music and art left me inspired and ready for a new musical vision. The evocative Didion-esque depiction of Kim's girlhood in the post-Manson landscape of Los Angeles, the wild early '80s downtown NY art / no wave existence then, of course, her years spent playing bass in Sonic Youth…
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A Novel
Renata Adler
This reads like a walk through a particularly outrageous dinner party—overheard intellectual chatter, salacious gossip, and mundane offhand remarks swirl around, reigned in by a cool narrator who perhaps most evokes Didion at her driest, wit-wise.
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Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
A Memoir
Viv Albertine
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a raw chronicle of music, fashion, love, sex, feminism, and more that connects the early days of punk to the Riot Grrl movement and beyond. But even more profoundly, Viv Albertine's remarkable memoir is the story of an empowered woman staying true to herself and making it...
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Shotgun Seamstress
Zine Collection
Osa Atoe
Shotgun Seamstress collects all of the issues of a fantastic punk fanzine into one book that focuses on African American queer & feminist artists and musicians. Full of interviews, reviews, and so much more, Shotgun Seamstress was put out from 2006-2012
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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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The White Album
Joan Didion
First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era—including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall—through the lens of her own...
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Jim Dodge
If you are looking for a book that takes about an hour to read, but will stay with you for much longer, Fup is the answer. It's a tall tale set in the wilds of Northern California, perched somewhere between Vonnegut and Brautigan, and involves a duck...
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Already Dead
A California Gothic
Denis Johnson
A modern Northern California noir classic, as dark and unfathomable as the Lost Coast. —Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
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The Flamethrowers
A Novel
Rachel Kushner
Kushner's writing is authoritative and vivid, as exciting to read as the worlds she writes about. I could not put this down; it was intoxicating reading about a young woman making her way in worlds in which women don't usually get to exist, even in fiction. A cinematic, unstoppable, alienated and kick-fueled adventure.
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Tapping the Source
A Novel
Kem Nunn
A noir set in the burned-out post-hippie landscape of early 1980s Huntington Beach. Often referred to as a "surf noir" novel, perhaps because of the lean, stripped-down evocative prose and the mystical hue of the plot. And of course, there's the fact that the book is set around the seedy edges of Southern California's surf culture. Sonic Youth...
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Over Easy
Mimi Pond
A charming/hilarious coming of age tale told in graphic novel form that depicts Mimi's existence as an art school drop out finding a new life behind the counter of an Oakland diner, and casting off the relics of the hippie age for the new punk dawn of 1978. —Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
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Inherent Vice
A Novel
Thomas Pynchon
Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon- private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre that is at once...
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An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine
So groundbreaking is Rankine's work that it's almost impossible to describe; suffice it to say that this is a poem that reads like an essay (or the other way around) — a piece of writing that invents a new form for itself, incorporating pictures, slogans, social commentary...
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Fran Ross
The best book I have read in years. A truly hilarious, surreal, anarchic and sharp as knives coming of age novel, which didn't find an audience when originally published in 1974. There are so many ideas, diagrams, and varying forms of prose contained within it's hard to summarize why you should read this, but you should.—Recommended by Layla