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Blood in the Water
The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
Heather Ann Thompson
A powerful and extraordinarily comprehensive study of the Attica uprising and its aftermath, and the repercussions still felt in our diabolical prison system today. —Recommended by Michael
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Sallies, Romps, Portraits and Send Offs
Selected Prose 2000-2018
A delightful and cantankerous collection of essays and criticism about good poets and bad poets, homicidal musicians, obsessive music collecting and the eerie delights of San Francisco fog. A perfect introduction to the local bard's tender and curmudgeonly oeuvre. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Bookstore
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Modernism in the Streets
A Life and Times in Essays
Marshall Berman
Both an intellectual biography and a protean collection of social criticism from the late, preeminent philosopher, urbanist and "Marxist with soul." I was skeptical when I got to his chapter on hip-hop (what could this old white man possibly have to say?) but it burned with insight and radical passion. —Recommended by Michael
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Kill 'Em and Leave
Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
An unconventional, Citizen Kane-like search for an essentially unknowable man, and the results are fascinatingly oblique and as deep as the heavy funk that the Godfather committed to wax. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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Just Around Midnight
Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination
Jack Hamilton
By the time Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, the idea of a black man playing lead guitar in a rock band seemed exotic. Yet a mere ten years earlier, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley had stood among the most influential rock and roll performers. Why did rock and roll become "white"? Just around Midnight reveals the interplay of popular music and racial...
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Known and Strange Things
Essays
Teju Cole
A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today's most powerful and original voices.
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
—Recommended by Tân & Paul & Michael, City Lights Books
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Furious Cool
Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him
David Henry, Joe Henry
In this loose and lyrical labor of love, brothers David and Joe Henry have brought Richard Pryor back to pulsating life, capturing his spirit and genius and the monumental demons that fueled him. It's billed as a biography but it's really more than that, delving deep enough to make you look at Pryor and his legacy in a whole new light. —Recommended
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Concrete
Thomas Bernhard
Instead of the book he's meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this dark and grotesquely funny account of small woes writ large, of profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction. We learn of Rudolph's sister...
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No Name in the Street
James Baldwin
Both a stunningly personal document and a turbulent portrait of the late-Sixties and early-Seventies, this is Baldwin's literary equivalent of Sly Stone’s furious and despairing There’s a Riot Goin’ On. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books