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Astral Weeks
A Secret History of 1968
Ryan Walsh
A fascinating exploration of the strange portal world that was Boston's counterculture in 1968, loosely centered around Van Morrison's recording of Astral Weeks there. The frightening Mel Lyman cult, oddball forgotten Psych bands, James Brown and the Velvet Underground all make guest appearances, and it’s riveting. —Recommended by Michael
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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
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
—Recommended by Tân & Paul & 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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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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Chester B. Himes
A Biography
Lawrence P. Jackson
Finally the definitive biography of the brilliant and often undervalued writer. Expansive, unflinching and deeply revelatory. —Recommended by Michael
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Água Viva
A Novel
Clarice Lispector
Lispector at her most philosophically radical. A meditation on the nature of life and time, Água Viva (1973) shows Lispector discovering a new means of writing about herself, more deeply transforming her individual experience into a universal poetry. In a body of work as emotionally powerful, formally innovative, and philosophically profound as...
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Packing My Library
An Elegy and Ten Digressions
Alberto Manguel
A wonderfully digressive little volume about our complex relationship with our books and being an incurable bibliophile. The perfect antidote to Walter Benjamin's classic essay, Unpacking My Library. —Recommended by Michael
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The Universal Machine
Fred Moten
A suite of three essays on Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon, concluding Fred Moten's trilogy consent not to be a single being. (Recommended by Michael)
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Flyboy 2
The Greg Tate Reader
Greg Tate
To call Tate a critic is like calling Charles Mingus a bassist—his intellectual, compositional and lyrical expansiveness catapults one into the cosmic slop of consciousness and opens new neural pathways. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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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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Pure Solar World
Sun Ra and Afrofuturism
Paul Youngquist
The first book to thoroughly explore Sun Ra's vast and wondrous vision, both as cosmic philosopher and Afrocentric historian/mythologist. An essential voyage for Ra fans. —Recommended by Michael