Now that our publication date is rapidly approaching (too rapidly, if you ask me — I’m having that burst of authorly self-doubt that a friend once called “post-partum-book-depression”), I thought it might be nice, along the lines of the playlist I made for the MacMillan/Holt site, to offer the occasional book recommendation. I was cleaning out my office here at home and under the ugly orange flowered table where I leave various debris, I found the GIGANTOR pile of books I bought for research purposes (with something like 2K books here at home, bookshelf space is no longer available. They just get piled on the floor.). Anyway, a few suggestions for indie-related summer reading. I’m still working on my first coffee here, so bear with any errors or lame brained prose. These should all be available via Powell’s, Amazon, etc, by the way. And some of them may already be familiar to you. But hey, I believe in re-reading the classics!
Stephen Duncombe’s “Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture” was originally published in 1997 and reissued in an updated edition last year. If you’re at all interested in zines, this is a must read. Duncombe is a professor at NYU, but he has personal roots in the punk community, so he’s able to mediate what could have turned into an overly academic discussion with acecdotal stories that keep the book lively and entertaining. I learned so much about the historical roots of zines from reading this, and now that zines are becoming harder to find (in paper form), it’s a good historical overview.
That title should read “DESPITE Everything”, but the Despite got cut off. Anyway, if you’ve never read Aaron Cometbus’ writing, well, hop to it. He’s kind of like the East Bay punk version of Samuel Pepys. His zine, which appeared sporadically for years, chronicles his life as a musician, busker, traveler, and thinker as he criss crosses the world on zero budget, playing music, writing, working. This compilation was published a few years back, but he recently re-surfaced after a long, long break with a standalone issue about the history of Berkeley bookstores — another must read. Bookstores here have a history of surprisingly salacious gossip!
Again, if you’ve never read the brilliant work of Los Bros Hernandez, well, hop to it. This is a stand-alone collection of Xaime Hernandez’s work, a chronicle of the romance/friendship of Maggie and Hopey, the titular crazy women. For years, these stories appeared in the Fantagraphics comic Love and Rockets alongside Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar stories, and when I worked in a comic book shop, all the staffers defined themselves as either Xaime people or Gilbert people. I love both of their work, but I’ve always been more of a Xaime girl.
Causes Kaya Oakes Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center
Call to Action
Human Rights Campaign
Berkeley Food and Housing Project