where the writers are
Slanted and Enchanted, by Kaya Oakes
Date of Review: 
Eryn Loeb
San Francisco Chronicle

Pinning down the subculture known as "alternative," "underground" or "do-it-yourself" is a tricky thing: By any of these names, it's something that resists simple definitions even as it begs to be explained. In "Slanted and Enchanted," Kaya Oakes settles on the term "indie" to describe the throngs of artists, musicians, crafters, writers and assorted unclassifiable creative types to whom she ascribes a long list of enviable values, including "self-reliance, open-mindedness, and the freedom to take creative risks."

It's a project with clear personal stakes for the author: Oakes has long been deeply invested in the culture she chronicles here, publishing her poetry with the small Pavement Saw Press, co-founding the excellent (and sorely missed) arts and culture magazine Kitchen Sink and teaching a class on underground music at UC Berkeley.

While she relays indie's development with predictable expertise, she does so with uncommon insight, showing how the many scenes it encompasses (punk rock, riot grrrl, self-publishing and crafting among them) have been originated, reinvented and co-opted over more than 50 years. Her reflections on her own involvement are notably lacking the self-congratulatory tone that often accompanies attempts to define and defend one's own community, and she makes an impassioned, optimistic case for indie's vitality that doesn't assume readers are coming to her book already well versed in the subject... (more at sfgate.com)