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Abstraktion und Einfuhlung
by Everett, Percival L.
Everett’s poems, much like his novels, are fraught with experimental and meta-artistic themes, and much like his novels they deliver a serious literary punch. Through carefully crafted word- and sound-play he invites the reader to traverse the poems beginning to end and back again in a process I found enjoyable and enlightening.   posted Jun 16, 2013 at 2:08PM

Another bullshit night in Suck City : a memoir
by Flynn, Nick
Artfully done memoir. Deep questioning of the nature of self and identity overflows the boundaries of prose, bleeding into poetry and drama with novel-like acuity. The prospect of ever knowing the real Button Man remains unsettlingly elusive. The prospect of ever knowing our real selves likewise.   posted Feb 11, 2013 at 5:49PM

by Bolano, Roberto
An unconventional "novel", built of mostly one-page prose-poem fragments. Beautiful imagery, obscure plot. One of his earliest attempts in the novel form, foreshadows many themes that evolve in his later works. "Considered by Bolaño’s literary executor Ignacio Echevarría to be the big bang of the Bolaño universe..."   posted Jan 3, 2013 at 1:54PM

Anxious pleasures : a novel after Kafka
by Olsen, Lance
A worthy revisit of the plight of Gregor Samsa from a postmodernist perspective. In a unique and brilliant inspiration, Lance Olsen shifts perspective in each chapter to include the voices of Gregor’s mother, sister, boss and cook (among others: a would-be author downstairs who may be the young Kafka himself, and a young woman in contemporary London reading "The Metamorphosis" for a university class assignment.) Highly recommended!   posted Mar 7, 2013 at 4:00PM

by Nerval, Gerard de
Gerard de Nerval gives an inspired account of his dreams and visions. Fantastic and harrowing, these explorations of the unconscious were virtually unprecedented at the time they were written. Worth reading as an antecedent to the Symbolist movement, Surrealism, and Freudian / Jungian explorations of consciousness that would follow.   posted Mar 1, 2013 at 12:04PM

Bartleby & Co.
by Vila-Matas, Enrique
Footnotes to a non-existent text, Vila-Matas surveys the legacy and motivations of the dysgraphically inclined. An entertaining stroll through the invisible lexicon of the never written and the literary progenitors of the No including Arthur Rimbaud, Salinger, and Melville’s namesake Bartleby.   posted May 15, 2013 at 10:25AM

Borges and the eternal orangutans
by Luis Fernando Verissimo
Become Borges, ponder the "Eternal Orangutan," (which, given all eternity, would end up writing all books), venerate Poe, and solve a murder in Verissimo’s small masterpiece.   posted Mar 7, 2014 at 10:15AM

Boxer beetle : a novel
by Ned Beauman
When a queer nazi entomologist sets out to breed a superbeetle with swastika wings in tribute to Reich Chancellor Hitler but accidentally falls in love with a nine-toed jewish boxer who is the target of his eugenic fantasies, incredibly entertaining and offbeat hijinks ensue across the decades...   posted Feb 20, 2014 at 3:09PM

Coda : a novel
by Rene Belletto
What if it was YOU who defeated death and brought immortality to the world? What if you got to the end of the story (or the end of history) and couldn’t remember how it had begun?   posted Mar 12, 2014 at 10:44AM

Collected poems 1947-1980
by Ginsberg, Allen
Things are symbols of themselves - the classic text that will make you realize your inner poetic self-nature.   posted Jun 19, 2013 at 10:52AM

Dirty snow
by Simenon, Georges
A French teenager growing up under Nazi occupation becomes disengaged from morality and develops a sense of personal impunity. Psychological noir with an Existentialist punch from the uber-prolific Simenon, some call Dirty Snow his masterpiece.   posted Jun 14, 2013 at 10:50AM

Dr Ragab’s universal language
by Twigger, Robert
The secret of invisibility? A universal language? A manuscript, a bunker, a hermit in the Egyptian desert... esoteric practice and the enigmatic Dr. Ragab, a teacher from another time. In the contemporary world, they can still create fantastic and unpredictable results!   posted Apr 9, 2013 at 1:35PM

Erasure : a novel
by Everett, Percival L.
A novel about a novelist who writes a novel-within-the-novel under an assumed identity then has to live with it. Percival Everett takes on postmodern identity through the lens of the literary-industrial complex. Dense with astounding humor and insight, every Everett novel keeps the plotline taut through to the last page.   posted Mar 4, 2013 at 1:51PM

Essential Acker : the selected writings of Kathy Acker
by Acker, Kathy
Subverting meaning and identity with a gleeful and harrowing disregard for literary convention, I think of Acker as a kind of female William S. Burroughs come of age in the 1970s. A kind of deadly antidote to the literary-industrial complex, and so much more...   posted Apr 8, 2013 at 8:01PM

Everything is illuminated : a novel
by Foer, Jonathan Safran
With hilarity, pathos, and truth Foer redefines the potential of the written page in this stunning novel. This made a very good movie but with less depth than the novel. And the writing is absolutely superb, a tremendous piece of literature.   posted Jun 8, 2013 at 4:09PM

Forged : why fakes are the great art of our age
by Keats, Jonathon.
When art becomes a myopically self-referential insider game and artistic legitimacy becomes equated solely with provenance, then what remains to fulfil the need that art should provide by making us question ourselves and society? Forgery!   posted Jun 12, 2013 at 10:59AM

Heart of darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe criticized Heart of Darkness and called Conrad "a bloody racist" and the novella "an offensive and totally deplorable book" that de-humanized Africans. Specifically, Achebe argued that Conrad, ’blinkered...with xenophobia,’ incorrectly depicted Africa as the antithesis to Europe, and thus to civilization.   posted May 3, 2014 at 11:24AM

by Binet, Laurent
HHhH - Himmmler’s brain is called Heydrich. The Butcher of Prague and the brave assassins are a story worthy of a best-selling thriller. But how to tell their true history without cheapening it with fictionalized dialogs and literary conventions? Is the author Binet master of the contradictions he ingeniously treats in his book or is he still helplessly enmeshed in them?   posted Feb 15, 2014 at 10:49AM

I am a Japanese writer : a novel
by Laferriere, Dany
"It’s good to write a book. Sometimes it’s better not to write it." The new novel by Dany Laferriere is creating a worldwide sensation - or is it? Does it even exist?   posted Jan 10, 2013 at 4:00PM

Illuminations : coloured plates
by Rimbaud, Arthur
This little treasure of a book is fraught with insights into the Rimbaldian motive and expression, particularly in the 40 page introduction by editor Nick Osmond. It’s out of print and it’s one of the many true gems of the Hennepin County Library collection. Let HCL know that you value rare and challenging titles like this, and not only the latest bestsellers and hollywood movie dvds.   posted Feb 13, 2013 at 11:36AM

March violets
by Philip Kerr
Philip Kerr inks the darkest of noir, set in the 1930s during Germany’s inexorable slide into the abyss of Nazism. Private Investigator Bernie Gunther specializes in missing persons, and when he meets clients who won’t take no for an answer he’s plummeted into a sinister world of overflowing morgues, torture chambers, and concentration camps.   posted Mar 13, 2014 at 3:30PM

Monsieur Pain
by Bolano, Roberto
A small miracle of a novel. Dreams mixing with eternity from the very first page. I would write this way myself if I could figure out how Roberto Bolano does it!   posted Jun 27, 2013 at 4:47PM

Motherless Brooklyn
by Lethem, Jonathan.
Meta-Tourette’s in the Zendo! Epistemological Satori!   posted Feb 22, 2013 at 9:30AM

No one belongs here more than you : stories
by July, Miranda
The characters in these short stories could have easily stepped out of Miranda July’s film Me and You and Everyone We Know. They are alienated, isolated, withdrawn, and yearn to break through spectacularly or maybe just go back to sleep. A breathtaking roller-coaster of inner workings and outer manifestations of our most contemporary longings.   posted May 3, 2013 at 10:16AM

Now wait for last year
by Dick, Philip K.
This is my favorite Philip K. Dick novel, but perhaps not his most approachable. In the story, Earth of the future fights a desperate interplanetary war. A chemical warfare agent is developed called JJ-180, which is effective against the aliens but also turns out to have drug effects that make it highly addictive to humans, with a side-effect of unintentional time travel. Those new to the author might wish to start out with the novels Ubik or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to ease into the bizarre world of Philip K. Dick.   posted Mar 20, 2013 at 1:35PM

Operation Mincemeat : how a dead man and a bizarre plan fooled the Nazis and assured an allied victory
by Macintyre, Ben
A thoroughly enjoyable read! True story of the spy war between Britian and the Nazis during WWII. The novelist Ian Fleming, who would later write the James Bond novels, worked for British Intelligence during the war and helped invent the book’s namesake scheme.   posted Jun 3, 2013 at 5:36PM

Poem & symbol : a brief history of French symbolism
by Fowlie, Wallace
My main interest in this book was the chapter on Arthur Rimbaud which is thought provoking, interesting parallels with Hart Crane. The chapter on Gerard de Nerval was a fascinating surprise. But not a word on the poet Germain Nouveau, there is almost nothing of him in the entire Hennepin County catalog or even on MNLink from what I have been able to see. Suggestions?   posted Nov 11, 2012 at 12:14PM

Poets, prophets, and revolutionaries : the literary avant-garde from Rimbaud thr
by Russell, Charles
Incisively traces the history of the belief that, through a hard-won visionary acuity, the author CAN change the world!   posted Apr 10, 2013 at 1:51PM

Reservation blues
by Alexie, Sherman
So much pain and humor, hope and loss, this is why we love Sherman Alexie. If you’ve seen the film Smoke Signals, you will recognize aspects of the characters Thomas Builds-The-Fire and Victor Joseph among others. And if you’ve ever been in a rock band or loved the music of Robert Johnson this one will grab your heart.   posted Apr 22, 2013 at 6:56PM

Rimbaud’s poetic practice: image and theme in the major poems.
Awakening, sunrise, intoxication. Felicity and the loss thereof. The Revolution of Love is an open book; the author can still change the world!   posted Feb 13, 2013 at 11:43AM

Riprap ; and, Cold mountain poems
by Snyder, Gary
All I can say to those I meet: "Try and make it to Cold Mountain.”   posted May 15, 2013 at 10:40AM

Siddhartha : an Indian tale
by Hesse, Hermann
Wonderfully lyric translation accentuates the poetry of Hesse’s masterpiece of self-realization.   posted Feb 14, 2014 at 10:54AM

Soldiers of Salamis
by Cercas, Javier
Told with a wonderfully understated self-awareness, this novel follows the author’s trajectory of researching and writing the mysterious story of Rafael Sanchez Mazas, a prisoner during the Spanish Civil War who cheated death twice in one day. Incredibly, the author Roberto Bolano turns up as a character in the novel when Cercas seeks him out for help in completing the novel! A moving portrait of Bolano, who tells Cercas to forget about finding the truth and just make up the details.   posted Feb 14, 2013 at 11:06AM

Sputnik sweetheart : a novel
by Haruki Murakami
Ride along with Jack Kerouac %26 the Sputniks through altered consciousnesses of unrequited love, Grecian folly, and fractured identity. And to make art?   posted Mar 26, 2014 at 9:29AM

by Everett, Percival L.
One of the first novels published by prolific author Percival Everett. A finely constructed story, it follows the ballplayer Suder through a rough patch in his adult life. Everett weaves in scenes from Suder’s childhood experiences that illuminate the increasingly bizarre behavior the adult Suder begins to exhibit. For the reader, the crazier Suder’s actions become, the more they make sense. Everett is a vital voice in contemporary literature.   posted Jan 23, 2013 at 1:53PM

by Ballard, J. G.
Super-Cannes is the ultra cutting-edge workplace of the future, with just one problem: the lifestyle makes you insane. But science is clever, proposing the simple solution of embracing your inner psychopath. Legions of wealthy employees venting their psychopathic frustrations are great for the corporate profit margin, terrible for all the rest of the ordinary people of the world. Sound familiar?   posted May 3, 2013 at 3:57PM

The brief and frightening reign of Phil
by Saunders, George
A daring piece of absurdist satire, or is a provocative postmodern parable? More Samuel Beckett or Dr. Seuss? More Kurt Vonnegut or Monty Python? George Saunders won’t tell you what to think about it, but you will!   posted Jun 6, 2013 at 10:52AM

The Dewey Decimal system : a novel
by Larson, Nathan
Wittily juggles all the pertinent queries of postmodern identity in a spy thriller package. Dewey Decimal won’t tell you what to think, he won’t pretend to know what to make of it all. But he has a System... Do you?   posted Feb 4, 2013 at 1:39PM

The end of war
by Horgan, John
I bet you will be as surprised as I was when you read John Horgan’s The End of War. He argues convincingly that war is not an innate part of human existence, and that the end of war is not only possible, but inevitable. War is, in fact, a cultural contageon. Horgan gives examples of other cultural practices that seemed intractable only a few centuries or decades ago like slavery, torture, racism, corporal punishment, subjugation of women etc., that we now view as wrong and even unthinkable (even if these things persist in isolation, they are no longer considered acceptable or inevitable cultural values.) War is like this. When people change their minds and stop rationalizing the existence of war, war will end.   posted Jan 12, 2013 at 11:41AM

The financial lives of the poets : a novel
by Walter, Jess
Starts out strong & very witty. Juggling the tension of children, relationships, aging, and the astounding double-entendre "7-11" that had me pretty much rolling in the aisle. Let me down though in the last 1/4 of the book with the cardboard cops and saccharine wrap-up: author Jess Walter calls this a "comedy", so ok but life’s a tragedy right?   posted Feb 21, 2013 at 10:54AM

The fortress of solitude : a novel
by Lethem, Jonathan.
A classic Bildungsroman on the one hand, also a superhero fantasy and a meditation on race and class and art... I tend to agree with Booklist that "this often-excellent novel labors under the weight of its ambition." Lethem, not to be denied, troubles the sensibilities of the reader in a way that the subtle lessons of this novel are still percolating through my psyche and will be for a long time.   posted Apr 25, 2013 at 2:01PM

The last king of Scotland
by Foden, Giles
Some memoirs read like a novel. This is a novel that reads like a memoir. In the context I found this quite unsettling. Amidst a plethora of fictionalized details, the cruel madness of Idi Amin’s reign is exposed through a tangentally complicit narrator. But to me, so many details seem to dilute the bigger picture: that colonialism and exploitative post-colonial European policies drive the continuing agony of African nations. Mad dictators and persistent ethnic strife are a symptom of that legacy.   posted Mar 4, 2013 at 5:39PM

The man in the high castle
by Philip K. Dick
In this science fiction alternate history novel the Axis powers are victorious in WWII and the characters live under totalitarian fascist imperialism. Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel ’The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’, a novel within the novel which posits an alternative universe where the Axis powers lost WWII. This is only one of the devices that PK Dick uses to create a sense of an interpenetration of true and false realities, questioning the claim of the legitimacy of any one reality.   posted Jul 11, 2013 at 10:59AM

The savage detectives
by Bolano, Roberto
The true Bolano tour de force, a tremendous virtuoso performance. Totally compelling. One of the greatest novels of the 20th century.   posted Jan 3, 2013 at 2:04PM

There was a country : a personal history of Biafra
by Achebe, Chinua.
Chinua Achebe is perhaps the world’s best-known African author. His novel Things Fall Apart is regarded as a masterpiece for its description of the clash of cultures during the European colonization of Africa. Here he turns to autobiography, describing his education at British schools and his role in the formation of an independent Nigerian government free from British rule. Soon hopes are dashed as the new Nigeria is convulsed in ethnic war leading the region known as Biafra to declare their own independence from the Nigerian state. Achebe gracefully tells a story of unbearable complexity and human suffering, with hope that solutions are still possible for the daunting problems facing Africa.   posted Mar 14, 2013 at 11:02AM

Tree of codes
by Foer, Jonathan Safran
Perforated pages evoke the perforated life and oeuvre of Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz. In Schultz’s book ’The Street of Crocodiles’ Jonathan Safran Foer has uncovered another, hidden, narrative. Now you uncover it.   posted Jun 28, 2013 at 12:53PM

Ubik [sound recording]
by Dick, Philip K.
The iconic postmodern sci-fi novel gets an exceptional audio treatment. Nice narration with fun voices for each of the characters evokes the various time-shifts and confusions they experience.   posted Apr 24, 2013 at 10:43AM

What happened to Kerouac? [videorecording]
Built mostly upon interviews with people who knew Jack Kerouac, Kerouac’s identity as foremost a serious artist is redeemed. A sensitive and intensely introverted soul, in his lifetime Kerouac was deeply wounded by slanderous personal attacks against him by the media establishment. Kerouac’s art, not his persona, continued to inspire younger generations even as he withdrew into himself in the 1960s, ultimately dying from alcoholism.   posted Jun 16, 2013 at 1:38PM

Woes of the true policeman
by Bolano, Roberto
A fascinating insight into Bolano’s creative process. Unfinished at the time of his death, this work is a draft, each of the sections in various stages of completion. I couldn’t help feeling sad at his untimely death, knowing that he would have done so much more with this to make it shine like his other novels do.   posted Jan 3, 2013 at 1:34PM

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