I love to consider how a book “comes” to me. Often, it’s a friend, or a sibling who recommends a great read. Because of this, and the variety of writing available, I decided to launch my new Two for Tuesday column! Every Tuesday, whenever possible, I’ll ask two people to select two books they’ve recently read, and write a small “blurb”: what they liked, or not, and what sort of impact the book might have had. A “teaser” if you will. So, here are our first Two for Tuesday participants:
Two for Tuesday: BUD SMITH
Doll Palace– Sara Lipmann. I loved. Electrified short stories about girls growing up in NJ/NYC area, sometimes in outlandish situations (like Target Girl, who’s the daughter of a knife throwing expert). Real care put into this writing. Above and beyond the usual, the expected, the mundane. Bonus points because one of the stories in it “Everyone Has Your Best Interests At Heart” takes place in a town on the Jersey shore where I grew up.
Paperback: 258 pages; Publisher: Dock Street Press, Sept. 2014
Last Days of California by Mary Miller. A family on a road trip towards the west coast, getting ready for the Rapture. A mobile exploration of contemporary America through the eyes of a teenage Born Again, with doubts. Dig this book because the writing is addictive, seemingly loose, but put together as if done so under a spell.
Paperback: 256 pages; Publisher: Liveright (Sept. 2, 2014)
Bud Smith’s bio: Bud Smith is 32, hungry, thirsty, and from New Jersey. He currently lives in New York City, in Washington Heights, near the GWB Bridge. He’s got a car that he parks on the street every night. Not a single window has been smashed in, even after eight years. His books are the novels Tollbooth and F-250 (Piscataway House), the short story collection Or Something Like That (Unknown Press) and poetry collection Everything Neon (Marginalia). He works heavy construction building power plants and refineries, welding, burning, rigging to maintain and repair process equipment. So that’s fun. He also co-edits the art meets lit anthology Uno Kudo. Some recent short stories and poems have appeared at Smokelong, JMWW, Metazen, Word Riot, and theNewer York. He is currently working on a collection of poetry. Also: he was born on Thanksgiving Day. Likes to sit at his desk and listen to the same record over and over again. Is fond of paperback books found online, second-hand, written by dead people. More at www.budsmithwrites.com
Two for Tuesday: MICHAEL GILLAN MAXWELL
The Mayor of MacDougal Street is the mostly autobiographical memoir of Dave Van Ronk, one of the founding figures in the American folk revival in the sixties. He was also one of most influential folk song historians, songwriters and guitarists of his time. The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a sprawling, comprehensive depiction of life and times in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the 1950s, 60’s and 70’s. Thoroughly engaging and fascinating, it’s a beautiful complement to two other NYC memoirs by prominent musicians: Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and Patti Smith’s Just Kids.
Paperback: 272 pages; Publisher: Da Capo Press; (Second Edition, 2013)
I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like: Mostly True Tall Tales is Todd Snider’s memoir of his life and career. Todd Snider is one of the most beloved and influential “Americana” singer/songwriter/storytellers out there. Each chapter is an expansion of one or more of his story songs, with larger-than-life characters that are almost mythological in stature. Compelling, compassionate and hilarious, I couldn’t put it down. Don’t pass up an opportunity to see him in concert!
Paperback: 304 pages; Publisher: Da Capo Press (April 22, 2014)
Michael Gillan Maxwell’s bio: Michael Gillan Maxwell is a writer and visual artist in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. Maxwell writes short fiction, poetry, songs, essays, recipes and irate letters to his legislators and his work has been featured in a number of journals and anthologies. He serves as associate flash fiction editor for JMWW quarterly journal and editor of MadHat Lit’s Drive-By Reviews. A teller of tales and singer of songs, he’s prone to random outbursts, may spontaneously combust or break into song at any moment and might be occasionally found ranting and raving on his website: Your Own Backyard. http://michaelgillanmaxwell.com
Also, I’d like to mention two books that I’ve read recently: Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein (The Corrected Centennial Edition); and ghostbread by Sonja Livingston. Both highly recommended! Thanks for a great first Two for Tuesday, Bud and Michael! Please feel free to comment with any books you recommend, especially those you are currently reading!