Book Casing

Great books recommended by great people.

Sasha Frere-Jones's Bookcase

Sasha Frere-Jones (born Alexander Roger Wallace Jones in 1967) is an American writer, music critic, and musician. He has written for Pretty Decorating, ego trip, Hit It And Quit It, Mean, Slant, The New York Post, The Wire, The Village Voice, Slate, Spin, and The New York Times. He was on the staff of The New Yorker from 2004-2015. In January 2015, he left The New Yorker to work for the website Genius.com as an executive editor. Frere-Jones left Genius after several months to become critic-at-large at The Los Angeles Times. Frere-Jones left the Times in May 2016 amid rumors of improperly expensing a strip club bill and potentially accepting expensive corporate gifts.

Photo by: Piera Gelardi

Recommends

Suicide cannot be read as simply another novel―it is, in a sense, the author’s own oblique, public suicide note, a unique meditation on this most extreme of refusals. Presenting itself as an investigation into the suicide of a close friend―perhaps real, perhaps fictional―more than twenty years earlier, Levé gives us, little by little, a striking portrait of a man, with all his talents and flaws, who chose to reject his life, and all the people who loved him, in favor of oblivion. Gradually, through Levé’s casually obsessive, pointillist, beautiful ruminations, we come to know a stoic, sensible, thoughtful man who bears more than a slight psychological resemblance to Levé himself. But Suicide is more than just a compendium of memories of an old friend; it is a near-exhaustive catalog of the ramifications and effects of the act of suicide, and a unique and melancholy farewell to life.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

In I Love Dick, published in 1997, Chris Kraus, author of Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Video Green, boldly tore away the veil that separates fiction from reality and privacy from self-expression. It's no wonder that I Love Dick instantly elicited violent controversies and attracted a host of passionate admirers. The story is gripping enough: in 1994 a married, failed independent filmmaker, turning forty, falls in love with a well-known theorist and endeavors to seduce him with the help of her husband. But when the theorist refuses to answer her letters, the husband and wife continue the correspondence for each other instead, imagining the fling the wife wishes to have with Dick. What follows is a breathless pursuit that takes the woman across America and away from her husband and far beyond her original infatuation into a discovery of the transformative power of first person narrative. I Love Dick is a manifesto for a new kind of feminist who isn't afraid to burn through her own narcissism in order to assume responsibility for herself and for all the injustice in world and it's a book you won't put down until the author's final, heroic acts of self-revelation and transformation.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

Winner of the National Book Award

The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do not appear in the only two story collections O'Connor put together in her short lifetime--Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man Is Hard to Find.

O'Connor published her first story, "The Geranium," in 1946, while she was working on her master's degree at the University of Iowa. Arranged chronologically, this collection shows that her last story, "Judgement Day"--sent to her publisher shortly before her death―is a brilliantly rewritten and transfigured version of "The Geranium." Taken together, these stories reveal a lively, penetrating talent that has given us some of the most powerful and disturbing fiction of the twentieth century. Also included is an introduction by O'Connor's longtime editor and friend, Robert Giroux.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

A Life in Letters

The monumentality of this biographical work further establishes Joseph Roth―with Kafka, Mann, and Musil―in the twentieth-century literary canon.

Who would have thought that seventy-three years after Joseph Roth’s lonely death in Paris, new editions of his translations would be appearing regularly? Roth, a transcendent novelist who also produced some of the most breathtakingly lyrical journalism ever written, is now being discovered by a new generation. Nine years in the making, this life through letters provides us with our most extensive portrait of Roth’s calamitous life―his father’s madness, his wife’s schizophrenia, his parade of mistresses (each more exotic than the next), and his classic westward journey from a virtual Hapsburg shtetl to Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt, and finally Paris.

Containing 457 newly translated letters, along with eloquent introductions that richly frame Roth’s life, this book brilliantly evokes the crumbling specters of the Weimar Republic and 1930s France. Displaying Roth’s ceaselessly inventive powers, it finally charts his descent into despair at a time when “the word had died, [and] men bark like dogs.”

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011 One of Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011 A Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction book of 2011 A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011

One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011

A sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of America's cultural landscape―from high to low to lower than low―by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world.

In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us―with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that's all his own―how we really (no, really) live now.

In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV's Real World, who've generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina―and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill.

Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that we've never heard told this way. It's like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways we've never imagined to be true. Of course we don't know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection―it's our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivan's work.

Also recommended by

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

You might also enjoy books from