Books (18)

Understanding the Fervor of Trump supporters with Hillbilly Elegy

Hey, a lot of people seem anxious to get a read on this Trump phenomenon — some literally.   And into that anxiety strides one J.D. Vance, 30-something Marine veteran, Silicon Valley attorney and Yale Law School grad, who might seem an odd candidate for his first book to become the season's hottest political read. Yet there's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis atop the must-read list. I even ran…

Book Review: Shock and Awe, Glam Rock and Its Legacy by Simon Reynolds

This long overdue history of glam rock went from being a can’t-put-down read to an ill-conceived exercise in futility due to its superfluous final chapter. Titled “Aftershocks,” this chapter finds Simon Reynolds falling into the trap of so many latter-day critics who try to rationalize that this “modern" stuff like Lady Gaga is somehow analogous to actual rock n’ roll when, in reality, what really drives it is the same mentality one more commonly associates with advertising and, worse yet,…

Hippies, Hell's Angels and mayhem: Selvin captures dark side of Stones in the 1970s

        When the Rolling Stones toured America in 1969 for the first time in three years, they found a more psychedelic landscape, but also a more violent one. Not only had a lot changed since 1966, a lot had changed since Woodstock four months earlier. Such was the reality of Altamont, the free concert the band decided would top off the tour, which ended up becoming the symbolic end-of-the-sixties as much as Charlie…

Rybeck on the Port City: Portland-born novelist explores legacy of places

Benjamin Rybeck was born in Portland and grew up in Falmouth. He went to the University of Southern Maine before moving to Arizona at age 23. It took that move away from his hometown to be able to use the Port City as inspiration for his first novel, The Sadness.   “When I was in high school, as soon as I was able to drive, I would go as often as I could to Portland,”…

A romance behind Moby-Dick? Researcher provides compelling case

When you get your morning coffee, you might not realize that Starbuck’s is named for the first mate in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Starbuck is the voice of sanity when confronted by Captain Ahab’s madness. Getting your coffee anywhere else, advertisers suggest, would be crazy. Forgotten for nearly a century after his death, Melville lived his later years working on the New York docks and was listed in The New York Times obituary section in…

The heyday of God-less Left Wing radicalism

The Sixties is the decade that won’t go away, and for good reason — its aftershocks are still being felt, and every new re-interpretation of that tumultuous time (I hesitate to say “decade” because the boundaries of the whole idea of “the sixties” are endless) helps us better understand where we are now—even if some of the cliches of the period have become hopelessly trivialized, mostly by right wing ideologues. Enter Clara Bingham, a former…

The essence of Punk: Trouble Boys plumbs the genius of the Replacements

Trouble Boys, journalist Bob Mehr’s excellently-researched and well-written 435-page bio of Minneapolis’s favorite indie-rock miscreants, the Replacements, isn’t just the story of a band, it’s the story of an era, and it’s a must-read for anyone who grew up in that time, not to mention anyone wishing to understand it, and its aftermath, whereby, as far as art goes, a lack of commitment, not to mention balls (call it chutzpah if you prefer), plus an…

Cohen's parallels of ugly politics: American Maelstrom effectively views 1968 through prism of today

1968 was perhaps the pivotal year of the ‘60s, and the images that flashed around the world — the student riots in France, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the violence surrounding the Democratic convention in Chicago — were the ones that solidified the image of the decade for years to follow. But as Michael Cohen makes clear in his new book, American Maelstrom, perhaps the longest-lasting legacy is the political divide…

Majka’s new collection of short stories worth a look

There is something deceptively simple about Sarah Majka’s new collection of short stories, Cities I’ve Never Lived In. These are stories about memory, many of which take place in or around Portland, and they are stories written with a clarity that sometimes borders on the austere. But just as casual prose tends to be highly crafted and a discursive style is actually very stylized, memory, for Majka, quickly becomes far more complex than something that…

Longfellow Books: Takin’ it to the streets with independent lit

Portland is proud of its Art Walk history and its newer foodie trends. The city touts itself as one of the best places in the country to visit when you want great live music, an up-and-coming place to get down and dance, and a true melting pot of cultures and customs. Portland is also a well-read and a well-written community with some of the world’s best poets, playwrights, novelists and memoirists, without even needing to…
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