This week's new lit from The American Reader to iconic car journeys through film and master watchmakers
Injury-inducing Book of the Week: Drive: Journeys Through Film, Cities, and Landscapes by Iain Borden [Reaktion]
Call it serendipity. This isn’t a new book, so to speak, it’s a book I requested some time at the end of last year and immediately forgot about once it arrived. It’s a book I only remembered recently, having gone to dig out my copy of Drive – as in the film with more bomber jackets than dialogue – and had it fall on me from a considerable height. (I recently moved all my books to a now dangerously bowed shelf above my wardrobe.) Perhaps it’s concussion, but this book does speak to something in me: I have a car, but I’m not by any stretch a car lover – the only really long journey I’ve ever been on ended in an expensive crash, a parking ticket and a charming gay couple cooking us breakfast – but I do like to drive at night; I actually have what I’m told is a ‘dangerous habit’ of driving with the lights off because it’s a little more serene. Drive is billed as an anti-anti-car riposte, hoping to tug at our heartstrings by connecting the humble auto to canonized cinema, and I’m not sure it really does the trick there, but there’s something to be said for “driving cars as a way of encountering landscapes and cities around the world” – if you can tell how incredible somewhere is without leaving the car, it’s a pretty fucking special place.
Literary Journal of the Week: The American Reader
“Restoring literature to its proper place in the American cultural discourse” is a lofty ambition and, truth be told, probably an uphill battle – assuming, that is, that the proper place isn’t on the bottom of some sort of Tea Party bonfire or the profanities offered up as sacrifice to Karl Rove. That said, their commitment to new work in poetry and fiction and their diligence in publishing some of the best and most well-considered cultural criticism I’ve read in a long time is worth celebrating and – at the very least – is as capable as a monthly literary journal can be of going some way toward redressing the balance.
Fashion Book/Biography of the Week: George Daniels: Master Watchmaker by Michael Clerizo [Thames and Hudson]
I wrote about this book just the other day for PORT just the other day, but frankly, if it weren’t so fucknormously large I wouldn’t have put it down since it arrived a couple of weeks ago. I should make clear that I know nothing about watches except for how to put them on – I have a feeling Mr. Clerizo found it hard to contain himself at my ineptitude in our correspondence – but I do know a good book when I see/am trying desperately to find somewhere to put one. Daniels is a fascinating character – a total envelope-pusher, more or less entirely responsible for watches as we know them today – well-worth researching even if you can’t stomach forking out for the book. It is beautiful, though…
US Release of the Week: The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman [Bloomsbury USA]
This is another cheat, really, but I feel absolutely no remorse. Former Dazed books editor, Ned’s novel came out last year over here, in fact it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, but has only just hit the shelves of poor, deprived US bookstores. (Can you believe that they have bookstores and we have bookshops? culture is bonkers.) Anyway, even though they’ve opted not to use any of my glowing praise on its Amazon page, The Teleportation Accident is an incredible piece of work – by turns (though not mutually exclusive) incredibly dark and enormously funny, utterly absurd and disgustingly real. I read a lot of new fiction, and barely any of it measures up to Beauman. Nazis on ketamine? You bet your sweet bippy.