Thursday, December 30, 2010

The best books I read in 2010

Kevin D., stylishly putting the rest of us to shame.

The House of Versace by Deborah Ball is an absorbing business book for fashion lovers. Ball chronicles one man's creative development, and the partial dissolution of a glamorous brand due to his sister's hubris and excess.

The book unveils Gianni Versace's post-WWII modest Calabrian roots, intuitive sense for what makes women feel sexy and luxurious, his sad killing by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, his celebrity-packed memorial service, and his sister Donatella's sometimes unwise management decisions.

The author uncovers the shocking way the Versace family jettisoned Gianni's 15-year partner Antonio D'Amico from company profits.

I found Wall Street Journal Business Reporter Deborah's Ball's work to be impartial, astute, and compulsively readable, despite little description of Versace's actual designs.

(post script: The label's last Milan collection in September, impressed NY Times critic Cathy Horyn, who called the long-lengths, and tight-fitting styles- superior.)

Secret Historian by Justin Spring

My heart is bursting with gratitude for Justin Spring for his exhaustively researched and exciting Secret Historian. And thanks, too, to self-invented, self-identified sexual rebel (though no label suffices) Sam Steward, the esteemed professor turned Hells Angels' tattooist, turned above average erotic fiction writer, all while fighting a valiant battle with barbiturates.

Spring spent 10 years studying Steward's journals, letters and notorious card catalog of notes on casual sex left behind in his Oakland attic.

This necessary and fulfilling bio, rejected by 10 publishers before FSG stepped up, will make a lovely holiday gift, even if the recipient, (unlike Steward) does not favor beatings and humiliation by straight guys in dirty socks.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010



I had a rough and tumble time picking out my personal favorites of 2010. To whittle down the number of choices I decided to stick to just one fiction and one non-fiction title that I could consider particularly striking. Of course if you'd like to hear me expand on the topic you know where I work. Ask me. You'll be in for it. Promise.


Stoner by John Edward Williams

Generally I am a reader of authors that express a certain unadulterated exuberance or enthusiasm for the mystery of the living world. Cendrars, Simic, Miller and Hamsun are a few that jump to mind immediately. Williams' novel Stoner is narrated in quite the opposite fashion. The titular character, William Stoner, is practically lead by a leash toward his passions, barely by his own volition, which for the most part make their beds in the confines of stuffy places such as his university's library, studies, offices, etc. He follows these, lives humbly amongst them and moves on. It's difficult to explain how exciting this novel is. Essentially it is about a quiet, dull life of an unremarkable man. What is mesmerizing about it however is how infinitely relatable the minutia of Stoner's life is. This is no work of 'gripping' daring do. It is a novel of a tranquil, lucid sort of genius and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


The Great Debate About Art by Roy Harris

I'll spare you any sort of critical analysis of this text that may be stewing around inside me. I'd have a hard time explaining myself without sounding too silly, convoluted and without stumbling all over myself, mouth full of feet. Roy Harris however, is able to gracefully tackle the topics of art history, criticism, and 'artspeak' without falling apart. The Great Debate About Art is a short, accessible and most importantly to me, acerbic text that hammers out why my face has fallen flat at so many art shows and museums. It's a book about a lot more than just art. The human condition is big.

Best of 2010 continued

My three favorite books of the year were The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker; The Hour, a Cocktail Manifesto by Bernard DeVoto; and December's Book of the Month, The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

The first is a Dutch novel of loneliness; the second is a witty and opinionated rant about booze; and the last is a "biography" of cancer. Click on any title for my original reviews. (Or to buy the Google ebook edition of the last, click here; it's only $12.99!).

Looking forward to another year of reading, twins, and (moderate) drinking. . . .

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best of 2010...

Here you go... The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell and Antwerp by Roberto BolaƱo...npb

Merry Christmas

The mustachioed men of Green Apple, and the classier and more tasteful women of Green Apple, wish you a merry Christmas and thank you for your support.