March 16th, 2013 / 12:38 pm
Behind the Scenes

Some Must Read Books


a.k.a. “Playing catch up with the stacks [5].”

In this series, I share with you a stack of my recently acquired and most anticipated reading materials. In 2012 I did one of these in NovemberAugust, and March, and in 2011 I did one in May.

Once again I have a heaping pile of awesome-looking unread materials just waiting to be experienced…



Aliens: No Exit by B.K. Evenson Under a pen name, the great Brian Evenson enters the world of Aliens. It came out a few years ago, but I just recently learned about it. Since I decided to spend part of spring break re-watching the Alien movies — spoiler alert: Jones the Cat is the hero of the first movie! — I decided to get this and give it a read. Pretty excited to see how Evenson channels his sentence-level precision toward this particular genre.


The Devil and Sonny Liston by Nick Tosches The first time Sonny Liston met Cassius Clay in the ring, the referee stopped the fight. Supposedly Liston hurt his shoulder. Then when they rematched, Liston took a dive. Although I am a huge fan of Ali and Tyson, I don’t know much about Liston so this should be good. Looks like he was a real scoundrel. lynchbook David Lynch: The Air is on Fire by David Lynch Wow. This book looks amazing. Hardcover, full color prints of Lynch’s artwork. Two cds of music and interviews with Lynch. I found a copy of it for a reasonable price at the Chamblin Bookmine in Jacksonville. If you’re near there, you should go there. That bookstore is amazing.


Pop Art by Lucy R. Lippard Lippard wrote a really great book on Eva Hesse, so I’m interested to see what she has to say about Pop Art. Not as many full color illustrations as I’d like, but then what good is a book that does everything you want it to do?


Deleuze Studies Volume 7, Number 1 (2013) This has some good looking things in it, especially the first essay by Daniela Voss called “Deleuze’s Rethinking of the Notion of Sense.”


Francis Bacon by Wieland Schmied In Gabriel Josipovici’s What Ever Happened to Modernism?, Bacon is used as an exemplar of a kind of middle path between abstraction and concreteness. That book pissed me off for a bunch of reasons; but regardless, I really love Francis Bacon. For a long time I had his “Three Studies for a Crucifixion” (1962) as my desktop image. Now it’s Andy Warhol’s “Knives” (ca.1981-82). Anyway, this book by Schmied has a ton of full color images.


Love & Rockets Vol. 1: Music for Mechanics by The Hernandez Brothers This is another one I can’t believe I found for cheap at Chamblin Bookmine. I’m late to the game on Love and Rockets. I always wanted to start at the beginning if I was going to get into it but the beginning was always hard to find. Now I can start at the beginning.

Moon's Jaw hi res Cover

The Moon’s Jaw by Rauan Klassnik If you’re not reading Klassnik, you’re not getting enough abjection in your life. Words between dashes. Ugliness made stark. Face your blisters. Go on. Get this book and put it under your pillow and chances are Satan will come in the night and leave you with a silver dollar. carloeyes Wooden Eyes by Carlo Ginzburg Uh-oh, from the look of the first chapter it appears that somebody’s gonna take ole Viktor Shklovsky to the washroom and show him what for. According to the Kirkus Review, “[Ginzburg’s] breadth is intimidating, his depth daunting, and his conclusions staggering.” secretpuppets The Secret Life of Puppets by Victoria Nelson I can’t remember who recommended this book. I want to say Barrett Watten, but I can’t be sure. About the book one reviewer wrote, “In the opening chapter, Victoria Nelson issues a caveat that deliberately echoes the warnings that preface tales of horror. Do not expect to emerge unchanged. To read this book is akin to entering an ancient grotto, the ante-chamber of the otherworld.” jasperjohns_thingamong_zoom-435x550 A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns by John Yau I’m on a huge John Yau kick right now. Plus, after reading Calvin Thompkins’s tremendous Off the Wall: A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg, this book calls out to me. Johns and Rauschenberg are fascinating for a host of reasons, not least of which is their precarious position somewhere between and overlapping both Abstract Art and Pop Art.


Kept Women by Kate Durbin I call Kate Durbin one of the most compelling contemporary American writers because I feel like she’s in her own lane. No one does what she does the way she does it. A rare quality and certainly worth attention. This chapbook, which is part of a larger book, appears to be a set of descriptions of various rooms in the Playboy Mansion.


A Motive for Mayhem by Abigail Child Pretty stoked to have found this one for $3.00 at The Book Lady Bookstore in Savannah. I am a huge fan of Child’s writing and filmmaking. Her stuff is weirdly documentarian, montage-heavy, syntactically gymnastic, and monstrous in the most amazing way. moongarden Moongarden by Anthony McCann The great Nick Sturm recommended this poet to me, so I went and got all three of his books. (His other two are I Heart Your Fate; and Father of Noise.) I get the sense that he’s interested in morphing the boundaries between human and animal, physical and ethereal, etc. Seems interested in the body. What a body can do. How a body verbs. house-of-secrets-cover_422x628 House of Secrets by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini Okay, Ned kicks ass. (You’ve read other of his books, I hope.) And Chris Columbus wrote both Gremlins and Goonies, so my feeling is that this book is going to be awesome.


Handiwork by Amaranth Borsuk I’m supposed to write a review of this book for Pleiades, but after flipping through it I got dizzy so I think I’m going to bury it in the earth for seven days and then see what happens.


I Go to Some Hollow by Amina Cain I’m a fan of all things Les Figues. I am also a fan of Amina Cain’s work. “Why do you want to look like a wolf?” (she wrote). She has a chapbook in the Parrot series (the press above who put out Kate Durbin’s Kept Women) called Tramps Everywhere, which looks rad. Bhanu Kapil wrote an introduction to this one, her debut set of short stories, the title of which conjures Bob Dylan and Cat Power. Ill leave you with that…


  1. bemightee

      what is that?! your garage?! can i come over and rummage around? love the selections presented here. read that secret life of puppets but many years ago now. remember it as being pretty good. that hernandez bros. was a real find!

  2. Grant Maierhofer

      this is weird i was just trying to hide books i’ve read to make room for the pile of other shit i’ve yet to read and was feeling miserable about it and the first post here was about essentially the same thing, sort of, not really. either way i appreciate this and it makes it worth hiding those already read books but not just getting rid of everything which is kind of how i felt for a minute. thanks for writing this write about five hundred more please i’ll feel way better then. i won’t.

  3. NathanHuffstutter

      Straight up: what’s the story on all these Amazon links? This isn’t some blind anti-Amazon rant — for cost, convenience, or availability I sometimes order books through the site. When I do, I access Amazon via a portal that gives 8.5% of the total sale to my daughter’s school. The links you post here have the same sort of coding as that portal access, though unique to you/Bright Stupid Confetti.

      If you really are “a fan of all things Les Figues” and you want to promote a book you admittedly haven’t read, why not direct readers here:
      Instead of posting an Amazon link to Handiwork that shows the book temporarily out of stock, why not support Slope Editions and post a link to buy directly from the publisher:

      You’ve got the platform here to write whatever you want to write, and that’s cool, I could give a shit about the polemics and back and forth. But if you’re using HTMLG to slap up jacket photos of books you haven’t read and posting links with the parasitic intention of sucking a few coins for yourself out of the transaction between small press writers and small press readers… critically, ethically, personally, that angle’s pretty freaking gross.

  4. Christopher Higgs

      Typically, I avoid the cesspool of the comments section; but your response raises a conversation point that I think needs to be addressed. Although I have neither the time nor inclination to engage any further in this comment thread beyond this one response, I do intend to dedicate a post to this topic in the near future.

      The way I see it, I only link to books being sold on Amazon by presses that have chosen to sell their books on Amazon.

      Many small presses do not choose to sell their books on Amazon. Solar Luxuriance, for instance. Or, notice that Kate Durbin’s book listed above is linked directly to Insert Blanc Press, because it is not available on Amazon.

      If a small press doesn’t want to sell books on Amazon, then more power to them. But if they do want to sell books on Amazon, then I fail to see how my linking to those books (that they have willingly placed for sale on that website) constitutes a violation of ethics. I didn’t put those books on Amazon. The publishers put those book on Amazon. I have simply given them free publicity.

      Like you, I am uninterested in “the polemics and back and forth.” So I will close here with the acknowledgment that the issue of book sales (be they direct or through third party vendors such as Amazon) can only be described as complicated and deserving of further scrutiny.

      Thank you for your comment.


  5. HolidayInnExpress

      God, you’re such a douchebag.

  6. NathanHuffstutter

      Hey Chris,

      You don’t need to wade into the cesspool to address me — like you, I spend my share of time above ground. And writing about books or music with the byline next to my name, there are certain things I can’t do:

      –Take money or gifts from the author/artist.
      –Take money or gifts from the publisher/record company.
      –Take money or gifts from a publicist representing the artist.
      –Have a financial stake in the sales of the book/album.

      When you take a middleman’s cut off the sales of the books you promote, you’ve crossed the line from a journalist/critic to a publicist. Which isn’t in itself a bad thing — there are a number of publicists I’m personally very fond of and they work incredibly hard to drive sales for artists they’re passionate about. But there’s a transparency there — everyone knows they’re being paid to spread the word.

      It’s your business who you direct your readers toward: you can link to Amazon, Powells, SPD, the publisher, whoever. But if you’re getting a kickback for any sales that result from those links, you need to be forthcoming about that in the presentation of the posts. Because they are now advertisements. And, maybe advertisements that the press didn’t bargain for.

      You’re correct that book sales are complicated and by and large I don’t begrudge any writer what they have to do to turn a buck — it’s fucking brutal out there. But even granting your loose definition of “free,” I disagree that steering potential readers to Amazon rather than the publishing presses represents harmless “free publicity.” The audience for HTMLG and the audience for small press books largely overlap — every likely buyer you route to Amazon is one less out of the small pool of customers for that press.

      Anyway, I’m not really down for these big go-rounds either, so like you, I’m done with it here. But if you can’t see the shaky ethics behind championing a writer/press only to then make a commission by steering that press’s customers to a less financially viable venue… I don’t know man. I guess there’s not much more I can say.



  7. Jimmy Chen

      i love how cat power’s chord playing is like she either just woke up or is about to go to bed. it’s tired bed guitar, the best kind

  8. Jimmy Chen

      i remember a long time ago justin taylor got ‘flak’ for being reticent in critical comment discussions his formidable pieces provoked, then surfacing to say that he didn’t have time or the inclination for it. it’s odd — in this internet age, like texting back immediately, or receptive facebook liking — how the author is somewhat liable to the subsequent behavior after a piece is published, as if its composition was ongoing, democratic, and at times very messy. i understand wanting a ‘clean break’ from one’s rhetoric, to which an entire post had been laboriously dedicated, the notion being that the better the piece is, the less the author has to supplement it with appendix-y comments. but i also understand empowering, or further legitimizing, the reader’s experience by acknowledging them, even if abrasively. commenting is a nasty animal that makes everyone tired, i think.

  9. HolidayInnExpress

      Higgs’ passive-aggressiveness is the issue:

      “Hello, Nathan,

      Typically, I avoid the cesspool of the comments section; but your response raises a conversation point that I think needs to be addressed. Although I have neither the time nor inclination to engage any further in this comment thread beyond this one response,”

      Wrap your brain around the massive douchery here. Where to begin. Well,dude begins every comment with a salutation, like he’s writing an email to one of his freshmen instead of interacting, you know, like a normal human being, with a fellow writer his age or older. Then he manages to throw in a backhanded compliment along the lines of, the commenter’s comment belongs in a cesspool but not quite so far down that he can’t lower himself to respond, but only one response, which he’s sure to remind the commenter.

      What a condescending ass.

  10. A D Jameson

      Hi Chris,

      You say cesspool like it’s a bad thing. But, whoa, deconstruction, man—why can’t it be good? Especially for avant critics? Especially avant critics who implore people to react however they wish to other texts (including destructively)? “The cesspool of HTMLGiant, the comments section bubbles and reeks below each post, digesting the words above like some digital anus—Bataille’s Sarlaac Pit—providing the manure thanks to which fetid rhizomes extend from the text…”

      I continue to smile weakly at your lack of commitment to your stated positions. I also understand that you won’t respond.


  11. A D Jameson

      I keep reading the title of this post as “Some have to read books” (i.e., others do not).

  12. deadgod
  13. A D Jameson

      A close friend of mine never tires of quoting “verbing weirds language.”

  14. A D Jameson

      One of the definitive Cat Power performances:

      Each time she scratches her stomach, it looks like she’ll never be make the next chord in time. Yet she does.

  15. deadgod

      unique to you/Bright Stupid Confetti

      Wait: is it so that by going to a link to Amazon in this blogicle then putting that book in one’s Amazon cart and buying it from that linked page, one is buying through a “portal access” by which purchase Higgs or Bright Stupid Confetti gets (middle-man) money?

  16. deadgod

      Quit splashing, monstrous body.

  17. bartleby_taco

      As condescending as referring to a comments section as a cesspool (I guess it is sorta [specifically thinking of htmlg posts in the past related to muumuu, tao lin, marie calloway, et al]) I do find it odd that there’s this insistence that the original poster/author of the piece has to defend themselves in the comments section re: their original point in the writing. It seems to me that its probably the product of people thinking of information on the internet as something constantly in-flux/in the process of mutation, so an article originally posted on the internet can never be ‘fixed’/stable as a thing-in-itself–that its being digital somehow reduces its seriousness or legitimacy. A good piece of criticism should always provoke more (deeper) questions about things, than attempt to answer any question definitively, but the availability of being able to immediately respond has removed the possibility of that response as being something that attests to the ‘interesting-ness’ of a piece of criticism/writing as opposed to a newly articulated concern that needs to be addressed immediately–and if its not, then the author is just ‘hiding.’ “Don’t ask artists to explain their art.” etc

  18. deadgod

      I googled it to find a linkable copy of that strip, and there’s quite a few sites that have taken up the phrase. It looks like it’s become a sign of debate (and positions in debate) in linguistics (of the ‘description vs. prescription’ sort).

      Let me say that I don’t agree with Hobbes’s curmudgeonly pessimism. Of course languages are fluid in the way of words of one part of speech naturally being used as other parts of speech. I don’t use ‘reference’ as a verb (because it’s too much uglier to me than ‘refer to’), but ‘access’? ‘impact’? Neither of those verbings feel oppressive to me.

      The universal and ineluctable impediment to understanding isn’t the mutability of language; that’s rather coordinate with understanding’s difficulties. In my view, beyond mechanical inexpertise, the immanently ultimate reason understanding is never perfect is the excess of meaning with respect to it.

  19. HolidayInnExpress

      Greetings, Bartleby,

      You might have a point…if Higgs didn’t have a history of venturing into the cess pool and responding to comments with his typical smarmy brand of condescension.

      I hope this response finds you well.

      Yours truly,


  20. guywatchingbowling

      This reminds me of Phaedrus.

  21. A D Jameson

      I disagree with Hobbes, too; I tend toward the prescriptivist side myself. Or does that make us Calvinists?

  22. Michael Martin

      I think he means HTMLG, because, if I’m not mistaken, the (a) website is able to receive money off that slide. It is calculated Googley-Google analytically. Or some other service.

  23. NathanHuffstutter

      As I understand it, if someone clicks to Amazon via a partner/portal link, the portal-holder receives a small percentage not just of the sale of the linked title/item, but a percentage of everything the customer purchases during that particular transaction. The links in this post appear to route to Bright Stupid Confetti, not HTMLG.

  24. A D Jameson
  25. HolidayInnExpress

      Ha! Awesome destruction of everything he supposedly stands for…

  26. HolidayInnExpress

      This is too much fun–exposing Chris Higgs.

      How about this line, taken from a post of his just a few weeks ago:

      “Nonsense is a value. Provocation is a value. Surprise is a value. Play is a value. Silliness is a value. Excitement is a value. Purple is a value. Slime is a value”–Chris Higgs,


      How does he reconcile that stance with lines below, like, “Typically, I avoid the cesspool of the comments section” (re: “slime”) and ” I am uninterested in “the polemics and back and forth” (re: “provocation”).

  27. mimi

      it’s the excess of meaning, yep

  28. mimi

      yep, i did me too i did that way i did that at first i did too
      yep, i did

  29. deadgod

      Do you mean that you’re a descriptivist?

      Hobbes — the tiger, not the Englishman — is prescribing: he’s saying that fluidity of parts of speech impedes understanding, (presumably) because it ‘breaks the rules’. He’s against the play that Calvin — the kid, not the Swiss guy — embraces. Calvin is the descriptivist–as it were, the pragmatist: if others get it, the way Hobbes seems to get the new verb “to weird”, then it’s a valid usage.

      Calvinball is the opposite of prescription; Calvinism is not.

  30. A D Jameson

      Ugh, you’re absolutely right. I was drunk/druugged, and screwed up the terms. Descriptivism for the win.

      Never trust a talking tiger. Especially one who offers to mix you a drink.

  31. These 15 Books Need You | HTMLGIANT

      […] of my recently acquired and most anticipated reading materials. The last time I did one was back in March. In 2012 I did one in November, August, and March, and in 2011 I did one […]