Guernica published some favorite books of 2012, as named by some independent bookstore owners.
Included in that list is Mojo, an indie book and music store in Tampa, and Atomic, which is located in Baltimore and is also the place where I bought myself a copy of Andre Breton’s Mad Love to tide me over just an our before checking myself in for surgery (though I more bought the book to tide myself over for the recovery, rather than surgery itself, for which I was thankfully, chemically knocked out).
J R by William Gaddis
J R by William Gaddis is a novel that comes recommended not just for its relevance to various financial crises and burst bubbles that have afflicted us since its publication in 1975, but for its unique style and meticulous genius that made Gaddis quintessentially representative of post-modern literature and a direct influence on an immeasurable glut of novelists to come. At over 700 pages, comprising mostly of unattributed dialogue and no chapter breaks, J R is a sometimes rather difficult and often hilarious and prophetic epic about the role of money in twentieth-century America told through a middle-school student who learns about stock and commodities trading from a field trip and builds a financial empire over his school’s payphone. Gaddis has an unmatched ear for human speech and the kind of characteristic patience that is necessary to construct tomes like this and his first novel, The Recognitions, a masterful thousand-pager about authenticity and forgery published twenty years prior. A dense and rewarding modern novel, J Ris made of the stuff that will make any hungry reader feel full.
Mojo Books & Music is located in the USF area of Tampa, FL. Mojo features a wide array of used and new books, vinyl records, cds and dvds—not to mention a serious coffee and tea bar.
Vacant Lot And Modular Chain-Link Fence Set by Gary Kachadourian
Local artist Gary Kachadourian has made a number of posters and booklets of seemingly mundane items found largely in urban areas over the years. On the surface, his projects seem like lo-fi photocopied photographs, but they are actually incredibly detailed, hand drawings that are hyper realistic. Vacant Lot is a 1/32nd scale, cut-n-fold paper set of a far too common image in the city—a fenced off, vacant lot, complete with a discarded shipping pallet. It’s an interactive work of art, in handmade, booklet form.
Atomic Books is Baltimore’s famous, weirdo, underground, alternative indie bookstore.
Literary Finds for Mutated Minds!
—Benn Ray, Co-owner, Atomic Books