Alphonse Returns!

UMBRELLA-COVER

Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) was France’s greatest humorist. His elegance, scientific curiosity, preoccupation with language and logic, wordplay and flashes of cruelty inspired Alfred Jarry, as well as succeeding generations of Surrealists, Pataphysicians, and Oulipians. THE SQUADRON’S UMBRELLA collects 39 of Allais’s funniest stories — many originally published in the legendary paper LE CHAT NOIR, written for the Bohemians of Montmartre. Included are such classic pranks on the reader as “The Templars” (in which the plot becomes secondary to remembering the hero’s name) and “Like the Others” (in which a lover’s attempts to emulate his rivals lead to fatal but inevitable results.) These tales have amused and inspired generations, and now English readers can enjoy the master absurdist at his best. As the author promises, this book contains no umbrella and the subject of squadrons is “not even broached.”

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HUGH MOORE is back in a new edition!

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Whenever a novel by Eckhard Gerdes appears, it’s a cause for celebration. His  books are filled with the unexpected.  He has a big bag of tricks that make many of us envious, and his works contain  hidden pleasures and manic wit. Experimental? You betcha, but only in the best sense.of that exasperating word, for Gerdes never forgets the reader–he engages you — challenges you, tickles you and kicks your ass.

Hugh Moore  (pun intended) was originally published in 2010, but the book was hard to come by. So here’s a spanking new edition from Heroinum Press in Australia and I’m ready for some fine German brew, an overstuffed sofa, and a good reading lamp.

That this book features a foreword by Miriam Patchen, the widow of the great poet & novelist  Kenneth Patchen, speaks volumes (no pun intended).  Indeed, Eckhard Gerdes embodies the spirit of Kenneth Patchen – a sublime mixture of humor (OK, pun intended)  and protest. But that’s as far as II’ll go here. As Magritte might have said (had he been an American), this is not a book review. This is a command: get Hugh Moore, read it immediately, and then we’ll talk.

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Petite Mort Marks A Grand Debut

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It’s hard to believe this is Ms. Hitchman’s first novel—it’s a remarkably skillful debut. Her style is sensual, poetic and erotic. I’ll even go a step further and describe it as exquisite. Is the book perfect? No, the plot is far-fetched, but then so are most novels in this genre. Despite its flaws, the writing is so good this shouldn’t make anyone put the book aside. PETITE MORT’s ending is indeed a surprise. Does one walk away believing it? Of course not, but who cares. This is entertainment of a high order.  I can’t wait to see what this writer does next.

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Word Games

HOROSCRAPES

Part Oulipian exercise, these meticulous scrapings reveal the future in all its sublime absurdity. The author approached the horoscope in his morning newspaper as if it were a puzzle, like the crossword or sudoku. By scraping out the middle part, and joining the beginning and end, he received a hidden message.

Reading outside the lines here one discovers an alternative fate more interesting than the fluff dispensed by run-of-the-mill soothsayers. Indeed, these predictions are pithy, profound, and astonishingly accurate.

In HOROSCRAPES, Doug Skinner offers up 366 clever twists of fate—something for every sign—guaranteed to alter forever how we view the universe.

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Favorite Books of 2014

No Ten Best List this year, instead I’ve chosen a batch of the books I’ve enjoyed in 2014. The emphasis here is on fiction. I may dig deeper in December for a separate nonfiction list.

ghosts

CITY OF GHOSTS:
A Miranda Corbie Mystery
Kelli Stanley
Minotaur Books
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STONE

THE STONE WIFE
A Peter Diamond Investigation
Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime
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lastgirl

THE LAST GIRL
Maeve Kerrigan Novels
Jane Casey
Minotaur Books
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sting

STING OF THE DRONE
Richard A. Clarke
Thomas Dunne Books
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A MYSTERIOUS SOMETHING IN THE LIGHT:
THE LIFE OF RAYMOND CHANDLER
Tom Williams
Chicago Review Press
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FILM NOIR: 100 ALL-TIME FAVORITES
Edited by Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller
Taschen
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USA NOIR

USA NOIR: Best of the Akashic Noir Series
Edited by Johnny Temple
Akashic Books
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THE DARK GALLERIES:A Museum Guide to
Painted Portraits in Film Noir Gothic Melodramas
and Ghost Stories of the 1940s and 1950s  
by Steven Jacobs and Lisa Colpaert
ARAMER Books
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THE GETAWAY CAR: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany
Donald E. Westlake
University Of Chicago Press
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EMPTY

EMPTY MANSIONS: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark
and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
Ballantine Books
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SIXTH

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History
Elizabeth Kolbert
Henry Holt and Co.
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pranksters

PRANKSTERS: Making Mischief in the Modern World
Kembrew McLeod
NYU Press
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KIP

KIPPENBERGER: THE ARTIST AND HIS FAMILIES
Susanne Kippenberger
J & L Books
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BOOKS-howtoread

HOW TO READ
Eckhard Gerdes
Guide Dog Books
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FORGET

THEORIES OF FORGETTING
Lance Olsen
Fiction Collective Two
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primordialfront

PRIMORDIAL: An Abstraction
D. Harlan Wilson
Anti-Oedipus Press
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COMA

INDUCED COMA
Harold Jaffe
Anti-Oedipus Press
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incest

THEATRE OF INCEST
Alain Arias-Misson
Dalkey Archive Press
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THE CITY UNDER THE SKIN
Geoff Nicholson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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LOVE SONGS

LOVE SONGS FOR LAS VEGAS
Suzanne Burns
FutureCycle Press
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moon

MOON IN A DEAD EYE
Pascal Garnier
Gallic Books
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marg

THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER
Hilary Mantel
Henry Holt and Co.
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lift

LIFT YOUR RIGHT ARM
Peter Cherches
Pelekinesis
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NEXT

NEXT LIFE MIGHT BE KINDER
Howard Norman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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TALI

TALIBAN
J. L. Anderson and Thomas Dworzak
Wrth Publications
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Editor’s Note: Taliban was originally published in 2004, but we didn’t discover it until this year. It also gets our vote for one of the strangest books we read in 2014.