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David Lester -- Night Table Recommendations

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011 at 11:01am

Footnotes In Gaza by Joe Sacco (Metropolitan Books)

A truly remarkable accomplishment by graphic novelist Joe Sacco. It is hard to imagine how he will ever top the epic scale of this book. Footnotes in Gaza tells the long-forgotten story of the massacre of 111 Palestinians in Gaza in 1956 by Israeli soldiers. We follow Sacco as he searches for the truth from the remaining witnesses still alive. He sifts through their conflicting memories and uncovers what really happened on that terrible day. All the while, he must contend with Palestinians who just don't see the point in dredging up old history when what's happening now in Gaza is so much more important. But Sacco makes a compelling case as to why the past matters.

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Subversions: Anarchist Short Stories (Les Pages Noires)

Billing itself as the first-ever anthology in English or French of anarchist fiction, this collection is worth reading just for the short story by Montreal's Norman Nawrocki. In "It's the Bomb," he builds amazing suspense about an Italian anarchist in 1926. The book veers between straightforward narratives to more experimental work. Some of the authors included are New York's Cara Hoffman and British Columbian Ron Sakolsky.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus (HarperCollins)

An extremely well researched and written account of the significant social movement called Riot Grrrl. Sara Marcus brings you into the meetings and dramas that unfolded as the years passed and a movement buckled under its own success. We meet the better-known agitators and many of the individuals who had their lives changed and inspired. Marcus shows the importance that bands played in bringing people together for issues that went well beyond the music. This is an important book about feminism, anger and art.

I Can Hear Me Fine by Jean Smith (Get To The Point)

An extraordinary novel by Jean Smith, my bandmate in Mecca Normal. I have always loved the flow, crispness and humour of her writing. Reading it recently, I came to appreciate it all over again. There is a beautiful mystery to passages like, "Once there was a soft glow of a flare sent, an amber fragment knocking out the sky. Then there was the darkness after too much light." We follow Joelle and Claudine as the characters travel landscapes both geographic and emotional. Also a pleasure is Smith's descriptive powers and attention to detail.

Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened by Hal Heidzviecki (City Lights Books)

Hal Heidzviecki has written a short-story collection about lost souls haggard by time and place. The weary wisdom of the young artist: "We live in peculiar times. I haven't given up on understanding them. There are elections but nobody votes. There are political parties but they all promise the same thing. Why not? We are simple people. We want what they promise." The prose is direct and energetic, and at times, heroic in its depictions of the ordinary, "The whiskers his wife shaves gently each morning have sprouted, yellowing needles of grass pushing up." Heidzviecki has managed to deftly write about contemporary times, but from a distance, which gives this collection levity and depth.

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David Lester is the author of the graphic novel The Listener (Arbeiter Ring Publishing), and the guitarist in the rock duo Mecca Normal (13 albums on K Records, Matador and Kill Rock Starts). His first book, The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism is required reading in a university English course called Studies in Contemporary Literature. He created the poster series "Inspired Agitators," now archived at The Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. Lester also does a weekly illustration, with text by Mecca Normal bandmate Jean Smith, for Magnet Magazine.

Categories: Reviews, Discussions, Authors, Graphic Novels, Night Table Recommendations

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The Listener

- David Lester

Trade paperback $19.95 - Add to Cart
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1933: In a small German state, the last democratic election is about to take place before a failed artist named Hitler seizes power. The election is Hitler's chance to manipulate events that will lead to the death of millions.

2010: After a man dies during a political act inspired by a work of art, the artist flees to Europe to escape her guilt. Through a chance meeting she discovers the truth of the 1933 election. The past becomes pivotal as she decides her future.

The Listener reveals one of the world's most tragic acts of spin doctoring while weaving a compelling tale of complacency, art, power, and murder. It is a startling little-known story that changed the course of history.

The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism

- David Lester , Jean Smith

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In this second edition, David Lester supplements his original concise and understaded, yet politically and socially potent catalogue of the injustices of capitalist ideology on the world's indigent people, and the devastating environmental consequences of industrialization. Contains new, reliably sourced gruesome statistical facts about the harsh reality of capitalism's impact on the world that will appall, inspire, and incite.

Footnotes in Gaza

- Joe Sacco

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"Sacco brings the conflict down to the most human level, allowing us to imagine our way inside it, to make the desperation he discovers, in some small way, our own."--Los Angeles Times

Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Strip, has long been a notorious flashpoint in the bitter Middle East conflict. Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinians shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah--cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake--reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war.

In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco immerses himself in the daily life of Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younis, uncovering Gaza past and present. As in Palestine and Safe Area Gora?de, his unique visual journalism renders a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, Footnotes in Gaza--Sacco's most ambitious work to date--transforms a critical conflict of our age into intimate and immediate experience.

Girls to the Front

- Sara Marcus

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"Not only a historical rockument of the revolutionary 90s counterculture Riot Grrrl movement. . . but also a rousing inspiration for a new generation of empowered rebel girls to strap on guitars and stick it to The Man." -- Vanity Fair

Girls to the Front is the epic, definitive history of the Riot Grrrl movement--the radical feminist punk uprising that exploded into the public eye in the 1990s, altering America's gender landscape forever. Author Sara Marcus, a music and politics writer for Time Out New York, Slate.com, Pos, and Heeb magazine, interweaves research, interviews, and her own memories as a Riot Grrrl front-liner. Her passionate, sophisticated narrative brilliantly conveys the story of punk bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy--as well as successors like Sleater-Kinney, Partyline, and Kathleen Hanna's Le Tigre--and their effect on today's culture.

Look Down, This is Where It Must Have Happened

- Hal Niedzviecki

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Praise for Hal Niedzviecki's fiction:
"Look Down, This is Where it Must Have Happened reveals the super powers of story telling for the digital age--or any age. The collection encompasses a range of literary genres, from magical to domestic realism, from the absurdity of a fetus quoting statistics to dialogue so fresh you'll look around to see who's talking."--The Rumpus
"Hal Niedzviecki is a remarkable writer."--Margot Livesey "Niedzviecki is a gifted writer, thoughtful and insightful."--The Globe and Mail "There's tons of talent here."--NOW The acclaimed author of The Peep Diaries and Hello, I'm Special returns to fiction and delivers a mind-altering collection of short stories that confront the hypocrisies, humiliations, and hilarities of modern life. Hal Niedzviecki has established himself as one of Canada's most influential young writers, and in this wildly imaginative collection he romps through social conventions, confronts some of society's most intractable arguments, and deftly captures the zeitgeist of our fractured times.