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Richard Burnett interviews FELICE PICANO, "Godfather of Gay Lit," for Fugues Magazine

May 5, 2015
In the preface to his interview with Felice Picano, Richard Burnett provides a colorful account of Picano's charm:
It never matters if Felice has product to sell – the world-class name-dropper and memoirist always is a great interview and has met just about everybody. Rudolf Nureyev once grabbed his bum, Felice had lunch in Fire Island one afternoon with Elizabeth Taylor, his cock was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe, and when he outed the late Anthony Perkins years after their affair, critics screamed, “Picano is a name-dropping slut!” In other words, I adore Felice, the trailblazing writer whom I call the Godfather of Gay Lit.
To read the interview, visit Fugues Magazine.

"Extremely important and highly readable" — Nomadic Press on PATRICK COCKBURN's THE JIHADIS RETURN

May 5, 2015
The Jihadis Return is a brisk, yet thoroughgoing, overview of the resurgence of jihadi movements in the region. Though published in August of last year [2014], and thus not including the many developments since that time, Cockburn’s book is by no means out of date. It is rather an extremely important and highly readable examination of the root causes of Sunni jihadism’s recent renascence, combined with a brief history of the Syrian conflict and a masterful chapter focusing on the media’s role in obscuring the true nature of the unrest.
To read the rest of the review, visit Nomadic Press

The Hemingway Review praises HEMINGWAY LIVES! for being both "fun to read" and "highly intelligent"

May 5, 2015
The Hemingway Review praises Clancy Sigal's Hemingway Lives! for being both well-researched and an enjoyable read:
Sigal writes vigorous, conversational prose that is both colloquial (e.g., upon introducing Littless of “The Last Good Country,” he warns “twee alert!”) and highly intelligent. He is also sometimes very funny, for example, when he writes, “Hemingway’s other great art form was personal injury” (133). In his introduction, he cites a long list of twentieth-century authors influenced by Hemingway, commenting, “He’s like the god Zeus up there in the clouds hurling his thunderbolts long after he’s supposed to be gone” (xii-xiii). Great fun to read, Hemingway Lives! is better researched than books of this nature—that is, those designed primarily for fans of Hemingway’s work rather than scholars—generally are. He cites several reputable biographies (Carlos Baker, Michael Reynolds, and James Mellow, for example), several memoirs by Hemingway’s family members, and a smattering of articles and critical works, singling out Paul Hendrickson’s Hemingway’s Boat and Keneth Kinnamon’s work on Ernest’s politics as particularly praiseworthy.
Read the full review in The Hemingway Review, available via Project Muse.

Publishers Weekly lauds A NARCO HISTORY for being "meticulously researched and lucidly organized."

April 30, 2015
[A Narco History] offers a meticulously researched and lucidly organized overview of a topic that is of great significance in contemporary debates in American foreign policy and law enforcement.
To read the full review, visit Publishers Weekly.

NARCO HISTORY authors CARMEN BOULLOSA and MIKE WALLACE discuss their book on the Majority Report

April 28, 2015
Listen to podcast on the Majority Report.

"As a writer she is successful. As a mother and activist, she is faithful." Alice Bach reviews IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY for The Revealer

April 28, 2015
Frida and Patrick, a second-generation peace activist himself and a social worker, have found a way to live radically. Highly educated people, they have turned away from the society of acquisition. They are not fixed upon an upward climbing graph that indicates more, much more, most. Instead they exult in the time that they have to tend children and calm our violent world. They have unbound themselves from the culture of ambition that entangles most of us. At this point, I should issue a warning: If your goals are deeply entrenched in the ambition culture and you might restate the principles of It Runs in the Family to read “Ambition drives people forward. Too many relationships and too much community hold people back. They will never succeed,” this is probably not the book for you. But if you are willing to fight the fear of not rising to the top of the working world, you might want to investigate how some people have found a different kind of success.
To read the full review, visit The Revealer.

Flavorwire praises CHAMELEO as "exuberant, resourceful, hilarious, dubious, and emotionally affecting," runs an exclusive excerpt

April 23, 2015
In conjunction with an exclusive excerpt from Robert Guffey's Chemeleo, literary editor Jonathon Sturgeon praises the book's "manic energy":

By turns exuberant, resourceful, hilarious, dubious, and emotionally affecting, Chameleo thrives on the contact high of the possible, much like the twin arts of paranoia and conspiracy, from which it takes its manic energy.

But the thing I love most about Chameleo is that it’s a story about a sustained American friendship. Also, it deals with invisible little people and shapeshifting rooms.

To read the full article, visit Flavorwire.

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football highlights IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY and METHOD AND MADNESS in his list of essential reads for the 2015 General Election

April 22, 2015
While bemoaning the scant attention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will invariably receive in the upcoming election, Perryman applauds the work of Norman Finkelstein:

There will be much asking of the question, why are young people so disengaged with politics? The question of course should be asked the other way round, why is so much of politics disengaged with the young? There are of course exceptions, and these tell us plenty about the degeneration of the political. Norman Finkelstein graphically describes in Method and Madness the horrors that Israel has successively inflicted on Palestine. It is a subject that mobilises the passion of tens of thousands on occasion, many are young, yet where will any denunciation of Israel feature in the General Election campaign. With honourable, and few, exceptions, nowhere.


Books that link the family and the political are vital to engaging voters, Perryman argues:

Engaging with issues of parenthood and childhood more than almost any other subject reshapes what we mean by the political. The failure to do so narrows not only the relevance of politics but its appeal too, to join or to vote. It Runs in The Family by Frida Berrigan is a powerful testament to both the strengths and weaknesses of a radicalised, liberatarian-socialist politics that puts the conduct of relationships, parenting and children at its very core.


To read the full list of recommendations, visit Philosophy Football.

Sarah McCarry provides her 5-minute impression of JEANNE THORNTON's THE DREAM OF DOCTOR BANTAM for Subway Book Review

April 17, 2015
To read the review, visit the Subway Book Review Instagram

Read DEJI OLUKOTUN's story, "We Are the Olfanauts," on Electric Literature's Recommended Reading

April 15, 2015
Deji Olukotun's contribution to the forthcoming collection Watchlist is now available to read on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog. Watchlist editor Bryan Hurt provides an introduction:
“The world was not a fair place, and I was the one that helped people forget that fact.” So says Renton, the narrator of Deji Bryce Olukotun’s terrific and chilling story, “We Are the Olfanauts.” Renton is one of these invisible curators, a content moderator for Olfanautics, the “global pioneer in scented social media.” He is an Olfanaut. He defends humanity from its own worst self. From behind his desk, his Trunk dutifully attached to his face, Renton has seen, and smelled, it all: ritual dismemberment, rape, a nun who gets her head smashed in. Despite these horrors, Renton insists that he remains unaffected, unchanged. One of the story’s great triumphs, and great tragedies, is that it shows us in rich but subtle psychological detail just how wrong he is. Outside of the office, he acts with casual disregard, sometimes cruelty, to those around him. He has a man fired for no reason other than his own wounded ego; he fails to comfort his lover, another content moderator, who feels her own humanity slipping away.

His empathy is eroded by everything he’s seen. In many ways Olukotun’s story is novel-dense, and I feel like there’s a novel’s worth of material here to praise: his perfectly rendered and eerily prescient near-future world; his keen social commentary; his wonderfully complicated and morally complex characters; his smart and powerful use of the Prometheus myth. But my favorite thing about the story is the way it engages with and explores our sense of smell. Smell is the most immediate of all the senses, the most intimate. Researchers have found that there’s a link between intensity of feeling and intensity of smell. The future where smells are shared across cell phones and screens in order to intensify virtual experience is not far off; in fact, it’s already here. But as Olukotun shows us all of this sharing, all of this access and intimacy, comes at a cost.
Read "We Are the Olfanauts" on Recommended Reading.

"One the best books about raising children I have ever read," Viva la Feminista reviews IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY

April 14, 2015
Feminist blogger Veronica Arreola provides a glowing review for Frida Berrigan's It Runs in the Family:

Best of all, Frida is forthright about how children turn our lives upside down, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Ok, sure we would want a better child care system, paid maternity leave and all that, but the whole juggle is tough, but can be pretty awesome too. "It Runs in the Family" is a refreshing take on parenting while pursuing social justice in the world.

To read the rest of the review, visit Viva la Feminista.

MIKE WALLACE and CARMEN BOULLOSA respond to Manuel Suarez on InSight Crime

April 14, 2015
Last week, Manuel Suarez, professor at the School of International Service at American University and negotiator for NAFTA, attacked A Narco History in an article on InSight Crime. Mistaking a recent excerpt of A Narco History posted on Jacobin as representative of Wallace and Boullosa's larger argument, Suarez panned their work as a rehashing of "all the usual insults that the dogmatic and misinformed left can muster to attack the free market economic model." The authors have responded, explaining how Suarez mischaracterizes their point:
[Suarez] says that our "book's thesis is that NAFTA opened the US's door to drugs from Mexico, mixing them with legal trade, which is false." He's right. It's not only false but preposterous. Only thing is, we didn't say this, or anything remotely like it. Our central proposition is that the roots of the so-called "Mexican Drug War" run back not to the neoliberal 1980s, but to the early 1900s, when the US passed laws in 1909 and 1914 that criminalized the sale and use of most major drugs (though not marijuana). Drugs were thus banned even before alcohol was prohibited, and the ban stayed in force after Prohibition was repealed. Marijuana was outlawed in the 1930s.
To read the rest of their article, visit InSight Crime.

The Cairo Review of Global Affairs praises NORMAN FINKELSTEIN for his "forensic" critique in OLD WINE, BROKEN BOTTLE of Ari Shavit’s racism

April 8, 2015

In Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit’s Promised Land, a book-length critique of My Promised Land, forensic scholar Norman Finkelstein includes a table that juxtaposes Shavit’s various descriptions of Palestinians and Jews. What it reveals is the systematicity with which he associates Palestinians with filth, disease, and cultural and technological backwardness. By contrast, Shavit goes to excessive lengths to underscore his Jewish characters’ taste for European high culture, to the degree that it constitutes something of a leitmotif. Jewish-Israeli contributions to agronomy and medicine, among other civilization-enhancing values, are repeatedly underscored. Given their pervasiveness, one cannot escape the feeling that these dehumanizing tropes serve a strategic function in the book’s overarching polemic. And indeed, the reader’s acceptance of Shavit’s most provocative contention—that the mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 was not only tragic but also morally justified on the grounds that it brought the State of Israel into existence—is emotionally and rhetorically premised on this prior matrix of orientalist characterizations. As Finkelstein puts it: “The tacit message is that Palestinians, if left to their own devices, would have produced just another destitute, dreary, and despotic Arab state, while the world would have been deprived of Israel’s high-tech industries, cutting-edge inventions, and flourishing cultural landscape.”

To read the rest of the review, visit The Cairo Review of Global Affairs

Vote for OR in Electric Literature's Game of Totes

April 6, 2015
The wait is over and the most historic battle in literary tote history begins. 33 totes are fighting for the canvas throne, and you, the reader, get to draw first blood. List up to five of your favorites in the comments section, where all true battles take place. You can click on the images for a larger slideshow. Order is randomly generated to ensure tote equality. Voting will be counted until midnight, Friday.
Visit Electric Literature to vote!

“There is no silver bullet that can magically resolve the drug war in Mexico." Michael Wallace speaks to InSight Crime about A NARCO HISTORY

April 6, 2015

The authors make a number of arguments that challenge the accepted wisdom on Mexico's drug war. One is that the “war” is relatively new; the authors suggest it is the product of a series of policies implemented by the US and Mexico over the past 100 years. “Most people, when they talk about the 'Mexican drug war,' are thinking only of the Calderon period, but those six years were a century in the making," Wallace told InSight Crime. Wallace and Boullosa also propose that the reference to “Mexico's drug war” is actually a misnomer, since the the United States has played an equally important part in creating and sustaining the drug war. Mexico's acquiescence to flawed US security policies is a major reason for the growth of cartels, however, the authors stress that corruption in Mexico played an important role as well.

To read the rest of the review, visit InSight Crime

Counterfire lauds METHOD AND MADNESS as "rousing and highly recommended"

April 3, 2015

If Norman Finkelstein didn’t exist, it would certainly be necessary for supporters of the Palestinian cause to invent him, too – although, even the most ingenious proponent would be hard pressed to conceive a more perfect critic of Israel than he.

To read the rest of the review, visit Counterfire

ELISSA SHEVINSKY joins the Venture Beat podcast to talk about the motivation behind LEAN OUT

April 1, 2015
To listen to the rest of the podcast, visit Venture Beat

Race & Class calls THE PRICE OF EXPERIENCE as an "immensely readable series of essays"

April 1, 2015

Why, I wondered, before I began reading, had Marqusee titled his collection of essays the price of experience, and not the cost? But I realised a price is something that you pay, with thought; it denotes value. A cost is extracted, willy nilly. And that thoughtfulness, that attention to exactitude, is evident in every page of this small, immensely readable series of essays, whose value is in direct relation to the depth of the experience from which they are drawn. It was, indeed, only after plunging through the essays themselves, that I sensed the force of the Blake poem ‘What is the price of experience’ with which Marqusee prefaces his collection.

To read the rest of the review, visit Race & Class

PATRICK COCKBURN applauded for his work tracing the rise of ISIS in The New York Times

April 1, 2015

Cockburn, an experienced Mideast journalist, relies heavily on his own reporting. He offers revealing anecdotes on the decrepit state of the Iraqi Army, which collapsed before the Islamic State’s Mosul offensive, and some glimpses of the sluggish and brutal military stalemate in Syria.

To read the full review, visit The New York Times

"Over the last five years, Oakes and co-founder Colin Robinson have turned OR into one of the most original publishers in the US."

March 26, 2015
In Flavorwire's coverage of OR's recently announcing partnership with the Evergreen Review, Books Editor Jonathon Sturgeon writes:

It’s difficult to dream up a better vehicle for Evergreen’s continuation than OR Books. Over the last five years, Oakes and co-founder Colin Robinson have turned OR into one of the most original publishers in the US. Under its direct-to-consumer model, which combines e-books with print-on-demand releases, it has built a variegated catalogue of fiction and nonfiction, one that includes books by Julian Assange, Eileen Myles, Patrick Cockburn, and Yoko Ono.

Visit Flavorwire for the full article.