Sunday, February 19, 2012
Featured: Four Tales For Hard Times
Sister of the Road: the Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha
Another raging slab of real American history you're not likely to find in the textbooks. It's a window into a wildly under-appreciated dropout culture that gets left out of the stultifying fairytales that pass for history books—a much more rowdy and messily interesting tradition than the guardians of propriety, steeped in those other great American traditions of Puritanism and hypocrisy, let on.
Hobo jungles, bughouses, whorehouses, Chicago's Main Stem, IWW meeting halls, skid rows, and open freight cars—these were the haunts of the free thinking and free loving Bertha Thompson. This vivid autobiography recounts one hell of a rugged woman's hard-living depression-era saga of misadventures with pimps, hopheads, murderers, yeggs, wobblies, and anarchists.
The Devil's Son-In-Law: The Story Of Peetie Wheatstraw & His Songs
"Blues-singer, songwriter, piano and guitar player, William Bunch (1902–1941) was well-known as Peetie Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-in-Law and the High Sheriff from Hell. Long recognized by connoisseurs as one of the most influential blues people of all time, his life and work are little known to the broad public. Blues scholar Paul Garon's important and abundantly illustrated study—drawing on his own extensive interviews with Wheatstraw's relatives, and fellow musicians—brings the exciting Wheatstraw saga to life at last. With insight and imagination, Garon explores Peetie Wheatstraw's crucial role not only in blues history, but also in African American urban mythology, and—via a penetrating analysis of song lyrics—his appreciable contributions to blues poetry and to vernacular surrealism. Originally published in the UK in 1971, this substantially revised and expanded edition includes a mass of new information and images, as well as an updated bibliography, discography, and index. Also includes a 24-track CD portraying Peetie at his best, with a bonus track by Harmon Ray, the previously unreleased "Xmas Blues."
Malcolm Braly, On The Yard
"A major American novel, and arguably the finest work of literature ever to emerge from a US prison, On the Yard is a book of penetrating psychological realism in which Malcolm Braly paints an unforgettable picture of the complex and frightening world of the penitentiary. At its center are the violently intertwined stories of Chilly Willy, in trouble with the law from his earliest years and now the head of the prison’s flourishing black market in drugs and sex, and of Paul, wracked with guilt for the murder of his wife and desperate for some kind of redemption. At once brutal and tender, clear-eyed and rueful, On the Yard presents the penitentiary not as an exotic location, an exception to everyday reality, but as an ordinary place, one every reader will recognize, American to the core."
"Surely the great American prison novel" — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Jack Black, You Can't Win
"A legendary book, bestseller in 1926, and hovering at the edge of our memory since; the favorite book of William Burroughs. A journey into the hobo underworld, freight hopping around the still Wild West, becoming a highwayman and member of the yegg (criminal) brotherhood, getting hooked on opium, doing stints in jail, or escaping, often with the assistance of crooked cops or judges. Our lost history revived. Includes a new afterword by Bruno Ruhland, who tells what became of Jack after the book was written (he gave up the outlaw life and moved to San Francisco), and an essay by Jack Black called "What's Wrong with the Right People," which was originally published in Harper's. With an introduction by William Burroughs."
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