Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918, a collection of fascinating, never-before-published early diaries of Count Harry Kessler—patron, museum director, publisher, cultural critic, soldier, secret agent, and diplomat—present a sweeping panorama of the arts and politics of Belle Époque Europe, a glittering world poised to be changed irrevocably by the Great War. Kessler’s immersion in the new art and literature of Paris, London, and Berlin unfolds in the first part of the diaries. This refined world gives way to vivid descriptions of the horrific fighting on the Eastern and Western fronts of World War I, the intriguing private discussions among the German political and military elite about the progress of the war, as well as Kessler’s account of his role as a diplomat with a secret mission in Switzerland. The diaries present brilliant, sharply etched, and often richly comical descriptions of his encounters, conversations, and creative collaborations with some of the most celebrated people of his time: Otto von Bismarck, Paul von Hindenburg, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Vaslav Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Sarah Bernhardt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Marie Rilke, Paul Verlaine, Gordon Craig, George Bernard Shaw, Harley Granville-Barker, Max Klinger, Arnold Böcklin, Max Beckmann, Aristide Maillol, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Éduard Vuillard, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Ida Rubinstein, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Pierre Bonnard, and Walther Rathenau, among others. Remarkably insightful, poignant, and cinematic in their scope, Kessler’s diaries are an invaluable record of one of the most volatile and seminal moments in modern Western history. The diaries will be available November 15 on Knopf.
A new book, to be released at the end of this month, collects of many of Hunter S. Thompson’s articles published in RollIng Stone magazine. “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” was a favorite slogan of Hunter S. Thompson, and it pretty much defined both his work and his life. Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone showcases the roller-coaster of a career at the magazine that was his literary home. Jann S. Wenner, the outlaw journalist’s friend and editor for nearly thirty-five years, has assembled articles that begin with Thompson’s infamous run for sheriff of Aspen on the Freak Party ticket in 1970 and end with his final piece on the Bush-Kerry showdown of 2004. In between is Thompson’s remarkable coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign—a miracle of journalism under pressure—and plenty of attention paid to Richard Nixon, his bÊte noire; encounters with Muhammad Ali, Bill Clinton, and the Super Bowl; and a lengthy excerpt from his acknowledged masterpiece, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Woven throughout is selected correspondence between Wenner and Thompson, most of it never before published. It traces the evolution of a personal and professional relationship that helped redefine modern American journalism, and also presents Thompson through a new prism as he pursued his lifelong obsession: The life and death of the American Dream.
White Riot: Punk Rock And The Politics Of Race, a new anthology edited by NYU professor Stephen Duncombe and New School Ph.D. student and Maximumrocknroll writer Maxwell Tremblay, intersperses essays with primary documents like zines, interviews, song lyrics, and letters to tell the complicated story of punk rock and its relationship with race over the decades. Through the words of Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Patti Smith, Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, The Clash, Black Flag, and Tasha Fierce, the story moves from punk’s early articulation of whiteness in the U.S. and U.K. to Afro-Punk and faraway shores where punk has morphed into new, culture-specific forms.
Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961—from Ernest Hemingway’s pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide — a new book by Paul Hendrickson, entitled Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, traces the writer’s exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar. We follow him from Key West to Paris, to New York, Africa, Cuba, and finally Idaho, as he wrestles with his best angels and worst demons. Whenever he could, he returned to his beloved fishing cruiser, to exult in the sea, to fight the biggest fish he could find, to drink, to entertain celebrities and friends and seduce women, to be with his children. But as he began to succumb to the diseases of fame, we see that Pilar was also where he cursed his critics, saw marriages and friendships dissolve, and tried, in vain, to escape his increasingly diminished capacities. “All things truly wicked start from innocence,” E.H.
When the young Philip Roth warned his parents to brace for a media assault with the release of “Portnoy’s Complaint” in 1969, his mother broke down in tears: she thought he was suffering from delusions of grandeur. Four decades after the novel shot him to stardom, the American literary giant talks candidly about his early years, about writing, sex and Jewishness, depression and dying, in a rare and moving documentary to be screened Monday on the French-German channel Arte. Based on eight hours of interviews, the hour-long film “Philip Roth Without Complexes” was shot a year ago between the 78-year-old writer’s Upper East side apartment and his forest lodge in Connecticut.
“The heroin user is a bad boy,” opens a paragraph in a book entitled We Can’t All Be Sane! by my late great-uncle William H. Kupper. We Can’t All Be Sane! is a wacky book with chapters like “How Malaria is Used as a Cure for Brain Syphilis” or “Dope, Suicide and Firebugs,” and “Sex and Mental Breakdowns.” This book is full of the mumblings a 1950s America under the spell of a post war come down of denial, sexual deviance, repression, and pill popping housewives – and wowza what a page turner!
Text and photography by Oliver Maxwell Kupper
“This book asks different questions. It asks whether there are certain aspects or instances of the so-called art of cruelty – as famously imagined by French dramatist and madman Antonin Artaud – that are still wild and worthwhile, now that we purportedly inhabit a political and entertainment landscape increasingly glutted with images – and actualities – of torture, sadism, and endless warfare.” In her book, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (W.W. Norton), author Maggie Nelson asks vital questions about violence in art in a society where violence is ubiquitous and thus not intellectually viable for a balanced social order. Nelson elucidates her inquiries by drawing upon the thoughts and teachings of philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, thinkers such as Antonin Artaud, and painter Francis Bacon. When is enough enough?
Released only a few days ago, Adventures in the Orgasmatron: Wilhelm Reich and the Invention of Sex: How Renegade Europeans Conceived the American Sexual Revolution and Gave Birth to the Permissive Society (Fourth Estate) is the untold story of Wilhelm Reich and the dawn of the sexual revolution. An illuminating, startling, at times bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression. In the middle of the 20th century, the United States became an adoptive home for dozens of expatriated European thinkers, who saw this rich, young country ripe for sexual liberation. One of the most left-field of them was the Viennese psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, a disciple of Freud’s who had broken with the master. Reich’s own approach was based on his theories of the orgasm and sexual energy, which he dubbed ‘orgone energy’. Instead of the couch, he made use of a tall, slender construction of wood, metal, and steel wool, which he called the orgone box. A highly sexed man himself, Reich thought that a person who sat in the box could elevate their ‘orgastic potential’ ridding the body of repressive forces, improving sexual potency, and enhancing overall health. After World War Two, Reich’s theories caught on among writers and artists, the early adopters of the counter-culture. Norman Mailer and Saul Bellow were amongst those for whom the orgone box represented a yearned-for synthesis of sexual and political liberation, and of physical science and psychology. Meanwhile, Reich himself faced one debacle after another. Albert Einstein heard him out before rebuffing him. The FBI investigated him as a Communist sympathizer: it turned out that they were hunting the wrong man. The federal government banned the orgone box and tagged Reich as a fraud. There were claims of sexual misdeeds, and bouts of Reich’s own mental instability. This is the story of the blossoming of the 20th century’s sexual revolution, and the unshackling of a repressed society, and sex before science.
Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story by author Dave Thompson – Dancing Barefoot is a measured, accurate, and enthusiastic account of Smith’s career. Guided by interviews with those who have known her—including Ivan Kral, Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, John Cale, and Jim Carroll—it relies most of all on Patti’s own words. This is Patti’s story, told as she might have seen it, had she been on the outside looking in. Available on Chicago Review Press
Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters, edited by Paul Maher, Jr. – Tom Waits on Tom Waits is a selection of over fifty interviews from the more than five hundred available. Here Waits delivers prose as crafted, poetic, potent, and haunting as the lyrics of his best songs. Available on Chicago Review Press