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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Best Books of (My) Year 2013

After Friday's Concerts of the Year, now it's time to follow with the books. Here are my favourite 10 reads of 2013. As you will see a year with plenty of literature about music, the direct (and welcomed) consequence of being the responsible of this section at Indienauta. Hope you like it!

10. Sideral- Héctor Castells
Not long ago, Barcelona had a very special Peter Pan. A guy with the looks of David Bowie (Stardust era), an ego as big as his height or his emotional fragility, and a tremendous passion for music. His name was Aleix Vergés, aka dj Sideral, a celebrity of the night in the city. But he became more than that. Icon of a generation betrayed by the promise of a shiny Olimpic summer that quickly showed its ugly face of corruption, speculation and meaningless design. Missing link of Sónar, Primavera Sound, Nitsa, Apolo. Source of inspiration (and frustration) for many. An a fading star. This is his biography, an incandescent book.

9. 200 Discos de Bolsillo- Marcos Gendre
Lists I have done, read and followed many. Music guides too. But books of these kind have never followed me for more than three months, crossed the Atlantic and became the soundtrack of a one-in-a-lifetime experience. And in another personal note, it has been the reason to forge a friendship. Written with the solely purpose of vindicating the best music that was created on the EP format during a very specific period (1997-1991), in all the sub-genres that conform the alternative scene, here there's something for everyone: punk, post-punk, C86, Manchester, Americana, dream pop, hardcore, post-hardcore. And always with the passionate prose of Marcos Gendre. A music feast.
8. Post Office- Charles Bukowski
A poignant "I hate my job" tale, in the form of Chinaski's twelve years of slavery (to the wage, as the 99% of us are) at the U.S. Postal Service. Here's the quintessential Bukowski: grim, booze, horses, women. But also something else. An "I need to do something with my life" story, where Chinaski constantly seeks company, fearing being alone, plus an intriguing sadness on his perspective on relations, and a fight against routine, boredom, silliness. An open claim to say "enough", looking towards starting a new chapter on his life, leaving behind jobs that kills something inside of us.

7. Memorias Sónicas. Historias en Siete Pulgadas- Various Authors
This is a gift, a treasure for everyone who doesn't understand life without music. 23 powerful stories written by a true all-star cast of the Spanish indie scene: some are hauntingly beautiful, some are hilarious, other curious, a few utterly compelling, and always very close for anyone that has been "touched" by a record, a song or an artist. A personal and intimate music voyage that every writer/artist shares with the reader. A little treasure.

6. Mooch- Dan Fante
Welcome to the black hole again. To the realm of desperation, where the tale of surveillance this time has a little light at the end of a tortuous, exhausting tunnel. Written on the trademark "take no-prisoners" prose of Dan Fante you'll probably get hurt while reading it, but persevere. There’s a change, an opportunity for Bruno, who has transformed from the "Chump Change" coward who preferred self-destruction instead of confronting its fears into someone brave enough to try living. Maybe there's a future after all.

5. Erasure: A Novel- Percival Everett
Finally I found it: post-modern vitriol. Devastating read, audacious and risky in its structure, allusive and bleak in his prose, sardonic and angry in what it says. Merciless in the portray of hypocrisy in our society (cultural world beware) but also able to include a moving look to a son trying to deal with the aging of her mother. Are you black enough? Monk's struggle to answer this question the way the Academia and the politically correct demand will come with a vengeance, in an incredible box of surprises. A fierce statement, a peculiar comedy that won't make you laugh but think instead, a knock-out read.

4. Black Postcards- Dean WarehamA surprisingly honest memoir of a musician's life. Dean Wareham explains everything about Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean and Britta, his cult status. But also what an artist real life is, with bills to pay and several domestic issues. No heroics, no drama, just the personal recount of a human being that happens to go up on a stage from time to time to plug a guitar and play for a living. If you were looking for yet another glamorous take on fame, drugs and rock'n'roll, look somewhere else. But if you prefer a real slice of life, and the revelation of what music industry is for musicians without private jets, millions spent on advertising and groupies in everyone corner, don't miss "Black Postcards".

3. Pistol. The Life of Pete Maravich- Mark Kriegel
Pete "Pistol" Maravich, an American icon and, foremost, a unique ballplayer that made that elevated that sport to unparalleled levels of spectacle with his never-ending talents deserved a biography like this one. The built of a legend that shaped a sport, but also a personal nightmare where playing the ball, always Pete's shelter, turned also to be his curse. Zero hagiography, on a highly documented work, fuelled with the opinions of countless who were there, plus a will to make no prisoners, but tell a story that is shocking, powerful and touching enough by itself. A tale of obsession and frustration, with basketball being the joy and ruin of the Maravich's family. The Elvis of basketball.

2. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood- Peter Biskind 
This book is a mind-blowing encyclopedia of the so-called "New Hollywood" and the people behind it. But is much more than the most detailed account on some of the best, most striking films ever made, the work of directors, actors and filming crew. This is also a frightening "human monsters parade". A devastating tale of young and ambitious filmmakers, Scorsese, Coppola, Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, William Friedkin, Roman Polanski or Peter Bogdanovich, willing to inject a revolutionary spirit to a lifeless, unsubstantial industry, but transforming their quest into a dangerous wild ride of people living out of control, letting horrible egos, greed and megalomania rule those times. This is not a celebratory book. Is a fascinating, overwhelming work on the worst of mankind.

1. Kerouac and the Beat Generation- Jean-François Duval
Not another chronicle of the times and lives of the Beats, but instead, a collection of in-depth interviews to the remaining "stars" of those times, unveiling a vivid picture, extremely puzzling, of the so-called generation. Incredibly engaging, the different personalities approached conform a multi-directional look to the Beats, particularly his most famous member: Jack Kerouac. As a fan and well documented investigator, Duval knows what the questions should be, but the answers he got from Allen Ginsberg, Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, Anne Waldman, Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey reveal a different story of the one we knew. Around the movement (if there's was one) a truth was built: America needed the Beats to offer a definition of the changes the country was going through. I won't spoil it to you. Please read it.

Want to check last year's books list? Just click here
And 2011's? Check here

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