September 17, 2014

Week of Updates: We have a new poster!

CCLaP Astrogirl poster, by Erik Rodriguez

CCLaP Astrogirl poster, by Erik Rodriguez

We're spending the week around here getting everyone updated on all the things that have been happening at CCLaP behind the scenes recently, and here's something I've been excited about announcing for a long time now -- we have a new screenprinted poster available! It's a donated design by revered local illustrator Erik Rodriguez, and printed in two colors onto heavy cardstock by Chicago photographer Rich Myers, all as a way of giving out something small and special to all our featured performers at our monthly reading series, the CCLaP Showcase; but we happen to have some extras left over as well, so we're selling them for a limited time for $9.99 to the general public until they're all gone again. At a tidy 8 by 12 inches, this will slip right into a regulation-sized envelope, so if you're interested make sure to order one right away, because there are only a couple dozen available before they'll be gone for good. My many thanks to Erik and Rich for making this poster happen, and don't forget that locals can also pick up a copy in the flesh at our next live event, the CCLaP Showcase with Paulette Livers happening next Tuesday at City Lit Bookstore in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie), starting at 6:30 pm. More updates coming each day this week, so I hope you'll have a chance to come by again for the latest!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 1:09 PM, September 17, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP news | Chicago news |
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September 15, 2014

Week of Updates: Our newest book is here!

Chicago After Dark: A City All-Star Student Anthology

It's been a busy month behind the scenes here at CCLaP, with several old projects finally now finished and a couple of new projects under our belt too; and I'm happy to say that we're going to have a major new announcement for you here at the site every day this week. First up -- our newest book is now out! And in fact this is a brand-new type of book for us too, the first of what we hope will be a long-running annual series, a "city all-star" student anthology that features work from students at ten different universities across the city and suburbs here in Chicago. Entitled Chicago After Dark, it features fiction stories, nonfiction pieces, and poetry from 31 different contributors*, all themed around the idea of stories that take place at night in the city; it's the most ambitious book we've ever put together, one that took nine months and a team of seven people to assemble, and includes a brand-new introduction by revered author Don De Grazia of cult favorite American Skin.

*Contributors include: Virginia Ilda Baker (Columbia College), Hal Baum (Columbia College), Marquise Davion (Columbia College), Cam Enos (University of Illinois-Chicago), Austin Eskeberg (Columbia College), Francisco Espinal (Wilbur Wright College), Angie Flores (Dominican University), Alyssa Fuerholzer (Columbia College), Kendra Hadnott (National Louis University), Charlie Harmon (Columbia College), Alicia Ann Hauge (Columbia College), Eric Houghton (DePaul University), Melissa Huedem (Columbia College), Libby Kalmbach (DePaul University), Amy Kisner (Columbia College), Thom Kudla (DePaul University), Elizabeth Major (Columbia College), Maggie McGovern (Columbia College), Mary Mellon (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Ka'Mia Miller (Columbia College), Nicole Montavlo (Columbia College), Matthew Morley (DePaul University), Rachel Lee Ormes (Columbia College), Aaron Osborne (DePaul University), Phallon Perry (Northwestern University), Zack Reiter (Columbia College), Megan Shattuck (Columbia College), Robert Eric Shoemaker (University of Chicago), Lauren T. Silverman (DePaul University), Kendall Steinle (DePaul University), and Nicholas Szczepanik (School of the Art Institute of Chicago).

Chicago After Dark paperback

As always, the electronic version of this book is completely free to download if you wish, in four different versions (PDFs for American and European laserprinters, EPUB for most mobile devices, and MOBI specifically for Amazon Kindles), all of which can be found at cclapcenter.com/chicagoafterdark; or you can order a trade paperback version right this second for $14.99 plus shipping by clicking on the following button...

Options

...And of course don't forget that the book has its own listing at Goodreads.com, and I encourage my fellow GRers to add it to their library there and especially to post a few thoughts after reading it, in that word-of-mouth is absolutely the number-one way that small presses like ours increase sales of our books. We'll also be holding a whole series of events across the city this fall to help celebrate and promote the book, including release parties at nearly all ten schools involved, as well as high-profile events at next year's Story Week and Chicago Humanities Festival, so do make sure to check this website regularly for the latest. I have to say, I'm incredibly proud of this book, which took us freaking forever to actually put together into its polished professional state (a big reason we got so behind on all our other projects this summer to begin with), so I hope you'll have a chance to stop by its online headquarters right this moment and download or order a copy. More big announcements like this coming tomorrow and every other day this week, so I hope you'll have a chance to stop by again for it all!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, September 15, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | CCLaP news | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Literature:Nonfiction |
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September 12, 2014

The CCLaP Weekender for September 12th is here!

CCLaP Weekender for September 12, 2014

This week's edition of our new e-magazine, The CCLaP Weekender released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of original fiction by Oliver Zarandi; a photography feature highlighting the work of German artist Wolfwendy; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Use the links below to access it right now.

Right-click here for PDF / Voluntarily donate 99 cents
Online version at Issuu.com (or just use the embedded version above if you're seeing it)

CCLaP Showcase: Paulette Livers

And don't forget about the September edition of our new reading series and open mic, the CCLaP Showcase being held at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). Being held on Tuesday the 26th at 6:30 pm, it will feature local author Paulette Livers, performing from her darkly poetic Vietnam War drama Cementville. There will also be room for six open-mic slots, for performances of five minutes apiece (strictly timed); if you'd like to sign up in advance for one of these slots, drop us a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com. (Don't forget that the entire thing will be recorded for our podcast as well.) Do make sure to go by the event's Facebook listing for more, and we hope to see all you Chicagoans there.

Don't want to keep coming by the website for all this stuff? Then sign up for our weekly email newsletter, which will send you not only a reminder every Friday morning about each new issue of the Weekender, but also a recap of everything that has happened with the center in the last seven days (including news about recent author features and events from around the US, a look at all our latest eBay rare-book auctions, links to each book review we posted at the blog that week, and a lot more). To subscribe, simply sign up using the box below. We never sell your information nor send more than one email a week, and you can quit at any time!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, September 12, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | Literature | Photography | Profiles |
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September 5, 2014

Book Review: "In the American Night," by Christopher Bernard

(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last 18 months to be considered. For the complete list of all books reviewed here, as well as the next books scheduled to be read, click here.)
 
In the American Night, by Christopher Bernard
 
In the American Night
By Christopher Bernard
A Press of Rabble
Reviewed by Karl Wolff
 
Christopher Bernard is one of the most unique voices in American literature today. If you haven't heard of him, it's because his work is primarily self-published. His latest, the short story collection In the American Night, is a sampler of what makes Bernard a fascinating literary figure. Bernard runs Caveat Lector, an arts and literature website, and has written two previous works, A Spy In the Ruins and The Rose Shipwreck. Spy, published in 2005, was a dystopian novel that challenged and experimented with the novel form. Shipwreck was a book of poetry and photographs. In the American Night presents the reader with shorter prose works.

While fitting under the loose rubric of short story, the pieces in American Night range from more traditional narratives to experimental pieces to dramatic monologues. The collection begins with "Wallenda Descending" and "Stendahl's Copyist." "Wallenda" focuses on the family relations and performances of the Flying Wallendas, a high-flying trapeze act. In the story, Bernard intertwines family discord with a slowly unfolding catastrophe. We feel the family fray and the trapeze artists plummet to the ground. "Stendhal Copyist" is about a young copyist working for the famed novelist, philosopher, and womanizer. Beneath the standard historical story one begins to question the truth of the copyist, who in turn had begun to question the truth Stendhal allegedly relates. Literary biography unravels into the chaos of relativism and subjectivity.

"The Old Man and the Nymph: a Fairy Tale" interlaces the romantic with the erotic in a story both sweet and sad. As with many of Bernard's stories, it exists in dreamlike ambiguity. Throughout the story, the reader has to make up her mind about whether the story was real or simply a dream. "At the Greek's (Fragment of a Scrapbook)" is closer to a prose poem than traditional narrative. It is a snapshot of a Greek celebration, sound and sensuality unhinged from the confines of prose storytelling. It tells a story, but in fragments, impressions, and shadows. Like certain montages in Eraserhead or Samuel Beckett's shorter works, it comes at you sideways.

The title piece is composed of journal excerpts of an anonymous man. Like King Lear crying at the sea, this man blasts the alienation, hypocrisy, and idiocy that make up modern existence. The journal begins as a frontal assault on modernity and how it grinds down good people, turning them into soul-less automatons, then gradually transfigures into a more traditional tale of office romance. The man pines for a comely office worker, but lacks the social graces to win her heart. In failure, he lashes out at everything. One is reminded both of Robert DeNiro's socially stunted taxi driver Travis Bickle and the misanthropic romances of Alexander Theroux. (If you like Alexander Theroux, you should read Christopher Bernard.) Bernard occupies the same moral space as Theroux (respecting religious feelings, albeit skeptical of its institutional practices; detesting the chaos of postmodernism) minus Theroux's penchant for obscurantist vocabulistics.

The only fumble, albeit minor to the point of inconsequential, is the last story, "A.A." Told as a dramatic monologue, it is the story of an artaholic. While the pun made my eyes roll, the story itself is by turns comical and harrowing. In the story, the artaholic descends from culture connoisseur to derelict vagrant. The art he so desires becomes an all-consuming obsession, leading to pretentious poems being written, jobs lost, and eviction. His lack of self-awareness is tragic, but also tragicomic, since one keeps wanting to grab him and shake him out of his pretentious tunnel vision. Hipster as Sacred Monster. My only issue was with the term "artaholic." Despite the word working as an accurate descriptor, it undercut the power of the story. It made the story feel tonally inconsistent. Is this a parody of A.A. culture? Did I not get the joke?

Overall, In the American Night is a wonderful short story collection. The pieces come together in their stories about obsessives, aesthetes, and victims. It is a Dutch angled group portrait of modern American culture in all its corrosive brilliance.
 
Out of 10/9.0
 
Read even more about In the American Night: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads

Filed by Karl Wolff at 9:00 AM, September 5, 2014. Filed under: Karl Wolff | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |
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September 2, 2014

CCLaP Podcast 118: The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder

CCLaP Podcast 118: The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder

It's Monday Tuesday, which means it's time for another episode of the CCLaP Podcast. Today, it's a special one-hour live recording from the August edition of our new "CCLaP Showcase" reading series and open mic, held at the fantastic City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). This month's edition features a special performance from local playwright Amber Hargroder, reading from her new novel-in-progress.

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CCLaP Showcase: Paulette Livers

And don't forget about the September edition of the show, being held on the 23rd at 6:30 pm, featuring the local author Paulette Livers performing from her darkly poetic Vietnam-War novel Cementville. Do make sure to go by the event's Facebook listing for more information, and we hope to see all you Chicagoans there!

The Two-Step, by Christine Longé

For more by the playwright Christine Longé who you'll hear in the open mic section of this podcast, make sure to check out her one-person show The Two-Step, currently playing as part of the Chicago Fringe Festival. Last local dates are September 5th and 6th at 7pm and 5:30pm respectively, at the Lake Effect Stage at 5342 W. Lawrence; tickets are $10 in advance, plus $5 for a festival pass.

Continue reading "CCLaP Podcast 118: The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder" »

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, September 2, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Podcast | Chicago news | Events | Literature |
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August 29, 2014

The CCLaP Weekender for August 29th is here!

CCLaP Weekender for August 29, 2014

This week's edition of our new e-magazine, The CCLaP Weekender released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of original fiction by Mark Wagstaff; a photography feature highlighting the work of German artist Teimur Henrich; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Use the links below to access it right now.

Right-click here for PDF / Voluntarily donate 99 cents
Online version at Issuu.com (or just use the embedded version above if you're seeing it)

CCLaP Showcase: Paulette Livers

And don't forget about the September edition of our new reading series and open mic, the CCLaP Showcase being held at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). Being held on Tuesday the 26th at 6:30 pm, it will feature local author Paulette Livers, performing from her darkly poetic Vietnam War drama Cementville. There will also be room for six open-mic slots, for performances of five minutes apiece (strictly timed); if you'd like to sign up in advance for one of these slots, drop us a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com. (Don't forget that the entire thing will be recorded for our podcast as well.) Do make sure to go by the event's Facebook listing for more, and we hope to see all you Chicagoans there.

Don't want to keep coming by the website for all this stuff? Then sign up for our weekly email newsletter, which will send you not only a reminder every Friday morning about each new issue of the Weekender, but also a recap of everything that has happened with the center in the last seven days (including news about recent author features and events from around the US, a look at all our latest eBay rare-book auctions, links to each book review we posted at the blog that week, and a lot more). To subscribe, simply sign up using the box below. We never sell your information nor send more than one email a week, and you can quit at any time!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:05 AM, August 29, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | Literature | Photography | Profiles |
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Another packed house at the CCLaP Showcase! And look who's featuring next month!

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder, August 2014

Well, it was another packed house last Tuesday for the August edition of our new reading series, the CCLaP Showcase, this time featuring local playwright Amber Hargroder. We've been humbled and grateful to see so many people coming out for this show, and I'm happy to say that it has convinced City Lit Books to give us an ongoing commitment now for the last Tuesday of each month there. I hope you'll have a chance to add the date to your calendar for the rest of the year (minus December, which we'll be taking off for the holidays), and do make sure to stop by here again on Monday for the podcast recording of this week's show.

The CCLaP Showcase with Paulette Livers, September 2014

And hey, look who we have to announce as our feature at next month's show! It's local author Paulette Livers, author of the darkly poetic Vietnam-War novel Cementville, which I'm in the middle of reading right now and am just really floored by. That show will be taking place on Tuesday, September 23rd, starting at 6:30 pm, as always over at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie, to be precise); and don't forget that you can always stop by the event's Facebook page for more. As with our other shows, we will also have six open-mic slots of five minutes apiece, for those who would like to sign up in advance; to do so, just drop us a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com, although to warn you we already have two of those slots filled up a full month before the coming show, so make sure to drop us a line soon to secure one of the remaining four spaces. I'll also be interviewing Paulette for the podcast just a week before the show itself, so I hope you'll have a chance to both check that out then come to the reading a week later. I hope to see all you locals there, and thanks again for the strong support you've been showing for the events we've so far produced!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:46 AM, August 29, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP news | Chicago news | Events | Literature |
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August 28, 2014

Fernando Flores wins Honorable Mention (and 10,000 bucks) in this year's Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award!

Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1, by Fernando Flores

We received some exciting news here at CCLaP headquarters this week -- author Fernando Flores has just won Honorable Mention in this year's Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award, for his novella Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1, which comes with a neat little paycheck for $10,000! For those who don't know, this is the brainchild of the hugely popular and award-winning author Sandra Cisneros; named in honor of her father, it celebrates Texas artists who take a particular pride in their craftwork, with this year's big winner being poet ire'ne lara silva and the other Honorable Mention going to David Tomas Martinez. Given that this is the first book Fernando has ever written, we're humbled and honored to see him receive this award, and is just one more sign of what a legitimate phenomenon Bullshit Artists has become down there in Texas where he lives. (For those who don't know, it continues to sell out in bookstores there every time we send a new shipment, and among other accolades it was the subject of a wonderful review by Austin's daily newspaper.) If you've never read the book yourself, then shame on you for missing out on one of the most entertaining titles in CCLaP's entire history; and with the electronic version being completely free, just like all our other books, there's nothing stopping you from going by the book's download page and securing a copy right this moment. A big congratulations to Fernando for this major literary achievement.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:17 AM, August 28, 2014. Filed under: Arts news | CCLaP news | Literature |
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August 25, 2014

CCLaP Recommends: Victorian bad boys

(In preparation of opening a new money-making website soon on the subject of rare books, CCLaP has recently become an affiliate seller at eBay; so we will now be doing weekly recommendations of other interesting book sales taking place there besides just our own, grouped by an interesting theme or subject each week. Please be aware that when you click on one of these particular links and then maybe end up buying the book, CCLaP receives a percentage of that sale as a commission for recommending it.)

This week: Victorian bad boys

The Modernist Era tried its darndest to repaint the Victorian Period as a time of backwards suppression and old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, mostly as a reaction to the "Genteel" times at the very end that really were like this; but before that was almost a century of sexual experimentation, scientific breakthroughs, proto-feminism and Romantic art, a time of boundary-pushing that led humanity directly into the contemporary world we live in now. Today, a look at five artists who really pushed those boundaries more than most others, and recommendations of great old books on sale at eBay that are associated with them.

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde, First Edition

Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, First Edition

Oscar Wilde. You can't have a list of Victorian bad boys without him, and in many eyes he encompasses the entire age perfectly -- a witty Irish gay man who flaunted his sexuality at a time when doing such a thing could land you in jail (which, indeed, is exactly what happened to him), like nearly everyone on today's list, Wilde embraced the tropes of the then brand-new Romanticism fully to the hilt, celebrated for his eccentricities even then and with his reputation having continually soared since. Try this first edition of his for $500 from Rain Dog Books; or for the truly dedicated, why not a first edition of his most famous work (and one of his only full-length narrative books), for a cool $3,600 or best offer from Burnside Rare Books.

The Collected Works of Dante Rossetti, First Edition

Dante Rossetti. One of the founders of the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood," this movement of painters and writers believed literally that no good art had been made since the Renaissance artist Raphael, and called for a freer, more colorful, much more naturalistic style of creativity right in the same years that the Impressionists were doing the same thing way over on the opposite tip of Europe. Rossetti is making the list today because he once buried all his unpublished poetry in the coffin of his unexpectedly dead young hot wife, Elizabeth Siddal (as big a part of the Pre-Raphaelite mythology as any of the artists themselves), then when he changed his mind he literally dug up his wife's corpse in order to retrieve them again. Check out this , on sale for $250 from Rain Dog Books.

Song of Italy, by Algernon Swinburne

Algernon Swinburne. Yet another of the Pre-Raphaelites, the short and odd Swinburne got in a lot of trouble for the libertine lifestyle he advocated in his writing, although no less than H.P. Lovecraft called him the "only real poet" society had seen since the death of Edgar Allen Poe. Try out this first edition, first printing of his 1867 book , for $350 or best offer at J&J House Books.

Savoy Magazine issue 1, original printing

Aubrey Beardsley's Le Morte D'Arthur, First Edition

Aubrey Beardsley. About as tragically Romantic as tragically Romantic artists get, this celebrated but controversial illustrator literally died of consumption at the age of 25 (died of consumption! at 25!), but not before having a heavy hand in the establishment of the "Aesthetic" movement in visual arts, and causing all kinds of ruckus for his sexually explicit yet highly stylized posters and drawings. For those on a smaller budget, try this original printing of , featuring a profile of Beardsley and a custom Christmas card he designed for the issue, for around $200 or best offer from Fine Art Detail; or for those with a larger budget, don't pass up this first edition of the project he's most known for, a two-volume edition of (The Death of King Arthur), including their original wrappers, for $3,000.

Signed letter by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Edward Bulwer-Lytton. And okay, perhaps I'm having a bit of fun with you regarding this last writer; because I mean Bulwer-Lytton to fall on the "bad" side of "bad boy" today, an insanely popular author among his contemporary audiences (who outsold Stephen King when he was alive) but now famous for being considered among many the "Very Worst Writer of the Entire Victorian Age." He is the coiner, however, of such now famous phrases as "the great unwashed," "the pen is mightier than the sword," and the infamous "it was a dark and stormy night," and is absolutely worth collecting despite whatever actual literary quality there might be to his individual work. Try this Lytton once wrote to a "Miss Crump" thanking her for her recent unsolicited submissions of work, for just $175 from David J. Holmes Autographs.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 25, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Profiles |
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August 22, 2014

Book Review: "Dungeons & Drag Queens," by MP Johnson

(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last 18 months to be considered. For the complete list of all books reviewed here, as well as the next books scheduled to be read, click here.)
 
Dungeons & Drag Queens, by MP Johnson
 
Dungeons & Drag Queens
By MP Johnson
Eraserhead Press
Reviewed by Karl Wolff
 
Sleazella LaRuse wakes up cuffed and chained in a dungeon only to discover she has been betrothed to Houmak, the serpent god of a strange fantastical realm. The former MC of Green Bay's Bar Belle and fierce drag queen now finds herself embroiled in the strange affairs of sorcerers and magic in MP Johnson's latest novel, Dungeons & Drag Queens. Despite its ridiculous title and equally ridiculous premise, Johnson gives the reader an enjoyable quest narrative. He also delves into the biography of Sleazella (nee Todd McKinney), a lonely kid growing up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. One day he discovers Dina Dee's music video "I Bleed Pink" and Sleazella was born.

In the book, Sleazella escapes the clutches of Dravor and the mighty Gaktal. They seek a bride for the powerful serpent god Houmak. Unbeknownst to them, Sleazella isn't exactly the queen they are looking for. Sleazella admits she is the fiercest queen in the universe, but not necessarily the exact fit when it comes to producing heirs. After her escape she encounters the horrific slavwolves and the brave Blada Femma. Since this is a bizarro novel, the beasties and the barbarians aren't your usual color-by-numbers epic fantasy elements, unless your Dungeons Master is seriously weird. The slavwolves have multiple nipples that reveal mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth and the Blada Femma have a means of combating their enemies that is more Hard-R than PG-13.

One of the wonderful things about Dungeons & Drag Queens is its sly subversion of body horror. Body horror is a common element used in bizarro fiction, except in this case Sleazella is the most normal character in the entire book. While sophomoric humor is in abundance, Sleazella is treated as a sympathetic character. Amidst all the terrifying creatures and strange cultures she encounters, one wishes could get back to the Bar Belle and MC at her fiercest. Johnson's addition of biographical information adds the necessary human element. (Those accusing Johnson of homophobia either haven't read the book, or having read the book, simply don't know how to read. The charges are unjustified and rather ridiculous. You are laughing with Sleazella, not at Sleazella, a fine distinction. This is the exact opposite of "Gays are icky.") The grossness involves lots of fluids with blood, puke, and guts aplenty. Similar to David Lynch's treatment of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen as a floating disease-ridden personification of pure evil in his Dune movie. Among the grotesque and depraved surroundings, Sleazella, no saint by far, comes across as the most dignified. Her enemies may consider her nothing more than a "he-wench," but she knows she's the fiercest queen in the universe.

Bizarro fiction is an acquired taste. Dungeons & Drag Queens is violent, childish, gross, and weird. Depending on your own individual tastes, these are either positive or negative attributes. I enjoyed reading the book, but I also enjoyed reading the drag queen-centric novel, Our Lady of the Flowers, by Jean Genet. About the only thing similar between the two is that they have a drag queen main character.

Eraserhead Press, the publisher, has published works like The Baby Jesus Butt Plug by Carlton Melnick III and Ass Goblins of Auschwitz by Cameron Pierce. I give Dungeons & Drag Queens a lower score because it is part of such a niche genre. As I said before, bizarro fiction is an acquired taste and not for everyone. On a more personal note, I really enjoyed the book and had a fun time reading it.
 
Out of 10/8.9; much higher for fans of bizarro literature.
 
Read even more about Dungeons & Drag Queens: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | LibraryThing | Shelfari

Filed by Karl Wolff at 9:00 AM, August 22, 2014. Filed under: Karl Wolff | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |
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The CCLaP Weekender for August 22nd is here!

CCLaP Weekender for August 15, 2014

This week's edition of our new e-magazine, The CCLaP Weekender released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of original fiction by Joseph G. Peterson; a photography feature highlighting the work of Italian artist Elena Pezzetta; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Use the links below to access it right now.

Right-click here for PDF / Voluntarily donate 99 cents
Online version at Issuu.com (or just use the embedded version above if you're seeing it)

CCLaP Showcase: Amber Hargroder

And don't forget about the August edition of our new reading series and open mic, the CCLaP Showcase being held at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). Being held THIS TUESDAY, the 26th at 6:30 pm, it will feature local playwright Amber Hargroder (amberhargroder.com), performing from her various works (including her recent hit "Marilyn Monroe, Whoever You Are"). There will also be room for six open-mic slots, for performances of five minutes apiece (strictly timed); if you'd like to sign up in advance for one of these slots, drop us a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com. (Don't forget that the entire thing will be recorded for our podcast as well.) Do make sure to go by the event's Facebook listing for more, and we hope to see all you Chicagoans there.

Don't want to keep coming by the website for all this stuff? Then sign up for our weekly email newsletter, which will send you not only a reminder every Friday morning about each new issue of the Weekender, but also a recap of everything that has happened with the center in the last seven days (including news about recent author features and events from around the US, a look at all our latest eBay rare-book auctions, links to each book review we posted at the blog that week, and a lot more). To subscribe, simply sign up using the box below. We never sell your information nor send more than one email a week, and you can quit at any time!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 22, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | Literature | Photography | Profiles |
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August 20, 2014

CCLaP Rare: "The Woman of Andros" by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing

(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).

The Woman of Andros

By Thornton Wilder (1930)
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: Born in the college town of Madison, Wisconsin, three-time Pulitzer winner Thornton Wilder is undoubtedly best remembered now for his summer-stock favorite Our Town, but this public intellectual's career spans a far wider range than just this; a former student at Oberlin, Princeton and Yale, who was rejected by his classmates for ironically being "too smart," he put in time as a professor at Harvard and the University of Chicago among other places, was a military hero in both World War One and Two, saw one of his plays turned into the hit Broadway musical "Hello Dolly!," and basically invented all the tropes of the modern disaster movie with his very first novel, 1927's massively popular The Bridge of San Luis Rey. And today's book being auctioned, 1930's The Woman of Andros, was the very first thing he published after that surprise bestseller; a reflection of his time as a literary scholar, it's an updating of the ancient Roman comedy Andria, a short but heady little book that asks such philosophical questions as why humans invent class systems and what the meaning of life is. Being offered for a very affordable price today because of a condition issue with the dust jacket (but see below for more), this is a wonderful piece of Early Modernist history and a must-have for any Thornton completist.

CONDITION: Text: Very Good Plus (VG+). Still in generally great shape, except for sunning along all top edges and spine. Dust jacket: Good (G). In most respects still in very good shape, minus a few small tears along the edges and folds; but unfortunately the spine has been bleached by the sun to near illegibility, which lowers the resale value of the book overall quite a bit. As confirmed by the McBride Guide to the Identification of First Editions, an agreement in date on the title page and copyright page makes this a first edition, and a lack of additional printing notices makes this a first printing as well.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at Bookworks, Chicago, spring 2012.

eBay auction
MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 20, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Profiles |
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August 19, 2014

CCLaP Rare: "Passion Play" by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

Passion Play by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing

(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).

Passion Play
By Jerzy Kosinski (1979)
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: It's a bit of a miracle that author Jerzy Kosinski ever even made it to adulthood and an American literary career in the first place: a Polish Jew who survived World War Two because of fake ID papers from a sympathetic Catholic priest, he only managed to escape the post-war Communist Poland afterwards by literally inventing a fake American institution to justify his travel visa, as well as fake Communist intellectuals who "promised" via letters that he would return after his trip. But survive he did, eventually getting a degree from Columbia University and then becoming a lecturer at Yale, Princeton and other prestigious schools, a bitterly ironic fact given his death by suicide in 1991. Before his late-life troubles, though (including a series of health problems and multiple accusations of plagiarism), Kosinski churned out some of the most admired novels of the entire countercultural era, including 1965's The Painted Bird (considered by many to be one of the best books ever written about the horrors of WW2), and his most famous, 1971's Being There, a proto-Forrest Gump story whose Hollywood adaptation garnered Peter Sellers an Oscar nomination. Today's book being auctioned, 1979's Passion Play, is from the very tail end of this countercultural-era streak, and in Kosinski's own words is the most autobiographical thing he ever wrote; the story of a polo expert undergoing a mid-life crisis, our hero "Fabian" criss-crosses the country in an RV, having casual sex with a series of strangers, and ruminating on all kinds of issues that were hot to its late-'70s time period. A forgotten gem of the Postmodernist period, Kosinski is due for a major new cultural reassessment soon; and at its highly affordable price today, this is a great volume for any completist to pick up, especially now when it's still relatively easy to put together a complete set of all his books.

CONDITION: Text: Very Good Plus (VG+). In all respects in nearly the same condition as it appeared brand-new in stores, except for a tiny paper tear on the front cover (see photos for more). Dust jacket: Very Good (VG). In generally great shape, except for various small tears and folds along the edges. Stated "First Edition" on the copyright page.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Printers Row Book Fair, Chicago, June 2014.

eBay auction
MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 19, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Profiles |
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August 18, 2014

CCLaP Rare: "Sophie's Choice" by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing

(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).

Sophie's Choice
By William Styron (1979)
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: Is there any one author out there who better defines the intellectual tricks of Postmodernist literature more than William Styron? A born-and-bred Southerner whose grandparents had owned slaves, Styron himself was a humanistic liberal with an early love for William Faulkner, reflected in his massively popular literary debut, the 1951 dysfunctional-family saga Lie Down in Darkness. But after an extended period in Europe (where, incidentally, he helped co-found The Paris Review), it was in the '60s and '70s where Styron really came into his own as a writer, first with the instantly controversial 1967 Pulitzer winner The Confessions of Nat Turner (a revisionist piece of historical fiction about a real but failed slave rebellion in the 1830s), followed by today's book for sale, the equally controversial National Book Award winner Sophie's Choice from 1979. Originally banned in Poland where it is partially set, it's the story of a non-Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, whose infamous "choice" was regarding which of her two children were to be killed in the camps and which would be allowed to live; the novel itself, then, is set in a contemporary Brooklyn where Sophie now lives post-war, and the messily complicated relationships she has with a Jewish intellectual and a Styron stand-in who both live in the same boarding house where she does. A book that explicitly makes a comparison between the behavior of '40s Nazis and '60s Southern whites, it's not only considered one of the most important novels of the 20th century, but its equally famous Hollywood adaptation essentially kickstarted Oscar-winner Meryl Streep's career; and those making a point to collect the most famous titles of the Postmodernist Era will absolutely want to have this one in their library, a "sleeper gem" that is almost guaranteed to go up in value as the years continue, and go up big.

CONDITION: Text: Very Good Plus (VG+). In all respects in nearly the same condition as it appeared brand-new in stores, except for a small dent in the upper-right corner of the front cover. Dust jacket: Very Good Minus (VG-). In generally great shape, except for a pair of quarter-inch tears on the top front and top back covers, plus various folds on the inside flaps. Stated "First Trade Edition" on the copyright page.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at Ravenswood Books, Chicago, autumn 2013.

eBay auction
MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 18, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Profiles |
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August 15, 2014

The CCLaP Weekender for August 15th is here!

CCLaP Weekender for August 15, 2014

This week's edition of our new e-magazine, The CCLaP Weekender released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of original fiction by Matt Rowan; a photography feature highlighting the work of Chicago artist Matthew Thornton; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Use the links below to access it right now.

Right-click here for PDF / Voluntarily donate 99 cents
Online version at Issuu.com (or just use the embedded version above if you're seeing it)

CCLaP Showcase: Amber Hargroder

And don't forget about the August edition of our new reading series and open mic, the CCLaP Showcase being held at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). Being held on Tuesday, August 26th at 6:30 pm, it will feature local playwright Amber Hargroder (amberhargroder.com), performing from her various works (including her recent hit "Marilyn Monroe, Whoever You Are"). There will also be room for six open-mic slots, for performances of five minutes apiece (strictly timed); if you'd like to sign up in advance for one of these slots, drop us a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com. (Don't forget that the entire thing will be recorded for our podcast as well.) Do make sure to go by the event's Facebook listing for more, and we hope to see all you Chicagoans there.

Don't want to keep coming by the website for all this stuff? Then sign up for our weekly email newsletter, which will send you not only a reminder every Friday morning about each new issue of the Weekender, but also a recap of everything that has happened with the center in the last seven days (including news about recent author features and events from around the US, a look at all our latest eBay rare-book auctions, links to each book review we posted at the blog that week, and a lot more). To subscribe, simply sign up using the box below. We never sell your information nor send more than one email a week, and you can quit at any time!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:05 AM, August 15, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | Literature | Photography | Profiles |
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CCLaP Rare: "The Chicago Speller," Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

Chicago Speller, Grade Eight, July 1944 edition

(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).

The Chicago Speller, Grade Eight
From the Chicago Public School District (Don C. Rogers, Superintendent)
July 1944 edition

DESCRIPTION: A great example of the mini-textbooks that were handed out by the millions in the Chicago Public School system during the early 20th century, this particular copy of the "Chicago Speller" was intended for eighth-graders, with wonderful two-toned illustrations on both covers and a bit of history about the city itself on the inside. One of the last titles put out by the Wheeler Publishing Company, which seems to have gone out of business right after World War Two, the copyright date of this particular copy is 1941 but the book itself clearly states "July 1944" on the inside front cover. A wonderful little piece of Chicago history at an extremely affordable price.

CONDITION: Text: Very Good Minus (VG-). In generally great shape for a children's paperback that's now 70 years old, although with a few creases on both covers and a fabric spine that has torn a bit on its bottom edge. Contains pencil marks on various completed worksheets throughout. Issued without a dust jacket.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Beecher Book Fair, February 2014.

eBay auction
MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 15, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Literature:Nonfiction | Profiles |
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August 14, 2014

CCLaP Rare: "The Stars" by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

The Stars, by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing

(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).

The Stars: A Slumber Story
By Eugene Field (1901)
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: It's a shame that those writers who primarily get known through short ephemeral work (stories in magazines, columns in newspapers, slam poems at open mics) are so quickly destined to get forgotten by the culture at large, because many of these writers were actually the most fascinating people of their times, and it's a shame they didn't leave behind a more substantial body of work to be remembered by. Take Eugene Field, for a good example, the "poet laureate of children's verse" (or so his ravenous fans called him); a true literary vagabond in one of the more interesting times in American literary history (from the end of the Civil War in the 1860s to the dawn of the 20th century, when such authors as Mark Twain, Henry James and Field himself established America's very first globally respected arts community), over his life he put in at least a year apiece in St. Louis, Massachusetts, Galesburg Illinois, Columbia Missouri, St. Joseph Missouri, Kansas City, Denver, and a good stint in Chicago, where he lived literally one block away from CCLaP's headquarters here in the Uptown neighborhood. (His house still stands, for pilgrims who want to visit, at the corner of Clarendon and Hutchinson, in a historical district full of other grand homes from when this was Chicago's first-ever wealthy suburb in the middle of the woods, way back in the 1890s.) And all this time he was plugging away at a series of newspapers syndicated nationally, and getting paid good money for it, delivering a combination of humorous verse, children's poems, witty screeds about intellectuals, and a long-standing feud with Boston, a sort of Dave Barry of his age who was adored by tens of millions of genteel middle-classers.

Thankfully, though, much of this work was eventually collected up into a series of standalone hardback books; this one today, for example, was put out by The New Amsterdam Book Company in 1901, not very long after his tragically young death, and contains not just his long-form poem "The Stars" but two critical assessments of the author as well. An extremely hard-to-find volume, as are all of Field's non-illustrated first editions from these years (instead, the public tended to respond much more favorably to the illustrated second editions, the most notorious being Maxfield Parrish's 1904 adaptation of Poems of Childhood), this is a true gem for any serious collector of Victoriana or children's literature, as well as those interested in the first wave of late-19th-century Chicago authors (also including Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair and Carl Sandburg) who helped establish the city's first-ever legitimate artistic bona fides.

CONDITION: Text: Good Plus (G+). Although still in solid shape, this particular copy's spine is rather beat up on the top and bottom corners, with a bit of sunning and staining on the covers as well. The inside front flap features a handwritten inscription from a previous owner which states, "Agnes Lee From Aunt Mary Jan 16th 1919." Issued without a dust jacket. As confirmed by the McBride Guide to the Identification of First Editions, a matching date on the title page and copyright page, and lack of additional printing notices, makes this a true first edition, first printing.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Oak Brook Book Fair, April 2014.

eBay auction
MINIMUM BID: US$50 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $80
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 14, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Profiles |
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August 8, 2014

The NSFW Files: "Lost Girls" by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

The NSFW Files | A CCLaP essay series

(Once a month through 2013, CCLaP staff writer Karl Wolff investigates literature of a more carnal kind with The NSFW Files. Despite being erotic, is there literary value to be found? For all the essays in this
series, please click here.)


Lost Girls, by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

 
Lost Girls
by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
Review by Karl Wolff
 
Personal History: Alan Moore wrote an epic erotic comic. And Lost Girls also carried with it hints of controversy. As a longtime fan of Moore, I had to see what he did with this particular genre of comics.

The History: Published in 2006, Lost Girls is still too new to have "a history," at least in the same way as Story of O or Naked Lunch. Those two novels were controversial and shocking when they first hit bookstores, but have since accrued literary respectability and legitimacy with the addition of so many years. Lost Girls isn't even ten years old, therefor I will hold off on any premature announcements to its status as a classic.

The exact nature of the controversy is in its depiction of child sexuality. Without the proper contextualization, the words "child sexuality" comes across as shocking and horrific. This requires unpacking and seeing it within the narrative framework of Lost Girls. Moore and Gebbie have created a work that explores an erotic world based on the fictionalized lives of three protagonists from children's literature. Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and Wendy from Peter Pan. Here is what Alan Moore has to say about this, "if we'd have come out and said, 'well, this is a work of art,' they would have probably all said, 'no it's not, it's pornography.' So because we're saying, 'this is pornography,' they're saying, 'no it's not, it's art,' and people don't realize quite what they've said." (quote from The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log). The whole art versus pornography conundrum, while saving the authors and readers the headache of legal prosecution, does little to solve the issue.

This is what makes the arts different from the sciences. Because of the slippery subjectivity of artistic intentions, reader reactions, and critical interpretation, things can get ugly when butting against the ferocious consequences of the law and psychology. Back when I began this essay series, I cited Susan Sontag's "The Pornographic Imagination." In Sontag's influential essay, she works diligently to support erotica and pornography as a legitimate literary genre. She also goes out of her way to avoid discussing either legal or psychological aspects of the works she selected. But (and this is key) the works she discussed were prose. Lost Girls is a comic, a medium built upon an interplay between words and image. It is these images where things get dicey.

At CONvergence this year I attended a panel titled "Fetishes: Gone Too Far?". During the discussion, one of the key points was the interrelated issues of controversy versus legality. Like William S. Burroughs, I hold an ideological position of "First Amendment absolutist." What this means is that I believe artists should have almost no restrictions in terms of subject matter. In a related legal case, Neil Gaiman went so far as to assert that comic book characters have no claims to legal personhood. Comic book characters do not exist in the same way that fictional characters represented by a film or stage actor exist. And in cases like these, where someone is prosecuted for possessing a comic where underage characters have sex, is a dangerous precedent. One shouldn't confuse moral judgments (what said person does with said comics) with legal writ. What is moral and what is legal isn't always a 1:1 ratio. This holds especially true in a multi-ethnic, multicultural pluralistic democracy like the United States.

But with any absolutist position, this has a number of caveats. This circles back to context, genre, and child sex. The First Amendment protects speech not acts. Lost Girls is work of fiction and, as such, is legally protected free speech. This isn't a how-to manual on how to solicit children for sexual acts. And even with the protection of the First Amendment, it is clear that the depictions are artistic renderings. When it comes to photographs or filmic representations, the context changes entirely, since that brings up a host of issues like age of consent, coercion, criminal enterprise, and more.

I spend a lot of space discussing the context and particulars because one should be able to read Lost Girls without fear of legal prosecution.

Despite the sensational subject matter, Lost Girls is a groundbreaking erotic comic that Moore and Gebbie use to explore issues of genre, history, and narrative.

The Book: Lost Girls centers its narrative around an Austrian hotel on the eve of The Great War. At the hotel we meet Wendy Durling, Dorothy Gale, and Alice Fairchild. As the story progresses, Wendy, Dorothy, and Alice recount erotic tales from their childhood. We see eroticized origin stories. Dorothy masturbates during a tornado. Wendy meets a strange boy in the park who initiates her (and her young brothers) into the world of adult sexuality. Alice engages in sexual escapades with a schoolmistress named Mrs. Redman (a sexualized version of The Red Queen). They continue regaling each other with their erotic autobiographies admist sexual shenanigans at the Austrian hotel.

In a way Lost Girls comes across like slash fiction, the sexualized version of fan fiction. This is relevant since Moore and Gebbie are using characters and situations from classic literature.

But Moore and Gebbie further complicate things. The hotel proprietor named Monsieur Rougeur lends the women The White Book, an anthology of erotic pastiches allegedly written and illustrated by such luminaries as Aubrey Beardsley, Guilliame Apollinaire, Oscar Wilde, and Egon Schiele. Near the end of Lost Girls, the specter of war hovers ever closer. Archduke Francis Ferdinand is assassinated and various European powers prepare an imminent war. The husbands of the three female protagonists leave to attend to the immediate crisis. The hotel is emptied but for Dorothy, Wendy, and Alice, and the lusty hotel staff. It is during this orgy that Monsieur Rougeur recounts his own origin story. He tells about his life as a master forger and pederast. In typical Moore fashion, the comic depicts three simultaneous storylines. The first is a story from The White Book; the second is Rougeur's life story; and the third is the present-day hotel orgy. But because Rougeur is a master forger, we don't know whether he is telling the truth with his story. And this relates back to the alleged authenticity of the art in The White Book. Lost Girls exists simultaneously as an epic piece of slash fiction and as an avant-garde exploration of narrative itself.

The very final scenes involve German soldiers breaking a mirror (a prop present in the prologue) and a slow pull back that reveals the entire narrative was a dream by a dying soldier in a trench. One recalls the endings of Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and : the common ending trope all these works had was that it had been a dream.

The Verdict: As I stated previously, I'm avoiding any verdict saying Lost Girls is a classic. Too early to tell. Although this will be yet another example within Alan Moore's oeuvre that scholars can puzzle over, dissect, and contextualize. Despite its controversial subject matter, it holds its own both within Moore's body of work and against other erotic comics.
 
Read even more about Lost Girls: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | LibraryThing | Shelfari | Wikipedia
 
Coming next: The NSFW Files in book form! I'll have at least three more bonus essays and a concluding essay on erotica as a literary genre.

Filed by Karl Wolff at 9:00 AM, August 8, 2014. Filed under: Karl Wolff | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |
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The CCLaP Weekender for August 8th is here!

CCLaP Weekender for August 8, 2014

This week's edition of our new e-magazine, The CCLaP Weekender released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of original fiction by Bruce Douglas Reeves; a photography feature highlighting the work of Seattle artist Todd Schlemmer; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Use the links below to access it right now.

Right-click here for PDF / Voluntarily donate 99 cents
Online version at Issuu.com (or just use the embedded version above if you're seeing it)

CCLaP Showcase: Amber Hargroder

And don't forget about the August edition of our new reading series and open mic, the CCLaP Showcase being held at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). Being held on Tuesday, August 26th at 6:30 pm, it will feature local playwright Amber Hargroder (amberhargroder.com), performing from her various works (including her recent hit "Marilyn Monroe, Whoever You Are"). There will also be room for six open-mic slots, for performances of five minutes apiece (strictly timed); if you'd like to sign up in advance for one of these slots, drop us a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com. (Don't forget that the entire thing will be recorded for our podcast as well.) Do make sure to go by the event's Facebook listing for more, and we hope to see all you Chicagoans there.

Don't want to keep coming by the website for all this stuff? Then sign up for our weekly email newsletter, which will send you not only a reminder every Friday morning about each new issue of the Weekender, but also a recap of everything that has happened with the center in the last seven days (including news about recent author features and events from around the US, a look at all our latest eBay rare-book auctions, links to each book review we posted at the blog that week, and a lot more). To subscribe, simply sign up using the box below. We never sell your information nor send more than one email a week, and you can quit at any time!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:05 AM, August 8, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Photography | Profiles |
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CCLaP Rare: "Where Angels Fear to Tread" by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition [1920] First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition (1920), First Printing

(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).

Where Angels Fear to Tread

By E.M. Forster (1905)
First American Edition [1920], First Printing

DESCRIPTION: The early 20th century was a sneakily fascinating time in British literary history, mostly because of the British public really starting to wrestle for the first time with its role in colonialism, class and Empire, as seen in a series of authors at the time who tiptoed and danced around the subject without ever quite stating their opinions in a plain way. Take E.M. Forster for an excellent example, a closeted gay man who was hugely critical of class and race issues in his private life (and who turned down an honorary knighthood once he was old and famous), but who was forced to only subliminally talk about all these subjects through a series of novels that at first glance seem simply like frilly romance stories. This is most clearly seen in such late-period masterpieces as Howards End and A Passage to India, but all the elements are there even in his very first book, 1905's Where Angels Fear to Tread (not published in America until 1920, with a first print run of of only 2,630 copies), written when he was just 26 years old. Ostensibly one of those "European Grand Tour" novels so popular at the time (see for example Forster's American peer Henry James, who literally made an entire career out of such stories), at first glance it seems to be the simple tale of a young middle-class British widow who falls in love with a penniless Italian while on vacation one summer, with her shocked family attempting to take control of the couple's eventual child once the woman dies at an early age herself; but a more careful reading reveals just how much contempt Forster has for the prim, sheltered Herriton family at the center of the story, and by extension his disgust for any person who puts "proper appearances" at a higher priority than personal happiness, a running theme of his entire career that he would express in much more subtle and powerful ways in later books. An extra-valuable book merely from the fact that it was Forster's first, even at its premium price today one is getting a steal (copies in better condition and with the dust jacket intact go for ten times as much), a perfect acquisition for Forster fans and those who professionally collect historically important pieces of Edwardian literature.

CONDITION: Text: Good Plus (G+). Although still in solid shape, this particular copy features scratch marks on the back cover, signs of fabric wear on all corners, a spine that has been bleached by the sun, and just the barest beginnings of structural weakness in the binding. Dust jacket: Missing. As confirmed by the McBride Guide to the Identification of First Editions, a matching date on the title page and copyright page, and lack of additional printing notices, makes this a true first edition, first printing.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Newberry Library Book Fair, July 2014.

eBay auction
MINIMUM BID: US$75 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $150
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, August 8, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |
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