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3 book reviews

Cover of Cochlea & Eustachia by Hans Rickheit.

Cover of Cochlea & Eustachia by Hans Rickheit.

[Books and other printed matter]

Actually two graphic book reviews from one artist/author, a novel from a San Diego writer, and a self-published book of short stories from Australia, but also a high-priced quarterly mainstream periodical and a xeroxed folded handout from Vegas

Not Really Just Three Book Reviews

by Reviewer Rob

Cochlea & Eustachia, and Folly, by Hans Rickhiet Hans is easily one of the most underrated artists working today. “Dreamlike” is often used to describe his comics. “Nightmarish” might be another one, although I haven’t read that one in any of the reviews yet. Rickhiet has a way of tapping into the pre-conscious underbrain that inhabits the constantly running background data of the psyche. He’s been branching out into graphic novels for some time as with this edition of Cochlea & Eustachia and even dabbling in video animation but I really liked his early stuff from 15 years ago, compiled here in Folly, that had a short snippit quality to it, where you can really see the layers of fantasy unfold ad-infinitum. RR

Cover of A Shadow Cast In Dust by Ben Johnson.

Cover of A Shadow Cast In Dust by Ben Johnson.

A Shadow Cast In Dust, by Ben Johnson, 333 pages, paperback, Grand Mall Press This is the first-published novel from the multi-faceted Ben Johnson. He’s always the nicest guy, even when he wears that fake smiley-face mask at work behind the bar at The Casbah (“San Diego’s Coolest Bar!”). The guy’s like some kind of savant, you’d be forgiven to think. Just look at a partial list of accomplishments: drummer in several San Diego bands, vocalist, songwriter, rapper, band leader, part owner of one of San Diego’s most sought after music venues The Casbah, white comedy rapper, father and husband to a gorgeous wife, former chief overseer and lead cock on the block of the Rooster House above Scolari’s Office on 30th, and now he’s working on getting his second book out there. Pretty sure I’m at least leaving out half a dozen other things. A Shadow Cast In Dust is “an urban fantasy epic” supernatural psycho-drama cast in the canyons lacing Mission Hills. Think Carlos Castaneda-esque set in the urban naturescape of modern San Diego. There’s a young boy and his dog, a female police detective, and a strange world of wonder and deceit. I asked Ben how long it took to write. “Three years. Two after I got a laptop and got serious,” he said. This was published in early 2014 and, along with his first novel, that year brought along a baby to Ben and his wife. Next year in 2015 Ben was elevated to part-owner of The Casbah on Kettner (remember: “San Diego’s Coolest Bar”) in a secret and ancient underground hipster ritual involving Jack Daniels and chicken’s blood. Not really. Ben’s bartender and owner of The Casbah but he doesn’t drink, hasn’t for over ten years. That ought to tell you something about the guy’s drive. Ben’s around that environment week after week, yet abstaining. Read this novel for a unique perspective and story from San Diego. RR

Surface Children by Dean Blake.

Surface Children by Dean Blake.

July, 2015, copy of DTLV that I picked up at the photo studio of Curtis Walker in Las Vegas.

July, 2015, copy of DTLV that I picked up at the photo studio of Curtis Walker in Las Vegas.

DTLV Approx. 5×7”, similar to the Urbanist in San Diego, only more low-budget printing. I like it. This free hand-out guide is a colored xeroxed style folded info sheet of local happenings around the very hip and arts Downtown “Arts District” which is still affordably cool and not yet to hipstery or upscale to be unattainable to the normal budget. It’s Las Vegas, after all. If you want to be a high roller you can go to the Bellagio or several other places that cater to the whales and oil barons. This is for the cool crowd that like the kitsch and approachability of real art shows and off duty strippers waking up at the corner coffee shop. Wear your sunglasses. The sun will be bright. [] RR

Surface Children by Dean Blake.[/caption]Surface Children by Dean Blake, 2013, “A book of short stories” from an author based in the sunny climes of Brisbane, Australia. Think Bukowski only with the crowd of characters in the local dive bar being younger and better looking. Read this if you’re going on an Aussie trip after graduation to see how the kids live Down Under. Dean Blake is a good writer of dialogue and conveyor of teenage angst. There’s plenty of that on both sides of the Pacific but in Los Angeles they say “ass” not “arse”. Haha. RR

Lapham’s Quarterly, Fall, 2015, Vol. VIII, #4 Theme-based book-style magazine that comes out four times a year. High priced, it strictly follows the format set out in each issue’s one-word category, this issue being “Fashion”. Think of it like VICE magazine only way more high-brow. If you like your reading deep, esoteric and profound check out Lapham’s Quarterly. Great “Conversations” quote from Kanye in back on page 207. RR

Lapham's Quarterly, Fall, 2015. "Fashion" issue.

Lapham’s Quarterly, Fall, 2015. “Fashion” issue.


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