1. Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller (Chloe Griffin): I was dismayed to see that the New York Times didn't even give lip service to this book, considering Mueller played such a large part in making New York City culture the vibrant cesspool that it was in the 1970’s and 80’s (in my world ”vibrant” and “cesspool” are not disparate terms). Griffin has pieced together a touching and illuminating oral history of the underground icon, told by the people who knew her best (with the glaring exception of Nan Goldin, giving credence to the rumors that bad blood exists between her and Mueller’s estate. It's high irony to think of the visual Cookie and the oral Cookie as being at odds with each other, Goldin's photographs captured Mueller in so many important points in her life.) I've waited years for this book, and even harbored deluded late night fantasies of writing it myself. Griffin delivers ten fold. Edgewise is a book I will revisit again, and again, until I meet my maker.
2. The Road to Emmaus: Poems (Spencer Reece): Nominated for the National Book Award for Poetry, then cut from the list, in favor of dry, more clinical poets like Louise Glück, Reece’s book doesn't make my list because he’s my imaginary baby daddy. He’s my imaginary baby daddy because of this book.
3. Money’s Nothing ( Lisa Carver): Filled with small epiphanies, Carver’s forte is making you reconsider your tightly held opinions about everything. If you're open to it, this book could change you.
4. Black Cloud (Juliet Escoria): One of the most interesting first books in a while, Escoria’s been described as “a punk rock Grace Paley,” but as of late, some might find “a goth Ann Coulter” to be more appropriate. In 1994, I put a classified ad in MaximumRocknRoll looking for pen pals, and wrote that I was “looking for more bitchy girls with guts, not this overabundance of duh that’s been on the rise.” Escoria can be brusque in her online opinions, but she makes you think, if only to reaffirm what you already believed. My first choice is sedation, but baring that, I'll take provocation. A great book and a really, really strong literary debut.
5. Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant ?(Roz Chast): The only book on the Times list that I agree with. Made me laugh, made me cry, made me hide my face behind my hands, so no one could see. Oh how I loved this book.
6. The Cruising Diaries (Brontez Purnell and Janelle Hessig): Hilarious. Crass. Sordid. An overdose of TM TMI. And probably not in the forefront of Purnell's mind when it came to the books creation, but to be so absolutely warts and all (literally) candid with one's sexual history is hugely brave.
7. My Apologies Accepted: I bought this book as a consolation. I wanted Roger’s art book, Cunny Poems, Vol 1, but it was sold out. Rogers writes short, fast verse, littered with misspellings and curious word choices, but what may seem random at first, reveals itself to be something much more profound-- and sinister-- upon closer examination. I haven't been affected by writing this sparse, outside of sexting, in a long time.