Books | A Continuous Lean.

Willy Vlautin Tells It Like It Is.

Mar 20th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Americana, Books | by Al James

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Has the recent finale of HBO’s True Detective left you jonesing for more pulpy American grit? Do you like your heroes broken-hearted yet courageous, desperate but loyal? Does your hard luck story require just the thinnest beam of light to pierce the looming darkness? Then author Willy Vlautin is your guy.

A Reno, Nevada native, Vlautin moved North to Portland, Oregon in the nineties to paint houses. When he wasn’t up on the ladder he wrote and played in bands. He founded, and still fronts, Richmond Fontaine, one the most-loved rock bands to come out of the Northwest. Starting with The Motel Life in 2007, he has published four novels that fit on the shelf next to Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son and Larry Brown’s Big Bad Love. Immensely talented company, but Vlautin’s work is at home with these greats.





Rude Shoes | Jamaica’s Love Affair With Clarks

Mar 11th, 2014 | Categories: Books, England, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher

Clarks JAM

There is nothing offensive about a pair of Clarks. Desert Boots, Mountain Treks, and Wallabees, these are the simple suede chukkas that your mother probably bought you for your first day of elementary school, and what could be offensive about that?

And yet, in Jamaica, the one word most associated with Clarks is “rude.” As in rude boys, the rebellious subculture that emerged amongst Jamaica’s lower class during the 1960’s. Driven by a reggae backbeat, Jamaica’s disenfranchised youths became enamored with the skinny suits, raucous music, and devil-may-care demeanor that defined England’s counterculture movement. The interplay between youth cultures in Jamaica and England was a mutually beneficial relationship that ultimately gave Rude Boys a chance to separate themselves from slum-life in a way that simultaneously audacious and aspirational.

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Man of the Hour: The Michael Hainey Interview

Feb 20th, 2013 | Categories: Books, David Coggins | by David Coggins

After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey

You may know Michael Hainey from GQ, where he’s the deputy editor, a writer and resident wise man. He’s an elegant and reassuring presence in a menswear world that can breed exhaustion. You may also see Mr. Hainey on television, walking in the West Village or on your favorite street style site. He carries himself with a sense of courtliness that makes him seem approachable, which is very much the case. Prepare to get to know him much better—his new book, the memoir “After Visiting Friends”— is deeply personal and incredibly moving. It’s also a brilliantly reported, completely absorbing mystery about the death of his father, which happened when Michael was a boy. It’s a genuine accomplishment by one of New York’s dapper men of letters.

We spoke recently at the Spotted Pig.

David Coggins: The title of your book is “After Visiting Friends.” Can you explain what it means? It’s a good introduction to what the book’s about.

Michael Hainey: It’s the reason the mystery begins. You could say it’s a euphemism, but really it’s a line inside of a couple of the obituaries that ran after my father died. One said he died after visiting a “friend” and the other said “friends.” It gave an address in Chicago, so as a young guy I said “who are these friends?” So it’s the engine of the mystery.





Hero’s Welcome: The Return of Lucky Jim.

Oct 11th, 2012 | Categories: Books, David Coggins, England | by David Coggins

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis’s first novel, was published in 1954 and promptly entered the pantheon of British postwar literature. It’s just been reissued by the invaluable New York Review Books Classics, which is the literary equivalent of receiving a case of Laphroaig. Our hero, Jim Dixon, a young university lecturer, grapples with a stream of improbable academic cranks, pretentious artists, neurotic women, a vengeful oboist and his own self-destructive streak. The novel is trenchant, knowing and audaciously misanthropic. It may be the funniest book ever written.

Yes, that’s an absurd statement (Jim himself would surely raise an eyebrow at such a sweeping claim). But Lucky Jim remains the benchmark for satire, misbehavior and the absurd demands of adult life. Strangely, some Lucky Jim partisans struggle through the book’s opening the first time they read it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to take pause before they plow their way through it. Why is that? Like watching Shakespeare’s plotting villains or early episodes of Deadwood, it takes some time to acclimate yourself to the incredibly specific, rarefied language. But that makes it sound as if it’s an exalted enterprise: it’s not.





The Greatest Brand Book Ever Made.

Sep 13th, 2012 | Categories: Books, Craft, Paris | by Michael Williams

Normally the watch companies are the ones who release the finest books documenting the history and heritage of their brands. Though it wasn’t until recently when confronted with the history of iconic french trunk maker Goyard that I realized just how exceptional a company archive book can be.

In releasing the book, Goyard partnered with the storied Parisian publisher Devambez to release 233 editions, which will each set you back a healthy sum of 6000€ (not including shipping or VAT tax or any customization that you do to the case). The 233 number is symbolic because it is the address of the original Goyard store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Each book is painstakingly made by hand by the finest artisans in France and comes in its own individually numbered, fully custom Goyard case.





Pinup Provocateur: Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom

Aug 31st, 2012 | Categories: Books, David Coggins, Photography | by David Coggins

These days we are rarely without a camera, yet how often do we hold an actual photograph? We flip through streams of jpegs, on Tumblr, Instagram and the rest, we “like,” reblog and create virtual slideshows. We get daily dispatches from friends on alpine treks, course-by-course accounts of elaborate meals, and inspect carefully curated interiors. It’s so easy to create an evocative filter that we’ve become suspicious of what we’re looking at. It was not always thus.

Bunny Yeager’s photographs are direct and bracing. They remind us of the basic power of controlling the image and the elemental act of provocation. It should be mentioned that she was a pinup girl and named “world’s prettiest photographer” of 1953. You can enjoy her handiwork in the new book Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin-Up Photography’s Golden Era, (Rizzoli).





The Literary Life of a Dunhill Man

Mar 9th, 2011 | Categories: Art, Books, England, Jared Paul Stern | by Jared Paul Stern

Seeing Dunhill’s new ad campaign didn’t make me want to buy luxury goods from London; it made me want a Miller. A Harland Miller. He’s the rather shabby fellow among the three fairly obscure Brits chosen as the brand’s new faces this season, the one trying to hide behind an $1,100 briefcase (below). That must be why I failed to recognize one of my favorite contemporary artists at first, but reading the fine print I found he was one and the same. The talented painter and author first caught my eye when his 2007 monograph International Lonely Guy landed on my desk. What he does best are atmospheric re-interpretations of classic Penguin paperback covers – and I know I’m not the only one around here with a fondness for those.