Category Archives: Great books and writers

Días de la selva por Mario Payeras

Acabo de leer este relato en peligro de olvido sobre los esfuerzos de Payeras y su diminuta guerrilla para enseñar letras, organizar y retribuir tierras en las aisladas regiones indígenas del noroeste de Guatemala comenzando en 1972. Me llamó la atención desde una pila de libros en la venta bibliotecaria, y supe de inmediato que el libro me iba a fascinar.

dias

Se trata de la guerrilla que tras años terminaría con nombre de Ejército general de los pobres (EGP) que espantó tanto al puñado de ricos de origen española y estadunidense que controlaban vastas tierras, enriqueciéndose con el labor de indígenas analfabetos, como usted el lector capitalista se engorda con las fresas pizcadas a espaldas rotas aquí en Santa María, Salinas y Guatsón.

Para mí la cumbre del relato fue cuando matan al dueño explotador de una finca sin tocar un centavo de la paga que interrumpieron. El libro incluye cuando posible a vocablos indígenas para cosas comunes de la selva. Me gustó mucho su medida distancia con la que dibuja los personajes y acontecimientos, que deja sitio para ironía, cariño, espanto y la todoimportante autocrítica marxista. Me asombraron también las descripciones de esos personajes ocultos en las aldeas de la selva, a cuyos tiques y característicos personales Payeras describió con tanta atención y humor.

Realmente nada más se necesita decir del libro en 2017 aparte de ésto: imagínense que ahora casi nada se ha mejorado en Guatemala pese a los esfuerzos relatados en el libro, y que hoy en día gringos pendejos de Berkeley de California hacen su eco- y café-turismito en esa misma región guatemalteca en busca del café perfecto para sus fair-trade non-profits de mierda…

Recomiendo el libro a todo quien tiene ganas de aprender más de la historia de resistencia indígena, o sea de revolución, y a quien luchara con la Mockingjay, con el ejército de Dumbledore, etc etc etc.

Sense Magazine 1971

So old man Tommy upstairs finally died a few months ago and, as he had no family left except an equally ancient and doubtlessly equally arthritic brother in Japan, my dick landlord hired a company to clean out his apartment. His whole life went into a dumpster. I could write a whole essay cycle on just that, but I won’t now. Anyhow I got to go in his thoroughly pre-internet, archival apartment and tried to get whatever I could that caught my eye.

He had a voluminous shelf of Chinese and Japanese cookbooks, tons of 1980s-1990s TIME-type jingoistic/uncritical photographic folios that we all pored over as kids looking for answers that weren’t there, ring binders full of local history and newspaper clippings (a post on that coming soon), city and county pamphlets on health and aging and disaster preparedness and shit, and sundry stuff such as what you see below.

cci07012017

Above is the cover of Sense Magazine. This wasn’t the metrosexual men’s Cosmopolitan of the current decade, but “the portable marriage counselor,” a “sociological” publication by Academy Press of San Diego, volume 1 issue 2, from January 1971. I’m not sure how much WordPress cares about nudity and stuff so I might not scan in pages. In any case, it’s basically a hardcore full-penetration etc. skinmag BUT with clinical explanations for everything –you can practically hear the voice of Art Gilmore reading it –adjacent to the photos, and you had to really want it, because in 1971 it cost $5 when for that you could see Zeppelin and remain to learn firsthand about fellatio, cunnilingus, fetishes, orgasm, lesbianism and male homosexuality.

Without scanning photos, we can say that the fun part is not the repetition of sex photos but the weird Marin County tone of self-whatever and openness (the woman’s biting her nipple with a fucking fake skull and what’s more that NEVER gets explained) that pervades the magazine. It swings between matter-of-fact, which is good, and a certain uncomfortable distance; you know, that avuncular voice from the mid-20th century of a middle-aged guy hired to sound smart about this shit who privately wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

There is ample mention of totally hipster-level trends of the time such as “What is the ampallang?” and “Are these really adequate substitutes for the male penis?” It quotes experts as much as possible, such as obviously Kinsey as well as Sexual Actions and Reactions by Burch Robbins.

What’s more, a certain photo of two women using a vibrator shows a huge battery pack on the back of the thing obscuring the one woman’s privates, like you’d see today on an orbital sander, and the metal label is hard to read but I thought it said Sylvania or Swingline. What logo is that??? At least I found out in the research for this little blog post that there is a vintage vibrator museum on Polk in SF that I’ve shamefully never visited. I’ll get my life in order in 2017 yet!

The only really heavy part is the series of fuck photos dedicated to incest, which are of course staged, accompanying the straight-faced explanation of that phenomenon. However there are awesome payoffs, such as the headings “Isn’t the Bible full of incest?” and “And what about incest among the Borgias?” If this is a question that anyone on the street would’ve asked on the topic of incest in 1971, that is proof that our current education system is catastrophically off-track.

Oddly enough, we can’t find a dang thing about this magazine on the internet. It appears to have disappeared off the face of the earth, not that this is surprising. All we can hope is that couples looked at the pictures to get in the mood to do it, and that the shameless swingers who must’ve started this silly magazine helped prevent some people from getting divorced or whatever, though it’s more likely that they used it to attract people who were into throwing power-orgies of epic proportion.

If anyone wants this magazine, please comment and I’ll gladly mail it as I’ve already read it for its historical import and am over it. If you want it and you are Thomas Pynchon, you can count on my discretion.

Those Dark New Hampshire Woods

hampsire.jpgPropitiously, auspiciously, precipitously ran into Desmond Reed‘s work by chance on Tumblr, which for all the fat and noise is really one of the few places left one can sign on and see a ton of awesome art with relatively little digging.

A celebration of life’s will to grow, Those Dark New Hampshire Woods concerns a few weeks in the life of its denizens, rendered from all of whose perspective, looking inward and showing us how it is from over their shoulders, not unlike As I Lay Dying.
The book, like all great stories, like in Faulkner or Bolaño, distinguishes itself both through its place in a universe all its own as well as its exposition of the stories within that world in an elegant and silly spiral of nested and/or tangentially-related vignettes.
Amongst other instantly-relatable characters we meet the drifter, who drifts, the scumbag, the wild hairy uncles, the world’s smallest pervert, who seeks happiness despite being on the other side of existence.

hampshire2.jpg

The obscene god of rebirth from Those Dark New Hampshire Woods

It is in the story of the Scumbag and the Troubled Teen that we encounter the persistent theme of nature’s regeneration, presented by means of the cloning by pore of the characters, reducing the proud, complex human down to the physiognomy of the plant kingdom. The joy with which their bodies relentlessly reproduce cycles through the setting and creates a second whirling narrative wheel.
My only gripe is what the hell is going on in the New Hampshire woods, and how does one end up there?
Those Dark New Hampshire Woods is a work of modest comic art blessed with satisfying textual depth, a work of literature not to be missed in the 2016 crop.

I also got the second one but honestly I haven’t even read it yet. I’m too blown away.
The books are published by Birdcage Bottom Books, and when you buy stuff from them you get a bunch of extra stuff!
https://www.birdcagebottombooks.com