Book Review: Junky

William Burroughs’ first novel, Junky, serves as the foundation upon which all of his following work is built. It frankly speaks to the banality of life and how it is shattered by incorrigible drug abuse. He takes us, with shocking lucidity, through all the formative events that inexorably lead our protagonist, Bill Lee, to trying junk; then into the grueling highs and lows of acquiring and kicking habits. The reader follows as he navigates the routine obstacles to obtaining the fix, and begins to sense that junk itself is Bill’s preferred means of coming in contact with some transcendent reality. This attainment becomes his sole motivation. He is drawn to it, an average man seeking relief from the tedium of his mundane existence. In this way, he is unsettlingly familiar: just another bug hopelessly seeking liberation in an almighty buglight. Thankfully, this particular bug has a talent for writing grounded in rich tradition, yet unlike any to come before or after him. – Jackson Ward

Word and Hokusai of the week


Online Open Access Resources

Wellcome Images


Muscles of the back: partial dissection of a seated woman, showing the bones and muscles of the back and shoulder. Colour mezzotint by J. F. Gautier d’Agoty, 1745/1746.

Download over 100,000 high-resolution images from the Wellcome Library via Wellcome Images. These images were released with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license.

Audio Arts in the Tate Archive

From the Tate Archive, “In 1973 William Furlong and Barry Barker established Audio Arts as a cassette-based audio magazine. It provided a dedicated space for artists and art-world professionals to speak about their work in a free and unmediated way.” The Tate has digitized volumes and supplements, alongside selected archive images for each audio-cassette. Check out Volume 2, Number 1 featuring Buckminster Fuller and Joseph Beuys.

Getty Publications’ Virtual Library

Getty Publications has announced their Virtual Library with hundreds of titles available to read online or for download.

Book Review: Riceboy Sleeps

Riceboy Sleeps is a truly haunting artist book. Compiled by Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Birgisson and American artist Alex Somers, Riceboy Sleeps is a visual companion piece to the duo’s partnership as experimental post-rock group Jónsi & Alex. Muted yet tactile, Somers’ artwork evokes the mossy, dog-eared memories of childhood in an Indian summer. Textured profiles of windmills, dandelions, and circus games suggest the loose, even disembodied, narrative voice of photographs found by happenstance in a discarded leather billfold. This ethereal chapbook layers pockets of desolate minimalism with Turneresque melancholia, all the while maintaining a soft aura that remains hopeful in the face of longing. The faux-archival aesthetic is tender and sincere, just like the ambient studio album of the same name to which this little book alludes. – Teresa Fredericks

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Word and Hokusai of the week

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Word and Hokusai of the week


Book Review: It Doesn’t Mean Anything But It Looks Good - Lily van der Stokker

Lily van der Stokker’s It Doesn’t Mean Anything But It Looks Good is a celebration of feminist conceptual art. Enlivening minimal spaces and interiors with DayGlo floral patterns, van der Stokker’s decorative installations, wall paintings, and loose drawings are all sensitive contributions to the 1990s pop oeuvre of artists like Margaret Kilgallen, Yayoi Kusama, and Elizabeth Murray. Pastel tartans with curling Asian details splash with Dr. Suess-like whimsy across stark white backgrounds. Her work resembles the sugary confections of decadent dessert shops, but the syrupy sweetness is balanced seamlessly by her clever self-awareness and bold overstatement of bland female clichés. John Waters hails her work as hilarious, touching, and aggressive; it’s a beachy collection of graphic craft that has inspired children and fashion moguls alike. -Teresa Fredericks

Camping dreams

Now that the weather is a balmy 40-something degrees, we’re all daydreaming about camping.

Check out more awesome photos from the Smithsonian Institution on the Flickr Commons!

Night owls: our full hours are now in session!

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