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The Mistakes Issue

Literary

Learn from this.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Running with Scissors and Dry
Augusten Burroughs (Picador; St. Martin’s) My biggest mistake of 2003 was not getting obsessed with Augusten Burroughs. We totally slept on this shit. Everyone compares him to David Sedaris, and they are similar in that they are both funny (as in gay, and also as in ha-ha), but Augusten tells stories while David lately just seems to provide a snippet and a laugh track. Augusten’s first book, Running with Scissors, is a memoir bizarre enough to be fiction. In brief: His mom gives him to his therapist. And he walks in on his mom eating out the minister’s wife (sweet). In Dry, his sort-of follow up, he talks about his experiences in and out of rehab—and everyone loves a good old rehab story. I order you to read both books in order, one right after the other, with a box of tissues and a pack of cigarettes. And don’t talk to me until you’ve done so. LESLEY ARFIN Merz to Emigre and Beyond: Avant-Garde Magazine Design of the Twentieth Century
Edited by Steven Heller (Phaidon) You don’t think a magazine just pops up out of the ground, an instant success from day one, do you? It takes years of fired employees and millions of dollars in fucked-up printing jobs before you can even afford to stop brown-bagging your lunch. For a shitload of proof, check out Merz to Emigre and Beyond. We were too busy mining this book for ideas to write it up this summer, but now that we’ve safely absorbed it all, you’re allowed to look at it too. Merz… documents the histories of some of the most politically fruitless and aesthetically out-there underground magazines of the last hundred years. It’s filled with plenty of brain juice about reading material you’ve probably never heard of—Le Surréalisme au Service de la Révolution—as well as some that you know and regularly drool over, like Minotaure and Raygun. There are also a lot of photos of killer magazine-covers and page layouts to give design geeks boners. Still, we dare you to try and make a magazine. MIKE CANAL Plots Laid Thick
Raymond Pettibon (MAC BA Press) I know, I know, Pettibon is a given and we aren’t supposed to promote him anymore. That’s why this book sat on my shelf for over a year after its publication until one day I looked up, saw it there, and said, “Fuck! Pettibon!” Opened it up, and lo and behold, he is more inspired than ever. We really took a nap on this one. The drawings here are more washed-out and delicate than “classic” Raymond. They also tend to lean in two different directions. Rather than the reliable Pettibon one-panel word-and-text deal, many of these are cinematic (extra panels and colors even) while others are completely abstract. When the old motifs appear, like the drawing of a hippie wearing only a cape and wielding a butcher knife with the words “Acid Is Groovy” painted on the wall behind him, they only serve to remind you that nobody can wield the Charles Manson cliché as effectively as Ray Pettibon. JERRY MCPHEERSON Tangle in Tijuana
Lilla and Nora Zuckerman (Fireside Books) We didn’t review this when it came in the mail at first because we were too busy hiding in the bathroom fucking loving every twisted page of it. Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? This is that, except for the Sex and the City crowd. It involves a trip down to Tijuana with your best girlfriend, wherein the object is to do tequila shots, fuck natives, not get food poisoning, and maybe fall in love. It’s like living inside an episode of Blind Date. Every couple of pages, there’s an option like: “You’re already wasted—what’s one more shot at this point? Win the crowd over. Take that last shot and turn to page 30” or “You are not going to be Puking Kamikaze Girl for the rest of this trip. Humbly decline the final shot and turn to page 161.” There are heavy life lessons to be learned in this book. And guys, no matter how much you hate to think it, this is the kind of shit your girlfriend gets up to when she and “the girls” go to Barbados for a long weekend. You can bet on it. MARGARET GLAZER Teratoid Heights
Mat Brinkman (Highwater Books) This almost got taken home and filed in the “over-coverage” pile that constantly threatens to overwhelm my apartment. Haven’t we sucked on the Rhode Island pee-pee enough this year? We’ve lauded Forcefield, Happy Banana knitwear, Black Dice, and so on… But look at this book, fuck. Without a single word, Brinkman manages to tell primal stories of striving. At least that’s what I think when I see hairy humanoids struggling in harsh landscapes. Brinkman’s art synthesizes early Nintendo video games with Dungeons and Dragons and Icelandic Viking Sagas. You could not pick three cooler reference points. JAMES FLUCK