<b>THE CURIOUS WORLD OF DRUGS AND THEIR FRIENDS</b><br>This is similar to one of those books your gran got you for your birthday

Feb 1 2009, 12:00am


Ingo Niermann & Adriano Sack

This is similar to one of those books your gran got you for your birthday when you were 13. She thought you were “an inquisitive little soldier” and that you’d be fiending for a book stuffed with “500 facts about nature” or something like that. This is one of those books, but for bigger boys who are interested in drugs and need to be able to reel off obscure facts about the mind-altering effects of fasting. This is the new Profanisaurus, as far as toilet reading goes. Who knew mixing poppers and Viagra can kill you? Wow, this book is literally a lifesaver.

Mary Ellen Mark & Karen Folger Jacobs

The film Girl, Interrupted is fine and everything, but it’s slightly unrealistic because all the sectioned ladies are young and hot. I mean, sexy klepto Winona locked up with crazy Brittany Murphy and Angelina Jolie is an easy-on-the-eye mental facility line-up. Ward 81, on the other hand, depicts mental homes as they really are. If you don’t know who US photographer Mary Ellen Mark is, you should be ashamed. These photos have all the rawness of her Streetwise work, but they’re so terrifyingly sad and beautiful they make Streetwise look like a fashion shoot.

Danzig Baldaev

You know the drill. As with everything FUEL produce, this looks perfect. You might think a third volume of photos and drawings of Russian prison tats may be getting a little tired, but it isn’t. I think I could gaze forever at tattoos of busty prostitutes riding on a hairy devil’s back with a four-foot-long sausage stuck in their vaginas. Why is it that British criminals can only muster a shitty swallow or a wobbly W.H.U.F.C. on their podgy hamfists? They should get more creative and design Ian Blair as a comedy devil being crushed under a tank surrounded by acronyms about going to the pub and throwing bottles.

Danielle Levitt

Shot by former Vice snapper Danielle Levitt, these glossy portraits of teens from all over the USA range from pretty emo boys to Houston gangster types to all American pageant and football stars. The first thing we learn from this book is that American kids look a lot older than they are. Make sure you check the ages next to each photo before rubbing one out on this or you could end up in a whole world of self-loathing and guilt.

Mikhael Subotzky

South Africa has a lot of grim things to take photos of. But Subotzky’s achievement is to take photos of some of the grimmest aspects of life in Beaufort West, a small town between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and make them appear uplifting. His obsession with crime and punishment and with fear being “the new apartheid” is much in evidence in this book, elements of which are on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. If you like photos of criminals, portraits of gang members, old men, street kids, game hunters and prisons, you could do a lot worse than this.

Iain Sinclair
Hamish Hamilton/Penguin

You may have heard about this one. Iain Sinclair was banned from launching his love letter, requiem and valediction to the borough of London he has lived in for 30 years in Hackney itself because of its “controversial content”. The content in question is his opinions and theories about the “development” of the area for the forthcoming Olympics. It’s something Sinclair sees not as development, more as erasure and mismanagement. We mentioned the same topic in our recent Toxicities report, so we’re inclined to agree. The future aside, it is for Hackney’s past that you might want to give this book a go. Sinclair tackles it with his usual brand of not-quite-truth, not-quite-fiction and manages to squeeze in Lenin, Stalin, Baader-Meinhof and Orson Welles. Essential reading, in other words.

Dan Nelson

Is this the same Dan Nelson who replaced Joey Belladonna in Anthrax? I am afraid that I don’t actually know the answer to that question. I do, however, know that this is without a shadow or even a hint of a shade of a doubt one of the best books to land on my desk in ages. Not best as in reading it has changed my perception of day-to-day existence, just best as in it is an amazing concept executed brilliantly. You see, All Known Metal Bands is just that: a list of ALL known metal bands. I am not sure how you quantify “known” but there are over 50,000 band names in here, more than enough to fill at least a month of loo breaks. Plus, I bet you haven’t really heard of Lymphatic Phlegm, Yigga Digga or Zabytye Tverdyni L’Dov, have you? Don’t even try to sit there and pretend that you have.

Andrea Diefenbach
Hatje Cantz

Doesn’t sound like a fun read, does it, Odessa and AIDS in one book? And it isn’t. This is one of the most suffocatingly sad books I have ever read. Odessa is the Ukrainian port where it is suspected AIDS first found its way into the country. It has a staggering level of HIV infection and the fastest rate of infection in Europe. It is estimated that 160,000 people in the city of one million are infected. This book looks at the lives of a few of the infected people, combining matter-of-fact biographies with beautiful photos. It’s not an easy read, but it is terribly powerful.

James Mollison

It’s a great idea: go to a load of gigs and take photos of all the fans dressed like their idols. It’s an interesting look into the subcultures that surround certain acts, the cult of identity that some people are drawn towards. It is no doubt a tome that will grow more and more fascinating over time, as these bands disappear and their absence will raise the question: what are the fans wearing now? To be honest, the only thing I could think about, all the way through, was: if you’re making a photo book about clothes that certain bands’ fans wear, why in the fucking world would your photos cut off their feet?

Ben Rayner
Down Publishing

This is possibly the best photo book ever made. It is essential for anyone who likes dogs, sleeping dogs, dogs playing, dogs pissing, dogs licking piss, dogs in pubs, dogs in little pink jackets or dogs that look a bit like horses. Oh, and dogs with really long ears. They are all in there, all the “buddies” in one place. Ben’s intensive one-year project documenting his “buddies” has finally given birth to this colourful lightweight treat. If you want to buy it, which you really should, go to


I’m pretty sure that fodido e xerocado means something along the lines of “fucked up and photocopied”, which is an accurate description of what’s in this zine: lots and lots of messed-up kids at punk shows photocopied in black and white and shoved into an envelope. The shows mainly appear to be in Brazil but they must have a UK correspondent because there are shots of Fucked Up at the Barfly and UK Subs at the LA2. The best bit of all is that the envelope is made out of brown paper. Brown paper makes everything seem hyper-considered and classy. If you wrap flowers in brown paper they go from being a casual thought to a pre-meditated act. I’d wrap myself in brown paper if I could.

Joanna Bowring & Margaret O’Brien

I have never read a Mills & Boon book. There was, however, a white, corrugated, rotating, metal bookstand that stood by the service window at my local Post Office as a kid, which was full of their gently erotic covers. Whenever I was paying the TV licence for my mum or sending two ten-pence pieces Sellotaped to a bit of Rice Krispies packet in an envelope to join the Beano fan club, or whatever you do when you’re seven, I’d stare at the covers as I queued to get served. They seemed so strangely soft-focused, innocent and almost welcoming. I could never get past the covers, though, and never picked one up, so I still have no idea what the stories are like. I always imagined them to be like sanitised Jilly Cooper minus the horses. Now that I have this bulky compendium of all the covers I am still no closer to the truth.

Laura Oldfield Ford

This has a really confusing time narrative. It starts in London in the future but not far enough in the future that the scratchy, pencil-drawn tower blocks and crumbling estates look that much different from images of the very same kinds of places when it jumps back to the 70s or forward again to the 90s. The effect of it shooting around with bars of typed text guiding you through the intricate, hand-drawn scenes of a city in decay can be quite disorientating and wholly depressing. By the end I was quite glad to put it down, but in a good way. Roll on issue 11.

Edited by Dan Nadel & Glenn Bray

Rory Hayes is what could happen if you gave Robert Crumb an oil tanker of psychedelics and made him a bit less good at drawing. Some people don’t like his work, but then again if you don’t like trippy drawings of evil teddy bears with fangs ravaging kids, huge orgies, junkies, grotesque penises falling out of vaginas and cartoons with titles like “Cathy Cunt takes a cum shower”, then you must have a low fun threshold. This is the first retrospective of his work and it is amazing. If you have any interest in comics, sex, fun, scary things or art, then this is for you.

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