Monday 20 July 2009
Guest Playlist: PHILIPPE GARNIER
pix: Julius Shulman - "LA Son"
...Logiquement, si vous suivez d’un oeil ce blog, toute présentation avec Philippe Garnier est inutile. Mais la politesse nous oblige à rappeler, dans le désordre, quelques faits décisifs: Garnier, ex disquaire au Havre, habite sur Sunset Boulevard depuis trois décades. Rock & Folk légende avant d’être »l’Oreille d’un sourd» à Libération (où il s’impose depuis comme un critique de cinéma fondamental, prescripteur étant ici un euphémisme), son fan club - qui court sur trois générations - n’a pas assez de doigts pour compter ce qu’il lui doit comme découvertes – en matière de tout : livres, disques, films, lieux, figurants, légendes et autres art de vivre la grandeur et la déchéance au pays de la démocratie. Garnier erre pour nous le long des suburbs de la culture américaine. Sans lui, que saurions-nous ici sur, au hasard, les Cramps (leur première interview en France, c”était la sienne), Bukowski, les Real Kids, John Fante, Tom Kromer, Al Bezzerides, Gus Hasford, David Goodis, Cormac Mc Carthy, James Ross, Dorothy M. Johnson… Garnier est celui-là, screugneugneux mais généreux, qui nous aura appris à lire le Thieves like us d’Edward Anderson, raconté le Day of the locust de Nathanaël West et grâce à qui on apprécie le moindre délabrement sur le visage de Bogart dans In a lonely place de Nicholas Ray – encore une histoire de scénariste, encore une histoire d’alcool.
Grover Lewis, autre magnifique passeur, est le hérault de son dernier livre (son plus beau ? c’est possible): le crépusculaire Freelance, paru en mai chez Grasset. Il fut un temps où, pour la télévision française à son meilleur (Cinéma, Cinémas), Philippe Garnier fit parler les piscines. Venant d’un autre, ça nous inspirerait la plus grande méfiance. Venant de lui : non.
Pour Discipline in Disorder, voici sa Playlist (the gospel according to Philippe?) – c’est peu de dire que nous sommes fiers de vous l’offrir... :
L.M. Nesbitt Hell-Hole of Creation -Knopf 1935
My favorite travel book ( better than Thesiger's Last Quarter or The Marsh Arabs even better than Gavin Maxwell's The Ten Pains of Death.) Nesbiit was actually of Italian descent, and a spy for Mussolini. He went to the Danakil desert before Thesiger, which pissed off the gent no end. But for me, with his caravan loaded with teapots and cuckoo clocks, he'll always be the irrepressible signor Oliveira Da Figueira in Les Cigares du Pharaon. Always thought Herge had read the book. Which comes with detailed maps of every rock in this big nothing, and discouraging chapter headings like Awash to Wara Malkai, Death of Bayonna, or Loss of Makkonen.
Dave Hickey Air guitar -essays of Art & Democracy - Art issues.Press 1997
My favorite essay book, by hipster writer-song-writer-art critic-gone-LasVegas. With definitive pieces on Chet Baker, Liberace, Hank Williams, Perry Mason and Norman Rockwell. "The High Gibberish", le surnommait son pote Grover Lewis. High praises, factoring in both admiration at the wit, and a discerning whiff of the high-flying bullshit. Air Guitar unfortunately does not contain Hickey's priceless joint homilies on Robert Mitchum (he likes) and Jimmy Stewart (he no likes), possibly the only reason to purchase a used or remaindered copy of Luc Sante's book on character actors OK You Mug ( well, there is Robert polito's great piece on Barbara Payton in it, too).
Charles Willeford I Was Looking For a street. Dennis McMillan Books 198?
My favorite book on depression Los Angeles -- ranking with, but better than Bukowski's Ham On Rye. And the brick appartment building where the author of Cockfighter and Miami Blues lived at his grandmother's in the shadow of the L.A.Coliseum is miraculously still standing today! (better shell out for one of McMillan's pricey limited editions of this book, given the shoddy reprint Disk-Us-Books (!) put out recently, and the price they want for it (The Collected Memoirs of Charles Willeford).
John Barker Futures unpublished in english 2001
Published only in French and German translation, this book is half visionary half tour de force a la Performance. Barker spent more than fifteen years behind bars, first on a terrorist rap (he was one of the Stoke-Newington Seven), then for a slow haschish boat from Lebanon. Reflects perfectly the crazed and greedy Thatcher days in London. His London gangster Gordon Murray is possibly the best London face since Harryboy, in Alexander Baron's The Lowlife -- or since Harry Shannon in Performance. French publishing house Grasset put out a translation of this complex novel in the fall of 2001. They sold forty copies.
Donald Ray Pollock Knockemstiff Doubleday 2008
A collection of short stories revolving around the same lowlife characters and the same one horse town of Knockemstiff , in Southern Ohio. Actually a real town and the author's birth place. Wiggy stuff about hiding in the woods from the WW.2 draft, or driving flatout in a '69 Super Bee and going nowhere. Or brothers fucking their little sister in the Dynamite Hole, while others fuck their little sister's DOLL and have to leave home for it. Haven't finished it yet. I'm just translating it.
Joan Didion Play It As It Lays Farrar,Strauss and Giroux 1970
Bravely published in 1973 by Renee Rosenthal in her Laffont collection Un Ton Nouveau, her husband Jean's translation reads strangely narcotic today, but the book still awaits the recognition it deserves. Didion's prose incantatoire on the pleasure of freeway surfing was one of the main reasons for my moving to L.A., even though the joke has been on me for decades now, in Gridlock City. "Nothing applies" remains one of the secret handshake for people who knew California way back then. And nothing Didion wrote subsequently matches the magic.
Kevin Brownlow The Parade's Gone By The War, the West, the Wilderness Behind the Mask of Innocence Knopf 1968, 1978, 1990
The Gospel of movie writing. My favorite books on cinema, period. In their peerlessly produced Knopf first editions, they have become the books I go back to the most (possibly with Phil Hardy's Encyclopedia of Western Movies, but that's only because I routinely watch even more westerns than silent movies). Brownlow is not only the pioneer historian of silents, he is bright and modern and fun. Who else would show up in Pordenone with a CINEPANORAMA gimme cap on his head? It is a measure of the scelerat times we're living now that this writer and documentary filmaker has been largely unemployed for five years.
Elliot Chaze Black Wings Has My Angels Gold Medal paperback 1954
Published in his time by Gallimard in its Série Noire (Il Gele en enfer), but in a severely cut version, this remains the graal f paperback collectors and reprint publishers alike. Barry Gifford came close enough to finally pry this femme fatale tale to end all femme fatale tale out of the hellhole it has remained for years when he finally tracked down the author in Florida and asked him for the rights. Chaze proved to be a bitter, uncooperative customer, and he died before a deal could be closed and Black Wings could become the final hurrah of Gifford's Black Lizzard reprint series."