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We have asked our curator Greg Dulli to pick a group of books to recommend to attendees, and you can see the titles Greg has chosen below. Our friends at Laphams Quarterly are helping us run the book club for the event on the Queen Of Hearts.

Lapham’s Quarterly sets the story of the past in the frame of the present. Four times a year, the editors choose a question current in the headlines—foreign war, financial panic, the whereabouts of God—and bring answers to it from authors whose powers of observation and expression have passed the test of time. On the stands now: “Politics.” Just in time for the 2012 presidential general election, LQ explores the modes of power, citizenship, and government that have organized our societies from ancient Athens to contemporary America. Among the contributors setting the scene are Thomas Paine, Mao Zedong, George Packer, Montesquieu, Richard Nixon, Albert Camus, and Anna Politkovskaya.

Greg Dulli has chosen:

The Black Dahlia (author: James Ellroy / publisher: Grand Central Publishing / 1987)
A Fraction of the Whole (author: Steve Toltz / publisher: Spiegel & Grau / 2008)
Geek Love (author: Katherine Dunn / publisher: Vintage Books / 1989)
Nobody Move (author: Denis Johnson / publisher: Picador / 2009)
Play It As It Lays (author: Joan Didion / publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux / 1970)

Joining the LQ editors to discuss Geek Love on Saturday will be special guests Evan Michelson & Mike Zohn, stars of the Science Channel program Oddities and owners of the Lower East Side oddities and antiquities store Obscura. And on Sunday Julie Klausner, author of I Don’t Care About Your Band and host of the podcast How Was Your Week will take part in the discussion of Play It As It Lays.

More info on the books recommended by Greg...

The Black Dahlia
(author: James Ellroy / publisher: Grand Central Publishing / 1987)

On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia-driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches-into a region of total madness.
A Fraction Of The Whole
(author: Steve Toltz / publisher: Spiegel & Grau / 2008)

Most of his life, Jasper Dean couldn't decide whether to pity, hate, love, or murder his certifiably paranoid father, Martin, a man who overanalyzed anything and everything and imparted his self-garnered wisdom to his only son. But now that Martin is dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the crackpot who raised him in intellectual captivity, and what he realizes is that, for all its lunacy, theirs was a grand adventure. As he recollects the events that led to his father's demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries- about his infamous outlaw uncle Terry, his mysteriously absent European mother, and Martin's constant losing battle to make a lasting mark on the world he so disdains. It's a story that takes them from the Australian bush to the cafes of bohemian Paris, from the Thai jungle to strip clubs, asylums, labyrinths, and criminal lairs, and from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition. The result is a rollicking rollercoaster ride from obscurity to infamy, and the moving, memorable story of a father and son whose spiritual symmetry transcends all their many shortcomings.
Geek Love
(author: Katherine Dunn / publisher: Vintage Books / 1989)

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out-with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes-to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There's Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family's most precious-and dangerous-asset. As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.
Nobody Move
(author: Denis Johnson / publisher: Picador / 2009)

Jimmy Luntz is an innocent man, more or less. He's just leaving a barbershop chorus contest in Bakersfield, California, thinking about placing a few bets at the track, when he gets picked up by a thug named Gambol and his life takes a calamitous turn. Turns out Jimmy owes Gambol's boss significant money, and Gambol's been known to do serious harm to his charges. Soon enough a gun comes out, and Jimmy's on the run. While in hiding he meets up with a vengeful, often-drunk bombshell named Anita, and the two of them go on the lam together, attracting every kind of trouble.
Play It As It Lays
(author: Joan Didion / publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux / 1970)

A ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, Play It as It Lays captures the mood of an entire generation, the ennui of contemporary society reflected in spare prose that blisters and haunts the reader. Set in a place beyond good and evil-literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul-it remains more than three decades after its original publication a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis and stunning in the still-startling intensity of its prose.

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