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Zachary Lipez
(Akashic Books)
This is one of those odd objets d'art that may not be a book at all. Most books, the ones I have read anyhow, have only a few dimensions. This one stretches somewhat beyond that.

There are five prose folios slotted between larger coated pages complete with photos that manage to have nothing to do with the text: plump women, toilet bowls (complete with roses), dim street lamps, people blotted out by a blaze of glare. Most of the pictures have titles --- "Hamburg, 2009," "Panama City, 2008," "Dire Dawa, 2010." The one titled "Ethiopia, 2010" shows the wing of an airplane and a drab and hazy distant landscape.

One is hard-pressed to figure what it is all about, although, I must say, since I am an old short-wave enthusiast, I do like the black-and-white shots of low-frequency towers just before page 93. No venue given.

According to the back cover which is more or less traditional (no zebras), the book design originates with one Stacy Wakefield. Nick Zinner took the fuzzy pictures. Writer Zachary Lipez tells us he has been "a bartender, drug abuser, bookstore clerk, miserable adolescent and connoisseur of difficult women."

We can give him a star for one essay, proclaiming his retirement as a bookstore clerk: "When management told me to stop drinking on the job, a part of my childhood was stripped away."

    My father worked in construction or finance or was a tenured professor and all I've ever wanted was a job I could be drunk at.

"And for the record, I NEVER drank on the job. I was, in fact, always still drunk from the night before."

He also explains in "You Can Always Do Better" that he has a friend who is seeing a therapist "because he was tired of waking up angry."

    I accepted this, but still thought, at the time, that if it weren't for waking up angry, I wouldn't wake up at all.

--- Mark Sanchez
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