5 New Music Books to Watch Out For

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains (13 May 2017)

The first book ever produced with full access the Pink Floyd archive. Published to accompany the V&A’s major summer exhibition, Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, celebrates 50 years of one of the greatest bands of all time. Five essays tackle different aspects of their far-reaching legacy in music and the visual arts. Authors including Jon Savage, Howard Goodall and Rob Young examine what makes the band truly special, from the mythology underpinning their output, through to their experimentation with technology to create new sounds. their epic staging and performance impact will also be explored, along with the anti-authoritarianism that infuses their lyrics.The book is heavily illustrated throughout, emphasizing the essential role that visual material played in supporting the music and creating the lasting Pink Floyd phenomenon.

Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin by Paul Hockenos (23 May 2017)
An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the wall.
Berlin Calling is a gripping account of the 1989 “peaceful revolution” in East Germany that upended communism and the tumultuous years of artistic ferment, political improvisation, and pirate utopias that followed. It’s the story of a newly undivided Berlin when protest and punk rock, bohemia and direct democracy, techno and free theater were the order of the day.
In a story stocked with fascinating characters from Berlin’s highly politicized undergrounds–including playwright Heiner Muller, cult figure Blixa Bargeld of the industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten, the internationally known French Wall artist Thierry Noir, the American multimedia artist Danielle de Picciotto (founder of Love Parade), and David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust incarnation–Hockenos argues that the DIY energy and raw urban vibe of the early 1990s shaped the new Berlin and still pulses through the city today.
Just as Mike Davis captured Los Angeles in his City of Quartz, Berlin Calling is a unique account of how Berlin became hip, and of why it continues to attract creative types from the world over.

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Vinyl Freak by John Corbett (2 Jun 2017)
From scouring flea markets and eBay to maxing-out their credit cards, record collectors will do just about anything to score a long-sought-after album. In Vinyl Freak, music writer, curator, and collector John Corbett burrows deep inside the record fiend’s mind, documenting and reflecting on his decades-long love affair with vinyl. Discussing more than 200 rare and out-of-print LPs, Vinyl Freak is comprised in part of Corbett’s long-running Downbeat magazine column of the same name, which was devoted to records that had not appeared on CD. In other essays where he combines memoir and criticism, Corbett considers the current vinyl boom, explains why vinyl is his preferred medium, profiles collector subcultures, and recounts his adventures assembling the Alton Abraham Sun Ra Archive, an event so all-consuming that he claims it cured his record-collecting addiction. Perfect for vinyl newbies and veteran crate diggers alike, Vinyl Freak plumbs the motivations that drive Corbett and collectors everywhere.

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Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: The Untold Story of Wu-Tang Clan’s Million-Dollar Secret Album, the Devaluation of Music, and America’s New Public Enemy No. 1 by Cyrus Bozorgmehr (11 Jul 2017)
The untold story of the world’s most controversial album—a surreal tale of secret recordings, baffled customs agents, the world’s most hallowed art institutions, and a villain of comic book proportions.

In 2007, the innovative young Wu-Tang producer, Cilvaringz, took an incendiary idea to his mentor the RZA. They felt that the impact of digitization threatened the sustainability of the record industry and independent artists, while also shifting the perception of music from treasured works of art to disposable consumer products. They needed to fight back. Together they conceived a work of art so radical that it would unleash a torrent of global debate. They would create a sole copy of an album in physical form, encase it in gleaming silver, and sell it through an auction house for millions as a piece of contemporary art.

The execution of this plan raised a number of complex questions: Would selling an album for millions be the ultimate betrayal of music? How would fans react to an album that’s sold on the condition that it could not be commercialized? And could anyone ever justify the selling of the album to the infamous Martin Shkreli?

What unfolds is an extraordinary adventure that veers between outlandish caper and urgent cultural analysis. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin twists and turns through the mayhem and the mischief, while asking profound questions about our relationship with art, music, technology, and ultimately ourselves.

Musical Theatre: A History by John Kenrick (27 Jul 2017)
Musical Theatre: A History is a new revised edition of a proven core text for college and secondary school students – and an insightful and accessible celebration of twenty-five centuries of great theatrical entertainment. As an educator with extensive experience in professional theatre production, author John Kenrick approaches the subject with a unique appreciation of musicals as both an art form and a business. Using anecdotes, biographical profiles, clear definitions, sample scenes and select illustrations, Kenrick focuses on landmark musicals, and on the extraordinary talents and business innovators who have helped musical theatre evolve from its roots in the dramas of ancient Athens all the way to the latest hits on Broadway and London’s West End. Key improvements to the second edition: * A new foreword by Oscar Hammerstein III, a critically acclaimed historian and member of a family with deep ties to the musical theatre, is included * The 28 chapters are reformatted for the typical 14 week, 28 session academic course, as well as for a two semester, once-weekly format, making it easy for educators to plan a syllabus and reading assignments. * To make the book more interactive, each chapter includes suggested listening and reading lists, designed to help readers step beyond the printed page to experience great musicals and performers for themselves. A comprehensive guide to musical theatre as an international phenomenon, Musical Theatre: A History is an ideal textbook for university and secondary school students.

JOINT REVIEW: Sunset Park and Interborough by Santino Hassell

Despite these books being book two and book four of a series (Five Boroughs), I’m reviewing them together because they are about the same coupling, a couple that surprised me by becoming my favourite couple of the series.

I loved the first book, [the review of which is here] and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that book two, Sunset Park, featured Michael’s layabout brother, Raymond, and Michael and Nunzio’s teacher colleague (and instigator of them being together in a lot of ways), David.

I loved their pairing. They were so different; Raymond very (and often too) easy-going, and David, prim, proper and a little prissy. But when they connected it was a beautiful thing. And I loved how Hassell dealt with Raymond’s first experience with a man (David). There’s a trope in male/male romance called Gay For You – the straight boy who is literally gay for one guy, and it’s all hunky dory. Not only is it stupid, and offensive, but it totally erases bisexuals, like Raymond, who is happy, healthy and down-to-earth. Thankfully that trope is criticised more of late (substituted more so now with the Out For You trope instead). So they become friends, move in together, and fall in love. Oh, and David had once slept with Raymond’s brother, something neither David nor Michael like to discuss, so there’s that spanner in the works.

I’d been listening to these books on audio and Rusty Topsfield had narrated Sutphin Boulevard, so I was a bit worried when I saw Michael Ferrauioulo had taken over for books 2-3, but I needn’t have worried, he was fantastic. All the voices were really well done, and Raymond’s voice was particularly sexy.

Interborough opens after Sunset Park and the Raymond from Sunset Park has completely changed. He’s working two jobs and studying at night to become a longshoreman, and get out of the dreaded office job he hates. The change that Raymond makes from Sutphin Boulevard to Interborough is staggering, but totally believable, and one of the strongest parts of the whole series. He grows up, and you’re right there with him. Interborough has the difficult task of being a romance novel about an existing couple. They are tried by Raymond working so much, David being stressed out, and the problems of family and houses and being an adult. I really enjoyed this book just as much (the Instagram bit made me leap with joy!) and I can’t wait for more of them in future. This wasn’t out on audio when I wrote this review but it is now (and yes, I’ve started relistening to it!)

Bravo Mr Hassell, bravo. I heartily recommend not only both of these, but the whole series! (And yes, I’ll be reviewing First and First and Concourse soon too!)

[A side note- if any readers know why the series moved from Dreamspinner Press to Riptide Publishing with book 4, I’d be curious to hear it. I’ve a sneaking suspicion it’s because book 4 was about an established couple, and was therefore a harder sell, but I could be wrong]

Brilliant Book Titles #115

curious history of dating
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

‘Pacey, intelligent and authoritative account with bags of wit’ Law Gazette

Dating has never been easy. The road to true love has always been rutted with heartbreak, but do we have it any easier today?

How did Victorians ‘come out’? How did love blossom in war-torn Europe? And why did 80s video-dating never take off?

Bursting with little-known facts and tantalizing tales of lovelorn men and besotted women, Nichi Hodgson’s intriguing history of amorous relationships, from enamoured Georgians to frenziedly swiping millennials (and everyone in between) may leave you grateful that you live – and love – today

5 Queer Comics You Should Read

As part of Pride Month, today we point out five queer favourites that you should consider checking out

Potential by Ariel Schrag
What it’s about:
Ariel Schrag continues her tumultuous passage through high school in the second book of her acclaimed series of frank, insightful, and painfully honest autobiographical graphic novels. Written during the summer following her junior year at Berkeley High School in California, Potential recounts Ariel’s first real relationship and first-time love with a girl, her quest to lose her virginity to a boy, and her parents’ divorce – as well as the personal and social complications of writing about her life as she lives it. Along the way she hangs out with her favorite teacher, obsesses over clothes, gets drunk, smokes pot, and tries to connect the biology she reads about in textbooks with the biology she’s living.

Why you should read it:

I have probably read this comic more times than any other, and if that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is. I love Schrag’s voice, and this for me is the best of her high school comics (Awkward and Definition, which are now published together, I enjoyed but Potential was much more substantial, and a little bit more grown up (but understandably, she was very young when she wrote and published them). Its sequel Likewise went the other way and was deep into postmodernism, whereas I loved the clear narrative of Potential – still, if you enjoyed Potential, give Likewise a go, although it’s a very different beast. ANYWAY).

It’s a fantastic, funny, true story about a bisexual girl, being a senior in high school, and being in love as a teenager – that has that deep seriousness that only teenage love can have. Oh, and goats. Let’s not forget the goats (Just read it).

No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall
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What it’s about:
No Straight Lines celebrates the vibrant LGBT artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all. Until recently, queer cartooning existed in a parallel universe to the rest of comics, appearing only in gay newspapers and gay bookstores and not in comic book stores, mainstream bookstores or newspapers. The insular nature of the world of queer cartooning, however, created a fascinating artistic scene. LGBT comics have been an uncensored, internal conversation within the queer community, and thus provide a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of queer people for the last four decades. These comics have forged their aesthetics from the influences of underground comix, gay erotic art, punk zines, and the biting commentaries of drag queens, bull dykes, and other marginalized queers. They have analyzed their own communities, and their relationship with the broader society. They are smart, funny, and profound.

Why you should read it:
Because it’s a fantastic primer and history of forty years of queer comics, from big names to small ones, from artists you probably have heard of to hidden and forgotten gems – basically if you’re interested in queer comics, this is essential.

O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti
In lieu of what it’s about and why you should read it, I’ll point you to my recent review of it on the blog here. You can also read it for free online here.

Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore
What it’s about:
Katchoo is a beautiful young woman living a quiet life with everything going for her. She’s smart, independent and very much in love with her best friend, Francine. Then Katchoo meets David, a gentle but persistent young man who is determined to win Katchoo’s heart. The resulting love triangle is a touching comedy of romantic errors until Katchoo’s former employer comes looking for her and $850,000 in missing mob money. As her idyllic life begins to fall apart, Katchoo discovers no one can be trusted and that the past she thought she left behind now threatens to destroy her and everything she loves, including Francine. This is the first edition in the series – don’t miss it!

Why you should read it:
This long-running epic of queer relationships has stolen the heart of many a reader, and is persistently popular (so much so that new volumes start every few years!).

The Backstagers
the backstagers
What it’s about:
All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic–literally! When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen. James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast.

Why you should read it:
If there ever was a comic that I felt was completely made for me, it’s this me. As a gay theatre geek, I fell in love with this book and fell in love with it hard. This book is made of so much cute, it had me squee-ing left, right and centre. This – ladies and gentlemen – is how you do a diverse, queer cast, with people across the sexuality and race spectrum and it’s no big deal at all. This book is gorgeous, funny (seriously funny) and an old fashioned adventure. It collects what they billed as a limited series, but I’m hoping that this will become an ongoing series  (something that the paperback being dubbed Volume 1 is a good sign for). Just

5 Bisexual Books to Watch Out For

As part of Pride Month, today we’re pointing out five bisexual books, both fiction and non-fiction, that have grabbed our eye.

Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
Depicted as duplicitous, traitorous, and promiscuous, bisexuality has long been suspected, marginalized, and rejected by both straight and gay communities alike. Bi takes a long overdue, comprehensive look at bisexual politics- from the issues surrounding biphobia/monosexism, feminism, and transgenderism to the practice of labeling those who identify as bi as either too bisexual” (promiscuous and incapable of fidelity) or not bisexual enough” (not actively engaging romantically or sexually with people of at least two different genders). In this forward-thinking and eye-opening book, feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist Shiri Eisner takes readers on a journey through the many aspects of the meanings and politics of bisexuality, specifically highlighting how bisexuality can open up new and exciting ways of challenging social convention.Informed by feminist, transgender, and queer theory, as well as politics and activism, Bi is a radical manifesto for a group that has been too frequently silenced, erased, and denied- and a starting point from which to launch a bisexual revolution.

Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain by Kate Harrad
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Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain is the first of its kind: a book written for and by bisexuals in the UK. This accessible collection of interviews, essays, poems and commentary explores topics such as definitions of bisexuality, intersections of bisexuality with other identities, stereotypes and biphobia, being bisexual at work, teenage bisexuality and bisexuality through the years, the media’s approach to bisexual celebrities, and fictional bisexual characters. Filled with raw, honest, first-person accounts as well as thoughts from leading bisexual activists in the UK, this is the book you’ll buy for your friend who’s just come out to you as bi-curious, or for your parents who think your bisexuality is weird or a phase, or for yourself, because you know you’re bi but you don’t know where to go or what to do about it.

Mouth to Mouth by Abigail Child
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Poetry. LGBT Studies. Departing from Abigail Child’s previous books of poetry, MOUTH TO MOUTH spans the past two decades focusing on a series of romantic and sexual relationships with both women and men. From inside the sexual whirlwind of these relations and after, Child’s attention to language as embodied material highlights how mediated and multiple layers of desire can be just as thrilling and physical on the page. Even as this divergent collection of writing ranges through these relationships, it also ranges through poetic methodologies, using computers as a writerly id and organizing principle, employing constraints and aleatory processes, and recalling the body’s desires in a constant process of titillation, problematization, and ongoing translation.

Beautiful Gravity by Martin Hyatt
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Loner Boz Matthews spends his days working at his grandfather’s Louisiana highway diner. His only friends are the Pentecostal preacher’s anorexic daughter, Meg, and the ghosts of dead movie stars. But when country music outlaws Catty Mills and Kyle Thomas come to town, Boz’s world is turned upside-down, leading to an emotionally turbulent and sexually liberating four-way relationship that challenges small-town beliefs and changes lives forever. Beautiful Gravity is a story of broken dreams and haunted Southern nights–a reminder of what it means to be loved and what it means to be set free.

When Watched – Stories by Leopoldine Core
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Winner of the Whiting Award
Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award
Longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction & The Story Prize

“Core captures a precious slice of what it is to be human. . . . She reaches moments of extraordinary grace.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Pick up this book and prepare to face sublime recognition.” —Rookie

“Full of dazzling insight and empathy.” —Refinery 29

Refreshing, witty, and absolutely close to the heart, Core’s twenty stories, set in and around New York City, have an other-worldly quality along with a deep seriousness—even a moral seriousness. What we know of identity is smashed and in its place, true individuals emerge, each bristling with a unique sexuality, a belief-system all their own. Reminiscent of Jane Bowles, William Burroughs, and Colette, her writing glows with an authenticity that is intoxicating and rare.

Brilliant Book Titles #119

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Do you share your garden with a car? Worried that your neighbour’s trees are blocking your light? Is your garden too big? Too small? An awkward shape? Or maybe you just don’t know where to begin… Whether you are grappling with a particular dilemma or just need some inspiration, this guide leads the way forward with sharp design advice and beautiful images. Read this book and the prospect of tackling your own garden will seem suddenly less daunting and more fun.

Just Drive by L. A. Witt


I love L. A. Witt. She has written some brilliant books (eg., Starstruck, If the Seas Catch Fire) and some that just didn’t grab me (eg., Rules of Engagement).

Something about this book didn’t work for me. I liked the book all well and good – it was fine but I didn’t feel particularly connected to the characters, I think because they were trying to deny their connection all along. Also, Witt writes from no sex, to some, to lots, to FULL ON KINKY and there was quite a bit of sex in this book (a little too much for me, but given the relationship – what it is, and how they deal with it – it makes perfect sense)

Sean is a full-time student, part-time taxi driver, and son of a Military Man. One night he picks up the freshly dumped older Paul and they start a whirlwind affair, comprised initially of some hot and heavy hook-ups, and naturally feelings develop.

I liked both characters but I didn’t love them, if you know what I mean. I understand why they can’t be together (Paul is Sean’s Dad’s boss) and that that’s a big deal in the military but it didn’t feel it to me – that’s probably just me though. I never really got completely sucked into their relationship, there’s a bit of a dreamlike quality to it, especially the ending. I really liked the town of Anchor Point though, and will definitely be reading the next Anchor Point books (and I’m eager to read the next book where Travis, supporting character in this book, gets his own story). A solid romance, with lots of angst and sex, that unfortunately wasn’t for me, but as I said, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series (the second book of which, based on supporting character Travis, is out now too).

5 Poetry Collections to Watch Out For

Pearl by Simon Armitage (1 Jun 2017)

Pearl is an entrancing allegorical tale of grief and lost love, as the narrator is led on a Dantean journey through sorrow to redemption by his vanished beloved. Retaining all the alliterative music of the original, a Middle English poem thought to be by the same anonymous author responsible for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl is here brought to vivid and intricate life in the care of one of the finest poets writing today.

Proprietary by Randall Mann (13 Jun 2017)
For years, Randall Mann has been hailed as one of contemporary American poetry’s most daring formalists, expertly using craft as a way of exploring racy subjects with trenchant wit and aplomb. His new collection, Proprietary, depicts with the insights of a longtime insider the culture of corporate America, in which he’s worked for years, intertwined with some of his tried-and-true subjects, including gay life in the wildly disparate worlds of San Francisco and northern Florida.

Hothouse by Karyna McGlynn (13 Jun 2017)
Karyna MyGlynn takes readers on tour through the half-haunted house of the contemporary American psyche with wit, whimsy, and candid confession. Disappointing lovers surface in the bedroom; in the bathroom, -the drained tub ticks with mollusks & lobsters;- revenge fantasies and death lurk in the basement where they rightly belong. With lush imagery and au courant asides, Hothouse surprises and delights.

Karyna McGlynn is the author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl and three chapbooks. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Translation at Oberlin College.

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The Me Theme by Doug Nufer (1 Jul 2017)
Poetry. In this dazzling cycle of poems, Doug Nufer, wizardly author of poetry and prose works based on formal constraints, starts with a simple constructive rule, exemplified by its title: present a sequence of letters, grouped into a word or words; follow it by the same sequence, differently grouped; repeat. This foundational principle, ruthless in its purity, gives rise, like a jazzy passacaglia, to the most diverse forms, whose endless variations murder and reproduce like cellular automata creeping across the page. In the mind and ear of the reader, meanings, rhythms and sounds burst into dizzying presence and are swept away with ebullient panache. Nufer’s art here is a high-energy high- wire act of wit, joining formal severity with frivolity and making stops at all points in between. Don’t be afraid, Reader, to take the local and spend some time on this tour, bar-hopping with your precise yet whimsical guide across an initially alien but ultimately friendly and stimulating space–you will end up welcoming the cheerful pop of your newly effervescent brain exploding.

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Selected Poems of Thom Gunn (6 Jul 2017)
Thom Gunn has been described as ‘one of the most singular and compelling poets in English during the past half-century’ (TLS). This Selected Poems, compiled by his friend Clive Wilmer and accompanied by insightful notes, is the first edition to represent the full arc of Gunn’s inimitable career.

‘The poetry of Thom Gunn was much admired in his lifetime, and at the same time often misunderstood and underestimated. The scale of his achievement, and its uniqueness – a masterful Elizabethan lyric poet writing in the second half of the twentieth century – is just now becoming properly appreciated. Anonymous in voice, even in the service of the most intimate subject matter, acute in observation, particularly the urban experience, with San Francisco the principal site, Gunn is not merely the poet of the druggy ’60s in California or the plague of the AIDS epidemic, but of the deeper-running themes, shared by Shakespeare, Baudelaire, William Carlos Williams and all his greatest exemplars, of the artist’s moral and imaginative engagement with the world as it actually is, in the broadest possible sense, not as contemporary fashion might have it be. Which strikes me, who knew and loved the man and poet, as a kind of heroism.’ August Kleinzahler

‘Thom Gunn smuggled the lyric tradition out of post-war Britain, and gave it cool, gracious renaissance in California. His poetry evokes the wild life of the body with madrigal-like elegance.’ Fiona Sampson

‘Gunn’s work illustrates with unusual clarity some of the debates poetry in English has pursued in [the twentieth] century – form versus improvisation, diction versus talk, the American way versus the English tradition, even, at times, authenticity versus art. To contain these contradictory impulses and . . . to have generated a body of work which anybody wanting to understand the period and identify some of its best poems will find essential reading – this is quite an achievement.’ Sean O’Brien



Vegetables by Antonio Carluccio

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Like most Italians, the great Antonio Carluccio loves vegetables. In this book he turns his attention to his favourites, and many others, adding up to over 100 different varieties. He researches the botanical family of each type of vegetable, its history, and describes in loving detail how to buy and prepare it. In a collection of over 120 recipes, Antonio instructs us how to make the most out of the humble vegetable, whether eaten raw, cooked, or preserved.


This is one beautiful book, it is illustrated with photographs and water colour pictures. Not all recipes are completely just vegetables, a few have meat as well. I loved the information for the different families of vegetables.  Antonio Carluccio is the master of Italian comfort food. My favourite recipe is the meatballs and melanzone, they were amazing and the recipe was very easily followed.

Brilliant Book Titles #118

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

In 1945, the American poet Ezra Pound was due to stand trial for treason for his broadcasts in Fascist Italy during the Second World War.

Before the trial could take place, however, he was pronounced insane. Escaping a possible death sentence, he was sent to St Elizabeths Hospital near Washington, DC, where he was held for over a decade.

At the hospital, Pound was at his most infamous, and most contradictory. He was a genius and a traitor; a great poet and a madman. He was also an irresistible figure and, in his cell on Chestnut Ward and in the elegant hospital grounds, he was visited by the major poets and writers of his time. T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Charles Olson and Frederick Seidel all went to sit with him. They listened to him speak, and wrote of what they had seen. This was perhaps the world’s most unorthodox literary salon: convened by a fascist, held in a lunatic asylum, with chocolate brownies and mayonnaise sandwiches served for tea.

Pound continues to divide all who read and think of him. At the hospital, the doctors who studied him and the poets who learned from him each had a different understanding of this wild and most difficult man. Tracing Pound through the eyes of his visitors, The Bughouse tells the story of politics, madness and modern art in the twentieth century.