Below you will find five brief, yet triumphant book reviews focusing on Ardent Press and Little Black Cart Books, ect. These books are what we've been reading for the past two months or so, in no specific order. Here is a run-down of the books - Anarchist International, Anarchy 101, Between Predicates, War: Theses on Contemporary Struggle, Crime Thought: Theorizing Crimethinc., and Novatore: The Collected Writings of Renzo Novatore. While some, if not all of the reviews may seem, malevolent, or poking fun, we would like to assure you that it is in the best sense and overall these reviews aim to encourage further critical response. We do care, and fondly appreciate audencies with not only sharp wit, but intellect as well - although we may be proven otherwise below. And now that the trigger warnings are out of the way, we bring you the reviews...
By Anonymous (Anarchist International)
LBC Books, 2012
$7, 180 pages
The Anarchist International (AI) is a complicated thing. A mysterious book that details some of the the past, a bit of the present (mostly Greece), and possible future (America, looking at you) of anarchists throughout the world. The AI, is the magically secretive organization of anarchists throughout time and the book details some of it's more famous members, while attempting to build strategy for the future. The style throughout the book is admittedly different and seems to be composed by more than one author. A lot of the writing is often lucid and conveys the intentions of the authors, while it also makes the stories intricate, adding a somewhat mythical reading to parts, although Joesph Campbell and the authors may disagree about the myth. It's like a romance novel for bitterly romantic anarchists. While reading I found myself wondering if some of the older stories are in fact 100% true or just apart of the AI magik passed down from generation to generation, although this attention to detail is one of the things that makes it worthwhile.
One thing that was bothersome and stuck with me for the rest of the book was a paragraph towards the beginning of the book talking about what is to be done.
“Begin by routinely smoking weed outside a placid cafe or tavern. Wait for people to join you until everyone is doing every drug imaginable. Then begin to have public sex in nearby fields or parks.” (pp 18 – 19)
Perhaps it needs a lighter reading, as the deadly serious will probably not have fun with this book, but it just stuck with me as something absurd, while the rest of the book showed glimpses of story telling brilliance. As much as I wanted to like the book and take it's ideas seriously, it was difficult to fathom after this passage. And, while it is unreasonable to discredit an idea based upon one facet, it gives room to question their ideas further.
Otherwise, it was a pleasure or as the Situationists, Adbusters, and now the AI have said “live without dead time.” Of note, the AI's analysis of Greece, the youths of 2008, and the situation today with the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and the general opinion of anarchists in Greek society is especially pertinent. While the AI is anonymous, it feels as if the book was written by some Americans living in Greece. It also appears this project began as a website, ( http://anarchistinternational.org/wordpress/ ) and was then published as a book.
edited by dot matrix with help from participants at http://anarchy101.org
Ardent Press, 2012(?)
$8, 154 pages
This book also started out as a website, where someone could ask a question in regards to anarchy and then other users can make remarks or answer the question. It's a beautiful idea and it also allows for users to vote up or down for the best possible response. The book is a crowd-sourcing of a lot of the information that was on the website at the time, and builds an acute understanding of the five W's of Anarchy (who, what, where, when, and why, plus lets not forget - how).
Consider it a smaller, more readable, multi-author version of Anarchy Works by Peter Gelderloos. Or you can think of it as the non-sectarian Anarchist FAQ in an abridged format. Although, I write that with tongue-in-cheek as the Anarchist FAQ has made public attempts to edit and be more open to other perspectives such as green anarchy, however successful or unsuccessful they were in this pursuit is up for debate. Anyways, the idea of taking a website that has been developed online and editing that content it into a book is wonderful and I'm sure a lot of users who were included secretly gifted it to their loved ones, and said “Hey babe, look at this - I wrote a book for you!” In all, it was a good quick read that provided a number of different view points on questions related to the idea of anarchy. Overall, informative for younger and older anarchists alike.
Between Predicates, War: Theses on Contemporary Struggle
By The Institute for Experimental Freedom
LBC Books, 2013
$6, 99 pages
If you've ever asked yourself, “what is to be done?” or said “how it is to be the human strike” this book could be for you. The Institute For Experimental Freedom (IEF), insurrectionary design coffee baristas, have made a book that comes out of the “upheavals in Greece, Egypt, London, and Wisconsin” analyzing these tumultuous times and what it means for radicals. According to the introduction, this analysis is intended for discussion – and overall was a quick, but deep read. The book seems to draw inspiration from Glen Beck's favorite book, The Coming Insurrection. If only Glen Beck would review this book, then I wouldn't have to. Glen...?
The book is free for download on their website http://www.politicsisnotabanana.com – however unlike the ideas and words expressed in the book, the file contains digital rights management (DRM) that will not permit one to view it on Linux or other more open media devices without first cracking it. Unfortunately, the IEF hasn't fixed this yet, but “hey, the design is nice!” Besitos...
Crime Thought: Theorizing CrimethInc.
By Alden Wood
No publisher listed, assumed to be Ardent Press or LBC Books, 2012
$6 (also not listed anywhere on book)
If you're looking for the cutting edge analysis and critique of CrimethInc. that one can expect from Wayne Price then this is NOT the book for you. The analysis is very theoretical (just as the title implies) and mainly focuses on the ideas of Adorno, Foucault, and Sartre in relation to “America's most successful anarchist collective.” Honestly, I was kind of sad the book wasn't more Wayne Pricey because everyone needs to vary their reading with some scrumptious leftovers, or in CrimethInc's world – tonights dinner. I grew up as a teenager of the early 2000s, in the younger heyday of CrimethInc. - dumpster diving, punk rock, squatting, and riding bikes. All are noble efforts, but this book takes a different approach and examines the ideas in their publications in a not so slanderous manner. As I read along, I couldn't help but wonder why I was reading this – was it meaningful and useful for me? If you're a class struggle anarchist or not that much into theory this book probably isn't what you're looking for. Check the dumpster behind the bagel shoppe, maybe you can find some Love and Rage there.
Novatore: The Collected Writings of Renzo Novatore
translated by Wolfi Landstreicher
Ardent Press, 2012
$13, 260 pages
Renzo Novatore, is the pseudonym of one who would become the individualist anarchist, iconoclast, and a nihilist born in Italy during 1890 whose most famous work is “Toward the Creative Nothing”. The book is a collection of (all?) his present works that have been translated into English. The cover image is a giant lunar eclipse blacking out the sun, which is absolutely lovely. Proportion wise, the book feels just right, not being too-large for uncomfortably sitting with, or too-small to leaf through while standing on the front lines. My favorite part about these writings is that they are each small enough to read in a short period of time, skipping from one text to the next text; yet deep enough to spend days upon one digesting and dissecting the discourse. Wolfi Landstreicher already have a great introduction and review at the beginning of this book, so I won't trouble you more with my amateurishness of the subject.
Today, my anarchist heart is full of infinite kindness. My winged mind wanders round and round through the sky of the idea.
My free spirit dances merrily in the sad oasis of my solitude – where my mysterious melancholy sings. (p. 217)