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June is James R. Hugunin month!

JEF is celebrating the 70th birthday of author James R. Hugunin, whose many JEF books include the novels Something Is Crook in Middlebrook (2012), Elder Physics, The Wrong of Time: Monologues from an Elder Home (2012), Tar Spackled Banner: A Sequel/Prequel to Arboretum (2014), and Case X (2015), and three volumes of theory (Writing Pictures: Case Studies in Photographic Criticism (2013), Wreck and Ruin: Photography, Temporality, and World (Dis)Order (2013), Afterimage:Critical Essays on Photography from the Journal “Afterimage” (2016).  If you have not yet seen one of these books, let me just tell you that they are gorgeous full-color books published in hardcover in 8 1/2″ x 11″ format.  And they aren’t cheap.  The printing costs are exorbitant, so the books list between $65 and $85 a volume.  But to celebrate Jim’s birthday, we’re offering copies of his most recent novel, Case X, for the ridiculously low price of $10.00 per copy plus a flat fee of $3.99 for postage per order (not per copy!)  in the U.S. (foreign is a little more), which is less that the postage even costs!  Just use the promo code “Happy Birthday” and the discount will kick right in.  We really want people to have a copy of Jim’s work so they can see for themselves how wonderful it is!  Here’s the cover of Case X.  

What’s the book about?

Stuck head-first into a Tomotherapy Radiation Machine, CASE X enters “skull-time,” his inner pro-jectionist giving him views of his past, present, and future during a series of thirty treatments over a period of six weeks. He will discover his illness is not simply a biological dysfunction of a body part, but a pervasive disturbance of our being in the world, an all- pervasive existential concern. CASE X will answer the query: “What the %@&#!! happens when an academic, in a life or death bout with salivary gland cancer, daily enters a radiation machine in a sterile, white room, monitored by his radiation technicians?”

Want to know more about Jim?

James Hugunin teaches the History of Photography and Contemporary Theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of four experimental novels (the first of which critic/writer Derek Pell called “the best experimental novel of 2012”), three books of art criticism/theory, and numerous artist books. He is the founder and editor of two art journals, The Dumb Ox (1976-80) and U-Turn (1982-present). In 1983, he won the first Reva and David Logan Award for Distinguished New Writing in Photography from the N.E.A. and The Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA.

If  you’d like a peek inside the book, here’s a look (courtesy of our distributor, SPD Small Press Distribution), but then come back and order it directly from us because the distributor doesn’t have this birthday discount!

At the very least, Jim’s books are very collectible, and the $10 is a great investment in a $75 book that is destined to remembered as one of the great books of our era.

Here are a couple of reader reviews!

“ Laar, Lita, Ondoe, Endu…. Laar, Lita, Ondoe, Endues “ –Photographer, critic, writer, historian, Jim Hugunin chants for survival in his brilliant book: Case X ‘s a contemporary diarist visual tale. Hugunin orchestrates, dissects and tenderly balances the persisted thunderstorms of daily life. In Case X, a deeply personal and intimate absurdist tale, Hugunin leads the reader in a triumph of the spirit of thought, densely flavored and collaged with flowers of absurdity and anarchy which is the foundation of Hugunin’s well of creativity. Each paragraph is deliciously woven and lavishly written silhouettes decorated with Pulp imagery reminiscent of ancient scrolls or other books of piety. However, instead of homilies we are given clues for the reader to pick up, examine, discard and integrated into their own existence. It is akin to a board game or puzzle: What piece is not like the other? Indeed, when taken apart and sliced up his writings are incredible reflections of the human experience and expose the chaotic structure of existence that is the essence of life. Yet, what is the purpose of art but observations and reflections? Hugunin understands that when, we humans are stripped bare, all that is left is the passion and energy and spirit of our souls. This is a book for a lifetime of pursuit and understanding. Enjoy the adventure! — Helen Smith-Romeron

This is formidable book. On the dedication page, James Hugunin suggests “The author recommends reading one treatment per day to the sound of a dripping faucet.” These evocative instructions set the tone of this potent book. It begins a compelling and powerful artists’ book describing the artist/author’s fight with cancer by way of chapters that chronicle a series of radiation and other oncological treatments. A thinly disguised memoir of his sickness, the book is rich in not only first person observations about his condition, but all sorts of stream-of-consciousness cultural associations and tangents. The detailed personal narrative is unsparing and powerful…., the content is heart-wrenching and compelling and important. I highly recommend this book. Here is the human condition laid bare, vulnerable and exposed. — Phillip Zimmermann

Have we convinced you yet?  Let’s hope so!  Order your copy today.  Heck, order several!

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Free Scuff Mud CDs!

June 13th will be the 10th anniversary of the release of the Scuff Mud CD. I just found two boxes of the CDs after moving stuff around in the apartment, so I am offering them for FREE! You can order a copy directly from the website here. Use the code Scuff-Mud-Month, and the cost of the CD will be free and you will only be charged $3.99 for shipping (domestic; foreign is a little more) per order. I will honor all requests for up to three copies, and the shipping will remain the same. If you want more than three, let me know, and we can work something out about the shipping. Here is what people said about the CD:

I must say I have been loving your album, It’s a unique and refreshing take on the spoken word genre at a time when many people are taking the easy way out with cut & paste stylistic formulas and repetitive rhyming structures, you have released a truly innovative and experimental classic reminiscent but in no way copying such classics as Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. and you can quote me on that.
— Shane Hollands, DirtyWordz, 88.3 FM, Auckland, NewZealand

Ever heard jazz poetry? well, the genre took its leave from reading performances from back in the days and quite often it mixed live free-jazz vanguards and poets/writers/performers of different nature. Shelf Life is not exactly a jazzist since his releases are on Eh? records (a division of Public Eyesore) but the global result is quite similar to some of those weirdest reading from the seventies be it for the american accent of mr. Gerdes, be it for the weird stories he tells or for the strange electro-acoustic music full of live sounds here played but that’s the impression. The interaction of music and words is quite often well balanced equals the reader is not doing is rap without interruptions and killing your attention with his protagonist manias. I’m sure many of you remember the beatniks and their many collaboration with musicians, the music creating the scenario here’s more electro-acoustic and probably more dynamic than many of those performances but if you keep that in mind more or less you may have a global idea of the “music”. Some episodes like “New president” are more catchy than the other tracks but the global result is nothing but ok and keeps a live affect that makes the whole sound matter more vivid. “Hey kids do you wonna hear a story?..” Gerdes and Shelf Life can tell you a lots of interesting stories.
— Andrea Ferraris, Chain D.L.K.

OK – the last of the current Shelf Life/Bryan Day related releases. This one is out through JEF (the Journal of Experimental Fiction, edition 36) which is curated by Gerdes, a writer of a number of novels. On the album Gerdes reads 15 pieces to a Shelf Life background (who are Bryan Day, Joseph Jaros, Alex Boardman, Andrew Perdue, Jay Schleidt on this outing).

I haven’t read any of Gerdes writing, but the selection here is excellent for this medium. There is variety between pieces which depend on rhythms and rhymes, extended stories and dislocating word play through substitution. For example, z. buzz is full of word mastications, woodwork uses construction terms in a salacious double entendre, uh hunh uses a blues tick at the line ends, blues for osiris is a rhymed retelling of the Egyptian myth. Lists and repetition occur, rhymes can be almost McGonagallian (a compliment). His voice is mellow and rounded, carrying the material with gravitas, particularly when at its most amusing silliest. Even if you don’t listen to the words the timbre and cadences are musical. And the material is memorable – when I replayed it after some time when I got to the story new president I was sure I had read it somewhere. This is also the longest track (7 minutes) of a short (45 minute) 15 tracker. There is even a seeming structure to the set, from the opening description of a desert image in a couple of starts to the closing surreal dream in adam among the elephants in the Sonoran desert.

As to the music, this is my favourite Shelf Life to date – on a number of scores. The instrument range is the broadest – including flute, voice, guitar, twanging things, electronics, percussion, samples, trombone and probably more. And the constraint of short pieces (I am not sure if these were specifically recorded or are excerpts from longer works) provides a perfect platform for appreciating the SL-sound. The setting on new president is relatively restrained allowing the story to flow, while snark is noisy which suits the l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e abstraction of the poem. At times the music develops with the words: wouldn’t you know builds from shimmering electronics into jittery guitar as what was a seeming narrative goes into abstraction and then a sequence of past tense extrapolations (band is the past tense of bane); or the growth of industrial tones around the nonsense of the title track. A few times (most obviously in woodwork, but also wouldn’t you know) there are voice samples which, through their restraint, enhance the mood.
I am not a great one for spoken-word albums, but the words and music are equals here – and that indeed the music provides a way into the words which would be less accessible on the page – providing a very satisfying audio experience.
— Jeremy, Ampersand Etcetera