Highly Selective Holiday Book Guide

by Steven Robert Allen

November 25 - December 1, 1999

Culture Shock
Artsy-fartsy news, views and spews.

Gallery Review
Two Aviaries of Art
Wings at the Dartmouth Street and Mariposa-Monte Vista Galleries

Art Pics
Gringo in a Strange Land at Santa Fe Playhouse

Art Pics
The Nutcracker at Popejoy Hall

Art Pics
Sin Nombre: Hispana and Hispano Artists of the New Deal Era at the Museum of International Folk Art

Speed Reader
Alfredo Véa's Gods Go Begging

Speed Reader
Clark Coolidge'sNow It's Jazz: Writings on Kerouac & The Sounds

Arts and Literature Calendar
See, we told you art isn't a dead medium

I've never been a particularly avid shopper. The main reason for this is that I believe capitalism is an evil force which must one day drown in the blood of global Marxist revolution. Sure, I've spent some time in the produce section at the supermarket, squeezing avocados, eyeing tomatoes, sniffing cantaloupes, searching madly through the piles of fruit for that perfect Granny Smith apple. Every now and then, I head over to Mervyn's to splurge on a couple packs of boxers and socks when my stash gets low. I certainly whiled away a good deal of my youth browsing through record bins at the local music store.

For the most part, though, I confine my capitalist panderings to bookstores. Bookstores are the one retail venue where I don't mind lingering a bit. For this reason, it's only natural that bookstores are where most of my present-buying activity occurs. With the holidays charging toward us like a mob of angry, inebriated Huns, now's the time to whip out that credit card, extract some funds from the ATMs and hit the shops. In bookstores, there's always something for everyone. Below you'll find a few excellent releases from the past year or so that will surely satisfy some poor, unsuspecting rubes unlucky enough to land spots on your holiday gift list.

What Book!? Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop
edited by Gary Gach (Parallax, paper, $15)

For that lovable Buddhist in your life, I'd like to suggest this sweet, little book. What book? This book. What book? This book right here. An extraordinary anthology of modern Buddha-inspired poems, What Book? includes work by everyone from Jack Kerouac to Yoko Ono. Some of it's even good. It's nice and compact, and surprising from start to finish, with handy little author bios in the back and a really dumb preface by the editor that you might want to snip out with a pair of extra sharp scissors before you present What Book?! as a gift. You know, just as a precaution.

Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, The Christ of Faith
by J.R. Porter (Oxford, hardcover, $35)

For that lovable zealot in your life, you might want to consider getting this fine, readable study of the life and consequences of Jesus of Nazareth. It's got maps. It's got pictures. It's got the latest in cutting edge biblical scholarship. Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, The Christ of Faith is educational, mind expanding and beautiful, page after damnation-filled page. By the time your zealot finishes absorbing this book, she'll know more about Jesus than she will from a long, grueling lifetime of watching "Hour of Power" every Sunday morning. You can bet your soul on that.

The International Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
(Oxford, hardcover, $49.95)

For that lovable four-eyed science geek in your life, here's a gorgeous reference book that'll give your little bug-collecting friend uncompromising access to all the knowledge she seeks. Chock full of lucid descriptions and illuminating illustrations, the entries in this encyclopedia cover everything from thermodynamics to quantum mechanics to how the sperm wiggles its way into the egg. It's big, bold and useful. Your geek will surely treasure this book for years to come.

Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon
by Barbara Hodgson (Chronicle, hardcover, $22.95)

For that lovable drug addict in your life, I'd like to suggest Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon by Barbara Hodgson. This makes for an especially attractive gift book, covering the literal and literary history of what was once the world's drug of choice. Finely bound and full of gorgeous pictures, this book is as exciting as a clandestine, lunchtime suck on a well-worn hookah. Crack it open and smell its sweet stench. You cannot resist. No one can. Just go easy, fella. This stuff'll kill you.

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