Given the popularity of our week-long What We’re Reading series, we’ve decided to make it a weekly column. Just think of this as your non-committal book club with The FADER and some of your favorite bands. For this installment, Senior Editor Sam Hockley-Smith, gives us his top picks.
I Heart Transylvania by Jason Nocito: I just got this yesterday, but it’s a photo book so you get to hear about it now because I spent this morning looking at it. Jason Nocito shoots for The FADER constantly, he also shoots for a lot of other publications constantly. In general, he seems to just be taking pictures constantly. You’d think a dude with his output would have a whole shelf devoted to him in most discerning bookstores, but he doesn’t. Because of that, I Heart Transylvania feels like an intensely personal work for Nocito. It probably helps that it feels personal for me as well. In early 2008, I went to Vancouver, Canada to write a feature on Ladyhawk, a band that is deeply loved by those that know about them. I was pretty young and had a too-big beard. It rained constantly, my socks were wet the whole time I was there, and I got the hiccups really badly. At the time I wrote it, I was young enough that people would still ask me if my job was like in Almost Famous. There were times when I liked to pretend it was, but this was not one of those times it was even possible. I came back from the trip tired, fat with beer and wishing Ladyhawk would become the biggest band in the world. This was one of those FADER stories where I took the trip separate from the photographer. Nocito, who was then splitting his time between Vancouver and New York, took the band to an island near the city. In our magazine, there is a picture of Ladyhawk guitarist Darcy Hancock in a bathtub at some cabin. It is potentially the only photo of a naked man in a tub we have ever published. In addition to pictures of his wife, pictures of mattresses, of babies and of life, there are a lot of pictures from his time with Ladyhawk. Some from the FADER shoot, and some, I assume, from hanging out with the band socially. For me, it’s a window into a bizarre transitional time in my life (that beard got me into a little trouble at the border, but that’s not really what I’m talking about), for Nocito it feels more deeply rooted in who he is.
That story about Jeffrey Eugenedes and his author friends from New York Magazine: Do you ever read something and realize that what you took away from it is totally not what the author intended? Like, it’s immediately obvious that you’re projecting some sort of personal problem onto a story about people that were plagued with doubt until they figured their shit out? I read it as a story about figuring out how to grow up, but it’s really about a loose group of authors that were a literary movement because they had no literary movement. I don’t think things ever got easier for any of them, even when people started caring about what they were writing. It’s about writers trying to write books that people would pay attention to, to capture the feeling of a generation that felt hopelessly lost. How do you do that? How do you make it clear that the defining part of the lost generation is really just that they’re lost?
The Adventures of Tintin: The Shooting Star by Herge: I must have been 13 when my dad and sister and I took a trip to Oregon. We camped a lot, and would explore the coast during the day. This is the first time I can remember distinctly understanding the concept of nostalgia. Prior to the trip, I went to the library and checked out every volume of Tintin that they had, I needed them. My parents had just gotten a divorce. I’d read them all before, but I wanted to re-live those early childhood moments again. Herge is a master of compelling innocence—Tintin is never really in danger, even when he’s, like, in a plane crash or stranded at sea, it’s pretty obvious that things will be okay. But that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about how opening a Tintin book—in this one, he is in a desperate race to plant a flag on a shooting star—is completely transportive. When you’re looking at those pages, the outside world doesn’t exist. It can’t, really, it just doesn’t measure up.