Simon Doonan

Admired as the longtime Creative Director of the department store chain Barneys New York -- and as one of the fashion industry's sharpest wits -- Simon Doonan this month dons a genre tailor made for him: memoir.  In The Asylum, Doonan presents "a collage of couture reminiscences... and hysteria," rich with hilarious and provocative insights into the clothing game and its most renowned moguls, designers, and gadflies.  The Asylum's sharp prose suggests that Doonan is also a savvy reader, as do his superb selections for this week's edition of Guest Books, which he declares to be a trio of The Weirdest Books He's Ever Read. 


Appleby House
By Sylvia Smith

"This is the must hilariously mundane book I have ever read. In excruciating detail, Miss Smith describes time spent in a rooming house in London in the 80's. The bickering and minutiae make it as compelling as War and Peace."



The Slaves of Solitude
By Patrick Hamilton

"This might be the most dismal book ever written. Just when you think it cannot get any more depressing, something even more turgid happens. It's also sad and beautifully written."


The Girls of Slender Means
By Muriel Spark

"Spark's novels are all pretty bitchy, but this just might take the cake. These girls might share a Schiaparelli dress... but when fire breaks out, it's every bitch for herself."


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangledeshi mathematician and the haunting crime he's committed barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and ravaged Afghanistan with vinegar-steeped prose recalling the best of George Orwell and Joseph Conrad.

The People's Platform

Why is the Internet - once touted as the democratizer of the future - ruled by a few corporate giants, while countless aspirants work for free? Astra Taylor diagnoses why the web has failed to be a utopian playing field, and offers compelling ways we can diversify the marketplace and give voice to the marginalized.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.