Murakami<SUP>?</SUP>

It's old news to say that Takashi Murakami is big in Japan. As he continues a long, lucrative run as the global artworld's Big Bad Boy, a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles occasions this mega-monograph. For the uninitiated, the cover captures much of Murakami's mix-mastery of the Pop Petri dish. A particularly horrifying rendition of one of his signature nonsensically-named characters, DOB, with multiple eyes and fangs, comes at the viewer on a wave -- a tsunami? -- moving from left to right (the West to the East!). DOB is Mickey Mouse's mutant spawn, the Disney DNA warped from the nuclear fallout of American influence -- both geopolitical and cultural. Similarly nightmarish visions abound within -- irresistibly seductive, slick, silly and sick all at once. Two of his most emblematic sensations are "Lonesome Cowboy" and ?Hiropon? -- an uninhibited Adam and Eve duo who haven't yet gotten the memo from the Serpent and are shown hedonistically frolicking with their own bodily discharges. This five-pound-plus doozy could have covered the material in half the volume -- minimal copy is drawn out with enormous margins and fonts large enough for the visually impaired. But one cannot even flip to the end without feeling fascination and (grudging) respect for this impresario. (Traveling with the book, I was mobbed by people eager to ogle it.) So don't be surprised if you find yourself addicted to buying whatever he comes up with next. The ultimate question remains: will the Murakami tsunami ultimately drown us or him? -

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

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

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

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

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.