The revival by Two Dollar Radio of Rudy Wurlitzer's first novel, Nog (1969), with a fresh introduction by Erik Davis, introduces a lucky new generation of readers to an essential piece of '60s literature that remains as crunchy and toothsome yet unsettling a nonpareil as it registered upon its debut. It seems likely that Wurlitzer, a screenwriter of note, derived his inspiration and narrative template not so much from other tripped-out novels of the era -- think The Crying of Lot 49 and Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me -- as he did from avant-garde cinema, particularly the French New Wave. The dislocated, seemingly patternless comings and goings of a nearly memoryless man, possibly named Nog, can be mapped in spirit and almost on a literal level to a film like Luc Moullet's The Smugglers. Toss in a soupçon of realism and romance from Jules and Jim and a healthy dash of Godard, and you have the essential game plan for Nog. But Wurlitzer's book is able to display a rich interior life in a manner cinema struggles to replicate. Nog's deadpan first-person narration is autistic, cubistic, and shamanic, using incantatory lists and anally compulsive powers of observation as his magical barriers against the dissolution of the self. His psychic geography recalls Ballard's wandering, self-destructive prophets of paradigm shift, and space time itself becomes a living threat that must be wrestled into submission -- or at least a stalemate. Yet Wurlitzer entertains on the level of sheer plot as well. Nog's capricious West Coast encounters with a host of American purebreds, from the hippies Lockett and Meridith to the right-wing gun nut Bench, all couched in droll vernacular, provides a constant impetus to turn page after page in this surreal California phantasmagoria.

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.

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.