The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York

If the health of a democratic society can be gauged, in part, from the robustness of its vices, then 1840s New York was hale indeed. Here, for a brief period, the discerning brothel creep, blackmailer, "libertine republican," "sporting gent," dueling enthusiast and aficionado of bare-knuckle boxing was serviced by four different weekly publications. Their editors were dystopian supermen: William Snelling of the Sunday Flash had lived as a young man with the Dakota Indians and lost part of his left hand in a duel; George Washington Dixon of the Polyanthos once performed a 60-hour marathon of pacing, "fortified by only water, raw oysters, and a single glass of wine." Our contemporary American libido, with its reliance on Internet pornography, would have displeased them: why pursue the "unhallowed passion" of onanism when the "conjunction copulative" is so available? The Flash Press chronicles this small, significant fit in media history: the rise and fall of The Whip, The Rake, The Libertine, and The Flash are recorded in prose quite adequate to the raciness of the theme, and then comes the icing on the cake -- nearly 100 pages of excerpts. The tone is uniformly triumphant, trickster-ish, superb: one remembers Cyril Connolly's contention that there are epochs in the development of human consciousness, moods of the mind, during which it is impossible to write badly.

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.