Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and the Wickedest Town in the American West
St. Martin’s Press
Having recently watched HBO’s Deadwood series, I’d have pegged it for wickedest town in the West, but Clavin makes a good case for getting out of Dodge. This well-paced read sets out to set the record straight on its two heroes, and smash other Wild West idols along the way. Fortunately, the facts (if accurate) are just as entertaining as most of the legends. For example, I enjoyed learning that Bat Masterson was born in Canada (and never became a U.S. citizen), meaning that every election he ever won in America was invalid. And Doc Holliday was nobody’s huckleberry.
- Bruce Collier
The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz: A Romance in Eight Days by Johann Valentin Andreae in a New Version
Small Beer Press
Surreal is a term usually associated with Dali or Bunuel—modern artists, part visionaries, part tricksters. Apparently, a sense of the dreamlike and often bizarre progression of humankind’s existence were well developed in the Middle Ages as well. Chemical Wedding is the first-person narrative of an eight-day wedding blowout for the king, during which the people invited are hazed to determine which are worthy of attending the wedding itself.
Contemporary author Crowley has created a deceptively simple version of Johann Valentin Andreae’s 700-year-old puzzler. Theo Fadel’s illustrations add to C.W.’s timeless appeal with their petrographic starkness. Beneath the Forrest Gumpian voice of the narrator—one Christian Rosencreutz—the reader senses hidden meaning. Thought by some to be an alchemical allegory, the storyline offers those who like DaVinci Code-type stories a firsthand chance to consider a magic realism that has as much to do with enlightenment as making gold.
- Wynn Parks
Cheech Marin with John Hassan
Cheech Is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong!
Hachette Book Group
Extremely enjoyable memoir from one of the first true rock stars of comedy covers all the high and low points—fleeing to Canada in the midst of the Vietnam War, teaming up (and inevitably splitting) (and reuniting) with Tommy Chong, selling shitloads of records, getting ripped off by music bizzers, Celebrity Jeopardy!, etc. But even if you’re a longtime fan, this book is packed with tons of things you didn’t know about Marin. The Peter Sellers episode alone makes this a must-read.
- Chris Manson