David joined Avid as a bookseller in November 2018. Previously, he has been a professor of film and media studies at Fairfield University and Emory University. He loves reading literary fiction, mysteries and true crime, and books about art, music, and movies, especially when they focus on artists on the margin and cult objects. His greatest accomplishment has been attaining a world ranking in Minesweeper.
This is my absolute favorite music book - in-depth looks at indie rock bands all across the country during the late 1970s and 1980s showcasing the diversity of music on the margins throughout that decade. Punk aggression, twee affectations, jangly power pop, and college radio bands are all linked in their rejection of the mainstream (at least until they signed to major labels).
This work of alternative history imagines a world in which the “America First” campaign of Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR in 1940, setting off a national drift toward fear-mongering nationalism and fascism. Sound familiar? Brilliantly written from a Newark child’s perspective watching his country slip away.
John Waters, the notorious Baltimore cult filmmaker, is famous as much for his films as for his subversive persona and radical re-thinking of taste. So it's fitting that he approaches his memoir through the diversity of influences throughout his life - figures in cinema, music, literature, and fashion, but also in porn and the dive bars of Baltimore. It's been a long time since Waters last made a film, but his voice persists as one of America's leading cultural critics and public intellectuals.
Sarah Waters is master of the revised Victorian novel. Her work is incredibly well-researched, and she knows all the classic Dickens, Brontes, etc. but her own work flips our expectations. This book is super fun, filled with con artists and scalawags, violence and erotica, but it's also an important re-thinking of who is actually included in Victorian representations.
I initially read this as a private joke with myself when I found out I was moving to Georgia, but the joke was on me. Dickey's poetic prose transcends the genre expectations of an adventure novel - he uses the white-water-rafting-excursion-gone-bad plot as a means to interrogate the ecological consequences of commercial land development in the south, class tensions in late capitalism, and the anxious masculinity of the 1970s. Overshadowed by the film, this is a truly underrated southern novel.
Although the books were released in four volumes, this is really one huge novel about two women, their profound friendship, and the will power required to negotiate the limited expectations of their families, the patriarchal assumptions of their lovers, and the crime and poverty of Naples itself. The level of psychological depth achieved in this book is astounding - many scenes are haunting, but you will love spending time with Lenu's burgeoning feminist consciousness and Lila's inscrutable brilliance. Start here and fly through the next three installments!
Although the length is daunting, Tolstoy's 1870s masterpiece is a sneaky page turner. Tolstoy is a generous empath, offering us profound understanding of the motivations and anxieties for everyone's decisions, however dubious. This is a morally ambiguous world in which the gap between desire and societal expectations can ruin you, especially as these tensions cut unequally across gender lines.