Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

Kaya Oakes, Author . Holt $14 (235p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8852-6

In this lively and highly literate explication of various American indie scenes and art forms, Oakes argues for the value and importance of a lively, community-based do-it-yourself tradition. In discrete chapters on zines, small presses, comics, independent music labels and numerous other subjects, Oakes focuses on a few exemplary artists or companies that embody the integrity that she lionizes. Her focus on independent publishing and writing—she is a cofounder of the eclectic Kitchen Sink magazine—provides a worthy parallel narrative to Michael Azzerad's essential indie music history, This Band Could Be Your Life , with which her book shares some heroes, most notably the affable Mike Watt of the Minutemen. Oakes begins the book with a much appreciated primer on some of the intellectual forebears of her book's central characters, including the poets Frank O'Hara and Allen Ginsberg and the revolutionary street theater group the Diggers. She ends it with a mournful chapter on the co-opting of indie culture by companies like Urban Outfitters and the TV show The O.C. The complex effect of the Internet on traditional indie culture is given relatively little space, which weakens the book's effectiveness as a guide to current trends and artistic networks, but as an explanation and excavation of the already fading recent past, it is essential reading. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/27/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
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Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-3572-2
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