The Book Cellar
“Unstrung has all the honesty, original angles, beauty, and clangor found in Marc Ribot’s playing. His compassionate writing about Frantz Casseus gives a human face to his calls for artists’ rights. Like life itself, this book is bloody, funny, and bloody funny.” —Elvis Costello, musician
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About Unstrung: Throughout his genre-defying career as one of the most innovative musicians of our time, iconoclastic guitar player Marc Ribot has consistently defied expectation at every turn. Here, in his first collection of writing, we see that same uncompromising sensibility at work as he playfully interrogates our assumptions about music, life, and death. Through essays, short stories, and the occasional unfilmable film “mistreatment” that showcase the sheer range of his voice, Unstrung captures an artist whose versatility on the page rivals his dexterity onstage. In the first section of the book, “Lies and Distortion,” Ribot turns his attention to his instrument—“my relation to the guitar is one of struggle; I’m constantly forcing it to be something else”—and reflects on his influences (and friends) like Robert Quine (The Voidoids) and producer Hal Willner (Saturday Night Live), while delivering an impassioned plea on behalf of artists’ rights. Elsewhere, we glimpse fragments of Ribot’s life as a traveling musician—he captures both the monotony of touring as well as small moments of beauty and despair on the road. In the heart of the collection, “Sorry, We’re Experiencing Technical Difficulties,” Ribot offers wickedly humorous short stories that synthesize the best elements of the Russian absurdist tradition with the imaginative heft of George Saunders.
About Marc Ribot: Marc Ribot has released twenty-five albums under his own name over a forty-year career, exploring everything from the pioneering jazz of Albert Ayler to the Cuban son of Arsenio Rodríguez. Rolling Stone points out that “Ribot helped Tom Waits refine a new, weird Americana on 1985’s Rain Dogs, and since then he’s become the go-to guitar guy for all kinds of roots-music adventurers: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp.” Additional recording credits include Neko Case, Diana Krall, Elton John/Leon Russell’s The Union, Solomon Burke, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Marianne Faithfull, Joe Henry, Allen Toussaint, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Caetano Veloso, Allen Ginsberg, Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones, the Black Keys, and many others. Ribot works regularly with GRAMMY Award–winning producer T Bone Burnett and New York composer John Zorn. He has also composed and performed on numerous film scores such as Walk the Line, The Kids Are All Right, and The Departed.
About Kurt Hollander: Kurt Hollander is a writer and fine art/documentary photographer. He is the author of the autobiography Several Ways to Die in Mexico City, writer/director of the feature film Carambola, editor and founder of The Portable Lower East Side (existing copies available in Printed Matter) and of Poliester (a contemporary art magazine of the Americas). He has published his writing and images in The Guardian, Dazed, Domus, Guernica, The Believer, Aeon, Bomb and in other media. Originally from downtown NYC, Kurt lived in Mexico City for over twenty years and is currently living in Cali, Colombia.