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Slanted And Enchanted

by Kaya Oakes
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
  • Publishing date: 09/06/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780805088526
  • ISBN: 0805088520

Synopsis

A lively examination of the spirit and practices that have made the indie movement into a powerful cultural phenomenon

You know the look: skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors, perfectly mussed bed-head hair; You know the music: Modest Mouse, the Shins, Pavement. You know the ethos: DIY with a big helping of irony. But what does it really mean to be “indie”?

As popular television shows adopt indie soundtracks and the signature style bleeds into mainstream fashion, the quirky individuality of the movement seems to be losing ground. In Slanted and Enchanted, Kaya Oakes demonstrates how this phase is part of the natural cycle of a culture that reinvents itself continuously to preserve its core ideals of experimentation, freedom, and collaboration.

Through interviews and profiles of the artists who have spearheaded the cause over the years—including Mike Watt, David Berman, Kathleen Hanna, and Dan Clowes—Oakes examines the collective creativity and cross-genre experimentation that are the hallmarks of this popular lifestyle trend. Her visits to music festivals, craft fairs, and smaller collectives around the country round out the story, providing a compelling portayal of indie life on the ground. Culminating in the current indie milieu of music, crafting, style, art, comics, and zines, Oakes reveals from whence indie came and where it will go next.

Kaya Oakes is the co-founder of Kitchen Sink magazine, which received the Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Magazine in 2002. Currently a writing instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, she has lived the indie life for more than twenty years.

The look: skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors, perfectly mussed bed-head hair. The music: Modest Mouse, the Shins, Pavement. The ethos: DIY, with a big helping of irony. But the blanket term “indie” represents a culture that has evolved over time, drifting in and out of the spotlight in the mainstream.

As popular television shows adopt indie soundtracks and the signature style bleeds into mainstream fashion, the quirky individuality of the movement seems to be losing ground to mainstream outlets looking to co-opt the indie aesthetic as a marketing tool. In Slanted and Enchanted, Kaya Oakes demonstrates how this phase is part of the natural cycle, charting the historical path of a culture that reinvents itself continuously to preserve its core ideals of experimentation, freedom, and collaboration.

Through interviews and profiles of the artists who have spearheaded the cause of indie over the years, including Mike Watt, David Berman, Kathleen Hanna, and Dan Clowes—as well as mining her own experience as an adherent and participant for the past twenty years—Oakes examines the collective creativity and cross-genre experimentation that are the hallmarks of this popular lifestyle trend. Her visits to music festivals, craft fairs, and smaller collectives around the country round out the story, providing a compelling portrayal of indie life on the ground. Culminating in the current indie milieu of music, crafting, style, art, comics, and zines, Oakes reveals from whence indie came and where it will go next.

“Relays indie's development . . . with uncommon insight . . . [and] makes an impassioned, optimistic case for indie's vitality that doesn't assume readers are coming to [the]  book already well versed in the subject . . . A comprehensive approach to a subject that is too often reduced to discrete parts . . . Fresh and perceptive.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Relays indie's development . . . with uncommon insight . . . [and] makes an impassioned, optimistic case for indie's vitality that doesn't assume readers are coming to [the]  book already well versed in the subject . . . A comprehensive approach to a subject that is too often reduced to discrete parts . . . Fresh and perceptive.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“[An] absorbing nonfiction study of indie culture . . . Oakes is no dry outsider. She believes in what she describes, she contributes to it and she speaks its language.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“Oakes’ entry on underground comics gives a focused history for the uninitiated, while her firsthand experiences in self-reliant publishing provide a unique insider’s view of the struggles to keep such operations afloat. Luminaries such as itinerant bassist Mike Watt, Silver Jews leader David Berman and Ghost World author Dan Clowes give further insight into their respective fields.”—Kirkus Reviews

“As Oakes reminds us, indie culture has a strong history of reciprocity between producer and consumer; it is a creative community that should produce an equal amount of inspiration and consumption . . . Covering musicians, zines, comics, independent presses, and homemade crafts and events, Oakes uses the concept of a creative community as a mediating theme to illustrate how indie culture has oscillated between the music and literary scene throughout the last few decades . . . this will particularly appeal to artists, musicians, writers, and kids with thick-rimmed glasses.”—Library Journal

“[A] lively and highly literate explication of various American indie scenes and art forms . . . [Oakes’] focus on independent publishing and writing—provides a worthy parallel narrative to Michael Azzerad’s essential indie music history, This Band Could Be Your Life . . . 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. As an explanation and excavation of the already fading recent past, it is essential reading.”—Publishers Weekly

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  • Fantastic and approachable
    From Amazon

    An excellent review of the development and evolution of indie that was interesting, illuminating, and very accessible for someone like me that was not as familiar with all the artists and movements profiled in the book. Enjoyable and fascinating and highly recommended.

  • Why you'll love this book
    From Amazon

    Here are three good reasons to read Kaya Oakes' fascinating new book, Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture: 1. For the history. Slanted and Enchanted contains a completely engaging, informed, and remarkably well-researched account of how independent art and culture have developed in the United States from the 1950s to the present moment. Oakes provides wonderful capsule histories of not only "major" underground art and cultural movements, but also many lesser-known ones. From the Beats to contemporary craft fairs, from punk to modern independent publishing, from the Diggers to Riot Grrrl, Oakes is on the beat with the scoop. 2. For the analysis. Oakes is not only concerned with providing a history of independent culture, but also with trying to understand what that culture means as we try to understand the larger issues of American history and society. Accordingly, she devotes considerable space in her book to questions of how indie culture works, what it means, and how it functions in relation to the larger mainstream culture. Oakes' analysis of how corporate culture uses indie culture as a source of new ideas to rip off, rebrand, and re-sell is particularly illuminating. 3. For fun. Slanted and Enchanted is a lot of fun to read, not least because it clues you in on all kinds of interesting developments in art, literature, cartooning, music, and crafting in literally every part of the country. As I read, I found myself reaching for a pencil to take notes on cool new books to read, music to listen to, films to watch, websites to visit. And I also found myself writing down a lot of quotations from Oakes' interviews and sources. Some of them are hilarious ("Poetry is like putting on a funny suit...") and some are inspiring ("to make something on your own, regardless of the potential to bring in money, lends the end product an inherent sense of value that would be absent if it were a copy of a copy of a copy..."), but continually stumbling upon these little nuggets made the book a joy to read. I was particularly taken with Oakes' account of the Diggers, the legendary activist and guerrilla-theater cooperative, and with the Riot Grrrl movement that began in Olympia, Washington and then went on to conquer the world. I'd heard of both movements, but always wanted to know more about them. I found Oakes' introductions very useful and also very interesting. (Thanks also to Oakes for mentioning Austin's very own Effing Press. Here in Austin, we know and love Effing and it's nice to see this fine press getting some well-deserved attention.) If you believe in the possibilities of intelligent work done outside the boundaries of corporate cubicle farms, in the value of the handmade and truly original, and in the importance of not only creative energy but the ethics of careful craft and community building, I think you'll love this book. I know I did.

  • Excellent and engaging look at indie culture
    From Amazon

    One of the terrible things that can happen to any vibrant subculture is for it to be dryly dissected in academia, or written about in a fluff piece by someone who knows the culture but doesn't know how to analyze it. Fortunately for indie culture, we have Kaya Oakes, who as a scholar and indie maven manages to write a book that is as fascinating to read as it is enjoyable. Which is to say - very. I don't know a whole lot about indie culture as a whole, despite having been anywhere from its fringes to deeply embedded in it from my teen years until today. But reading Slanted & Enchanted has been enlightening, as well as entertaining. In current scholarship the trend is to be self-reflective while investigating one's subject, and Oakes does this deftly, weaving in pieces of her own story and experience of researching the book, while including top-notch interviews and analysis of the key musicians, artists, crafters, publishers and other people who made indie what it is and are helping it to evolve. Oakes's writing style is fresh and engaging, taking the reader on a journey through indie culture that is always approachable, never slipping into hipster hyperbole. Her background as a poet makes her writing come to life, and the whole book manages to tell a story as it lays bare the evolution of indie. If you're at all interested in contemporary culture, in modern music, independent art, independent publishing, or anything remotely related to those things, I think you'll find this book to be enlightening and entertaining. Highly recommended!

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