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Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture Paperback – June 9, 2009


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Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture + Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small + Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1 Original edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088526
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Indie culture exists outside of and often rails against mainstream culture—independent record stores in opposition to Best Buy, crafts festivals instead of Ikea, zines as opposed to Rolling Stone. As a corollary, poet Oakes (writing, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Telegraph) 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. Oakes locates the evolution of this idealism in the cultural explosion that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. 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. Ultimately, she questions the future of indie culture in its currently oversaturated and corporate form. Recommended for all public libraries; this will particularly appeal to artists, musicians, writers, and kids with thick-rimmed glasses.—Joshua Finnell, McNeese State Univ. Lib., Lake Charles, LA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Ahearn on July 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kaulika on July 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steve Boese on June 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
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.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sweet Valley High on April 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Inspiring book about the indie movements of music and publishing- liked it a lot. It was sort of like a textbook in some parts, a little hard to read in certain areas, but overall I liked it.
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More About the Author

Kaya Oakes' third book, a hybrid memoir/ethnography/theological rant, Radical Reinvention, was published by Counterpoint Press in 2012. Her fourth book, on faith, doubt, and the evolution of religion, is forthcoming from Orbis Books in 2015. Her previous nonfiction book, Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, was published by Henry Holt in 2009 and was selected as a San Francisco Chronicle notable book. She's also the author of a collection of poetry, Telegraph, which received the Transcontinental Poetry Prize from Pavement Saw Press. In 2002, Kaya co-founded Kitchen Sink Magazine, which received the Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Magazine in 2003. Currently, she writes about faith and feminism for Killing the Buddha, America, Commonweal, and other magazines and websites. Since 1999, she has taught writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture
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