“Alone, one feels the whole universe”: Celebrating Capricorn Writers

December 22, 2021
︎︎︎A Good Used Book

Imagine a centuries-old ivy plant, growing wild with the names and knowledge of every possible Capricorn. There would be a leaf for Susan Sontag and Stephen Hawking, Donna Tartt and Sheila Heti, Jean Toomer and J.R.R. Tolkien. You could say to it, “Tell me about Yukio Mishima” or “What was Alan Watts really like?” and it would weave you a silver-tongued story. Like the sign itself, it would climb. It would defy gravity. It would possess a certain and undeniable beauty, especially in the winter.

A time of brightening days and new years, Capricorn season is one of great lengths and even greater goals. It is the season of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Greta Thunberg: the season of overcoming, of holding court. Capricorns are leaders just as they are ladder-climbers and nothing, whether it be freedom or fame, is out of their reach.

Being the cardinal earth sign of the zodiac, however, they are still their most rooted in the physical world. Bodily, obsessive, and often indelicate, their lot also includes the likes of Haruki Murakami, Simone de Beauvoir, J.D. Salinger, and Patti Smith. Not to mention Henry Miller, who said it best for all of them when he wrote, “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. In this state of god-like awareness one sings; in this realm the world exists as poem.”


“Love and build, love and work, love and fight”: Celebrating Aquarius Writers

January 25, 2022
︎︎︎A Good Used Book

On the Northwest corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles sits the shell of Johnie’s Coffee Shop. Though technically empty since 2000, people can sometimes be seen gathering under the angular, space-age roof of this relic of Googie architecture. Passersby may be surprised to see the building lit on certain nights - what remains of its incandescent bulbs flashing, its neon glowing. Known today as Bernie’s Coffee Shop, it is a hub for climate change activists and socialists alike. They dot the orangesicle vinyl booths, planning the revolution.

In the Aquarian world of dreams, these people could be Yoko Ono or Miranda July. They could be Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison, sitting at the burnished steel restaurant counter, celebrating their shared birthday. Even William S. Burroughs and Gertrude Stein attend, after checking a gun and a poodle at the door. Richard Brautigan too nods a greeting - topping off his coffee with a splash from a silver flask.

As spirits swell, passions rise in a chorus along with the car horns outside, louder and louder as more people stall to see it: the zeitgeist, the enlightenment. Angela Davis, Germaine Greer, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf, Judy Blume. Colette, taking a cigarette break on the sidewalk, illuminated by a bright Saturn in the sky.


“Who so loves believes the impossible”: Celebrating
Pisces Authors

February 22, 2022
︎︎︎A Good Used Book

In the ocean of every Pisces, there swim two fish: one to climb up toward the heavens and one to map the world’s depths, one ruled by dreamy Neptune and the other by searching Jupiter. They swim and seek and, after their long journeys, they meet in the middle - eager to feed on the vibrant reef of the heart. It is there that they rest and couple and create. It is from there that they write.

Their words have the ability to build like waves, their pens the pointed power to drown. At best they look like John Lewis or John Steinbeck. At worst, much like L. Ron Hubbard or Bret Easton Ellis. Pisces are boundless in feeling, the old souls of the zodiac - the devoted, the demanding, the watery.

They are Carson McCullers, Ralph Ellison, Kōbō Abe, and Amy Tan. They are David Foster Wallace’s endless pages of despair, just as they are Edward Gorey’s enigmatic illustrations. They are Anaïs Nin’s secret, simultaneous husbands and Lawrence Durrell’s lament - “Who invented the human heart, I wonder?” They are always, always, looking for love.


“But when I
start to tell
them”: Celebrating
Aries Writers

March 22, 2022
︎︎︎A Good Used Book

In 1967, author and militant feminist Valerie Solanas gave a copy of her play to Andy Warhol in hopes that he might produce it. Titled “Up Your Ass,” it was the work she thought might save her… might make her a writer. Except that Warhol, who promised to look over the manuscript, then lost it instead - offering the enraged Solanas a $25 role in a different film for her trouble. A year later, she did what any Aries would do; she put on make-up, packed her gun, and went looking for him. 

Ruled by the planet of action, passion and war, Aries authors are the first: the fiery babies of the zodiac, the new growth of Spring, the unreliable narrators of all literature. They are as decadent as Kathy Acker and as obsessive as Nella Larsen, as powerful as Maya Angelou and as potential-driven as Samuel R. Delany. They, like Erica Jong or John Fowles, are hot until they are cold.

Their pens, burning with that urgent Aries energy, spread language like seed. The words of Flannery O’Connor and John Fante growing up like weeds between sidewalk slabs while those of Toni Cade Bambara and Octavio Paz swell like the thick roots that crack them - prolific and indiscriminate, angry and optimistic.


“We live in
all we seek”: Celebrating Taurus Writers

April 20, 2022
︎︎︎A Good Used Book

Is the life of a writer so different from that of a bull? Grazing in the abundant green of the mind and of the field, mapping a favorite spot in the shade, fiercely guarding some unknown future? Or perhaps only the lives of Taurus authors feel this way. After all, did Søren Kierkegaard not get his best ideas during his daily walk, often returning home in such a rush that he would write standing at his desk, still adorned with hat and coat and walking stick?

This same spirit can be seen in the young Vladimir Nabokov, writing while chain smoking from bed, and in the earthly Annie Dillard, stalking muskrats in the suburbs. It is alive in the eight-hour dinners of Charles Johnson and August Wilson, the historical revelries of Mikhail Bulgakov, and the honest visions of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

These are the writers who live in their books like they do in their houses, curating words as lush as thick carpet and squirreling away memories like preservatives. As deliberate as Lorraine Hansberry or as extravagant as Alice B. Toklas, they are pulled by the pleasures of distraction and the slowness of stability. They are spun of the same silk as Venus - second in brightness only to the moon.