Justin Vivian Bond: TOP TEN BOOKS


“The difficulty in telling your truth is that you have to find it first,” said Justin V. Bond in a 2013 interview with The New Yorker. The performer, artist, and writer, whose award-winning memoir, Tango, is published by Feminist Press, found acclaim as one part of Kiki & Herb, for which Bond was nominated for a Tony Award.

Below are Justin Vivian Bond’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century

Greil Marcus
Lipstick Traces gives a profound and well documented introduction to counter-cultural history and is a wonderfully enlightening window into the intellectual underpinnings of rock and roll.
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The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

Tom Spanbauer
A spiritual manifesto as well as a heartbeakingly beautiful read, this book explores themes of gender, the oppression of women and queers in the old west and is an intense portrayal of the power of the human spirit.
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Play It as It Lays

Joan Didion
Turned me onto the poetry of nihilism at a very tender age. Spare and strong, "I know what 'nothing' means, and keep on playing".
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The Thief's Journal

Jean Genet
Anarchy. Sexuality. Sodomy. Obsession. Non-fiction. Werque!
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Edie: American Girl

Jean Stein
In High School I was working at Waldenbooks when this book came in, it wasn't until years later that I realized emulating Edie Sedgwick and dying face-down on my pillow, high on drugs, might not be the most glamorous way to go.
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Lillian Hellman
Pentimento begins with the words, "Old Paint On Canvas." ...I look in the mirror and what do I see? Hellu! The fact that the validity of her memoirs has been disputed does not make them any less inspiring.
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Manifestoes of Surrealism

Andre Breton
Nothing in The Surrealist Manifesto makes sense but it's endlessly readable nonetheless. When I'm writing and I get stuck I crack it open, point to a sentence and take it from there. Who needs to be linear? Not me. I don't go anywhere without it.
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Concerning the Spiritual in Art

Wassily Kandinsky
As a student I was so moved by his paintings of music that I needed to know more. I discovered this book and the imperative to insert a deeper meaning into my work became very clear, Kandinsky taught that it was possible to do so through technique which, in turn, inspired me to take what I do -even the funny things- much more seriously.
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Still Life With Woodpecker

Tom Robbins
Cosmic and hilarious. I like books that make me laugh out loud. This one does.
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Eustace Chisholm And The Works

James Purdy
In my opinion James Purdy is the most underrated writer in American literature, probably because he was gay. His books are heart wrenching, brutal and sometimes flat-out mean-spirited but they are also incredibly beautiful and endlessly poetic. I'm not all that fond of books that make me cry but in Purdy's case, I don't mind.
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