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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts, by Billy Bob Thornton and Kinky Friedman.
Does anyone else think it’s weird that William Robert Thornton, the auteur who made Sling Blade, is now a Canada-hating country singer while Angelina Jolie, his former wife, has became a UNESCO ambassador? The only thing weirder than that is imagining the opposite. Hold on: Angelina Jolie wrote the introduction to this book? I resign from journalism.
3. From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family, by James H. Johnston.
A colleague saw this book on my desk and said something like “If he had gone to Penn State, they never would have called the book ‘From Slave Ship to Penn State.'” I’m not sure if this is offensive. After some thought, I’ve decided that the comment isn’t racist. However, since the colleague implies that Harvard is better than Penn State, I could argue that it is institutionalist. Then again, Harvard is better than Penn State. More than anything, the comment might be statist—-that is, anti-Pennsylvania. That, I cannot abide.
4. Indie, Inc.: Miramax and the Transformation of Hollywood in the 1990s, by Alisa Perren.
Miramax made a bunch of cool indie movies in the 1990s, including Pulp Fiction and The Crying Game. A better track record than Cinemax, which made (or, at least, played) a bunch of movies starring Shannon Tweed.
5.A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful, by Gideon Lewis-Kraus.
This book is about fathers and sons and how we have to, like, distance ourselves from the burden of history and what has come before. Sweet.