in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Screw Business As Usual, by Richard Branson. At first, I thought this book by Virgin chairman Richard Branson was called “Screw: Business As Usual,” and was about either his cutthroat entrepreneurial instincts, or sexual proclivities, or both. Then, I thought it was called “Screw Business: As Usual,” and was about Richard Branson, the fun-loving goof who, when not running Virgin, founded the Virgin Mobile FreeFest. Now that I know that it’s called “Screw Business As Usual”—-no colons—-I’m not sure what to say or think about it.
2. The Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel of North Korea, by Adam Johnson. I like reading books about the DPRK, including James Church’s “Inspector O” series. I also wrote a short story once that was just a series of letters from a young Jewish boy growing up in Northeast Philadelphia to Kim Jong-Il. The boy asked what he had to do to succeed Kim as leader of North Korea, and described life on Cottman Ave. to humorous effect. Then, Kim Jong-Il died and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un, rendering the conceit of my short story moot, and the short story unpublishable. Maybe this sounds funny, but it is actually quite frustrating. I spent six months on and off on that story, and now it’s basically dogfood. Such is the difficult life of an artist.
3. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter, by Lloyd Kahn. This book says that houses are too big and should be tinier and simpler, and is a collection of pictures of simple, tiny houses. Great for reading in your McMansion while smoking a cigar and laughing maniacally.
4. The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith, by Matthew Bowman. People always said that Low was a great band, and that they were Mormon, but I never really liked Low much, so I didn’t investigate further. People also said that Big Love was a great show, and that it was about Mormons, but I watched a few episodes and didn’t like Big Love much, so I didn’t investigate further. Under the Banner of Heaven is a cool book about Mormons by that dude who also wrote the cool book about people dying while climbing Mt. Everest. Then, he wrote a book about NFL star turned Afghanistan casualty Pat Tillman, which didn’t seem interesting, so I didn’t investigate further.
5. The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus. This book’s about some kind of terrible epidemic that causes parents to be killed by the voices of their children—-like the opposite of the Van Halen “Hot for Teacher” video in which the nerdy kid “Waldo” with the glasses is overcome by the hotness of his teacher. Well…sort of like the opposite.