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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War, by Deb Olin Unferth.
Revolutions are funny things. Sometimes, they seem essential. One hopes that the folks throwing rocks in Cairo think their actions are not only necessary, but unavoidable. But other times, revolutions seem optional. Why, for example, didn’t any of the folks in Cairo throwing rocks throw rocks during the past three decades of Hosni Mubarak’s oppressive rule? Did he somehow become that much worse in the past two weeks? Then, other times, revolutions seem like a circus. Two weeks ago, did most Americans even know who Hosni Mubarak is? No—-they just wanted to talk about the Tucson shooting and the decline of American political discourse. Now, it’s all Egypt, all the time. Then again, if a revolution is to be effective, maybe it should be a bit of a circus, like when clowns fight to get into a tiny car that, in the end, somehow accommodates them all. Then again, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor. Then again, their revolution ultimately failed. But remember—-Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin didn’t have a bubbling pool of liquid gold. That is, a bubbling pool of liquid gold like the one that I’m sliding into as a write this.
2. Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall—- from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, by Frank Brady.
Does anyone else think it’s kind of cool that Bobby Fischer went AWOL and grew a beard and defected to North Korea or whatever it was that he did? (OK, OK, OK—-I guess that anti-Semitism wasn’t that cool, though discussion of said anti-Semitism offers a rare opportunity to link to Commentary magazine.) It’s exciting when celebrities, especially chess prodigies, go off the deep end in exciting ways (not just, say, drug or sex addiction, but Howard Hughes/Randy Quaid-style tomfoolery). Can you imagine how cool it would be if Shaq was like, “Fuck it. No more endorsements. I’m not a tool of capitalism.” Or if Ellen DeGeneres was like, “Sorry—-I forgot to tell you guys, but I’m a member of Hamas.” Let’s keep it weird, people!
3. Rape New York, by Jana Leo.
Insert joke about rape and the horrible ways our society treats its victims here.
4. Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World, by Kathy Freston.
I was at a poker game last night and brought my own dinner and someone was like, “What are you eating?” and I was like, “One of the worst meals I’ve ever cooked for myself” and someone was like, “What is it?” and I was like, “It was supposed to be paella” and someone was like, “If it’s paella, where’s the seafood?” and I was like, “There’s no seafood because I’m vegan, and like I said, it was supposed to be paella but isn’t really” and someone was like, “You’re vegan?” and I was like, “Yeah” and someone was like, “I’m vegetarian, but I eat fish, and turkey on Thanksgiving” and I was like, “Cool.” Then, the dog who lived in the house where the poker game was held sniffed my dinner, and I was like, “Dog, you don’t want this as much as you think,” and the dog nodded, or seemed to. Then, I lost $300 because I thought a guy had ace-king when he actually had trip queens. (I had pocket tens. Stupid.) But I plan to return to the game when I’ve written this column 10 more times, when I’ll have earned that $300 back.
5. My Dead Dad Was in ZZ Top: 100% Real,* Never Before Seen Documents from the World of Rock and Roll, Jon Glaser.
A love for ZZ Top: One of the things that a cool guy cultivates ironically, but then realizes isn’t ironic, and then thinks, “Have I gone too far?” before starting to drink heavily and take naps at work not because he’s hung over, but because he’s really, really tired.