Get our free newsletter
in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?: Dubbing Stereotypes in The Nanny, The Simpsons, and The Sopranos, by Chiara Francesca Ferrari. I had a (Jewish) friend in college who looked liked Fran Drescher. She didn’t look look like Fran Drescher in a…how to put this…a “college resemblance” kind of way—-that is, in the same way that the guy at the frat house with curly brown hair who kinda-sorta looks like David Hasselhoff jokingly gets called “Hasselhoff” during pledge week or the blonde girl at the sorority house with big boobs who maybe from a distance looks a little bit like Pamela Anderson joking gets called “Pamela” when playing beer pong. My friend really did look like Fran Drescher in a way that transcended the “college resemblance,” and could imitate Fran Drescher as well, but not…how to put this…not “imitate” in a “Rich Little” kind of way, where you see Rich Little imitate Johnny Carson and you say, “Yeah, I guess that’s a pretty good imitation of Johnny Carson.” I mean, she really could imitate Fran Drescher in a creepy doppelganger Dorian Gray Freudian “sense of the uncanny” kind of way. I explain this at length to say, well…boy, did this girl ever look like Fran Drescher! You wouldn’t believe it! Though, in the end, I guess you had to be there.
2. You Know When the Men Are Gone, by Siobhan Fallon. Sometimes it feels like if you’re not writing about Texas, you’re not writing about anything worthwhile. Siobhan Fallon writes allegedly Raymond Carver-esque stories about military wives, for example. That’s a good topic for a short story collection. Much better than my idea for a series of short stories about celebrity hair plugs (Nicolas Cage, John Travolta, etc.).
3. American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt, by Daniel Rasmussen. I forget what I learned in school about Nat Turner, but I’ma guess that the junior high history teacher wasn’t, like, “You know, Nat Turner, though a murderer, was kind of a badass in a Frantz Fanon kind of way.” But, now that I’m grown, I can say it: “You know, Nat Turner, though a murderer, was kind of a badass in a Frantz Fanon kind of way.” But this book is about some other slave revolt.
4. Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, by Ethan Watters. The subtitle of this books makes me thing of Scorpions’ song “Winds of Change,” but in a good way. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I didn’t know anything about Communism, but that didn’t prevent me from rockin’ out to a jammin’ power ballad. Side note: What do you think the band meeting was like when someone was like, “What should we call our band?” and someone else was like, “The Scorpions, dude!”? Do you think “The Scopions” was the first name they thought of, or was it, say, 46th on a list of 50?
5. No Reserve: The Limit of Absolute Power, by Martín Redrado. Books written by disgruntled ormer World Bank presidents always make me feel like I should have attended the A16 protests in D.C. in 2000. Instead, I spent that weekend smoking Marlboro Reds and watching Martin.