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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.

1. Mourning Diary, by Roland Barthes. Translated by Richard Howard.
After Roland Barthes’s mother died in 1977, the pomo/homo French philosoph kept a “mourning diary” on index cards to express his infinite sadness. I quote from a card marked June 12, 1978: “An onset of grief. I cry.” So, in sum, this book is probably more depressing than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but less depressing than Judd Apatow’s Funny People.

2. Don’t Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards, P. J. O’Rourke.
When I was a tween, I tried to read P.J. O’Rourke’s lengthly gonzo-ish analysis pieces in Rolling Stone, but was usually too quickly seduced by the thrice-yearly Paul McCartney cover stories and four-and-a-half star reviews of Roger Waters’s solo records to fully appreciate O’Rourke’s angry/hippie, boomer-conservative political perspective. Now that I’m older and care less about Paul McCartney and Roger Waters, I’m ready to wade into the O’Rourke oeuvre. Too bad he had anal cancer.

3. The Governator: From Muscle Beach to His Quest for the White House, the Improbable Rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger, by Ian Halperin.
Assuming that there aren’t any undiscussed snafus in re: Article II, Section I, I’m trying to start some internet chatter about a Palin/Schwarzenegger ticket for 2012, but am a little light in the retweet department. Help a brother out.

4. The Difficulty of being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma, by Gurcharan Das.
This is one of those books about Buddhism that wasn’t written by the Dalai Lama and doesn’t fit in your pocket. If you take the trouble to read it, you’ll learn a lot, but don’t expect everyone at “Yoga for Beginners” to take an interest.

5. Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor, by Harry Hamlin.
I was never a fan of L.A. Law, but I certainly was a fan of Clash of the Titans—-not the 3-D version starring Sam Worthington, but the 1981 version starring Harry Hamlin with a Claymation Kraken and all-too-brief nudity. It’s hard to imagine that so many smart youth were buying into nihilistic L.A. hardcore (Black Flag, Minutemen, etc.) around the same time that, in the same city, they could have cruised over to Hollywood to help produce sexy, relevant art like this retelling of a Greek myth starring scantily clad ladies and, inexplicably, Laurence Olivier. In fact, if I was 20 in 1981 and had the choice between seeing the Descendents and working on a rewrite of Clash, I’d definitely choose an air-conditioned writers room on the Paramount lot over a sweaty mosh-pit at a Fear show where the only girls worth asking out are on speed.