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

1. Incidents, by Roland Barthes, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. Back up in college, rumor had it that French postmodern philosophe Roland Barthes committed suicide by stepping in front of a city bus. Later, I heard that Barthes death wasn’t a suicide, but an accident, and that the bus wasn’t a bus, but a laundry van. I’d prefer it if it was suicide (romantic, existential, French) by laundry van (“PoMo Thinker Felled by Metro” isn’t as good of a headline as “PoMo Thinker Felled By Launderer”), but, as Barthes himself might point out had he made it farther into the 1980s, we are not the only the writers of our own histories, but of everyone else’s histories, too.

2. Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End: The Story of a Crime, by Leif GW Persson, translated by Paul Norlen. I’m not sure why Leif “GW” Persson doesn’t condescend to include the typical periods that, in English, punctuate an abbreviated name (George “H.W.” Bush, Jesus “H.” Christ, etc.), but this is the first (500-plus page) novel of his planned trilogy about the unsolved 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

3. Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, by Gary Noesner. Wasn’t this a movie starring Denzel Washington, Denzel Washington, Al Pacino, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Robert Duvall, or Denzel Washington?

4. The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism, by Larry Bennett. I, for one, think Rod Blagojevich and his hair would agree that “Chicago is the most self-conscious of cities…the classically inspired, mammoth-scaled White City on the south lakefront [that] seemed to embody the parvenu’s quest for respect through emulation of his social betters.” It’s almost like Larry Bennett is, somehow, like, channeling Blago in a early 19th-century/seance/Harry Houdini kind of way. Is anyone else feeling a little bit spooked? Or in the mood to watch The Untouchables or read some Theodore Dreiser?

5. Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done about It, by Mariko Lin Chang. Not sure why any so-called ladies out there are complaining about income inequality when they can get into swinger clubs in greater Southwest Florida for free, but I guess seven minutes in heaven with a mulleted NASCAR fan just isn’t enough for the so-called fairer sex in this post-suffragette, post-Palin, post-Paglian era.