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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Lips Unsealed: A Memoir, by Belinda Carlisle.
An incomplete list of good Go-Go’s songs: 1) “Vacation”; 2) “Our Lips Are Sealed”; 3) “We Got the Beat.” An incomplete list of questionably titled Go-Go’s songs: “Skidmarks on My Heart.” An incomplete list of tepid Go-Go’s covers: “Cool Jerk.” A memorable PETA slogan in a promo featuring the Go-Go’s: “We’d Rather Go-Go Naked Than Wear Fur.” An incomplete list of tepid Belinda Carlisle solo singles: 1) “Heaven is a Place on Earth”; 2) “I Get Weak.” A incomplete list of Belinda Carlisle songs likely to inspire a slow dance at an eighth-grade dance which, in turn, requires quick boner readjustment: “I Get Weak.”
2. Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe, by Jenny Hollowell.
When real people and/or fictional characters (like Axl Rose, or the character Axl Rose plays in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video, or George C. Scott’s daughter in the movie Hardcore, or serial killer Richard Ramirez, or Barton Fink in Barton Fink, or the protagonist of Jenny Hollowell’s debut novel) flee their hometowns and try to make it in Los Angeles, both good and bad things can happen. However, the likelihood that something good will happen is inversely proportional to how close that real person and/or fictional character lives to the Los Angeles Greyhound Station, where Richard Ramirez liked to hang out, sniffing glue, and listening to AC/DC.
3. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home, by Dan Ariely.
The author of this book—-an economist, or at least a social scientist—-was inspired by the torturous physical therapy he was forced to undergo following a horrible accident to investigate why rational actors in a free market oft prove unable to endure short-term difficulty (pain, deprivation, displeasure, etc.) for long-term benefits (increased mobility, comfortable retirement, well-toned abs, etc.). I’m not sure if his research is worthwhile, but I’ll be fucked if this book doesn’t already seem way more intense than the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, whatever it’s called.
4. Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.
Because you can’t spell Christianity without a “J.”
5. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender.
I once asked a friend to explain magic realism to me. She said: “Magical realism is like when, in a book by Gabriel García Márquez, a woman who is very sad makes a soup, and her tears fall into the soup, and then she serves the soup to a large number of people, and that large number of people begin crying because they have swallowed the soup that the sad woman cried into.” So, when I think about magic realism, I think of that sad woman’s soup, and the title of this book made me think of that.