in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean, by Richard Logan and Tere Duperrault Fassbender. The (true) story: in the 1960’s, a little girl’s parents get murdered on a boat and then, somehow, the boat sinks (or something) and she gets stranded on some kind of life raft on the high seas and drifts for a while (11 days?) and has a near-death/solo Lord of the Flies kind of experience, but then she gets rescued and successfully fingers or, rather, helps finger, her parents’ murderer. Basically, not unlike that pre-Cruise Nicole Kidman movie Dead Calm or most weekends I’ve spent at the Borgata in A.C. playing $10-$20 limit hold with some pinky-ringed guy who really wants to talk about the Eagles, his Citibank options, the Flyers, his real estate business, the Phillies, his two mistresses, and the 76ers, but not necessarily in that order.
2. The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists, edited by Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner. As an appreciator of the arts (faves include Monet, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol, Basquiat, and Schnabel), a lover of fine magazines (faves include The Believer, Art Forum, and The Paris Review,) and a guy who wears corduroy blazers even in the most uncomfortable situations (on 100-degree days while playing the drums or basketball), it’s not enough for me to appreciate painters; I also feel the need to appreciate the spaces in which those painters, well, paint. Because I like (air-quotes) “going meta.” That’s what I (air-quotes) “do.”
3. Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry’s Greatest Generation, by Daisy Hay. Bollocks! If Ian Curtis and Robert Smith aren’t profiled in this book, you know it’s probably filled with a bunch of bloody fookin’ lies.
4. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent. Once upon a time, enough Americans hated a particular product to get together and pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting its sale. Then, for a while, things got pretty bad. See, when you outlaw something, that creates a black market for it, and the guys that run black markets aren’t the most charming, or considerate, or non-violent. In fact, in many cases, they shoot at each other or blow one another up trying to control the black market for whatever it was that was outlawed. Meanwhile, all of the more charming, considerate, non-violent business owners that previously controlled the sale and distribution of the product in question have to close their doors. This means that the economy suffers, and tax revenues are reduced, and some folks get bummed because they can no longer purchase the particular product they liked and, in addition, are getting blown up by the mean guys trying to control the illegal sales of that product, because those mean guys aren’t too concerned about civilian casualties. But, then sometimes, times get tough, and all the people who banded together in hatred of a particular product are like: “You know what? Maybe that product isn’t so bad. Let’s make it legal again so we can produce, sell, and tax it.” Then, they get back together and pass another constitutional amendment un-passing the constitutional amendment that they had previously passed, which means the Constitution gets all marked up with arrows and crossouts, just like a low-achieving 7th grader’s homework. But wouldn’t it be better if all products except the most noxious, evil ones were just legal so that we could have a functioning economy with no violence? And that people could, in general, do what they want? Wouldn’t that be a more fun world to live in?…God, who wrote this? I guess I’m just not feeling NORML today.
5. Jesus Boy, by Preston L. Allen. A dude who used to be in an alternative rock band of which I was a fan runs the press that published this novel so, even though I don’t frequently actually read books that this press publishes, I’m always curious what they’re up to in the way that many gentlemen over 30 like to check up on what their formerly alternative peers/idols are up to. This novel, which is about ghosts, or maybe about a child with a dark past, seems Gothic and worthwhile in a Nick Cave kind of way, as anyone who’s seen Wings of Desire can appreciate.