In which the author discusses five books he’d read, were he not distracted by Haiti’s unfolding humanitarian crisis.

1. Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley, by George Klein and Chuck Crisafulli. Woe to those overachievers who went to school with Elvis Presley. Even with the help of a co-author, it’s unlikely that any of these also-rans will ever get voted Cutest, or Most Popular, or Most Musical, or Class Clown, or Most Likely to Marry Priscilla Ann Wagner, or even Most Vain. Just like Mel Brooks said: “It’s good to be the King.”

2. Right Now: A 12-Step Program For Defeating The Obama Agenda, by Michael Steele. Right now, one of my conservative relatives is rushing to Barnes & Noble to buy Michael Steele‘s Right Now so that they can study it over the next eleven months and, around Thanksgiving or Christmas 2010, spring some of Steele’s anti-Obama arguments on me as I unsuspectingly reach for cranberry sauce or stuffing. But these right-of-center relations labor—-nay, not just labor, but slave!—-under the mistaken impression that I am keen to defend the “Obama agenda” (whatever that is) just because I happen not to be chewing on a drumstick or swallowing a mouthful of egg nog at some particular moment. Alas! The Obama agenda (or Michael Steele’s insistent denunciation of same) is not even a likely candidate for my attention when candied yams are in sight. So, if you want to debate the merits of Michael Steele, can I please finish eating these candied yams first? Please?

3. Boulevard: A Novel, Bill Guttentag. This is the first novel by the executive producer of the NBC show Crime & Punishment, which I’ve never seen, but hear is related to Law & Order, so that means this book definitely has to be dark, and noirish, and able to resolve itself quickly, and that its characters will speak in short. declarative. bursts.

4. The Beaver Men: Spearheads of Empire, Second Edition, by Mari Sandoz. Need I say more?

5. Just Kids, by Patti Smith. Somewhere, in an alternate universe with alternate laws of physics and an alternate empirical relationship between cause and effect, there is an alternate version of me who loves Patti Smith, and owns every one of her albums, and prefers her version of “Because the Night” to Natalie Merchant‘s cover, and understands how exactly she got famous, and thinks every minute of her fame is deserved, and can’t wait until she produces another LP (or book of poetry or tell-all autobiography), and who sings along with her songs as he makes that dreaded trip from Smalltown, U.S.A. to the New York City, a.k.a. the Big Apple. In this alternate universe, it’s unlikely that this alternate version of me saw Patti Smith play a Ralph Nader rally in 2000.