Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Eric B & Rakim quotes aside, I've been reading a great deal since last I posted. I just finished Michael Chabon's latest, Telegraph Avenue, as well as Per Peterson's It's Fine By Me, both of which I'll write about at length soon enough, however, I've been doing a lot of dipping between a number of books that are well worth their while.
First off, The Fun of It: Stories from the Talk of the Town. Edited by Lillian Ross, who joined the New Yorker in 1945, this chronological collection of "casuals" from the magazine is a delight, especially if you're like me (and I know I am) and enjoy the short, engaging pieces at the front of each issue that leave you wanting more. Great writing from great writers--James Thurber, Harold Ross, A J Liebling, Joseph Mitchell through the Shawn era staff and onto the current class including David Remnick, Jeffrey Toobin and Rebecca Mead.
Here's a quote I found especially interesting: "Freshman congressmen come here [to Congress] half persuaded that their constituents' impression of them is true, that they are going to save the country, only to find out that the mechanics don't exist for saving the country through Congress." That was from Congresswoman Claire Boothe Luce. In 1943. Nothing changes.
I'm halfway through Frances and Bernard, an epistolary novel by Carlene Bauer. Thus far I'm intrigued but I'm uncertain I like the characters all that much. It will be a testament to Bauer's writing to turn my head. Still, good stuff so far and I have time to form my opinion since the book won't be out until February.
Revisiting A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel and find it just as charming and laugh-out-loud funny as I remember. This is one of those books I've been lending to friends since it was published in 2001 and not one of them has ever given it back without telling me how much they enjoyed it. Please read or re-read this memoir about 'growing up small in Mooreland, Indiana' as the sub-title says. I'm not sure where Kimmel is now but I do hope she's still at the writing game.
Surprisingly, Grove published another collection of Sherman Alexie short stories, this one entitled Blasphemy, which is a mix of old and new. I thought I remember Alexie leaving Grove and going to another house at the time War Dance was published. Perhaps I'm mistaken or maybe this is the last of some contractual obligation, a live album or collection of b-sides, if you will. As an apostle of Alexie, I had to have it (Thanks Jen) and find the book quite satisfying and rife with stories you'd expect from him--some touching, some beautiful, some infuriating. I was happy to re-read "What You Pawn, I Will Redeem" as well as "This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona", the basis for the movie Smoke Signals. As mentioned before here in my little corner of cyberspace, Alexie is not everyone's cup of YooHoo but I think he is a master.
Speaking of things cyber, The Movie Uncyclopedia was recently published as an e-book. I had the great good fortune to be involved promoting both The Football Uncyclopedia and The Baseball Uncyclopedia. This time around Michael Kun (who is just the nicest fella), Lou Harry (with whom I spent one of the funniest evenings of my life), Eric Feinstein (who I don't know at all), and Theresa Hoiles (who I hears smells nice) skewer the world of film and film fans. Together, they pool their years of movie-watching experience and let 'er rip reminding readers that what you remember and know about your favorite films is wrong, wrong, wrong. Fat with footnotes and playful in-fighting among each other, they tackle some of the burning issues of filmdom with the grace of a sledgehammer. Included at no additional charge--THE MOST EXCITING INTRODUCTION EVER! Funny stuff, as ever, from this bunch.