So, about a year or so ago, I mentioned that I wasn't enjoying reading anymore. Books weren't grabbing me, and I found myself getting very easily distracted. Then (also mentioned in this LJ), I read Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted, and was reheartened. While I was reading the book, my friend, Emily, saw it, mentioned that she sometimes worked in the facility where the book takes place, and would like to read it. Thus began our weekly book exchange. I've been reading muchly since then, and thought I'd pass along a bunch of the titles I've read. What I've enjoyed, and what I haven't. If anyone has any suggestions for other books to read, let me know, I'm totally binging now.
Chris Adrian's Children's Hospital
It had a bunch of typos, and a few dead boring parts, but the beginning was fantastic, and the pages were the plot actually advanced were fantastic. It's incredibly long, but overall worth the read, if just to watch it flip genres a few times. You really don't have any idea where the book is going for the first few hundred pages, and I mean that in a good way. And the end doesn't suck.
Margaret Atwood's Blind Assassin
I couldn't get into it at all. I was intrigued by the structure, and the whole novel inside a novel idea, but the punctuation was atrocious. I never knew when a character was or wasn't talking, because bitch didn't use quotation marks. I also had the feeling I got when I read Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods which was, for all the cool style points, nothing interesting would be resolved over the course of the novel. I might have been wrong, but I couldn't get past the first hundred pages.
Augusten Borrough's Dry
I originally read this when I was living with the crazy Asian-obsessed pedophile freakshow in Slummerville. I liked it then, I like it more now. It's much more readable than Running With Scissors, which I thought was okay, but overrated. Dry is hilarious, brutal, and seems much more honest than his previous books.
Johnny Cash's autobiography
Since I'm working on a novel about a fictional rock star, I thought I'd check out a bunch of autobiographies by rock stars. I didn't want to shell out thirty nine bucks for the U2 monstrosity, so I picked up Johnny's, and I'm glad I did. The writing was plain, but interesting, and I learned a bunch of things that made me want to go out and download (legally, natch) some of his older recordings.
Joe Connely's Bringing Out The Dead
Any book that they adapt for film, and toss Nicholas Cage in, makes me nervous. But it was paced well, and kept me interested. It was also a quick read, which I appreciated.
Stephen Dobyn's The Wrestler's Cruel Study
I originally bought this about a decade ago, because I thought the cover art was interesting. Having now met, and talked a bit with Stephen Dobyns, I like it even more. Professional wrestling being choreographed interpretations of biblical lore? Fucken sweet.
Chris Durang Explains It All For You
For years I've confused Christopher Durang and David Ives. Their plays aren't similar, but I was rehearsing some scenes from Ives's All In The Timing, while I was performing Durang's "Sister Mary Ignatious Explains It All For You" and "Beyond Therapy". This collection is obscene and brilliant. If you can deal with reading scripts, I highly recommend this collection.
Carrie Fisher's Surrender The Pink
Carrie Fisher's The Best Awful
Literary snobs have given me a lot of flack for enjoying Fisher's Postcards From The Edge. I mean, Princess Leia isn't Dostoevsky. But she is witty, and knows how to keep stories quick and interesting. She'd be a guilty pleasure, but I don't feel a lick of guilt about reading her.
Janet Fitch's White Oleander
Celeste left a copy of this book behind when she moved. Oh. So. Good. Carrying a cool metaphor for an entire novel without making it seem forced or pretentious is tough, but she pulled it off. I love the way she uses language, and blends style with accessibility.
Neil Gaiman's American Gods
Neil Gaiman's Smoke & Mirrors
People have preconceived notions about novels written by someone mostly known as a graphic novelist. Fuck em. Neither of these books are life changing or awe-inspiring, but as Emily said "They're great road trip books."
Nikki Giovanni's Acolytes
I really wish I'd read scottwoods's review of this book. Niki Giovanni was one of the first people who inspired me to get into spoken word. Workshopping with her almost a decade ago changed the way I write. And, yea, I know she is responsible for a generation of lazy, untalented hacks who think that centering a poem and putting a bunch of "yea"s in is a good idea, but I forgave her. I can not forgive her for making me read Acolytes. It is unforgivable. I think her publisher and editor need to release a joint-book apology to the world for letting Nikki release this book to an unsuspecting world. It's the only book I've ever returned to the bookstore due to its suckitude. It's the worse thing I've ever read, and I own a book by Harris Gardner!
John Irving's Widow For One Year
Did John Irving fuck his mom? Cause every book I've ever read by him has an incest angle. Still, I liked this book, though I did start wanting it to end about fifty pages before it did. He has a chapter about the street one of the side characters lives on, and it's in the last hundred or so pages, and it does nothing to advance the plot. But it ended well.
David Ive's All In The Timing
Another insanely brilliant collection of scripts. "Philip Glass Orders A Loaf Of Bread", "Variations on the Death of Trotsky", "The Philadelphia", and "Foreplay" are my favorite one act plays in the world. Love them all. Bunches.
David Ive's Mere Mortals is not All in the Timing. It's very much meh.
Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes
You know, Stephen Kingy. Good stories, a few great stories, but nothing life changing. It's not up to par with the first three Dark Tower books, but it's not as disappointing as the latter Dark Tower books. It's also a collection of short stories, and not a Dark Tower book, so there you are.
Mark Leyner's My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist
I like that I live in a world where Mark Leyner has literary cred. His proze is baffling and occasionally brilliant. It does make me want to drink, though.
Neil McCormick's Killing Bono
Another book I read as research. It's not awful. It should be mentioned that all the jacket reviews are from rock stars, though, not book reviewers. Apparently, Elton John and I have different opinions about the word "brilliant".
The Outlaw Bible Of American Poetry is bloated, and entirely too NYCcentric. But it's got Lisa Martinovic and Jeffrey Macdaniels in it, so I'll forgive it.
A whole fuckload of Edgar Allan Poe made me want to download all the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes. I almost wish I hadn't had to read all of his stuff in high school, as I might appreciate it more now.
David Sedaris's Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim
Simon Winchester's The Professor & The Madman.
Casey, the guy who expressed interest while I was obsessed with Ben, lent me this book. Then he was either killed in a freak frogging accident, or he read my LJ, and didn't like it. I haven't heard from him since. And he didn't respond to my couple of e-mails offering to return the book to him. It's a fantastic book. It's non-fiction about one of the main contributors to The Oxford English Dictionary, which sounds painfully boring, but it's written like it's fiction. Excellent style, and it really moves along well.
The 66 bus should just alter its route to pick me up directly in front of the house. I've been taking it just about every day this calendar year. And, most days (despite what Ben would tell you), it arrives every fifteen minutes or so. On the really gorgeous days, like today, it sits at the bottom of the hill, and waits for me to show up. But when it rains, it's nowhere to be found.
When I left the house on Monday it was neither beautiful nor raining. I put on my springish jacket, decided to leave my hat in my room, threw Rebound on to the front porch, and began walking down the hill. Naturally, it began to pour exactly halfway between the house and the bus stop. And, since I would be soaked no matter what I decided to do, I chose to run down the hill, and hope the bus would show up soon. It did not. While I waited, I read twenty-three pages of Augusten Burrough's Dry. For the irony. And when the bus came, packed to capacity with obscenity screaming teenagers, and doddering old ladies, I plodded on, and stood in the back.
I got off at Coolidge Corner for a bagel sandwich and soup, hoping the rain would die down a bit while I ate. But as I sat down, the employees began moving all the tables to the back of the store. This seemed ominous.
"Is there an open mic here tonight?" I asked, thinking who runs a music or a poetry event in a fucken bagel shop? Outside of Middletown Connecticut, I mean.
"No." The lady said. "It's a children's sing along."
I guzzled down my soup like it was water, and I'd been living in the desert for seven months (replete with me choking on said soup), jackaled down my bagel sandwich, and headed back into the rain. I'd rather stand still during the middle of a fecal rainstorm than endure even five minutes of a children's sing along.
Since I knew the odds of me seeing another 66 bus in the near future were slim, I decided to walk the rest of the way to Allston. Naturally, four buses passed me during the trip, each of them spaced just far enough apart so that I would be halfway between stops when they passed.
At the intersection of Commonwealth and Mass Avenue, three Korean girls were standing around a dead squirrel, that looked as though it had been flattened by a car, then bloated by the puddle of water it was resting in. I couldn't make out what the girls were saying, but it was either Aww, that poor squirrel is dead, how sad. or I'm really hungry today, let's kill another one.
And the thought of these three petite Korean girls, hunting squirrels with Thor's hammer (how else would they flatten them so thoroughly?) kept me smiling all the way to the next 66 bus stop, where an out of service bus sped past me, drowning me in its wake.
Divine: "What kind of gay man names his cat after a sports term?"
Me: "What kind of woman stands up to pee?"
Divine: "One with a penis."
Me: "See. Two different questions. Same answer."
For the last couple of weeks, I've been worried that I wasn't driven enough. I wasn't writing anything, VH1 stopped asking if they could do one of their craptacular documentaries on me, and my chauffeur wouldn't take my calls.
The thing is, writers shouldn't be driven, they should be driving. So I have been.
Last week, I drove Zuzu to Worcester, got home and scribbled down a few things that I didn't like, but I was at least scribbling.
This morning, I decided I needed new reading material, and I had a $50 gift certificate to The More Than Words bookstore. So I went to the terrible mbta website, and they told me how many kajillions of buses it would take me to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.
I sighed, and decided I'd just stop in at the comic book store, buy a trade paperback, and cry myself to shame...err, sleep.
How do you know you've spent too much time and money in your local comic book store? When you lament not knowing how to get somewhere by bus, and the owner gives you the keys to her van.
So, in the blinding snow, I drove to the book store, and now have so many many many many books. So. Many. And I drove back to the store, dropped off the van, and the keys, and went home. And now I have three full chapters of Let Lie The Dogs of Rock & Roll written, as well as a new poem for tonight's Hootenanny.
I mean, I've got drive like Ric Ocasek, like Tiger Woods at the tee, like the first syllable of the fictional group that sings "You All Everybody". Drive like the first single off of REM's Automatic For The People.
That said, I must now take the bus back home.
I have semi-adopted a kitten named Rebound. It's a very small version of Ben's Asscat, except it is super sweet and nauseatingly cuddly. She and another kitten were living in our basement a few months ago. I thought they were owned by someone in the building, but the other kitten has completely vanished, and this one is often found mewing outside our house, or in the back hallway. I'm not the only one in the house that feeds her or talks to her (one of the upstairs neighbors loudly mews at her, and says "Yea, yea, dinner's coming." But when I mentioned that his cat keeps sneaking into my apartment he said "My cat? I thought it was yours."
So whenever I come home from work (rarely before 1 AM), Rebound is waiting by the front door. She mews a few times, hops on to my shoulders when I lean down to pet her, and then hops onto my bed when I get to my room. There, she curls up next to the pillow, only moving to stalk me.
She now understands that she has to leave when I go to work, as I have no litterbox, and no desire to have the smell of used litterbox in my house. Originally, whenever I tried to get her to leave the apartment, I would place her outside, she would run between my legs, I would pick her up and put her further outside, she would run around my feet. Hence, Rebound.
In addition to her adorability, and cuddleness, she has the added bonus of not getting along with Divine, which means she has good taste.
Every Tuesday night, I head over to Zuzu and Lot's for dinner, TV, and conversation. Tonight, after dinner, but before television time, Pup Ratzinger (Zuzu's dachshund) started to go a little haywire, so Zuzu picked him up, and immediately fell over an exercise machine and on to the floor (thus furthering my theory that exercise machines and dachshunds are evil). Both Lot and I are fairly certain she broke her arm. She's refusing to go to the hospital until tomorrow morning, so we made her a sling, and made her put a bag of frozen asparagus over her arm (it's the closest thing to an icepack in the house).
Last week, my grandmother threw out her shoulder shoveling the sidewalk in front of her house because she wasn't sure her neighbor was going to help her. He always helps her, and arrived to do the shoveling three minutes after she damaged her shoulder. She's completely fine, but while I was down there visiting her and making sure she was okay, her evil mutt, Frisky, kept jumping on her shoulder and humping it. I would yell at him, which did no good, and ended up smacking him on the nose to make him stop. Then my grandmother yelled at me "He would have stopped when he was done. Leave him be." She also refused to go to the hospital. But at least her house had a proper icepack in it.
If Zuzu's arm doesn't improve, it looks like she won't be driving for a while, so I'm going to be her acting chauffeur for a while. How does this affect you?
Apparently, this weekend she's doing some sort of promotional work in Worcester. Many of you who read this, live in Worcester. I have no problem driving her out to Worcester and back, but would rather not drive her there and back on Friday, and then drive her there and back on Saturday. Any Worcesterites have a spare couch or two that Zuzu and I could use? Preferably one inside a heated house? Zuzu offers free magazines (Which, I assume has something to do with her promo work), I will offer to either cook or pay for/order take out food, depending on what you think of my cooking. And, of course, there's bound to be an amusing story or two involved.