Friday, July 30, 2004

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young
This memoir is great for thought experiments. I think: Would I act differently than Toby Young if I met Jim Carrey or Kenneth Branaugh? If I got a coveted job at Vanity Fair (or somewhere equally prestigious) would I hire a stippergram for my colleague's birthday? Despite eventually losing his job at Vanity Fair and becoming a raging alcohoic, Young's story has a happy--but not sappy--ending.

The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain by Alice W. Flaherty
I like reading books about disorders because I can see myself in them and it's fun to self-diagnose, even when I know I'm sort of being a hypochondriac. Take Geschwind syndrome, marked by hypergraphia, a deepened emotional life sometimes described as hyperphilosophical or hyperreligious, a low sex drive, and extreme talkativeness cause by an excessive attention to detail. Sounds familiar!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Summer reading so far...

Everything Is Illuminated by Jon-fren Safran Foer
A holocaust novel unlike any I've heard of--though I might not have read it if I'd known it was one. In letters from the narrator's Ukrainian penpal, Safran Foer murders English and resurrects it. His warping of English is even funnier than David Sedaris's in Me Talk Pretty One Day. Also, according to this New Yorker article, the author speaks as an Oracle through an electronic sign in Manhattan.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
My new favorite author. I didn't like him when I first read part of Naked, but after hearing him on the radio and in person, I've got a sense of his comic timing, which is key to his jokes. Plus if you can imagine his high, nasal voice when reading his books, that helps make it funnier too. Hear him read online on This American Life. All their shows are available as streaming audio, which you can record if you want (see my instructions).

The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts, and One Author's Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves by Mark Sundeen
When life hands you poop, make a poopsicle. Then sell it. (Read the intro and that will make more sense.)

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers by Mary Roach
We'll all be dead someday, so why not read about dead bodies now? Proof that "hilarious science book" is not an oxymoron.

The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
Russians? Yes. Lots of them. Dubutantes? Only one so far, but he doesn't wear a pastel gown. Handbook? Well, I can hold it in my hand. But it's not a step-by-step how to book. It's a novel.