Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fistful of Comments on Books I've Read This Year

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks.  I've had this book on my shelf for years, but only now have I gotten around to reading it.  Among the seriously weird-ass cases included, the jazz musician with Tourette's piqued my interest, but if Tourette's & jazz aren't your particular cup of peculiar tea, maybe you'll like the piece trumpeting the benefits of syphilis for the elderly.  Beats The National Enquirer hands down.

Norwood, Charles Portis.  I like this better than Dog of the South because Portis is able to accomplish pretty much the same crazy, random shit in significantly fewer pages & that's important to me because I'm busy as hell these days, what with Netflix, the internet & everything.

Funny, Jennifer Michael Hecht.  Hecht uses jokes as the bases for poems; I do just the opposite, heh. I'd suggest that she not use jokes that everyone's heard, but instead write her own jokes.  That would make Funny funnier--well, one hopes.  SCTV alum Andrea Martin wrote one of the cover blurbs.  I'm lying if I say I'm not just a tad jealous.  I'd love for maybe Martin Short (as Ed Grimley) to write a blurb for my next book, whenever that is, but here's hoping it's sooner rather than later because nobody's getting any younger, you know.

The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood.  Here's what the critics say:
         "For me!"  --Frisch's Big Boy
         "Shows . . . good taste."--Charlie Tuna
         "Magically delicious." --Lucky the Leprechaun
         "Moist & easy." --Betty Crocker
         "Finger lickin' good." --Col. Harland Sanders
         "I'm lovin' it!" --Ronald McDonald
         "M'm, m'm, good!"--Campbell Kids
         "Fresh. Fast. Tasty." --Jimmy Johns
         "Better than fast food."  --Wendy's
         "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face."  --Carl's Jr.
         "That's hot!"  --Paris Hilton
         "Yum!" --Red Robin
         "Thirty-one flavors." --Baskin Robbins
         "Fifty-seven varieties."  --H.J. Heinz
         "It is nourishing in ways we can't fully understand."  --Joyce Carol Oates
         "It's the right thing to do & the tasty way to do it."  --Wilfred Brimley
         "Good to the last drop."  --Maxwell House
         "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands."  --Eminem
         "Makes meat loaf sing."  --Meat Loaf
         "A.1.  Yeah, it's that important."  --George IV
         "Got milk?" --U.S. Milk Industry
         ". . .  grrrrrr-eat!" --Tony T. Tiger
         "Famously fresh."  --Mr. Peanut
         "Incredible . . . "  --American Egg Board
         "Yes."  --Del Monte
         "Uncommonly good." --Ernie Keebler
         "What a flavor!  Zippity-zoo, it's great & how!"  --Euell Gibbons
         "How do you feed a hungry man?"  --Carl A. Swanson
         "I'm the pie & the pie is good all by itself.  Even if I don't have a cherry."  --Halle Berry
         "They have all the pieces.  The thing is to come together."  --Darryl Strawberry
         "Recommended."  --Duncan Hines
         "Beyond compare."  --Ron Varadero
         "Unwrap a smile."  --Little Debbie
         "Oh, yeah!"  --Hungry Jack
         "Hoo-hoo!"  --Poppin' Fresh
         "Ho ho ho."  --J. G. Giant
         "A generation ahead.'" --Pep Sicola
         "Breakfast of Champions."  --Kurt Vonnegut
         "It's not just for breakfast anymore."  --Florida Orange Growers Association
         "Don't go 'round hungry." --Snyder's Lance
         "Au rhythms et au gout d'aujourd'hui"  --B. K.
         "There'll be griddle marks."  --John Candy
         "The cheesiest."  --James L. Kraft
         "Thank goodness!"  --Chef Boyardee
         "Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery."  --Fannie Farmer
         "I read zombie books."  --Kevin Bacon
         "Only the finest."  --Russell Stover
         "Betcha can't eat just one."  --Herman W. Lay
         "Eat it.  Anytime."  --Jack in the Box

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.  Sure, I could dub this a modern day Gulliver's Travels & note a few obvious parallels, as well as some obscure & perhaps even far-fetched ones, but that takes way, way more effort than I'm good for.  Besides, for fuck-a-dilly's sake, what can I really say about a semi-cult classic?  "So long & thanks for all the fish," I guess.

Issa's Best, Kobayashi Issa.  High kudos!  See what I did there?  I made a pun, which I offer in the spirit of this extraordinary collection of haiku.  Did you know that haiku means "light verse"?  Also, do  means "the way."  Thus, haikudo, if it were, in fact, a word, would mean "the way of light verse" & Kobayashi Issa would be the Tsunetomo Yamatoto of haiku, at least in my book.

Dream of Fair to Middling Women, Samuel Beckett.  Meh.

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson.  I laughed my ass off when I first read this motherfucker in high school & thought some x-ty years later, I'd do the same.  While I still find Duke & Gonzo's hi-jinx highly amusing,  my sad & sizable ass,  if I may be so blunt, remains less than firmly intact, but--& it's a mighty big but--this book, to quote the late great Anna Nicole Smith, is fucking genius. Movie's pretty decent, too--huzzah, Terry Gilliam--unlike the recent release of Thomas Pynchon's hilarious novel, Inherent Vice, which Paul Thomas Anderson decided, when transposing it to the screen, to sap of all but the very stems & seeds of humor, opting instead to make it a moody period piece. For instance, Anderson reduces the absurdly paranoid conversations that occur throughout the book between Doc & Sancho--allusively akin to Thompson's Duke & Gonzo--to a few whispery somber scenes.  That Benicio del Toro played both Gonzo & Sancho in the movies suggests that Anderson saw this parallel, but perhaps thought that he--having never read Pynchon, if I may conjecture--should treat the subject matter with all due sobriety in light of the gravitas of Pynchon's literary reputation & ipso facto missed the laffboat.  As is usually the case, I was right to fear its adaptation to film.

The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees.  Here's a fucking poet I don't fucking read often enough.   I fucking love the Robinson poems--if you haven't fucking read my fucking parody, "Aspects of Dagwood," fucking click here or here--as fucking well as a whole fucking slew of his poems, infuckingcluding "For My Daughter," "Guide to the Symphony" & "Crime Club," which fucking reminds me of one of my all-fucking-time faves, Kenneth fucking Fearing.  Kees is fucking great & all--nobody's fucking arguing that's he's not--but that fucking said, he's also fucking depressing & I'm so fucking depressed these days that I can barely fucking stand myfuckingself.

Pronto, Elmore Leonard.  OK, so I'd not read Leonard before--or after, for that matter, but Jeez-us, give it time, won't ya?  I enjoyed the story well enough--the incidental crap about literature's favorite fascist, Ezra Pound, was an unexpected, um, let's say treat--so maybe I'll read some more Leonard & maybe I won't. So what's it to you?

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