Thursday, July 27, 2006

Books and Beards

Sometimes, after I've read a particularly good book, I go on reading strike. And somewhere, LaVar Burton is shaking his head and crying. But it's true. About three weeks ago I finished Dingley Falls by Michael Malone, who also wrote Handling Sin, which, quite frankly is either the best or the second best book I've ever read*, and since then: nothing. I mean, I'll read my Jon Carroll in the morning, my Bill Simmons, my Gasoline Hobo, my Cecil Adams, an article about Hot 97 in the New Yorker wherein a guy who was rapping there might've faked getting shot in the ass because he saw some guy in the Soprano's fake getting shot in the ass. Point is, I have nothing going day to day; been strictly short attention span since Independence Day. If I keep going like this, I'm going to devolve to the point that all I read are those little charts on the bottom left corner of the USA Today front page. Sure, I'll know that sweet corn always has an even number of kernel rows, but the greater mysteries will remain, as always, unsolved.

What's the point? Well, as I've done before, I'm soliciting recommendations. Not just for a book, but for the BEST BOOK EVER. This, admittedly, is a tall order. If I learned anything in Kindergarten, it's that sharing should be reciprocal, and I did, so now it's your turn. Neener neener neener. And so forth.

I'll actually need several, since our next tour is almost six weeks long and, well, much reading gets done in that there Patrick Stewart. I also just realized yesterday that this will be my first proper & complete cross-country roadtrip, one gigantic, swervy circle around our country, playing in something like twenty or twenty five states & driving through at least ten more. And, unlike Division Day, we can get into Canada.** There will be copious chances to purchase bad hats, worse shirts, still worse fast food, see the world's largest wooden prairie dog, and learn the geographic lessons that never stuck in school ("wait, there's a Mississippi River?"), all while spending an eighth of a year straight in one, endless, dank pub. Man. That sounds good. I'm actually toying with the idea of not shaving the entire time, but there are a few hitches in that plan. a) I've never made it past the "itchy" stage (2 weeks or so) and don't have any reason to think I will, b) my mustache grows faster than the beard, so, for quite some time, I might look like Freddy Mercury at 10 o'clock in the evening, with (slightly) better teeth, and c) I might look really, really stupid. On the upside though, I could pull at it and look contemplative. Plus, it plays into my natural laziness. Just thinking out loud here.

*The Brothers K is the only contender. And no, that is not an abbreviation of the Russian novel.



Sandisoverrated said...

Like i've said before, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius by dave eggers. San Francisco native, lots of great local locale. Poignant, funny as hell, and just brillaint.

birdmonster said...

Mike (SiO): I'm bringing it. I forgot last time. Plus, I don't have to buy it, since I know a few folks who own it. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Freeness it is.vaf

Rachael said...

I'll second Heartbreaking Work, and add Oracle Night by the great Brooklyn native Paul Auster. It's a book within a book within a book, if that makes any sense. Weird and fantastic all at the same time.

birdmonster said...

It makes no sense at all, actually. But I like Paul Auster, so hey, why not.

Sasha said...

I'm so jealous of people who can read in moving vehicles. And play in rock bands. And can get into Canada. But anyway.....

Books: Yes, the Eggers book is great. Breezy, yet intimate. If you want a GREAT book, go for this: Seven Types of Ambiguity, the author is Eliot Perlman (sp?), he's an Aussie. It's about a gazillion thousand pages and yet....I couldn't put it down.

However, recommendations must come with the Good Housekeeping Seal of "If You Don't Like It, It's Because I Don't Know You and Your Likes and Dislikes".

It's a book about people...and how they view different events....and how the psychological make-up of each us can view the same event in different ways. Sort of like a Rashomon of the psyche in modern times. Not terribly heavy, very good with narrative, but it makes you think. No car chases or buildings blown up.

And now, I must return to the confines of the Eliot Perlman (sp? tm.) street team.*

* no such thing exists, but if it did, I suppose I'd be its captain.

Sabrina said...

What about the maintenance manual for Patrick Stewart? You could be a cerified mechanic when this next leg is over. Or have you guys fixed all the glitches??

Gasoline Hobo said...

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. seriously, that book has had an amazing impact on my life. i'm not even kidding. here, read some quotes. there are five books in the trilogy, and they're all excellent, so your joy will stretch over a decent period of time.

plus, if you do NOT have a copy with you when you force me to hang out with you, i will do terrible things to you with a lozenge, a piece of string, an eighth of a mouse, and a cardboard cutout of Mr. T.

either that, or i'll give you one of my copies of the book. :)

Anonymous said...

i think that you ought to put jonathan safron foer's everything is illuminated to the test for best book ever.

i have a feeling you've already read that, though. so why don't i suggest some more. plath's bell jar, euginidies's virgin suicides and then there's always hamlet, but i bet you've read that too, probably more than once. seems like i've actually regressed into books you're even more likely to have read.

probably haven't read too many climbing narritives though, so i'll suggest touching the void by joe simpson. it's everything that could possibly go wrong in a climbing trip so don't let it give you a bad impression. it's the most mindlblowing (true) story i've ever read and definitely the deepest look into the human soul i've ever experienced.


Gasoline Hobo said...

p.s.: i am a fan of the beard, as you may have noticed. my follicle count is higher on the lip as well, but things seem to have worked out fine. plus, the ladies love a good beard. it reeks of manliness.

so be sure to wash it.


derek said...

your going on an adventure, so why not take along one of the best adventure books of all time. kon tiki. it made me want to be norwegian even more. it's got great characters, made all the better by it being a true story.

birdmonster said...

Ok: Elliot Perlman (sp?): check. Never heard of it but will be strolling through Stacey's this afternoon with these comments printed out, folding the covers of new books and demanding money off.

GH: Weirdly, I've read both the Dirk Gentleys but never the HHG. I should remedy this.

Crowley: Yer right. I read Everything Is Illuminated (such tiny writing. Why would the font be so small? The publisher deserves a strongly worded letter). This climbing books sounds intriguing. Maybe too intense for leisure. That might have to be an at-homer. Rebecca just got one about the first trips (or one of the first expeditions)attempting to reach the North Pole. That's the sum total of my knowledge about that. Maybe it's the same one. Maybe you've heard of it. Penguins are involved, I think. Which is never bad.

GH part II: I have noticed your beard. It is mischevious. Mine would be, I promise, hobo-tastic.

Derek: I ain't never heard of that. To Stacey's yet again!

One and all: Thanks so much. I appreciate the recommendations. An odd place to solicit them, I know, but I've got a slew to chose from now. Keep you posted.

Dahlgren's Daddy said...

Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis

What's Bred in the Bone, Robertson Davies

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Kt said...

I agree with Crowley(Hi John btw) I loved Everything is Illuminated but I also really liked his newest book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

I would also recommend Kavalier and Clay or House of Leaves for a long tour ride or Marc Spitz's How Soon is Never which is a quick read and great for any music nerd/ Smiths fan.

Kt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katrina said...

this book recommendation is a bit late but i've been away and am catching up. Have you ever read "House of Leaves" by Mark Danielewski? It came out a while ago but I'm still haunted by the story. The typography is crazy and remarkable. I've never seen anything like it in a novel. It's a very cinematic experience. Even if you don't like the story (disturbing, the narrator is a psychopath), the work is impressive and ambitious.

It's been a while since I've read it but I wasn't that impressed with AHWOSG. Eggers is very funny and the book is heartbreaking at times but ultimately, the book is scattered. He even admits to that in the forward/intro. I felt sorry for Toph. And "Everything is Illuminated" is also very funny during the Alex narrated chapters but the more dramatic Jonathan chapters made me cringe a little.

birdmonster said...

House of Leaves is great, although the narrator sorta bothered me at times. The guy-who-found-the-manuscript narrator, not the wizened dude.

He's got a new one coming out soon---doubt it will be as typographically magnificent though.