Dispatch from the Nightstand: Books of December, 2010

The current trend in reading as little as possible continues forlornly, while also resuming the old habit of starting as many books as possible.

Just recently completed, My Life as a Man, an extremely self-aware molar grinder of a novel, about  a Jewish novelist in New York, at least half-biographical. It’s about a horribly destructive relationship between a neurotic, self-analyzing writer, and his short-tempered, obsessive wife. It was exhausting but good, taking me an embarrassing four months to get through all 330 pages. I’ll probably have to read it again to figure it all out. I’ll probably never read it again. (Philip Roth)

After this, immediately picked The Great Shark Hunt right back up and dove once again into Hunter S. Thompson’s picking apart of Richard Nixon and the ugliness of the late sixties and early seventies. Then I went to sleep.

With the same impulse that caused me to snatch it from the dollar bin at Half Price Books, stuck Death by Black Hole (Tyson) into my bag a few days ago, haven’t gotten through more than three pages of it. This, after buying The Elegant Universe (Greene), The Fabric of the Cosmos (also Greene), and even freaking A Brief History of Time (wheelchair guy) over the past five years. Perhaps Neil DeGrasse Tyson will break through my layman’s angst, probably not. They look well-intentioned on a bookshelf.

Made it about 90% through Bourdain’s strutting Kitchen Confidential on my October vacation, then ran into some major fluff and the yellow and black cover is now gathering a good bit of dust. It is like reading about life on a pirate ship. I was hoping for some good badmouthing about the near-entire cast of the Food Network, no such luck.

I have Fahrenheit 452 comin’ in the post sooner or later, never did get enough Bradbury. If high school kids can (act like they) read it, I should be able to bang through it reasonably enough. This should come shortly on the heels of something new for me: The War Nerd, by semi-indie author Gary Brecher. The man bears the gift (and no doubt the girth) of the average California Asperger Sufferer, only all about man’s most violent intentions instead of train schedules and computer parts. It’s a collection of all his editorials from the left-of-left-of-left online rag The Exile. I don’t have any books about war, except maybe The Good War (Terkel), and that’s not about war, it’s about people. Maybe I’m starting to collect books about war. From what I’ve seen so far, Brecher is very good at showing just how well we humans just love to repeat history.

And it’s funny, as I was ordering up The War Nerd last week, a refrain from a song I probably last heard at about twelve popped into my head:

I like football, and porno, and books about war.
I’ve got an average house, with a nice hardwood floor.

The name of the song? I’m an A**hole. (Denis Leary)

Thanks, brain, for calling that one up. You trying to tell me something?


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