Back To School Reading List


A few weeks ago, Todd A was kind enough to forward me a copy of Barry’s Cherries for reviewing purposes.  Promises were made and money was exchanged.  I have yet to uphold my end of the bargain.  I’ve had a backlog of books to get through first.  This is not a reflection on my anticipation of reading Mr. A’s sophmore effort, but rather a reflection of my poorly thought out reading priorities. 

In a semi-related story, the bedridden Kitty Coble is always on the prowl for something good to read.  This might help you pass the time, KC.

Coble has already been disturbed by my after-lunch unhinged and disturbing review of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk.   For some reason, descriptions of a writer’s retreat rife with starvation, murder, sexual abuse, cannibalism, aut0-eroticism, and a horny progeria kid don’t go well with a plate of Mothership BBQ. 

The book has three things going for it.  First, it weaves several short stories together into an overall ugly tale in an original and inventive way that doesn’t feel completely forced.    Second, all the characters were apparently named by Aunt B.  We rarely learn their real names.  Instead, the stories are about Comrade Snarky, Reverend Godless, and The Earl of Slander.  Lastly, the cover of the paperback glows in the dark if you shine a flashlight on it.  It is the creepiest damn thing ever when glowing that luminescent green.  Perfect for scaring ones step-children when telling them ghost stories.

A couple of weeks ago, Joe Powell was guest-hosting over at NiT.  He started up a discussion of Robert Altman’s masterwork, Nashville.  Hell, he posted two discussions about the film.

I got a hold of Jan Stuart’s  Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman’s Masterpiece.  It  many respects, it is very illuminative.  For example, one understands that Altman could be an unrelenting prick, when he wasn’t smoking weed and drinking scotch.  Then he was just a regular prick.

What I found problematic were the little factual errors.   This is one of the more glaring examples, "A tall, black skyscraper with funny black wings has gone up in Nashville in the twenty-five years since Robert Altman came to town.  Called ‘the bat building’ by the locals, it is one of many bank and hotel concerns that now rival the Equity and Life building for dominance of Nashville’s bursting skyline."

There are five things in those two sentences that are just plain wrong.  Stuart goes on to describe the "spankingly renovated Second Street".  Sure, these are small errors, but they betray an Altman-esque sloppiness that pervades the book.  

Lastly, The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer is a nice, but somewhat tedious look at the pervasiveness of the Long Con in pre-World War II America.  This book was the inspiration for the big hit of 1973, The Sting.

Maurer is a professor of linguistics by trade and focuses on the argot of the confidence man.  Unfortunately, he name drops the big time players of the day without bringing them to life on the page.  More entertaining is when reading the descriptions of some of the short-cons, you realize that people still fall for variations of these scams.  

Someone needs too send Mary Winkler a copy. 


3 Responses to “Back To School Reading List”

  1. Katherine Coble Says:

    I like how you say "after lunch" as though it was hours and hours, and not while I still had the tang of dumdums on my tongue. ;-pI’ll skip the Pahulalala book, but I’m definitely up for the one on the Long Con. It’s now on reserve for me at the library. Which, thanks to modrun technology, any of you people can pick up. Just go into the Hermitage Library, check the holdshelf under Coble, Timothy and there you have it. All yours. Glad to help out.

  2. Sarcastro Says:

    I just returned my copy to the downtown library.

  3. Katherine Coble Says:

    I figured that was you. It actually said "recently returned"Small world, no?

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