Friday, September 29, 2006

Don't fret, I haven't bothered to read White Noise yet, either.

I got myself all tagged up by Sommer Mathis, blog-meme wise, concerning the world of literature. Yeah, I remember books. Back in the dark daze of government contracting/taxpayer fleecing, I used to have to troop out to Silver Spring to work. That's forty minutes out, forty minutes back. Plenty of time to tear through whatever shit I had on my nightstand, and I read at a copious pace. That was before--what NOW is, is this: a shorter commute, way more regularly busy in the evenings, much more actual writing, and, of course, the deep and untamable morass that is my blogroll. On vacation, I was stoked to have the time and space to tear through eight back issues of BELIEVER. Now, I just need some time to read the remaining eight, and I'm caught up. You see my point.

Lucky for me, I got rehearsal out the yin-yang, and that always presents some downtime. So, maybe I get caught up. The last book I read was a hilarious little rock-and-roll memoir called Killing Bono. I highly recommend it. Wife of DCeiver laments the fact that I've been on a long, long non-fiction/memoir jag lately, and she wonders if I ever might read a novel again. We'll see. On with the questions.

1. One book that has changed your life.
Such a hard question to answer. There are a number of candidates. There must have been some book that catalyzed something for me, put me on a path to where I'm at today. But it was probably something really silly. As a kid, I used to love reading Edith Hamilton's Mythology. Catch-22 and the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead expanded my mind in a big way. Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch brought me the most timely and massive dose of piece of mind as any book in the past ten years. But, forced to choose one, I'll go with Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. Quite frankly, if the book hadn't been written, my life would be radically different. It's like the George Bailey of books, where my life is concerned.

2. One book you have read more than once.
I probably read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman at least once a year. It's my favorite sort of story--an apocalyptic comedy with mordant British wit. Also, I read three very important theatre books over and over again--The End of Acting and Mad About Theatre by Peter Hornby (the first, a great common-sense approach to the craft; the second, a compendium of his theatre review columns from the Atlantic Monthly that are miles better than Peter Marks on his best day) and, An Actor Behaves by Tom Markus, which will quite literally increase your chances of working in the theatre a hundred-fold.

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
Well, if I'm stuck with the one book, it better have a teeming imagination, huge and restorative payoffs, be expansive in scope, and, of course, end happily. So, I'll take The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

4. One book that made you cry.
Tough question. Some books sadden me to the point of outrage, like Philip Gourevitch's We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. Other books are so transportingly sad in the way they fill one with remorse--the searing book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges is like that. But if I had to pick a book that is just, eyes-welling, straight-up pathos producing, I'll go with Craig Thompson's graphic novel Blankets. Holy shit, is that book sad sad sad. And yet it's a complete pleasure to read--it makes you want to bear the weight of all that sadness. Crazy highly recommended.

5. One book that made you laugh.
I read a goodly number of "funny" books every year. From whatever new thing Sedaris has out, to books by comedians (Jon Stewart's two books and Laura Kightlinger's one among the most notable) to shit like The Onion and effete humorists like Hodgman and Klosterman. We likes the laffs, okay? But, for my money, the funniest book on my shelf is Cintra Wilson's A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease. It is shot through with gorgeous profanity and the most vivid metaphors for all things bad that you can rightly imagine. And, it has the added bonus of being totally fucking true.

6. One book you wish had been written.
I really, really, really wish that we could have the ending of Dead Souls, if only because it's hard to believe Gogol could have brought that book in for a landing. Don't get me wrong--what we've got is WONDERFUL, but the patches of what we're left with as far as a conclusion goes makes you wonder if he handled his shit when the time drew nigh or just found a cop-out exit. We will likely never know.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
Well, presuming that the spirit of the exercise is such that I should avoid easy yet grave answers like, say, Mein Kampf, I will have to state, unequivocally, that I desperately wish George Eliot had never written Middlemarch. Good sweet God, what an ungainly, cliche-ridden, deadly fucking bore THAT book is. I had to read that for my Survey of English Literature class and it galls me to this day that I will never, ever get that time back. Pure drivelous shit on every festering page that fails to improve on the literary merit of a bowl-bound clump of Charmin. Come to think of it, I bet it can be proven that the writing of Middlemarch set off a subtle, invisible chain of events that inevitably led to the writing of Mein Kampf, itself. And even if it can't be proven, as of this moment, I'm simply going to accept the inexorable truth of this and if I meet someone who says they love that book I'm simply going to look at them and say, "Well, then! I guess it follows that you LOVE six-million dead Jews, too!"

8. One book you are reading currently.
The next book I plan to read will be Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins.

9. One book I have been meaning to read.
Like hundreds of other, Ulysses occupies valuable nightstand real estate. And even as we speak, it waits faithfully for me to summon up the intestinal fortitude it will take to read. Also, I now intend to read The Crying of Lot 49 again, because I learned today that Pynchon's niece is a pornstar that specializes in gonzo anal penetration. I'm guessing that knowing this fact is going to be quite illuminating.

10. Pass it on.
All right: take it away, Pygs, Leaf, Karl and Callie.


Becks said...

I saw Cintra Wilson speak at a panel discussion a few months ago ? imagine a perpetually drunk Joan Cusack with a little bit of drag queen thrown in. Love her!

The Governess said...

"perpetually drunk Joan Cusack with a little bit of drag queen thrown in"

i think i might have just fainted from delight at that description. between that and rappin-ryan, it has been a good week indeed.

LuckySpinster said...

crap. ok. thanks.

dude. pick up ulysses. it's fucking brill.

Adrienne said...

DCeiver, I thought I was the only one who hated Middlemarch. I even did this blog meme myself and was too ashamed to declare my undying hatred for the book.

So now I'm saying it, loud and proud: Middlemarch blows, and I wasted the summer after my junior year reading that monstrosity for AP English Lit. What a fuckin' waste.

The Deceiver said...

If I can just bring one person out of the shadows of perceived shame to declare, too, that MIDDLEMARCH is suck-on-wheat-toast, then this blog shall have served a noble purpose, indeed.

Red Line said...

I honestly didn't care much for "A Massive Swelling". Thanks for reminding me that I really need to read Good Omens, though.