Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read

in which the author discusses five books he'd read, if time permitted.

1. The Studio, edited by Jens Hoffmann.
My first "studio" was my high school bedroom. Then my band played in my friend's basement, which his parents inexplicably converted into a practice space/marijuana-smoking area. At college, I played in the basement of my dorm, and the people in the rooms above frequently complained. Then the era of group-house practice spaces began—one living room, a basement, another living room, a kitchen, a garage, then another basement and a bedroom. Neighbors complained each time. Then the "depressing practice space that you actually pay for" years began at one space in Falls Church, then another in Brookland. Though I grew to love the one in Brookland, it was torn down to build artists studios, just like in the Alanis Morissette song "Ironic."

2. Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces, by Cory MacLauchlin.
Dude killed himself and never found out that the book he wrote made him famous. What's crazy: Because he's dead, he still doesn't know.

3. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, by Mark Leyner.
Novels with wacky titles get a lot of love.

4. The Appian Way: Ghost Road, Queen of Roads, by Robert A. Kaster.
I spent a lot of time in Latin class in grades seven through 10. Not much happened in Latin. We'd conjugate some verbs, sometimes even the verb "to be"; we translated writing about the life of Caesar, who seemed like a real d*ck; and we learned about the Appian Way, the Broadway/South St./18th St./Route 66 of ancient Rome where all the hep cats hung out, seeing and being seen. In vino veritas, and all that.

5. The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, by Victor Cha.
I hope North Korea doesn't launch that scary rocket this week. It's fun when North Korea shouts and stomps its feet and makes a big show about how much of a bad *ss it is, but if it actually started, you know, trying to actually be a bad *ss, that would be a bummer—like if Rudy became captain of the Fighting Irish instead of just running one lousy play.

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