Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read

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

1. In One Person, by John Irving.
I'm in my fourth decade of confusing John Irving with John Updike and, rather than fake my way through conversations among the literary set, have decided to go public. Sometimes, this confusion works in Updike's favor, as when I enjoyed The World According to Garp and then decided to read Rabbit, Run. Other times, Irving comes up short, as when I was disgusted by Rabbit, Redux and so didn't read A Prayer for Owen Meany. I'm just glad that Philip Roth's name isn't also John.

2. The Newlyweds, by Nell Freudenberger.
This novel is about a Bangladeshi immigrant who moves to Rochester, N.Y., a city which no doubt has a terrifying straight-edge hardcore scene.

3. My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family, by Zach Wahls.
It's a good week to be gay. Or a friend of gays. Or the child of gays. It's not a good week to be in the closet, or a values voter, or a fan of the Bad Brains song "Don't Blow Bubbles," or the composer of the Bad Brains song "Don't Blow Bubbles," or against gay stuff in general.

4. Miss Fuller, by April Bernard.
This is a historical novel about Margaret Fuller, a 19th-century transcendentalist, feminist, and journalist whom I didn't know existed until I found it in the mailroom.

5. My Cross to Bear, by Gregg Allman.
I'm sure Gregg Allman has crosses to bear, but he's unwittingly put one on my shoulder: The horrifying possibility that, at any time, I might hear "Sweet Melissa" or, worse, a cover of "Sweet Melissa" in a bar, restaurant, car, gym, record store, mall, or other public area where classic rock is played.

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