Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read

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

1. Seagalogy: The Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal, by Vern.
I had a friend who claims to have seen Above the Law six times in the movie theater. (When I say "my friend," I don't mean me. I mean, I actually do have a friend who makes this claim. Really. I don't like Steven Seagal that much. Well, maybe I like him a little.) Actually, maybe he claims to have seen Out for Justice six times in the theater. Wait—is there a Steven Seagal movie called Out for Justice? I'm not sure. All I know is that my friend claims to have repeatedly seen the theatrical release of the Steven Seagal movie where Seagal is trapped on a boat and has to kill a bunch of terrorists to escape and, improbably, is Cajun. Sound familiar?

2. Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady, by Kate Summerscale.
This is the fictional diary of a fictional Victorian lady that seems a worthy postmodern (post-Victorian?) feminist experiment, reminiscent of Jeanette Winterson's literary reimagining of 17th century England in Sexing the Cherry. But what do I know? I just work here.

3. Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism, by John Updike.
Last week, I wrote about how I endlessly confuse John Updike and John Irving. So, instead of rehashing that, I'll just link back to it and marvel at this book's hardcover list price, which is $55.75 as of this writing. Meanwhile, a copy of Rabbit, Run is available at every Salvation Army for $1.

4. The Lower River, by Paul Theroux.
Paul Theroux, know this: It's my goal to read one of your books. Yes, I know you've written like 20 or something. Yes, I know I only know your name because I saw the Harrison Ford movie The Mosquito Coast, based on one of your novels. Yes, I know that The Mosquito Coast has been sitting in my bedroom unread for some time. But know this, Paul Theroux, if that's your real name: I am coming for you.

5. Magic Hours, by Tom Bissell.
This book has essays about David Foster Wallace, Werner Herzog, and The Big Bang Theory. Guess which one I won't read. (If you guessed "the one about The Big Bang Theory' you're right. Because I am a f*cking intellectual.)

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