Arthur Kenton - Boogaloo: The Quintessence of American Popular Music, 2003
Jeremy is a swell guy. He is a great gift giver. He read my post about looking for more R and B/soul stuff from about a year ago. So he bought me this book so I could educate myself. What a thoughtful gift! Unfortunately, the book is unreadable. It either is a boring recitation of facts or a verbose stab at hep writing. For example, Kenton writes about Thomas Dorsey, “But his new vocation couldn’t withstand the alternative prospect of a steady income of forty dollars a week; the first time God tugged at Dorsey, his landlord pulled him back hard.” While that isn’t that bad, I couldn’t deal with that kind of writing for 450 pages. I skimmed through after page 50. Promising concept, terrible execution.
Philip Roth - The Breast, 1972
A smug Literature professor of Kafka awakes one morning to discover that he has turned into a gigantic breast. He is hospitalized and tries to continue on with his life. But the only thing that he wants is for his girlfriend to lick and caress him. Even turned into a female body part, all he can think of are his male needs. Reminding me of everything from Metamorphosis to Johnny Got His Gun to Roth’s own Portnoy’s Complaint to the giant breast scence in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Too Afraid to Ask, this 89 page book was a perfect airplane read.
Thomas Pynchon - The Crying of Lot 49, 1965
This is supposed to be a classic, right? If so, I’m not sure why. As I was reading this, I kept asking myself why I was wasting my time reading this book when I should be reading one of the many Vonnegut books I have not read. In tone and theme, this reminded me of a third rate Vonnegut. Oh so clever and cloying this book was. Am I being too hard on this book? Was I just in a bad mood as I read it on the way to San Francisco last month? Maybe I just don’t have much patience for a book in which the writer thinks he is being clever by name checking a fictional book titled An Account of the Singular Peregrinations of Dr. Diocletian Blobb among the Italians, Illuminated with Exemplary Tales from the True History of That Outlandish And Fantastical Race. Ugh. The whole book was like that.
Elmore Leonard - Get Shorty, 1990
While in San Francisco in October, I decided that I had to get a Leonard book for the flight back. So I bought a used copy of this book and was quite excited. I had heard great things about this book from Leonard fans and I have been on such a Leonard buzz since reading The Hot Kid over the summer. I did like this book but not nearly as much as The Hot Kid. I’m still excited to read more Leonard but something about this book didn’t quite do it for me. And I think the main reason is that I kept thinking of John Travolta the entire time and that ruined it for me. Which is strange because the very same thing actually enhanced my enjoyment when I read the novelization of Look Who’s Talking Too.
Travolta: Scientologist & Ruiner of Elmore Leonard Books
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