Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top 5 Books That I Have Lent to Friends and Which Have Not Been Returned

1. White Noise by Don DeLillo. Just as Hemingway was the most influential American prose writer for much of the 20th century, DeLillo has been the most influential novelist of the past two decades (at least among male writers), and by DeLillo I mean the DeLillo of White Noise. I lent this to a girlfriend in my early 20s. Lost it in the breakup. I still think of it as a contemporary novel even though Penguin has put it through nearly half a dozen cover changes since then.

2. The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. One of my favorite works of literary journalism. I will be teaching it next year, so just picked up another copy, which has a pale, much less attractive cover than the rich blue of the advance reading copy of the hardcover edition I owned. Also, the trim size of that was slightly unusual if I remember correctly, and it looks like they’ve trimmed the bottom margins of the current paperback to make it a more orthodox size. Too bad.

3. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. Read this during fall semester of my freshman year in college in a class that was confirming my decision to be an English major. This seems like a book I would really like to re-read. I remember it as a revelation of what a novel could be, and it seems like it would be no less satisfying to read in mid-life.

4. Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 by Mike Magnuson. The only book on this list that I’ve read twice, and if I had it on hand I might start in on it again right now. Magnuson’s account of his love affair as a 255-lb., chain-smoking, heavy drinker with bicycling is profane and beautiful. This and Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run are two outstanding books about the compulsions of endurance athletes.

5. Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin. The only book on this list I haven’t read in its entirety. I lent it out before I could sit down and read it properly.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Line(s) of the Week

"I should have moved to New York City, but I never was that cool.
I just languished in the Midwest like some old romantic fool."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Location. Location. Location.

Diptych: Sidney, NE

What's the Point?

Sidewalk Manifesto


Despite what it says on the front of the box—

“Flat-out funny.”

The New York Times

“You’ll laugh till it hurts.”

—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Darkly funny, twisty-cool.”

Entertainment Weekly

Cold Souls with Paul Giamatti really isn’t a comedy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Line(s) of the Week

"What's the difference between a duck?"

"One leg is both the same."

—Hank the Cowdog (as recounted by STF—aka Si Dawg)

Another Thing Julia Child and I Have in Common

For reasons I don't fully know and can't clearly explain, I have always found the taste of cilantro revolting. Cilantro and members of the fennel family almost literally make me gag. If I accidentally ingest some, it's all I can do to choke it down, and then try to get my palate cleansed. What makes this even more frustrating is how ubiquitous it's become. It seems like practitioners of every ethnic cuisine just want to ladle it on.

Turns out I'm not alone in my response to cilantro. The New York Times just ran a piece on the vile herb. There's a historical and cross-cultural distaste for it. How comforting. So much and such good company!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Line of the Week

"What falls away is always. And is near."
—Theodore Roethke