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Someone asked the other day if I had a summer reading list, which I do, and if I'd share it, which I'm glad to do herewith.
Sorry it's so short, but I'm a very slow reader, and some of this stuff makes for some pretty hard slogging.
“1001 Additional Uninteresting Anecdotes About Michael Jackson,” by the combined TV network news staffs, published by Sharpton Enterprises. Don't be looking for anything strange here, but there's much inspirational stuff about makeup application, strewn mannequins, untended jungle animals, and Old Joe belt-whupping people for 50 years.
“Octomom vs. the Duggars: A Breeding Manual,” by Dr. Nick Riviera, published by the Pop ‘Em Out Freely League. It's a race, you understand. Sort of like one of the big hot-dog eating contests. The tittilation factor might spur sales, but the book is disappointingly circumspect in the how-to department, and, to tell you the truth, there's a sneaking grossness to it all that can leave one with a kind of readerly post-partum depression.
“The Cheney Tapes: Transcripts of Calls He Secretly, Illegally, Personally Listened In On,” selected and abridged by the former veep and his daughter who's not the gay one, published by the Other Dick Library Press. Chances are that some of your calls are included here in their totality. There's one of mine to my bookie. Forty-four of Republican bigwigs to their mistresses. Several of Pat Robertson and God chitchatting. The index alone has more entries than the OED, with upwards of 93,000 Smiths.
“Any Way I Can Get ‘Em,” by Tony Alamo, from Books That Make Your Flesh Crawl, a division of MYOB Press. Haven't got around to reading this one yet, but will let you know if I do. DHYB.
“The Big Book of Pencil-Neck Geeks,” by R. Crumb, from Zap Comix Classix. We have more of them among us than I would have thought – TV news show panelists, Supreme Court judges, living ex-presidents, daily newspaper publishers, special prosecutors, latter-day beatifiers of the Boy Martyr of the Confederacy, nearly everyone affiliated with Liberty University, most people healed by Benny Hinn, and virtually everybody who believes the earth is 6,000 years old or less.
“Hiking the Appalachian Trail,” by Gov. Mark Sanford. Early reviews say it reads like the author might never even have been on the Appalachian Trail. But there's said to be a lot of getcher-roxoff wild life on the south end of it.
“High-Class Baptist Church Architecture in the Modern South: A Portfolio,” from the Moody Press. A coffee-table picture book that promises to take one on “a spiritual tour” of the more pretentious Southern Baptist houses of worship, in the old proudly pompous sense of the word. There are lots of variations on the basic architectural theme, to the point that I was left wondering if 75 per cent of the pictures might be of the same church from different angles.
“Ode to Socks, and Other Dead Pet Elegies,” by First Lady Ginger Beebe. Famous Natural State goldfish, hamsters, turtles, pet rocks, etc., memorialized.
“The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tea-Bagging in the Not Nasty and Not Homo Sense of the Word,” by Glenn Beck, who knows a thing or two about complete idiocy. A jacket blurb says the prose here “is almost as incendiary as it is incomprehensible.” Introduction by Mr. and Mrs. Mike Masterson, names that didn't ring a bell with me.
“How to Write Folksy and Sound Real Authentic a-Doin' It: An Anthology,” by the editorial-page staff of the local daily.
“The Barnyard Humor of Bro. Mike Huckabee: Off-Color Jokes and Stories Inappropriate For Every Occasion,” edited and translated from the original gibberish by Nex Relson et al. All your old favorites, and much new material from his talk show, every bit as embarrassing as the ripest passages from his previous books. It's from WND Books, which publishes Michael Savage's cerebral works, and which, if I'm not mistaken, stands for Wacked Out, Nutty, & Demented.
“Understanding Sarah Palin,” by William Kristol and Fred Barnes, from Regnery Press. Both authors are Weekly Standard editors and they share responsibility for having blown up the inflatable doll into a vice presidential nominee. They know what she means, even when nobody else does, including her. The book is edited by Greta Van Sustern, with an introduction by Greta Van Sustern, in which she also admits a fantasy romantic attachment. As Gomer used to say, Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
“Different Vicarious Barstools That Have Been Sat On By Yours Truly,” by Wally Hall, from the Old Graybeard Press. Another collection in which the passive voice has often been used, and in which it is expected that cliches, mistakes, and barbarities will be overlooked by you, the reader.
“Every Tweet I Ever Tweeted,” by Sen. Chuck Grassley, self-published, available free on demand from the GOP. I got this as an experiment in self-discipline, or maybe masochism. My thought was, If I have to live in a world in which I'm duty-bound to keep up with every boring thing that every boring person boringly thinks and boringly does, in 140 characters or less, then this might be a good place to start.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.