Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Books

A couple more books. I've been finding lots of good books to read lately, after coming down from a long fry spell. Here's a couple that are fairly deep and brainy, yet quite easy to read.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

The Simpsons and Philosophy, by William Irwin et. al
$14.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 0812694333
*** (moderate)
Each chapter is written by a different philosophy professor on a different subject. Naturally, some are better than others. If you watch the show, as I do, you'll find the way the autho
rs illustrate heavy ideas with Simpsons clips helpful. It also helps give the book a light, funny tone where it otherwise might be too dry to pick up. The chapter on Plato was very good, and Bart Simpson as Nietzche's Uber-mensch is novel and fun.
The Wit and Wisdom of Quentin Crisp, by Quentin Crisp
$11.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 1555834078
** (pretty easy)
This funny and mostly unappreciated 20th century British philosopher wrote a lot about style, which he is always careful to distinguish from fashion. Quentin proposes that the public image we give people of ourselves is actually more important th
an who we are inside. He illustrates this with humorous stories involving everyone from singer-songwriter Barbra Streisand to Argentine first-lady Eva Peron. This is nota fashion magazine, it's a serious sociological study that's just damn funny.
Getting Stoned With Savages, by J. Maarten Troost
$11.65 at Bn.com ISBN: 0767921992
** (pretty easy)
The author, a former commodities trader from W
ashington DC, and his wife move to the remote island nation of Vanuatu. Leaving it all behind to live in the South Pacific sounds like a dream come true, but it includes getting parasites, giant man-eating boa constrictors, and drug dealers who use the island's de-regulated banks to launder illegal money. This book is fun, hard to put down, and concerns a very common fantasy: chucking the life in the big city to lay on a beach somewhere. I was so excited to find this book because it looked so promising, and once I picked it up I couldn't put it down.
Becoming a Man: Half A Life Story, by Paul Monette
$13.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 0060595647
** (pretty easy)
There was a time, just after I came out, when I read a lot of "gay" books. I can now tell you that most of them suck. There's just not a lot of interesting things to say about homosexuality, I guess. Monette's beautiful and sensitive autobiography is the exception. Most of this involves his childhood and youth. Gay folk will love this: you'll keep thinking, "yes, it was just like that for me." Straights will be able to really understand what it's like to grow up different in "that way". The charming setting in 1950s New England, and Monette's self-deprecating humor are enjoyable for everyone. His mastery of the language are probably what I most admire: every page is a masterpiece, each chapter more heart-wrenching than the last.

1 comment:

iain said...

And Monette's "Last Watch of the Night" is almost unbearably moving as well.