Saturday, May 19, 2012

One Man's Spring Cleaning Is Another Man's Bounty

Spring cleaning season is one of my favorite times of year in downtown Brooklyn. Because there are so many writers, book reviewers/bloggers, and just generally literate people in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Cobble Hill, spring cleaning season means that people give away a lot of excellent books. Thrift stores like Housing Works discount their books to keep their shelves from overflowing, there are great stoop sales every weekend, and large stacks of books are left in give-away piles people's front stoops. The last thing I need is more books with which to clutter up my apartment, but some things are just too good to pass up. I've added these seven books to my library for a grand total of six dollars:
Zone One, by Colson Whitehead This book was released late last year to fantastic reviews. Bookrageous, my favorite literary podcast, recently had a book club-type discussion about it, for which the author, Colson Whitehead, joined them, and Glen Weldon of NPR's pop-culture happy hour also raved about it. On more than one occasion I almost bought this book in hardcover.
The Great Night, by Chris Adrian Another Glen Weldon recommendation; another book I almost bought in hardcover at full price.
Gotham, by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace Okay, so this book is more than 1,300 pages long, and those pages are considerably larger than regular paperback pages. Along with Robert Caro's The Power Broker, it is one of two phonebook-sized books about the history of New York that every resident of the five boroughs tells themselves they will read some day, but will probably never get around to. But considering that it costs $35 in paperback, and hardcover editions are collector's items that sell for $100, picking up a copy for $1 seemed like it was too good of a deal to pass up.
Essays of E.B. White, by E.B. White Every person who endeavors to write serious non-fiction needs to have a copy of the Essays of E.B. White within reach, right?
Until I Find You, by John Irving For me, John Irving exists at the sweet spot at which literary fiction and popular fiction intersect. At his best, Irving does just about everything well - beautiful sentences, three-dimensional characters, intricate plots that resolve themselves in satisfying ways. Unfortunately, Irving isn't always at his best, and, in fact, some people would say that he hasn't put it all together in a single novel in a couple of decades. Still, you're not going to bring Faulkner or Tolstoy to the beach with you; Irving will definitely be accompanying me to the beach this summer.
American On Purpose, by Craig Ferguson I've always enjoyed Craig Ferguson's humor, just . . . not quite as much as I enjoy Conan O'Brien and Stephen Colbert's humor, so I haven't watched his show very much. But Ferguson is a gifted storyteller -- one who keeps your attention even when he isn't trying to be funny -- so this is definitely worth a dollar.
Love In the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Perhaps the best book I have ever picked out of a stoop-give-away pile -- or, at least, it is in the conversation alongside Tobias Wolff's books and Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. It should make for a great summer of reading -- if I don't trip over one of my piles of books and kill myself.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear Reader

Dear reader, I bet that you, like me, have never heard of Trampled by Turtles before. You may find their beards and flannel provide fodder for you to make jokes and generalize about hipster bands. You may suspect that two or more of the musicians in this band have a home distilling and/or cold brew operation to earn a little scratch on the side. But please acknowledge that Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)" is a difficult song to cover, and they pulled it off with aplomb and panache. Because this is awesome:
Trampled By Turtles covers Arcade Fire