book reports
February 2013


Steven Weissman
Does everyone want to write a book about Obama? I know I do! Mine will be sort of like this, except short paragraphs instead of short comics. It'll be out in about four years. Some people will think my book is stupid, and those people will think this book is even more stupid, but I liked it quite a bit. Obama smokes joints with Biden, is turned into a parakeet, argues with God, is annoyed by his daughters, etc. There are funny parts and scary parts. It's political, if you think that simultaneously humanizing and mythologizing celebrities/political figures and also mocking our impulse to do both of those things is political. I do.




(Another good comic that I read this month was THE MOON MOTH by Humayoun Ibrahim/Jack Vance. It's weird and cool and (mostly) smart scifi and it's probably better than the Obama one but I don't want to type about it right now.)


Carrie Lorig & Nick Sturm
Does everyone want to write a book about Ronald Reagan? I know I don't! But these people did. Or they wrote a .pdf file about him, anyway. I printed the .pdf file and read half of it standing in my living room and the other half sitting on my porch. Ronald Reagan was president during the least memorable part of my life. Or the part I least remember, anyway. He died when I went to Russia. This .pdf file doesn't seem especially memorable to me, except for one sentence that I'll show you in just a minute. What I wanted from this .pdf file, and what I think it wanted for me, and what the Obama comic book was quite a bit better at providing, was weird emotions and dreams about Ronald Reagan, either the real one or an imaginary one, but I mostly didn't have any while reading this. There were some good scenes (One Friday night, Reagan invented the moon because of his poor eyesight. Then Reagan picked up the telephone, dialed God and informed him he “had blown the whole thing.” He was 26.), but most weren't quite concrete enough for me. Here's that sentence I liked though:

He liked people and wanted to be one.


Jean Merrill
I read this on an afternoon when I was furious at everyone for some reason that I no longer remember. I went and stared at a lake and threw things in it and then came home and layed on the couch and started reading this and didn't get up until it was done. It's a kids book about pushcart vendors vs. semi-truck drivers in NYC. It was a good book for me to read because I often think about traffic as a symbol of power dynamics. When I drive to work I'm angry and impatient the whole way there, when I ride my bike I'm indignant and self-righteous, and when I walk I'm usually calm and happy. What if big and powerful things deferred to or protected smaller, less powerful things, instead of ignoring them or trying to smash them? The book doesn't attempt to answer that but it asks it indirectly. It admits to being a metaphor for war and the causes of war. I wish the truck drivers weren't all greedy violent maniacs and the pushcart people weren't all funny and likeable because that isn't what wars are like. This is worth reading though.


Ian Frazier
Me and Jacob (Otting - not my cousin or that guy that's moving to St. Louis today) had a book club for a while where we sent each other facebook messages about books we were reading. Then we stopped because I'm bad at sustained one-on-one internet communication. Sorry, Jacob. While we were doing it though, he told me to read GREAT PLAINS by Ian Frazier and I did and I liked it a lot. So he said I should read TRAVELS IN SIBERIA but I wanted to wait until winter to read it. I'm glad I did, even though it wasn't as wintry as I was expecting. I don't know if it made me want to go to Siberia or not, but it did somehow make me love people in general and places in specific more.


other books I read:
FIELD MICE - Matthew Savoca
PULPHEAD - John Jeremiah Sullivan
LEFT HAVING - Jesse Seldess