While unpacking boxes stored away by former tenants I came across a number of bizarre book titles (some of which deserved being boxed away in the attic). Others have some points of interest, or at least they did when I picked them up at the various used book sales I used to frequent.
The real problem is figuring out how to file them: Humor? Romance? Sci-fi? Parody sci-fi? 18th century picaresque mock epic?
Care to take a look for yourself? C’mon over with your reading glasses and a bottle of wine.
Here’s a sample of what you’ll find (and may walk away with):
Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy (1998) – Jay Sankey. (Is this really Zen? I dunno but he does quote everyone from Plato to Koun Yamada)
Many amateurs do better their first or second time than their fourth or fifth. The reason is quite simple…
Deliver each line as if it’s your last.
Venus on the Half-Shell (1975) – by “Kilgore Trout” (nom de plume for Philip Jose Farmer, writing as the fictional Vonnegut character. This is a mock epic sci-fi saga. Apparently Kurt didn’t care for the exploitation of his character’s name, though Farmer meant it as a tribute.)
Bimbos of the Death Sun (1988) – Sharyn McCrumb (Apparently a sci-fi parody about murder at a fantasy writers’ convention)Dating Iron John & Other Pleasures: A Woman’s Survival Guide (1993) – Linda Sunshine. (Relationship humor. “Sunshine” is the real name of a woman who “dieted her way through Ithaca College” and became a successful editor and author. Quote: “Tip the world over and everything loose falls into L.A.”)
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (1988) – Lester Bangs (compilation of articles by the legendary rock ‘n’ roll critic who wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone— “literature as rock ‘n’ roll”)
The Illusionless Man: Some Fantasies and Meditations on Disillusionment (1971, originally published in Commentary in 1964) – Allen Wheelis. (Author is a psychiatrist. Reading the back cover blurbs reminds me why I probably never read much of this).
American Girls About Town (2004) – Anthology of short stories by Jennifer Weiner, Lauren Weisberger, Adriana Trigiani and 9 others. Includes titles such as “Voodoo Dolls, C-Cups and Eminem,” “Yoga Babe” and “Leaving a Light On”…
Kathy was going to a bar.
Technically, it was a restaurant, but she wasn’t interested in the eating part. She was planning to sit down at the bar, get a big stiff drink, sip it slowly, and wait. And at the end of the evening, she would not be leaving alone
Naked Came the Stranger (1969) – “Penelope Ashe” (literary hoax designed to be deliberately terrible and containing a lot of descriptions of sex to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. “Combines the torrid prose of Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann and a host of lesser authors” “Ashe” is the nom de plume for 25 Newsday authors)
“A Community of Secrets: The Separate World of Bedouin Women” (1985) – Lila Abu-Lughod. (short but fascinating article by NYU anthropologist of Bedouin ancestry who spent two years “behind the veil of Islam” in the Egyptian Western Desert and explains what happens on the “women’s side” of the dwelling)
Vice Avenged: A Moral Tale (1971) – Lolah Burford (18th century fairy tale — “a dazzling love story…evocative of Tom Jones and The Scarlet Pimpernel“)
The Wisdom of Laziness (1924) – Fred C. Kelly (apparently autographed by the author with introduction by Booth Tarkington. “Dedicated to my son who has watched me writing and wonders why I don’t go to work”)
How to Talk Jewish (1990) – Jackie Mason (Not sure how credible this can be since it doesn’t include “furshluginer” but it does have “meshugenner,” “schnorrer,” “schmuck,” “tchotchke” and “zhlub” — “a guy who could make a new suit look like a shmatte” — and it does include excellent pronunciation guides for the 100 words.)
The Incomplete Book of Failures: The Official Handbook of the Not-Terribly-Good Club of Great Britain (1979) – Stephen Pile. (Includes such gems as “Worst Preacher,” “Most Inaccurate Value of Pi,” “Least Successful Explorer,” “Most Pointless Radio Interview,” “Least Successful Author,” “Least Successful Secret Camera,” and “Worst Bus Service” (1976, Staffordshire buses no longer stopped for passengers because it would disrupt the time-table).
The Pooh Perplex (1963) – Frederick Crews. (“In which it is discovered that the true meaning of the Pooh stories is not as simple as is usually believed.” Apparently this is a semi-scholarly satire of the “insane critical vocabulary of each style of literary criticism”).
The Weekend Novelist (1994) – Robert J. Ray. (“A dynamic 52-week program to help you produce a finished novel…one weekend at a time”).
The Good Citizen’s Alphabet (1958) – Bertrand Russell, illustrated by Franciszka Themerson. (After a nearly incomprehensible 150-word intro by the esteemed philosopher, 26 letters of this “satirical alphabet” are drolly illustrated by Themerson and captioned by Russell with nearly incomprensible and mostly cynical commentaries on the human condition. Some, like “Pedant: a man who likes his statements to be true” make a certain amount of sense while “Foolish: disliked by the police” not so much.