Frivolity: Fave Reads '98

From the "Who asked You?" Department, it's

Larry's Top 10 Fave Reads for 1998

Accordion Crimes, E. Annie Proulx
This book tracks the progress of an accordion. It (the accordion) is found by immigrant after immigrant. We follow their stories of tribulation and despair. Keep your hanky ready.
Don Juan, Lord Byron
Yes, that's right. Don Juan. Don's a very shy, well-mannered fellow. (This surprised me--I'd always thought he was pushy. Maybe I was getting him mixed up with Casanova. Not that I've read Casanova.) He has all sorts of adventures. All in a poem by Lord Byron, so you can aspire to culture while reading.
Hectic Planet, Evan Dorkin
This might be my favorite angsty comic. A couple of new collections (of old material) came out, so I re-read the comics. They're still great. Strangers compliment me on my Hectic Planet t-shirt. Cute girls have complimented me on my Hectic Planet t-shirt. I can't guarantee that reading Hectic Planet will make you more attractive to cute girls, but maybe it's worth a try.
Jasmine Nights, SP Somtow
I just reviewed Don Juan, I've talked about cute girls, so I don't know what I want to say about this bawdy book about a boy coming of age in Thailand. I wouldn't want people to think I was a sex maniac or something. This book has intricate family politics. It has human relationships. Nevertheless, it's pretty good.
John Brown, WEB Du Bois
Yes, that's right. John Brown. He was the Che of his day. When all the other do-gooders sat and chattered and nattered at one another, Brown took direct action. As an intellectual do-gooder who chatters and natters, I study people like this so I can whine at other intellectuals that people of today don't have the gumption of John Brown.
Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott
It's a book about her experiences raising a child. It's about the insanity of everyday experience. It's about dealing with difficulties and not dealing with them. It's pretty cool.
Rocket Car, Anonymous
Talented amateurs practicing Big Science in the desert. Urban legends. Military surplus. Could be fiction, could be true. You must love this.
Shipyard Diary of a Woman Welder, Augusta H. Clawson
At the start of World War II, women were starting to enter the workforce. Things didn't always go well. Ms. Clawson went undercover, posing as a beginning welder, to find the problems. This is her story.
A Very Long Engagement, Sebastien Japrisot
Yeah, it's a mystery. Okay, I'm recommending a mystery story. Go ahead and laugh.
What Men Don't Tell Women, Roy Blount Jr
Why do I recommend a book that's been out of print for years and years? It's that funny. I tried reading a bunch of old Will Rogers columns recently. They're kind of funny. Roy Blount Jr. is funnier than two Will Rogerses. I think. And you don't have to know so much about polo to get the jokes.

Honorable Mention

Commodore Hornblower, Forester
A fun page-turner. Put a socially dysfunctional sociopath in charge of a group of ships and watch the wacky hijinx ensue.
Kathmandu Valley Towns, Fran P. Hosken
Because she has such a great last name, I always wanted to read something by Fran Hosken. Her most famous work deals with (brace yourself) feminine genital mutilation, which made me think that maybe I didn't want to read anything of hers. But this book was interesting, and had lots of cool photos and maps. And no FGM.
Zion City, Illinois (Philip L. Cook)
Speaking of Hoskens, a bunch of them came to America by way of Zion Illinois, following the teachings of Dowie. Zion was mildly famous as the last remaining community on earth in which a majority of the inhabitants believed that the earth was flat. (The town's alternate spelling, "Sion" made it popular with palindromophiles.) This book tells the story of the charismatic faith healer who founded the town.

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