Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Books on the nightstand

Pretty much all of my books are in boxes right now, but I still have library books.

The Book of Lazarus by Richard Grossman
Evidently this is part of a trilogy (although the only other volume I see is "The Alphabet Man"), but I picked it up because 1) it was published by FC2, 2) it's blurbed by William Vollmann and Denis Cooper, and 3) it had pictures in it. The book has elements of that collage-as-novel thing that's been done to death in House of Leaves or I guess Max Ernst, but the really interesting part is the story of Emma Goldman O'Banion and what happened to her father. It's not great literature here, but definitely a page-turner.

Early Bird by Rodney Rothman
"What happens when an able-bodied 28-year-old decides to 'retire' in a Florida senior community?" Not much, actually, but it sure is funny. I loved Rothman's stuff in McSweeney's (his story about a rollercoaster ride consisted of about 10 pages of the word WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE) and in the New Yorker (the one where he worked at a dot com company, despite not being on the payroll), and so I was very eager to see what he would write about in book-length. It's a fast and easy read, but sometimes we all need that, right?


hillary said...

So is the Rothman funny? It's the kind of thing I would definitely pick up, even though he's a big liar.

mattbucher said...

A lot of it is straightforward. I mean, it's a funny concept, but he's not going for the big laughs in most places. The funniest parts are one-liners and subtle set-up jokes. He also walks a delicate line between poking fun at old people and flat out making fun of them (not cool). Some parts are pretty sad. It reminds me of something else I can't quite name (Sarah Vowell maybe?).

hillary said...

And I see, from looking at the link, that it's not a novel. i.e., it's got the "Rothman" character at the center of it. And I kind of like that character, even though I also think he's a bit of a jerk.

What about Sedaris?

mattbucher said...

It's funny that you mention Sedaris. He actually refers to himself late in the book as "the hetero David Sedaris".

There's a sort of fake element in the whole thing (and some of Sedaris's stuff, too), where it's obvious the guy is doing what he's doing just so he can write about it in his book. Rothman even talks about doing this. What's the point? I preferred Sedaris's essays about his childhood to those in the present tense where he seemed to do things simply to make them sound funny in his book.

Have you read David Rakoff?

hillary said...

I have the book, but I haven't read it (though Jared was working on it for a bit and read me excerpts occasionally). Sort of saving it for a rainy day palate cleanser. It's nice to have one around, but I'm not expecting it to rock my world.

mattbucher said...

Sorry, do you mean Rakoff or Rothman? Both are decent palate cleansers. Sometimes I go a month or two of only reading palate cleansers.

hillary said...

Oh, I meant Rakoff in that last bit. I don't have the Rothman, though I'd certainly buy it at a yard sale or a used book store.

Most of the stuff I've been reading over the past few years has been heavier, what with me feeling the need to read stuff in my spare time that sort of applies to my graduate studies, but after I finish Spenser (I'm about a third done), maybe I'll do a sorbet.