What do you call a book that’s laced with copious amounts of bullshit but is still worth reading?
From Da to Yes, as its name implies, is a guide to the nations of eastern Europe excluding Russia, which is covered in Yale Richmond’s companion book From Nyet to Da. Richmond himself, so far as I can tell, is one of those weedy little neoliberal twerps who went to eastern Europe in the nineties to facilitate in the region’s “democratic” and “capitalist” transitions (read: help Westerners steal everything that wasn’t nailed down). Indeed, the book is dedicated to the Americans “who are giving so generously of their time to assist in the democratic transition in eastern Europe.”
We’re in for some rough sledding, folks.
I scored this book, the latest from Swoop the World contributor 20Nation, a while ago and frankly wasn’t expecting much. As I’ve said before, there are only a couple of game resources I recommend—Roosh’s Bang and Day Bang—because they’re so comprehensive and accurate that you don’t need anything else. Given the description of the book, I was expecting The Perfect Conversation to be a retread of Day Bang.
When I cracked the book open, I was pleasantly surprised.
While it’s not groundbreaking stuff, The Perfect Conversation is a decent supplement if you’re looking to improve your conversational skills. 20Nation breaks down approaching girls and talking to them down to a science, telling you how to structure your conversations to make them interested in you as well as what not to do:
I have watched so many guys in my life act weird and random because it made girls laugh. Yeah they are laughing at you, but no, you will not be hooking up with them any time soon. They are laughing because it’s strange and fascinating. This will kill attraction that she already felt towards you. One of the biggest things a girl wants to know about you is if you are a normal, healthy human being.
As I’ve written before, a book consisting solely of articles you’ve already published on your blog is a tough sell. Since the book’s content is already online for free, you will get considerably fewer takers than a book full of original content. Additionally, because essay collections lack narrative coherence, there’s less motivation to read through them then with a regular book.
Even still, if you’re a long-time blogger, it’s worth putting your best posts into paperback format.
Captain Capitalism: Top Shelf is the first in a promised series of best-of collections from Aaron Clarey, he of Enjoy the Decline and Worthless. And at over four hundred pages, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with this book. Despite its glaring and frankly avoidable flaws, I recommend Top Shelf as an entertaining and informative collection of Clarey’s work.
Alternate history, like sci-fi and fantasy, is one of those genres that is nearly unreadable due to its infestation with goons and dorks. Much in the same way that science fiction and fantasy novels are larded up with extraneous detail about the world the story takes place in, alternate history writers are obsessed with vomiting out useless information about their books’ settings, destroying any possibility of character development or an interesting plot. Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle is about the only enjoyable alternate history novel I’ve ever read, mainly because its setting—a world in which the Nazis won World War II—is believable and it doesn’t drown you in an avalanche of superfluous information.
With The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, I can add another book to that list.
The only reason I bought this book—or even heard of it—was because I’m a huge fan of the Coen brothers and had read that they were planning to do a film adaptation. After reading it, I can definitely understand why the Coens were attracted to it: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is an enthralling blend of hardboiled crime novels, dry humor and history. While at times it’s more pastiche than original, it comes together to create a story more than the sum of its parts.
I watched Irreversible a couple weeks back on Zampano’s recommendation, and I wasn’t really impressed with it the first time around. If you’ve heard of the movie, you probably know it for its climactic scene, where Monica Bellucci gets graphically raped in a Parisian pedestrian tunnel. A couple feminists claimed to have been triggered by my using a still from the movie as an image for my podcast interview with Zampano, which the two of us found amusing; I only picked the still because it’s the image that Zampano uses for his Gravatar and Twitter account.
Honestly, call me heartless or sociopathic, but the rape scene in Irreversible really didn’t move me all that much.
Dirt Man’s second release, it stands in sharp contrast to his philosophical/advice tract End Game, as it’s a practical guide to navigating the wasteland of freaks and weirdos that is Craigslist Casual Encounters. Having done everything from accepting blowjobs from a co-ed looking for beer to role-playing for a cute Brazilian with daddy issues, Dirt Man is well-poised to tell you how to survive amidst the fatties and homos of Craigslist:
One of the most important things to know about the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist is that the w4m section (Casual Encounters Women Seeking Men) is almost 100% fake. Most are spam (people trying to get you to sign up for some site so that they can feel “safe”), or people trying to get you to email them directly off of the site (also spam or some other type of phishing), and increasingly, gay/bi guys posting ads as women trying to find desperate guys who will be happy to close their eyes and get a bj from a dude. Beware and make sure you see the section 4 before replying to any emails you receive or before you reply to any other people’s ads.
NOTE: This review was originally published at In Mala Fide on April 21, 2012.
Black Passenger Yellow Cabs is one of those books where a low price point enables me to look past its numerous flaws. And believe you me, this is an incredibly flawed book. But it only cost me $2.99 (the lowest price you can charge for a Kindle book and still make any money), so these flaws aren’t as huge a deal as they would normally be.
Black Passenger is a reasonably unique book: half tell-all memoir, half sociological study. It chronicles author Stefhen Bryan’s adventures teaching English in Japan, banging a slew of girls along the way, to the point where he gets sick of it and finally gets married. Interspersed between his tales of hedonism, he delves into his abusive childhood growing up in Jamaica, his self-destructive and suicidal behavior in his adopted homeland of America, and his extensive research into the pathologies of Japanese society:
Which begs the question, why do the Japanese work themselves to the grave, or more accurately, to the crematorium? The answer lies in their socialization. Whereas organisms, especially humans and especially Western humans seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, the Japanese from thousands of years of programming seek to do the opposite, cultural tendencies on which businesses and political leaders capitalize.
I’m honestly starting to think that Eddie Little’s death was one of the great tragedies of modern American literature. You’ve read my praise for his debut novel Another Day in Paradise, a roman à clef about growing up as a streetwise tough in the seventies, but Steel Toes blows that story out of the water and into orbit.
If there was such a thing as “karma,” James Frey would die a thousand deaths for plagiarizing Little.
Steel Toes is easily one of the best novels of the 21st century so far. It takes the gut-punching prose and hustle of Another Day in Paradise and kicks it up several notches. Little doesn’t simply rehash his first novel, he expands upon his oeuvre, to the point where you’re left wondering what he’d be putting out if he were alive today. Fair warning though: if you haven’t read Paradise, a lot of what makes Steel Toes great will be lost on you.
I believe it was Aaron Clarey who said that people under the age of 30 should not even attempt to write fiction; if I’m wrong on this, someone feel free to correct me in the comments. It’s a sentiment I largely agree with. Not only do young people lack the necessary life experience in order to craft convincing and interesting stories, even if they had said experience, their brains themselves put them at a disadvantage. Neurological research shows that the brain doesn’t finish developing until age 25, part of the reason why you’re not legally allowed to lease a car until you’re that age (among other things). Rare is the young writer who can pull off fiction, and even then it’s usually a glorified retelling of their own lives (Bonjour Tristesse, On the Road).
Is Donlak’s debut novel, written when he was in his twenties, worthy enough to be mentioned in the same breath as those classics? No.
Jesse Myner sent me this book of his, a collection of stories from his South American travels, a while back, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A former futures trader, Jesse wisely cashed out several years ago and now spends his time traveling the globe, getting himself into bizarre and hilarious situations:
I awoke to her glaring at me. She was withdrawn to the far side of the bed. Who was Maria, she said. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Who is she? Digame. I don’t know any Maria. Mentiroso. Tell me. Who is she? You talked to her all night in your sleep.
America South covers the gamut from sex (“My Ugly Nigger,” “Maria & Luciana”) to the various touristy sights of Peru, Argentina and other countries (“In Patagonia,” “A Tiny Crystal”) to crime and violence (“Papaya,” “Butch Cassidy”), totalling 25 stories in all. Most are brief enough to read in about a couple minutes, with Jesse’s laconic writing style and hilarious observations ensuring you’ll blow through the whole thing in less than an hour. I particularly enjoyed “Las Chinches,” a digression on the ubiquity of bedbugs in Peru, ending in a… strange encounter with a girl:
Delirious from a blood meal the bed bug goes into seclusion for ten days to digest, molt into its next nymphal stage, and to mate and lay eggs. The mating process is a most peculiar one termed ‘traumatic insemination’ and involves the male bed bug mounting the female and with his hypodermic genitalia piercing her abdomen and ejaculating into her body cavity. Sexual attraction between bed bugs is based primarily upon their size, and it is not uncommon for a male bed bug to attempt to mate with another male, bloated from a recent blood feeding, and will mount and wound him in the abdomen as he ejaculates inside him.