Luster: A Book Review of Sorts

For the last year I’ve been participating in a book club. Normally I’d roll my eyes at that kind of activity, but with our first book being “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite, paired with the boredom and loneliness of pandemic life, this book club couldn’t have been a better fit. 

A few months ago we read “Luster,” a novel by Raven Leilani. I’d seen the book front and center on the shelves at Dog Eared Books in the Castro and had flirted with buying it several times, so when it was chosen as our book club pick I was excited.

Luster is about Edie, a 23-year-old woman living in New York City who begins a relationship with Eric, a man in an open marriage. She’s an artist and after losing her nine-to-five, finds herself struggling to survive. She’s then taken in by her boyfriend’s family and builds unlikely relationships in the process.  

What’s interesting is that our book club discussion of Luster was split pretty evenly down the middle, with the moms and older generation finding it depressing and the younger women finding it funny and relatable. 

I was in the latter camp. I’m a details person and this book is rich with them. Leilani pulls out all the stops for a female millennial audience. I laughed, I marveled, I cringed with knowing, I shook my damn head. You find that Edie, the main character, has and continues to live a hard life, yet you also know Edie because you’ve been Edie. As a girl, her prized possession was a Spice World VHS she received for her birthday. After one particular disappointing and sexless date, she goes home alone and eats half a rotisserie chicken. I am the exact audience for this book.  

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Book Review: Townie

andre dubus iiiA few weeks ago I finished reading a memoir called Townie by Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog. Townie was a powerful book on multiple levels; it was raw and visceral, heartbreaking, and utterly inspiring to me as a writer.

Townie is a story of what it’s like to grow up poor, nearly fatherless, and fighting for your life in the streets of Boston in the 1970s and ’80s. It spares no gritty detail on back alleys filled with cigarette butts and broken glass, passing around a pint of Southern Comfort and a joint waiting for the school bus to take them to middle school, and the persistent, soul-crushing stench of the brown, bubbling Merrimack River.

merrimack river, polluted merrimack river, boston pollution

The Merrimack: Where childhoods go to die.

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Review: Another Bullshit Night In Suck City

I just finished reading a charming, heart-warming book that couldn’t have been more perfect for the Christmas season. It’s called Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn.

another-bullshit-night-in-suck-city-book-cover Continue reading

Book Review: “The Sex Lives of Cannibals”

I recently finished reading a great book called “The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift In the Equatorial Pacific” by J. Maarten Troost.

sex lives of cannibals book cover, sex lives of cannibals, j. maarten troost

This book, which is sort of a travelogue-meets-memoir about a guy who travels to “the end of the world” with his girlfriend and lives there for two years, had me laughing out loud every time I picked it up. Continue reading

Book Review: Lit

This past weekend I finished reading a memoir called “Lit” by Mary Karr.

Lit by Mary KarrI bought it the first week I moved to Atlanta at an independent bookstore called Blue Elephant Book Shop in downtown Decatur.  I was browsing the memoir/biography section when the one-word title caught my eye. I read the back and then flipped open to the Table of Contents where I began skimming the chapter titles. When I read titles like “Lost in the Golden State”, “Bent Bender”, “The Grinning Skull”, “The Nervous Hospital”, and “Dysfunctional Family Sweepstakes”, I was sold. It had been so long since I’d actually bought a book, I felt naughty, like I was purchasing contraband. Continue reading

Broetry

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you to learn that I hate bros. With their Sperry Topsiders, obnoxious pink Lacoste polo shirts with the collars flipped, and Widespread Panic tickets. And if I hear “Don’t Stop Believing” shittily sung at karaoke one more time, I will jump up on stage and strangle the singer with the microphone wire.

That said, there is one thing that I recently discovered that looks kind of hilarious and it’s called Broetry. Continue reading

Kaffir Boy

South Africa, apartheid, Mark Mathabane, Alexandra

I just finished reading “Kaffir Boy” by Mark Mathabane and let me tell you: wow. I actually cried at the end. Tears of joy, mind you. A friend of mine read it when he was in high school and never turned it back in. I guess you could call that stealing? Regardless, the theft was for the greater good because now the book is being read and enjoyed rather than cultivating new and more toxic strains of black mold in some Palm Bay High School storage room. Continue reading

Fuddruckers, RuddFuck . . . nevermind

Fuddruckers, Ruddfuckers, Buttfuckers

As most of you know from my incessant promotion on Facebook and [possibly] Twitter, I am now a bartender at Fuddruckers on Broughton. Today is my fifth shift and I’m proud to report that I absolutely love it! No B.S. There are ups and downs, but it’s a great gig.

The cool thing is that in Georgia you don’t need a certificate/license or anything to do this job as far as I know. And being that today is Mother’s Day I hope to make something good. Maybe some hungover ladies want a Bloody Mary? I’m on it. Faux mimosa*? On it. I really want to use the blender today, so if you’re craving some frozen paradise, let me know!

I work the weekends:

  • Thursday: 50 cent drafts for college students. Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Miller, Blue Moon, Yuengling, Newcastle and Sam Adams Noble Pils (seasonal ale).
  • Friday: Happy Hour 5-7. $1 off everything. Karaoke w/ my good friend Art.
  • Saturday: Happy Hour 5-7.
  • Sunday: same.

So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and see me! Grab a good drink and enjoy while I practice the Art of the Bar. (Thanks Brittany Vogel).

Oh yeah, there’s really good food too. Not just promo, it’s actually delicious.

Num Nums, cheeseburger, chzbrgr, Fuddruckers

*Natty Light and O.J. (Trust me!)

Scar Tissue: Part I

I’ve recently started reading Scar Tissue, a memoir by Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Scar Tissue, Larry Sloman, Anthony Kiedis, Red Hot Chili Peppers

It’s a great read filled with–you guessed it–sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. However, there are a few things that irk me that I have to get off my chest.

First, the book is written by Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman. I’m not really sure how the world of book-writing works, but it’s very confusing because I’m never quite sure who’s voice I’m reading. For example, at one point in the first chapter, Kiedis describes his mother as being “cuter than the dickens.” Really? Cuter than the dickens? What is this, 1820? I can’t tell if this is Kiedis speaking, or Sloman’s adaptation of Kiedis’ description.

Second, Kiedis has a great vocabulary. This isn’t a problem, but it’s definitely weird to read about some girl getting on her knees for a blow job and then reading the words “reconnoitering”, “clime” or “ilk” in the next paragraph.

Next, Kiedis tends to use the same words and phrases to describe things. For example, whenever he needs money for something, he always has to “scrape together” the money. That phrase is used on about every other page. Also, whenever Kiedis is describing the 1980s L.A. architecture, he always calls the buildings “classic.” It gets old after a while.

*         *         *

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer. I really do enjoy reading this book. I was just disappointed in a few things and wanted to call attention to them.

At the same time, the passages about drug use are brutally honest and sometimes hard to read. Here is one example:

“I had been fastidious about using sterile rigs and sterile cotton when I first started shooting up, but by now I didn’t care much. If I had to, I’d use a syringe that I found in the street. Instead of sterilized cotton, I’d use a section of my sock or, more commonly, the filter of a cigarette. At first I’d use only sterilized spring water to dissolve the stuff in, but now I’d just pull the back off a toilet or look for a lawn sprinkler or even a puddle.” – Scar Tissue, p. 141-142

After reading this passage, I wanted nothing more than to take a hot shower, and crawl up under the covers and hide.