Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Uncommon Bestsellers l #57-84

#57: Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein - So Martin said the other day it was depressing to read the national bestseller reports and see what most of America is buying, if not reading. Actually, he tweeted it. And it was funnier the way he said it. It was like, "I'm always a little depressed... etc." You know, care free, insouciantly ambivalent, as if he'd been bemoaning the state of consumer book culture while ringing up a customer's purchase of Calico Joe and stirring the cream in his coffee. Now I don't know if Martin, in fact, takes cream in his coffee or if after reviewing our bestsellers in philosophy he'd care or not that a book like Heidegger and a Hippo is on top. But I do know that when it comes to foods that can be safely placed on top of books while finishing the newsletter, the man knows how he likes it. Mostly no foods on any books. But, again, it's all in how you say a thing. Plus, Heidegger and a Hippo was remaindered back in March, and remaindered books don't even count. Might as well call Al Gore's book The Future a bestseller! Hmm.

#72: The Lighthouse Road, by Peter Geye - The Lighthouse Road, by Peter Geye's been called "an intricate narrative perfectly balanced and hand-carved," "a novel that charts the whole of the human heart," and comes "highly recommended for individual enjoyment." Blurbs are great, aren't they? Less praise for an author or their work than a gratuitously disjunct spree of adjectives and spurious statements of fact. Blurbs are to books what drunk people who think you're funny are to bars and college parties: uninhibited exaltations of the heretofore ineffable. Another word for that, I'm pretty sure, is poetry (20% off this month through April 30th). My theory about blurbs is that people who write them are so tickled with themselves for simply finishing a book that by the end they'd help set up a stuffed animal tea party if called upon, much less jot down a few words on paper. Why else would so many blurbs resemble clips from Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol Sweepstakes? It's either that or authors really are catching famous authors on the best days of their lives. Imagine if Ebenezer Scrooge had been asked to write a blurb at the end of A Christmas Carol. Instead of words the miserly old crank turned saint would probably have duct taped silver coins inside the cover. None of this has anything to do with The Lighthouse Road, by the way, which by all accounts is stunning and comes out in paper on June 1st. 

74: The Vegetarian Option, by Simon Hopkinson - Everyone here has their thing: I frequent towards poetry, Kathy loves to travel, Claudette flips through magazines, and Joe likes books on music, and The St. Louis Cardinals. Likewise, no one knows as much about our cooking books as Molly. I would even go so far as to say that no one knows as little about our cooking books as me. One could, in fact, argue I know nothing about cooking books. To watch me try to find you any book in Cooking, big or small, faced out or on the shelf, about cooking or, in a last minute, Hail Mary effort to stop looking and move on with life, something else entirely, is to endure a kind of humiliation typically reserved for interactions with children in line at the market whose parents you don't know. Except, you know, without the goofy faces and deviant, largely unsolcited exclamations of potty talk. Molly's always saying thing like, "Who put this in 'canning'?" Or "Grilled Cheese isn't something that's 'in season'." I, meanwhile, am always saying things like, "Don't tell Molly I put it in 'canning.'" Or "What is 'canning'?" That said, it doesn't take a foodie to figure out what The Vegetarian Option is all about. It's just that Molly can explain it better than I can and she's not here right now, but poetry is 20% off this month. Let me know if I can help. 

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