Here’s a few Christmas books sure to please any dork or parent.
If you’ve tried to read epic science fiction cycles, you can be very easily discouraged. The Kim Stanley Robinson ‘Mars’ books are a little dated. Lord of the Rings made for a better movie than a book. “Dune” was always kind of stupid, I thought. I didn’t like the world-building there. The Baroque Cycle’s pretty good–it’s 2006, though, I don’t have time for your shite Stephenson. Terry Jordan makes you want to kill yourself. You need Hyperion, which consists of the four book cycle, Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and the Rise of Endymion. Simply the greatest science fiction story of our time, set in an unforgettable world rich with believable characters and bonerific tribbing. These books also feature a villain like no other in the Shrike.
Someone very special to me knew I would like this book and she was right. The crazy and wild story of five Latin students at an upper crust school who fall into their web of lies, it could easily be adapted for film. Its center moment is among the most interesting in all of modern fiction; what the kids get into accomplishing is something that is just quite fantastic enough to tempt the imagination, but too horrifying to actually pursue. Her prose style had its moments. At times it was a little bit too precociously Salingerish, at other times it was perfect for the subject matter. Plus it goes on a little long, including a long funeral scene that could have better ended up on the chopping room floor. If you like this one, you’re screwed, cause her next book sucked, don’t read it.
“Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut.
One of the greatest books ever written, Vonnegut became a crazy psycho and is a crazy psycho. Slaughterhouse-5 was OK but it’s hugely dated and cute now. “Bluebeard” is a frickin’ work of genius, but the strangeness of this one and its cipher of a narrator carry the day. Just a phenomenal book.
Skinner was a behavioral psychologist with a different vision of society. 99 percent of what he says makes sense. The rest of the hundred percent is borderline mind control, but hey, you don’t get to be a behavioral psychologist by not telling peple what to do, know what I’m saying? This vision of the ideal society is the model the Dharma Initiative is based on.
A composer who was a better writer than a composer, Cage’s ruminative anecdotes, suppositions and arguments about the meaning of life are the subject of this classic book.
I’d upload a song to go with these bad boys, probably 4’22”, but the war between me and the internet is a not going well for me right now.
The first time the mushroom class was given at the
New School, many people signed up for it. The
registrar was alarmed, telephoned me and asked,
“Where shall we draw the line?” I said if more than
forty people were involved it might be difficult.
Something like that number registered for the
course, but when the field trips actually took
place, there were never more than twenty people in
the woods. Sometimes attendance dropped to a mere
dozen. I couldn’t figure out what was happening.
I forget who it was, but one day in the woods one
of the lady students confessed that when she signed
up for the course it was not with the intention of
tramping through the woods near New York City, fungi
or no fungi. She was interested in going to Europe.
Some airplane company had advertised inexpensive
roundtrip fares purchasable only by adults enrolled
in the New School. People had studied the catalogue
as though it were a menu, looking for the cheapest
course regardless of what was being taught. The lady
who told me this had had a change of mind, or her
particular flight had been postponed, I don’t
remember which. One way or another, she lost
interest in Europe. Another, noticing fungi in
Bavarian and Milanese markets, sent post cards.