Good morrow, literature fans.
Chief Operating Officer Jesse here. Brown Banana Books has been shut down, thanks to Jeff Bezos’s new supervirus, but the newsletter is going to keep happening. In fact, I’ve never done so much writing in my life. 2 pages in 18 days! I just hope I don’t die soon. I know, I know, I’m “young” and “healthy,” but I’m still scared. Just the other day, I ran over a bat, and now I’m afraid I got the car on a virus.
That was a joke I was going to tell at open mic, but open mic got canceled.
Here are the books I’ve been reading recently. If you can prove you’re on your deathbed, email me and I’ll mail you a copy.
ME AND MR. CIGAR by Gibby Haynes
Gibby Haynes is the co-founder of the band Butthole Surfers.
I’ve loved Butthole Surfers religiously since the day I first heard those words together (Thanksgiving ‘97), and I’ll buy any old shit they put out–even the Expensive Coffee Table Book that came out last year that was just a bunch of old flyers and album covers (pretty good introduction by Dean Ween, though).
That being said, this book is good. It’s a young adult novel, which is not a bad thing. It’s short, action-packed, and has something to say to young adults, which is that it’s fine and even good to do drugs and commit crime when you’re young , but also, like Bob Dylan once said, “to live outside the law you must be chill.” The protagonist, Oscar, respects this code, and in doing so he sets a fine example for young adults everywhere.
More importantly, this book unlocked a puzzling Butthole Surfers lyric for me. It’s from “Dracula From Houston
,” a not-very-well-liked “Sweet Jane” ripoff off their 1.0-rated-on-pitchfork album WEIRD REVOLUTION, and it goes
“Leslie Gore Vidal Sassoon.”
I never knew who Lesie Gore or Vidal Sassoon were, so I never made anything of the lyric, but when it popped up in this book I recognized it instantly. The meaning of it is, there’s a game you can play that involves stringing together celebrity names last name to first name (“Patch Adam Sandler”) for as long as you can, and Leslie Gore, Gore Vidal and Vidal Sassoon were famous people in the 80’s. Protagonist Oscar plays this game with his human best friend throughout ME AND MR. CIGAR, and while it seems unrealistic that two young adults in 2019 would know who Leslie Gore, Gore Vidal, or Vidal Sassoon is, I appreciated it, and the the game is fun.
Dat Boy Grace Slick Rick James Cameron Diaziz Ansariana Grande Master Flash Gordon From Sesame Street
THE WALLS AROUND US by David Owen
I read this book so I could learn about houses. I have a house, because I’m rich, but I don’t know how to fix anything in it, and I thought the quarantine might be a good time to learn. It was, I think. I read THE WALLS AROUND US over my first 3 days locked up, and already I’m thinking about fixing some shit.
Roy Blount, Jr., an author whose opinion I mysteriously trust, even though I’ve never read any of his stuff, said of this book:
“Funny and practical. How can this be?”
I agree with this assesment, with the caveat that it’s not THAT funny. David Owen’s style reminds me of Bill Bryson, whose books were shoved in front of me when I was a smart alecky teenager. I remember reading those books and wondering “do people really think this is funny?” But as you age, that style of writing becomes more pleasurable. It’s not that it’s funny so much as it displays a certain comic understanding of human nature, and delivers information in a clean, non-bullshitty way.
“At thirty [Edison] invented the phonograph. Let’s see, when I was thirty–well, it isn’t really a fair comparison. I had a lot on my mind that year.”
“One thing I like to do when I am bulding something is to spend a lot of time staring dreamily at whatever I have done so far.”
“The fact that I like to be in my office makes it somewhat more likely that I will go to it. And once I am in my office, there is always a chance that I will do some work.”
That’s all for today’s newsletter. My roommate and I are fasting for 3 days in a row for a bet and I don’t want to focus on this anymore. I want to focus on how hungry I am.