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By Brown Banana Books  • Issue #3 • View online
Brevity is the soul of smartness and funniness. -Woody Allen
Good morrow, literature fans.
It’s Jesse Wilson, CEO, founder of Brown Banana Books Newsletter & Bookstore and author of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (as Delia Owens).
When I was growin’ up in the rural south in the 1950’s, we had a sayin’: “You can’t un-boil a crawdad.”
That’s the stance I’m takin’ with regard to the spellin’ and grammar mistakes in these newsletters. I’m happy to hear your complaints, but like Drake once said, by the time you’re readin’ this it’s too late. Furthermore, and lastly on this topic, I don’t buy the idea that my own bad grammar precludes me from pointin’ out other people’s bad grammar. I do what I want, God dammit.
 Have you been readin’ anythin’, readers? The internet doesn’t count. In fact, I’ve been seein’ an alarmin’ amount of anti-book teein’ and heein’ on the internet lately, to the tune of
“Got bored today and decided to create a whole NBA 2k team based on the cast of Saved By The Bell. Still haven’t touched a book.”
Shit like that. To these people I say: nobody’s makin’ you read, cowboy. READIN’ IS ENTERTAINMENT, NOT HOMEWORK. Never forget that, readers. I know I’m beatin’ a dead horse, but as we say in the rural south: “It don’t do you no good to beat a dead horse, but it don’t hurt none neither.” (Source: the Top Redneck Sayin’s page on Hickipedia. And my daddy.)
Here’s what I’ve been readin’:
This is a Turkish joke book. Is two hundred and two the Turkish one hundred and one? I have to confess I didn’t know much about Turkey goin’ into this, except that they were sworn enemies of the New Zealand people and loved cigarettes. And they were involved in the Syrian Civil War, somehow. This joke book didn’t teach me anythin’ about the Syrian Civil War, but it did teach me a thing or to about Turkish life in the 1200’s. For example:
  • It was was custom back then to reward someone who brought you good news.
  • Mange was treated by applyin’ tar to the diseased parts of the animal.
  • Dogs were considered to be especially unclean.
  • Helva was a delicious treat made from sesame seeds, honey, and “other ingredients.”
Nasreddin Hodja was a Turkish folk hero who lived under the rule of the merciless Sultan Timur, who accordin’ to joke #164 “had a really bad habit, which was that whoever he got angry at in his dream, he would go out and kill the following day.” Sadistically, I was hopin’ there would be a lot of these casual references to bleak situations or religious fundamentalism in these jokes, and there weren’t a whole whole lot, but there weren’t none neither:

  • {PUNCHLINE}: “I can’t afford to get cured. The best thing to do is just pull the blanket over my head and let me die.” (#98)
  • “The villagers told Hodja how a fox had stolen and killed many chickens ducks and turkeys over the past few months, and now they were arguing with each other how they could torture it to death.” (#184)
  • {PUNCHLINE}: “All three monks agreed they were defeated and they were all converted to Islam.” (#43)

Hodja was kind of like Buddha, but an idiot. He uplifted his fellow countrymen with humor and positive outside-the-box thinkin’.  He had an extremely flawed and primitive understandin’ of the basic laws of physics (he once thought the moon was drowning in a well, he searched for his gold ring in the garden because there was “more light out there” etc.) but he had a deep reservoir of “Fool’s Wisdom.”
Here’s my favorite joke:

A FOOL (#61)
Once Hodja was carrying a large box of fragile glassware. Then he tripped and dropped it on the street and everything was completely shattered.
A crowd gathered around.
-What’s the matter with you, idiots? screamed Hodja. Haven’t you ever seen a fool before?

The fantasy that inspired my readin’ of this book involved tellin’ some of the worst jokes at open mic, or bustin’ one out while I’m bullshitin’ with freinds and everyone is takin’ turns tellin’ jokes. I like crickets. Imagine everyone laughin’ from a joke your funny friend just said, slappin’ their knees and wipin’ tears from their eyes, when you clear your throat and suck all the energry out the room with ‘Keeping Dry" (#20):

A rich friend of Hodja invited him to go hunting one day. He gave Hodja a very slow horse so that soon after the hunt began they outpaced him and he was left far behind. All of the sudden it began to rain heavily but there was no shelter in sight. All of the members of the hunt raced home to get out of the rain but they still arrived soaking wet. Hodja, however, had taken all of his clothes off as soon as the rain started, folded them and sat on them.As soon as the rain stopped, he put his clothes back on and went back to his host’s house. No one could figue out how he didn’t get all wet as it had taken him even longer to return to the house so Hodja told them:
-It was the horse you gave me!
The following day Hodja was given a fast horse while his host took the slow horse. This time Hodja outpaced him and it rained again. So Hodja took off his clothes and arrived at the house with dry clothes again. The rich man, however, arrived home later on drenched from head to toe.
-It’s all your fault, shouted the host, you made me ride this slow horse! And why couldn’t I manage to stay dry?
-Because, replied Hodja, you need to do all you can to help keep yourself dry! 

These are epic poems about terrible craigslist jobs.
Sam Pink uses the “return” key more than any other author I know, and it’s taken him right to the top of my favorite authors list.

This is a book of very short poems. 'Bout a month ago, a mean, sassy girl found it in my bathroom (where I keep all my poetry) and made fun of it for about 20 minutes. But she couldn’t stop readin’ it.

This is a song, not a book. I don’t usually like to talk about music on here (while we’re at it, though: you guys hear that Deerhoof and Kool Keith both have new albums coming out? Did you buy ON TILT - KOBA DERA at the bandcamp sale a couple weeks ago? You listen to this? You listen to this?) but this was too good to pass up. Craig Shapiro is a musician/joker/web designer about town who played a show at the store in pre-quarantine times and designed our excellent website. He’s been dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic though the medium of song parody, which is one of my very favorite mediums, and seems to be seeing a surge in popularity at the moment. Listen to “(I Can’t Get No) Vaccination” here.

Hell yeah. That’s gonna do it. Don’t forget to cancel your amazon account.
Love J-bird.


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