Unappealing coverI believe Amazon helped me discover this gem. I think I was looking at some lesser (but more popular) humor book, and this one was suggested to me. I’ve never written a Thank You note to a corporate marketing algorithm before, but in this case it might be warranted. I freaking LOVE this book.

I was unfamiliar with Sara Barron, but instantly liked the title and cover of her memoir. And the description sealed the deal. Here’s part of it: Born the child of a homo and a hypochondriac (Okay, okay. Her dad’s not really a homosexual. He just acts like it. Her mom, however, really is a hypochondriac), Sara Barron never stood a chance of being normal. At age eleven, she starts writing porn (“He humped me wildly with his wiener”). At twelve, she gets mistaken for a trannie. The pre-op sort, no less. By seventeen, she’s featured on the Jerry Springer Show. And that’s all before she hits New York.

Humor is highly subjective, of course, but I loved every minute of this book. For me it was perfection. The stories are the kinds you’d find on a personal blog, and the execution is flawless. There’s nothing PC about it, which I appreciate, and the language is sometimes a little rough. You know, the way regular human beings talk?

This is one of my favorite books of the past few years. Don’t miss it.

Ask The Dust coverThis is a book I’ve heard about all my life, and have always meant to read. But, you know how it goes… It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes on, and the next thing you know it’s 2 am and you’re covered in the residue of a thousand Cheetos…

Published in 1939, Ask the Dust is a novel about a man living in a shitty resident hotel in 1930s Los Angeles, trying desperately to make it as a writer. The setting alone is enough to make me prick up my ears. Right? It’s very likely autobiographical, based on the real-life struggles of Fante himself. And it has quite the cult following. Robert Towne called it the greatest book ever written about Los Angeles.

Charles Bukowski contributed the introduction to this edition, and admittedly worshiped at the altar of John Fante. In fact, he helped rescue this book from obscurity during the late 1970s, when he convinced his publisher to reissue it.

I’m no expert — I only downloaded it myself fifteen minutes ago — but I’m confident in recommending this one. I’ve been hearing about its greatness since the 1980s. And it’s hard to go wrong at today’s Kindle price of $1.99.

Icefloe coverIf there was ever a book that fell into the “not for everyone” category, this would be it. A gleefully over-the-top satire of romance novels, Pandora’s Box stars a deplorable human being known as Icefloe Jackson. Short, balding, and crass, Icefloe is every woman’s dream. He only uses four inches of his six-inch penis, because anything more might destroy a woman. He’s a super hero for the average man!

Here’s part of a reader review at Amazon: “OMG. Romance For Men: Pandora’s Box has to be the vilest, crudest, most wildly inappropriate piece of profane filth I’ve ever read. …That said, it’s also the funniest damn thing I’ve read in ages.”

Part of the official book description: Realizing that the end-of-the-world can only be averted by Icefloe’s superior sexual prowess, President Obama calls on him to use his penis to save us all. This carnal mission will take Icefloe from The Hot Nuns of Assisi (hidden beneath the Vatican by the Pope) to The Nazi Babes of the SS in their terrible lair on Fuhrer Island…

This thing is wild and filthy, and runs wide-open from the first page. It’s also written by Dean Lorey (under the Icefloe name) a screenwriter who has worked on Arrested Development, and a bunch of other TV shows and movies. You can see the many celebrity endorsements the book has garnered at Amazon. As I type this, the Kindle version is $2.99. If you like your humor uncut, and aren’t offended by every little thing, I heartily recommend this one.

 

Jaws coverI was eleven years old when this book was released, and it felt like all of America was reading it. I saw it everywhere: at bus stops, swimming pools, by the Burger Chef works bar. That doesn’t really happen with books anymore, because we’re all reading on Kindles or tablets, and can’t see covers. It’s too bad, really.

The Spielberg-directed movie was great, of course. Until the very end, anyway, when they blew the shark up. That always bothered me, because it seemed so over-the-top and Hollywood-like. It was the only bum note in an otherwise fantastic flick.

The book is different than the movie. Not completely different, of course, but substantially so. I just read it for the first time a few months ago. It’s good. It holds up, and I enjoyed the ride.

I wonder if the publisher temporarily lowered the price on the Kindle version to $1.99 because of all the shark attacks in the news this summer? It’s a fairly cynical thought, therefore probably right on the money. In any case, if you’re looking for some old-school 1970s thrills, you can’t do much better than this classic.

One That Got Away coverI read a lot of these kinds of books. You know, crime and suspense and that sort of thing? I always check reviews and try to steer clear of the garbage. Oh, there’s no shortage of garbage out there… After I bought my first Kindle I was less-discerning, and read two or three chapters of many low-priced books by people who shouldn’t be writing books. Maybe not even emails or filthy poems over urinals.

Even though I’m now doing my due diligence, and maintaining a higher level of quality, the stories still sometimes run together in my memory. This one stands out more than most.

Zoe and her friend were abducted by a murderous weirdo during a night of heavy drinking. Zoe escaped, but her friend was killed. She feels profoundly guilty, believes she could have done more to help, and her life unravels. Then she sees something on the news that snaps her out of it. The freak is at it again.

It’s not a perfect book. I remember groaning once or twice, when things got a little preachy and melodramatic. But it’s well-plotted, moves quickly, and is a genuine page-turner. Today it’s $1.99 in the Kindle Store. You won’t be disappointed.

Hunger Games coverThis is another book I haven’t read yet, but feel fairly confident in recommending. Especially at today’s price of $2.99 for Kindle.

It’s not my kind of thing, generally speaking. I don’t usually go in for swords and arrows, and characters running through the woods in animal pelts. Ya know? But, people I admire rave about this thing, because of the storytelling and writing. So I’ll probably give it a shot some day. It’s sitting patiently on my Kindle, waiting for me.

There are almost 25,000 reviews of this book at Amazon, and the first Harry Potter only has 10,000. That’s a phenomenon, right there.

If you’re interested, now’s a good time to buy. And if you’ve read it, what are your thoughts?

 

 

the shining coverPerhaps you’ve heard of this one? It’s a classic from back in the days when Stephen King’s publisher seemed to insist on at least a small amount of editing. Nowadays I suspect he just emails a Word document, they slap a cover on it, and everybody starts cashing checks.

I read this a million years ago, and loved it. In fact, I loved all the earlyish King books, with the exception of Cujo. Ironically, I thought that one was a dog.

Needless to say, this is the basis for the 1980 movie of the same name, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson. You know, the one that EVERYBODY loves, except for Stephen King himself? Good stuff.

The Shining is available in the Kindle Store for $1.99 today. You simply can’t go wrong.

Dark Places coverFor years Gillian Flynn reviewed books, movies, and TV shows for Entertainment Weekly. Then she wrote a novel, Stephen King called it “an admirably nasty piece of work,” and everything changed.

She now has three books, the most recent being Gone Girl, which was a genuine phenomenon. That novel was turned into a pretty good movie that was at least thirty minutes too long.

Dark Places is the second book. It feels like it gets the least amount of attention, but is my favorite of the bunch. It concerns a woman who, along with her older brother, survived a night of horror when she was a child. Somebody came into their house and killed most of the family. The brother was convicted of the crime, and sent away for life.

The woman is flawed, and sometimes not even likable. She lives off the fame of being a formerly cute li’l victim of a terrible tragedy. And when she starts investigating that fateful night (she remembers very little), it’s because she’s getting paid to do it. Her motives are not pure. I love it! The protagonists in these kinds of books are usually driven by some righteous fire burning inside them. Not so this one.

As I type this, Dark Places is $2.99 for Kindle.

Decline coverI believe I saw the first of these documentaries on the old Night Flight program on USA Network. And it freaked me out a little. It focused on early Los Angeles punk bands such as Black Flag, X, Fear, and The Germs. It was fierce and grimy, and a bit disturbing to your slightly-sheltered correspondent, who might have just gotten home from a Billy Joel concert, or whatever.

The director, Penelope Spheeris, made a sequel two years later, in 1983 — this time with heavy metal bands. It features the famous “Ozzy cooking bacon” scene, and the whole film is great fun. I probably saw it at the midnight movies, or possibly as a VHS rental. I can’t remember, but I do remember loving it.

I’ve never seen the third installment, and wasn’t even aware of its existence. It reportedly focuses on homeless punk rock kids in L.A. I’ve read that it’s fairly dark and powerful.

This much-anticipated box set is the first time these classic films have been available on DVD or BluRay. Legally, anyway. There’s also a fourth disc of outtakes, etc. It’s put together by Shout! Factory, which is run by some of the original Rhino Records folks. That means we’re in good hands! Check out the Amazon page here.

President Me coverIn this, his third New York Times best seller, comedian Adam Carolla describes how he would fix most of society’s ills. It’s part silliness, part seriousness, and totally profane. The Washington Post hated it, so it’s got that going for it, as well.

Here’s a random quote, to give you a taste of what’s inside: “…we judge smokers more harshly than we judge deadbeat dads in our society. Seriously, how many antismoking PSAs have you seen this week vs. ones saying raise your kids, or don’t have kids if you can’t afford them? And what’s hurting our society more? People need to see that asshole and call him an asshole so maybe other people thinking about being assholes wouldn’t become assholes. We stopped judging people a long time ago because the idiots on the left told us everyone is the same and that we couldn’t do that. We need to bring back judging.”

President Me is available for $1.99 in the Kindle Store today. The opinions are unpredictable, so there’s something to annoy and delight almost everyone. And did I mention that it’s pretty freaking funny? Here’s to judging!