Chef Anthony Bourdain was largely unknown before this book was published in 2000. This, his first memoir, became a surprise bestseller, and set its author on a course for stardom. It chronicles his professional and personal life, and describes the high-end kitchens where he cut his teeth as a world populated by “wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths.”

From the official description: From Bourdain’s first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable. Kitchen Confidential will make your mouth water while your belly aches with laughter. You’ll beg the chef for more, please.

Kitchen Confidential is temporarily priced at $2.99 for Kindle. Not sure how long that’s going to be the case, so I’d recommend not waiting until tomorrow.

I’m super-excited about this one. It’s a serious biography of the great comedian, critically acclaimed, which has been on my Amazon Wishlist since before it was even published. Today it’s $1.99 for Kindle. Patience pays dividends once again!

Richard Pryor released an autobiography in 1995, and it’s undoubtedly entertaining. But… there’s some question about the truthfulness of it. Pryor told many contradictory stories about his early days, and who knows which versions he included in the book?

A biography like this one excites me more. Here’s part of a review of the book: “Pryor has had the good fortune to fall into the hands of a writer with the smarts to understand both his greatness and his madness. Becoming Richard Pryor is a first-rate biography.”

I have no idea how long the book is going to remain at the reduced price, so I recommend buying it today, before midnight, Amazon Western Time. I did. And now it’s going straight to the front of the reading queue.

Jenny Lawson has a website that’s not unlike my own West Virginia Surf Report. She writes about her life in a humorous way, and has a biting sense of humor that I appreciate. The big difference between her site and mine? Hers is about a million times more popular.

But that’s OK. She works harder, is probably funnier, and managed to strike a nerve with people. I applaud her achievements. I don’t really get jealous of other folks’ success, I just beat myself up for not getting there too. I repeat certain phrases like “You’re a walking, talking piece of shit. Why don’t you just throw yourself into a fucking canyon, loser?” Life-affirming mantras like that.

In any case, this is Jenny’s second book. Both are memoirs, and both are huge bestsellers. To be honest, I had a little trouble with the first one. I started to read it, and stopped. But I think the brain chemicals were just mixing in some unfortunate way that day; sometimes the chemicals are not my friend. People I know and admire assure me the book is both hilarious and great. It remains on my Revisit Soon list.

And the second book is temporarily $3.99 for Kindle. I’m not sure if it’s a one-day thing, or what. But I’ve never seen the price this low, so snag it if you’re so inclined. I was all over it like a cheetah on a birdwatcher.

MaronI discovered Marc Maron about five years ago, when I was trolling for new podcasts to add  to my “work iPod.” Back then I listened for about 10 hours per day, five days per week, and was ripping through an enormous amount of material.

One of the first Maron podcasts I heard was his infamous encounter with Gallagher, which was episode 145. As I type this, he’s up to 673 episodes, and I’ve listened to them all. Except for one, which I turned off in disgust: his interview with the pretentious-cock lead singer of Radiohead. Oh my god!

In any case, I’ve become a Maron fan. He’s a longtime stand-up comic, and interviews “creatives” (comics, actors, writers, musicians) on his bi-weekly podcast. He also has a very funny situation comedy on IFC, that’s successfully worked its way into my bloodstream. I was just watching it last night, laughing my ass off.

And this morning I noticed his memoir is temporarily reduced to $1.99 for Kindle. I own it, of course, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I do not hesitate, however, recommending it. Snag the thing, before the price goes back to twelve bucks, or whatever. The man has had his share of adventures.

PythonI’m not a huge fan of “oral histories.” I’ve certainly read some good ones, like the MTV book, but I generally prefer a more traditional approach.

However… this is about Monty Python, and the surviving members cooperate. So, it earned a place on my Amazon Wishlist. It feels like I know a lot about this stuff, and yet there’s much, much more I don’t know. Ya know?

A cousin introduced me to Monty Python, way back in 7th grade. It was impossibly silly and absurd, and sometimes there was nudity! I became fully-invested, as did many other people I knew. We’d never seen anything like it. At the time, comedy on American TV meant Alice or Maude. Monty Python felt like it was being beamed in from a distant, far-cooler planet.

This morning, while scrolling through the ol’ Wishlist, I noticed that Monty Python Speaks! is temporarily 99 cents for Kindle. Oh, hell yes. My cursor was a blur to the Buy Now button. And my massive reading backlog continues to grow. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

shit-my-dad-says_coverBack when I was writing my “shitty jobs” memoir, chasing a mainstream publishing contract and making myself even crazier than usual, my agent suggested I read a few similar books to see how others have approached the process. Loving the idea of taking a break from the endless rewrite chore, I took her up on it.

However, one of her suggestions was Shit My Dad Says. Seriously? I had an attitude about that book, and the author in general. I had to begrudgingly admit he was a funny writer, but his whole shtick bugged me. Ya know? He became world famous after opening a Twitter account and posting the supposed random “shit” his dad said around the house.

I believed it was all fake. I mean, it was pretty interesting how his dad apparently walked around mumbling his hilarity in less-than-140 character bursts. How convenient. A lot of it was funny, sure. But, it felt like a gimmick to me. The fact that I was struggling, and this dude was flying high had nothing to do with my attitude. I’m certain of it. Nothing at all.

But, I read the book, and loved it. It’s genuinely funny, and warm. There’s a lot of heart in this thing, and plenty of laughs. It’s the story of Halpern moving back in with his aging father, after years of being on his own. It’s really good, and his dad seems like a wonderful man. I was wrong, OK? Sheesh. I’m only flesh and blood here… Today the book is priced at $1.99 for Kindle, as is its follow-up, I Suck At Girls. Both are recommended.

Beer In Hell coverBack during simpler times, before Tucker Max went from small-time blogger to millionaire media king and I remained a small-time blogger, the two of us had a significant crossover readership.

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is Max’s first book: a collection of stories originally published at his blog. Which means they’re probably about getting drunk and hooking up with women. I haven’t read it, but it was a massive best seller and changed the author’s life forever.

I don’t know. It’s supposedly funny, and might very well be something I’d enjoy. But the whole hooking up with women and bragging about it part makes me a little hesitant. The Kindle version is temporarily reduced to $3.99 though, so I thought I’d mention it here. If you’ve been meaning to read this one, now’s the time. Let me know your thoughts!

zevon coverThis oral history of Warren Zevon’s “turbulent” life was released shortly after the singer/songwriter died of lung cancer at the way-too-young age of 56.

From the Publisher’s Weekly review:

For those who know them, the brilliant, dark songs of Warren Zevon (1947-2003) inspire nothing short of adoration; for those who don’t, this stunning biography of the irrepressible rock ‘n’ roll singer/songwriter should send them sprinting to the nearest record store. By taking an unexpurgated, oral-history approach to Warren’s life, his former wife and lifelong friend Crystal has crafted a sharp, funny, jaw-dropping rock biography that’s among the best of the sub-genre. Provocative and unflinching, her account distills Warren’s journal entries and the author’s exhaustive interviews with 87 family members, business associates, band mates, fellow musicians and former lovers into a chronology ranging from Warren’s ancestry to his death.

This is a good one, my friends, and right now it’s priced at $1.99 in the Kindle Store. I love Warren, but even if you know nothing about the man… I’m confident you’ll enjoy his wild real-life story.

seinfeld coverThis is a Kindle Single, which means it’s short. About 60 pages, to be exact. But it’s a good one, and has a nice price to go along with it: $1.99 as I’m typing.

Fred Stoller is a comedian, actor, and writer — you might recognize him from Everybody Loves Raymond, and a bunch of other TV shows. Back in 1994 he ran into an old acquaintance at a party, someone he knew from his early standup days in NYC: Larry David.

David invited Stoller to submit a spec script to Seinfeld, the show he co-created. That led to a one-year stint as a staff writer on the program — one of the most popular in the country at the time.

This book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the show, and the personalities involved. I read it several years ago, and really enjoyed it. In fact, I’ve been meaning to re-read it. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan, and this kind of thing fascinates me. Stoller is a good writer, self-deprecating and honest. Grab it, if you’re interested in the inner-workings of sitcoms, the life of a TV writer, or just the great program itself.

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.