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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Indie Lit

posted by on October 3 at 12:59 PM


The Best American Nonrequired Reading comes out next week, edited by Dave Eggers and introduced by Sufjan Setvens, complete with Carson Ellis “Decemberists” cover art. The book compiles “fiction, nonfiction, alternative comics, screenplays, blogs, and anything else,” including several humorous “Best American” lists, one of which is “Best American New Band Names.” Reading through the list the first thing I noticed was that the majority of these bands had been around for several years (Kind of Like Spitting…like, over a decade), but then a particular name caught my eye: Rock Votolato. Bummer. Almost a sweet compliment.

From flipping through the stories and reading Eggers’ introduction the book seems great. There’s a high school commencement speech Conan O’Brien gave that had me actually laughing out loud.

[I]f I hadn’t allowed myself to experiment and risk doing something without a clear career payoff, I would have missed out on so much. I would never have written for Saturday Night Live. I wouldn’t have performed onstage in Chicago in a diaper in 1988. I never would have spent hours crafting the Homer Simpson line “The bee bit my bottom and now my bottom is big.”

Before I picked it up I was looking through a book of poetry we were sent and I found myself thinking, “Wow, I think I might hate poetry.” I studied poetry in college, but realized looking at this particular collection that I have read virtually none since I graduated a couple years ago. The more I thought about it, the more I got to thinking that I do hate poetry now, that there wasn’t a poem I had read that did anything for me in a long, long time. Then I read a poem Eggers included in his introduction, written by Greg Ames:

Bathing Ed Asner

I snatched the rubber duck
from his hairy, wet fist
and in a cruel voice
instructed him to quit
fooling and to sit down
dammit in the tub.

“But I didn’t ask for your help,”
Asner whined, sulked and slapped
the murky water with his puckered palms.

“Well, that’s pretty much beside
the point, isn’t it?” I said.
“I’m here, helping you, so stop
making trouble for me, Lou Grant.”

“Don’t call me that!” he said.

“Well, then, lift up your arms,”
I whispered in his ear,
“and let’s swab out those pits.”

Whew. I don’t hate poetry after all.

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I believe this is the 4th year that book has been released, and every edition is perfection. It's where I first read Ryan Boudinot's "The Littlest Hitler" and also the first place I saw thingpart. I recommend buying every single edition that ever comes out, ever.

Posted by bailee. | October 3, 2007 4:20 PM

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