“LITIGATION, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”
“REFORM, v. A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation.”
“SELFISH, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.”
–from The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
Without Feathers, by Woody Allen. I love Woody Allen when he’s just being silly and absurd, and he doesn’t do it any better than in Without Feathers. My favorite stories are “A Guide to Some of the Lesser Ballets” and “Match Wits with Inspector Ford,” but they’re all solid. At under 250 pages, you can read the whole thing in less time than it takes to play the last 2 minutes of a NCAA men’s basketball game. If you like this book, try Allen’s Getting Even and his much more recent Mere Anarchy.
Sergeant Bourgogne … retreat from Moscow. These memoirs of a French soldier who survived Napoleon’s Russian campaign are gripping and horrifying from cover to cover. What makes it all the more dramatic and exciting is the matter-of-fact, soldierly style. Even if you’re not a history buff you’ll find the story amazing.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, by B. Traven. If you like the movie, you’ll love the book. Traven’s novel, upon which the movie is based, is gritty and surprisingly violent considering it was published in 1935. Traven himself is a rather interesting character — nobody’s exactly sure who he was. He seems to have been of German extraction and mainly lived in Mexico.
Speaking of Mexico, American writer Ambrose Bierce disappeared into Mexico one day in 1913 and was never heard from again. Prior to that, he wrote The Devil’s Dictionary. A few of the briefer definitions are noted above. If you find these examples amusing and/or illuminating, you are sure to enjoy the rest.
Jim Berkenstadt, a friend and authority on The Beatles, has a new book out — The Beatle Who Vanished. Jim is a first class researcher and storyteller who shows us sides of the Fab Four that you’ll never see anywhere else. This is the story of Jimmie Nicol, an unknown drummer who had 13 days of fame followed by a long, hard crash.
The Balding Handbook, by Chicago writer David Stern, is ideal B2B (bald to bald) weekend reading. If you’re uncomfortable with your impending baldness, Stern’s book will ease your pain … or perhaps intensify it. Either way, you’ll get plenty of laughs combing through the author’s witty, at times rather scathing, and always spot on reflections. If I were bald, I’d read it twice.
Over to You
What books can you add to the list?