Friday, November 11, 2016

Book 'Em

This is the time of year when thoughts turn to gift-giving. Could you suggest four books that would be ideal for "x" type of person - you get to define "x", or a book for each of four different types of person...again, your choice of types.

by Paul D. Marks

Before I get to this week’s question, I just want to salute all of our veterans today, Veterans Day, and every day. And Happy Birthday to the USMC: Semper fi, even for those who weren’t/aren’t Marines.

Now to the question at hand, which I think I misunderstood. So I listed a lot more books than I probably should have. But you know what they say, you can't have too many books, so:

I guess we all have various types of people in our lives. So I’ve picked out four types rather than four specific people. And since it is appropriate to have the right book for the right type of person here goes:

For that friend who likes to lurk in dark corners, wearing a fedora and trenchcoat (watch that trenchcoat…): how ’bout American Noir from Library of America. Two volumes of pretty good noir. Volume 1) Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s & 40s: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy, Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson, The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing, Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham, I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich.  Volume 2) Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, Pick-Up by Charles Willeford, Down There by David Goodis, The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes. — I’ve actually given this to a couple of people (hope you liked it if you’re reading this post) and I have it myself. Though the version I have was before this cool version in a slipcover. I bought each volume individually. But I wish I’d waited ‘cause l love the double volume and the artwork on the slipcover.

For the narcissist in your life: Well, let’s see. How ’bout we start with Toxic Parents, co-written by pal Craig Faustus Buck, with Susan Forward. Or The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family by Eleanor Payson, or Narcissists
Exposed, 75 Things Narcissists Don't Want You to Know by Drew Keys. Books on narcissism also work for friends who talk too much about themselves, agents and editors who don’t respond (yeah, sure, they’re just busy). And nieces and nephews who never send thank you notes. Hell, they’re good for almost everyone.

For the jerks who give you bad reviews: Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin and Gloria Kamen, Etiquette For Dummies by Sue Fox, Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th Edition by Peggy Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post, Daniel Post Senning, or any one of a million other etiquette books. And don’t forget what your mother said, if you can’t say something nice about someone keep your damn mouth shut. These also work for the jerks who talk on their cells in restaurants, elevators, doctor’s offices. But a .45 works even better.

For the crazy ex: HowDunit – The Book of Poisons, by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon, Strangling Your Husband Is Not an Option: A Practical Guide to Dramatically Improving Your Marriage, by Merrilee Browne Boyack, How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You (The Oatmeal) by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman. This one might work for people too, I’m not sure. I also didn’t know that oatmeal could write, but hey, anything’s possible. So, try it, with your oatmeal. And, of course, there’s this:


And for you, my friends: Well, it depends on who you are, of course, but here’s some of my favorite books and authors that I would give to people I actually like: Pretty much anything by Chandler or Ross Macdonald, James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz). Pretty much anything by Carol O’Connell, though I do love her Mallory character. Down There/Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis. The double Noir volume mentioned above. The Poet by Michael Connelly, Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn. (I liked this one so much when I first read it I tried to buy the movie rights to it. Unfortunately, they were already taken. Too bad nobody’s done anything with it.) Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins books. And getting away from the mystery/thriller genre: Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer, The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati, Chronicles Vol 1 by Bob Dylan (Hey, Bob, when the hell is Vol 2 coming out?), Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years by Mark Lewisohn, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. (The greatest revenge story of all time…and I love revenge.). Paint it Black by Janet Fitch, Ask the Dust by John Fante. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. Neon Noir by Woody Haut. And The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham, my favorite book of all time, because I relate to it on so many levels. — I’d give any of these to any of you because I think they’re all good and you might enjoy them.

And oh so many more.

And for anyone with taste, high and especially low: White Heat, Vortex, LA Late @ Night and various magazines and anthologies where my stories reside.

*Disclaimer: I haven’t read all the books mentioned here, especially those in the narcissists, crazy ex and jerk graphs. So I don’t vouch for them. But I do vouch for the titles of those books – I like them. That’s why I chose them. Though, on the other hand, I have read some of them…


Check out Akashic's St. Louis Noir anthology with my short story Deserted Cities of the Heart.

Click here to: Subscribe to my Newsletter


Art Taylor said...

Great list here, Paul—both the fun stuff and the serious selections. And love that video... Scary crazy!

Unknown said...

Hey, I'm smiling again! Thanks for the dizzying list of titles! I definitely need to look up that cat book.

GBPool said...

Lots of good selections on your various lists, Paul. Many of the older writers' work still hold up today. Some are far superior to modern work. They do show what can be done.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Art. I think I went a little overboard, but at least had fun doing it. And I love that video too. She has a whole bunch. Pretty funny.

Glad you’re smiling again, RM ;) . And the cat book title does sort of hit a chord, doesn’t it?

Thanks, Gayle. I think the older books/writers do hold up pretty well. And there’s a lot of contemporary stuff that I like too. But sometimes I feel I just need to go with the classics.

Jacqueline Vick said...

I'm still laughing at the video. And I think I'll get the Cat book for my parents. Thanks Paul.

Paul D. Marks said...

Glad you enjoyed the video, Jackie. And hmm, I guess your parents need to worry about their cat, huh... ;)