Casual readers of this blog might deduce that all I ever do is watch movies. Well, that's mostly true. But I do a few other things on occasion. Like, listen to music. And inevitably, read two or more books at a time. Here's what-all's dividing my literary attentions four ways at the moment:
Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas
By John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson
Picked this up at a used bookstore during a recent visit to Seattle. Um, it's awesome. I love true crime and I love unusual religions, and this "spine-chilling account of the Hare Krishnas," published in 1988, enfolds both into a gripping and salacious tale of greed, corruption, hypocrisy, and murder (of course). Pretty much every page is filled with incredible dialogue too good to actually be taken from real life:
"Kirtanananda's a vindictive son of a bitch!"
"Bullshit, Gary. A commune is a concentration camp."
And moments like this:
"One day, he had taken a hit of acid and made his discovery: LSD turbocharged chanting. Or was it chanting that turbocharged acid? He wasn't sure and didn't care."
Will Storr vs. the Supernatural: One Man's Search for the Truth About Ghosts
By Will Storr
Any book with a cover blurb by Jon Ronson -- one of my favorite writers -- is going to get my attention. Also, anything about ghosts and demons and "time-slips" and witches, especially when approached from a funny, cynical, intelligent angle, is a-ok with me. Like Ronson, Storr is a British journalist who gives his (often vaguely batty) subjects the benefit of the doubt -- be they occult researchers or Spritualists' National Union members or the Vatican's chief exorcist (no, really!)
Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream
By Jason Fagone
Brilliantly written and deeply enthusiastic look at the competitive-eating circuit. Worth reading if for no other reason than to get to know a real-life character nicknamed "El Wingador." Sample chapter title: "No Dipping, No Dunking, No Desecrating." The material in Horsemen reminds me a little bit of Susan Orlean's profiles in books like The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup -- like, you wouldn't believe the person or their story if either were made up, so they have to be true. "The history of competitive eating is like the development of life itself," Fagone insists, and he may be right. Meanwhile, somewhere, right this very moment, there's at least one determined dude (Eric "Badlands" Booker) who can eat 80 wings in one sitting.
The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God!
By Joe Eszterhas
Ok, I haven't actually cracked this book yet, but I snatched it up in anticipation of the man's imminent visit to San Francisco. How am I not gonna love a screenwriting how-to penned by the guy who birthed Showgirls (not to mention his previous book, an autobio aptly titled Hollywood Animal)? Come back to Hollywood, Joe. I'm dyin' to know what trouble Nomi got up to once she arrived back in L.A. No matter what it was, I'm sure her nails looked fantastic.