We’ve had some really hot days in Chicago, but the over-90 degrees days finally broke today, so the partner and I ventured out to Nordstrom, then to have some lunch at Chipotle, and finally a stop at after-words new & used books. after-words is awesome because it’s pretty huge, with good prices and a huge range of choices. I stopped earlier in the day to find Ben Hatch’s Are We Nearly There Yet? which for some reason I can’t find anywhere even though it’s a recent release – Entertainment Weekly reviewed it last week.
So, anyways, I did some book shopping – after talking with a friend at work, I needed to get The Remains of the Day, which I assumed to be E.M. Forster – which was both xenophobic and racist, because I was shocked to find out that the author was a contemporary British writer – Kazuo Ishiguro. I remember the fantastic Merchant-Ivory film with Anthony Perkins and Emma Thompson - a personal fav of mine. So, I padded around after-words and found some great books. Click on the titles to buy the books on amazon.com.
The Remains of the Day by Ishiguro - Ishiguro is famous for his ability to shift and change his voice according to the genre and setting of his novels. This is told from the POV of a butler who is dealing with shifts of change in tradition, social mores and society in postwar England. This is a highly regarded work, consistently ranked in “best of” lists, and even though I watched the film, I’ve yet to read it – I’m ashamed it’s taken me so long to get around to read it.
Does the Sun Rise over Dagenham? New Writing from London by various authors. I love London and all things London - contemporary takes on the city are my some of my favorite kinds of writing. I’m not sure of any of the writers represented, though Louis de Bernieres is the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (which was made into a terrible Nicholas Cage movie).
The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater by Mike Thomas. I did a spell in Second City under the tutelage of Second City founder Bernie Sahlins – don’t be impressed, I was terrible, and soon was relegated to tech/roadie because I couldn’t do anything funny onstage, nor could I improvise or write anything impressive. Still, I’m a fan of Second City – some of its alum like Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Bonnie Hunt, Stephen Colbert, Catherine O’Hara, etc. are my favorite comedians. I have a huge respect for comics, and am interested in the “behind the scenes” stories of these kinds of institutions. I’ve been waiting for this book to be released on paperback – it’s done with interviews by a number of figures of Second City’s history and just a glance through the photos is looking through some legends of comedy: Colbert, Amy Sedaris, Steve Carrell, John Candy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, O’Hara, Hunt – loads of SCTV and Saturday Night Live vets.
Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out by Robin Halstead, Jason Hazeley, Alex Morris and Joel Morris. As you can tell, I love all things British, so this looks like a funny book about weird curious places to visit in Great Britain. This reminds me of an awesome show on PBS called Wild Chicago that showcased these off-the-wall places with charming kooks.
Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood’s Darkest and Best Kept Secrets by Kenneth Anger. This book is pure trash, and I bought it because of its sheer camp value – the cover has Jayne Mansfield in midst of her own version of a wardrobe malfunction. This is a pulpy book that includes all kinds of sex and crime scandals that befell on Hollywood stars like the infamous bottle-rape trial of Fatty Arbuckle, Lana Turner’s murder trial, the tragic story of Frances Farmer, Thelma Todd’s mysterious death, among others. It’s awful, I know, but this kind of salacious rubbish is sometimes fun to read.