BRENNA'S FAVORITE WEIRD BOOKS:These
odd books may be funny, sad, dark, light-hearted, dream-like or all of
the above, but all are excellent, unique and bizarre stories that show
just how fruitful the human imagination can be!
These are the books that we
like best in all the world, with a link to amazon.com for those still in
print, and a link to Alibris for those that are out-of-print.
the Story of a Murderer - Patrick Suskind. Meet Jean Baptiste,
one of the creepiest characters in fiction. Here is a man whose nose provides
him with an instant smellometric analysis of any substance. He becomes
obsessed with extracting the odors from everything, even glass. He figures
out that people find him revolting because he has no odor of his own, so
he sets out to formulate his very own scent...
Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole. Ignatius J. Reilly,
an extraordinarily obnoxious and enormous eccentric with a masters degree
in Medieval History, leads a one-man crusade against the twentieth century,
which he says is lacking in theology and geometry. The novel takes place
in New Orleans and includes a remarkable set of characters who come together
at the beginning, go their separate ways, and come together at the end
for the grand finale. The scenes of Ignatius in the movie theater and Ignatius
trying to adopt a cat can make me laugh no matter how many times I read
them. People are evenly split on who they hate more, Ignatius or his mother.
Read it once to laugh, then read it again to see what it's really about.
More Homer Price - Robert McCloskey. It's out of print
again, and that's really too bad. This is actually a children's book, containing
three surreal stories about Homer Price. Just what is Experiment 13 and
how does it threaten national security? How can a simple record be so malevolent?
And does Ever-So-Much-More-So really work, or have they all been suckered?
You can check alibris for this title by clicking on Search by Title below.
They usually have several copies available.
: More Homer Price
BRENNA'S AND MEGAERA'S FAVORITE JAZZ BOOKS:
Caliban - Rachel Ingalls. A housewife has an affair with a giant
Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel - Don Marquis. Archy is
a free verse poet who dies and is reincarnated as a cockroach. He records
his thoughts by leaping onto the keys of Don Marquis's typewriter at night.
Mehitabel is Archy's disreputable cat friend. "Toujours gai" is her motto,
kid. This is a collection of newspaper columns originally published in
the 'teens and 'twenties. Some of the most quotable lines ever written
come from the writings of Archy!
Cockroaches of Stay More - Donald Harington. This is like Watership
Down, only with cockroaches instead of bunny rabbits. The highlight
of the book, for me, is the part where the male roach is describing a beautiful
Gormenghast Novels: Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone - Mervyn
Laurence Peake. This surreal, dark, gloomy trilogy
is about the self-obsessed kingdom of Gormenghast, its stifling rituals,
and its tormented denizens with the wonderful names: Titus Groan, Lord
Sepulchrave, Sourdust the Lord of the Library, Rottcodd, Dr. Prunesquallor,
and the most malevolent Steerpike. If you have ever lived on an island
or any other community cut off from the outside world, this story will
have unsettlingly familiar elements...
Plus - Piers Anthony. This is science fiction, but not the usual
kind. It is the tale of a dentist kidnapped by aliens and forced to practice
dentistry under very peculiar circumstances. Eventually, against great
odds, he makes it to galactic dental school. If you are a dentist, you
have got to read this! If you are not a dentist, you should get a copy
for your dentist!
Love - Katherine Dunn. Oh, but this is a nasty book! Do you know
what a geek really is? It's a sideshow performer whose act consists of
biting the heads off live chickens. That should give you an idea.
Weekend: a Novel of Revenge - Helen Zahavi. This is the wonderful
story of a mousy woman who decided that she wasn't going to let guys push
her around anymore. This book feels so good!
Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood. Imagine a world where the Christian
right reformats the United States according to its desired specifications.
Well, there you have it. Very creepy!
Road to Wellville - T. Coraghessan Boyle: Do food faddists and
health nuts bug you as much as they bug me? If so, then you'll love this
book! By the way, if you have read our Star
Trek Parodies, and were grossed out by Fletcher Paste Mammal Extract
-- this book is the inspiration.
Waller - Maurice Waller and Anthony Calabrese: This fascinating
biography of Fats Waller, written by his son Maurice, gives us an inside
look into the world of music in Harlem at the beginning of this century.
Particularly interesting are the various ways that Fats used to educate
himself about the piano, how he composed his music, and how the musicians
interacted with each other and with the people in control of the entertainment
industry. Everyone who loves jazz should read this wonderful book!
Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton - Milt Hinton
and David Berger: Milt Hinton was not only a great musician (bass player
for Cab Calloway), but is also famous for his beautiful and intimate photographs
of his colleagues in the jazz world, many of which are included in this
volume. This is a well-written and fascinating autobiography. Read about
Milt's upbringing in Chicago and marvel at the rich musical environment
that prevailed there.
Of Minnie the Moocher and Me - Cab Calloway and Bryant
Rollins. This book is out-of-print, unfortunately, but is a sensitive and
revealing autobiography of one of America's great musicians and band-leaders.
(Okay, I know it's fashionable to say that Cab was just a showman and not
a musician, but just listen to his music and reconsider. Besides, don't
vocalists qualify as musicians?) Anyway, this book gives us another look
at early 20th C African-American culture and music in the northeast United
States. We only wish we could have been there... You can search
for this and other publications by Cab Calloway at alibris by clicking
on Search by Author below. They usually have several copies of this book
: Cab Calloway
OUR FAVORITE CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS
Tumpie - Alan Schroeder and Bernie Fuchs (Illustrator) This gorgeous
picture book is a children's book about Josephine Baker, the great jazz
entertainer of the early part of this century. The warm, vibrant illustrations
and moving story make you want to dance along with Tumpie! This book
is a good way to introduce a child to the spirit of jazz.
Check out our Book
Review of the Month!
Bad Ants - Chris van Allsburg. The beautiful sepia-tone drawings
in this book lead us on an adventure through an ant's world, from the worldview
of an ant. Children find the misadventures of the two ants hilarious, and
especially like the drawing of the cavernous mouth.
With a Chance of Meatballs - Judi and Ron Barrett. This is a great
story with all kinds of implications that children love to discuss. This
is a story that sticks. After reading about the town where food and drink
fall out of the sky like rain and snow, children ask questions about it
for days afterwards. As for the illustrations, you'll notice something
new every time you look at this book!
- Graeme Base. This is the most lush and gorgeous alphabet book ever created.
Adults will enjoy it as much as the children, maybe even more so, with
its subtle literary references and hidden pictures.
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