I have a book I want to recommend to you, dear readers, not that I read it myself. I SKIMMED it. Looking for the good parts. And there were so many good parts I might as well have read it. I didn’t have the time or patience (or concentration) to sit down and actually read it. I’m reading other stuff, plus I’m constantly “marketing” The Answer to Your Question, which mainly consists of filling out forms with the same information over and over on online sites that announce free eBook giveaway days. I have another one coming up, so if for some unimaginable reason you haven’t downloaded the $2.99 Answer eBook on Amazon, you can download it free on March 24. Just think of all you’ll save!
Anyway—the book I so enjoyed skimming is More Baths Less Talking, by the British writer Nick Hornby. I had loved Hornby’s novel Juliet, Naked, plus I have this THING for certain English guys who can talk–or I should say write–as if they’re conversing with you. They’re the most lively, quirky, funny, bright conversationalists you’ve ever heard; you feel funnier, smarter, and more entertaining yourself just from holding their books in your hand. I have a huge crush on another British writer of the same ilk as Hornby, Geoff Dyer, based on his novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (I’m such a lightweight I never seem to read more than one book by anyone).
I actually got to meet Dyer (or Geoff, as I like to think of him) at the Key West Literary Seminar this year. He stole the show every time he opened his mouth on stage, especially when he read a passage from Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence, his intended biography of Lawrence in which Geoff never actually gets around to writing about him. He was self-deprecatingly hilarious, which to me is always sexy, and I actually got to speak to him. When I told him how I had listened to Jeff in Venice on tape while I was driving, a look passed over his (long) face and he said, “That must have kept you awake . . .” Meaning the “good parts,” no doubt. That was our moment. He’s funny looking, tall and thin, Ichabod Crane-ish, and made me think of the taffy we used to pull as girls into long strands. Everything about him (well, I can’t say for sure . . .) was long.
Anyway, I’m trying to write about More Baths Less Talking here, not taffy or Geoff Dyer.
Baths is a collection of Hornby’s monthly book columns for the Believer magazine, which I had never heard of. Which just goes to show how out of it I am. It’s Dave Eggers magazine, published 9 times a year in SF and sold in independent bookstores! Why didn’t I know this? Because I live in the Midwest? Because I’m old?
I quote from Wikipedia:
The Believer is a magazine, as its editor Heidi Julavits writes, that urges readers and writers to “reach beyond their usual notions of what is accessible or possible.” The magazine publishes essays that the critic Peter Carlson describes as “highbrow but delightfully bizarre,” book reviews that may assess writers of other eras, and interviews with writers, artists, musicians and directors, often conducted by colleagues in their fields. The critic A.O. Scott described the magazine as part of “a generational struggle against laziness and cynicism, to raise once again the banners of creative enthusiasm and intellectual engagement.” It has a “cosmopolitan frame of reference and an eclectic internationalism, mixing pop genres with literary theory.”