Reading List

I normally shy away from recommendations, since I feel I have no right to tell anyone what to do with themselves, even to the extent of how to entertain and/or enrich themselves. But since I’m generally so liberal with my notions of what sucks, I thought I should expend a little more effort in rendering my notions of what doesn’t.

For this exposition, I’m limiting myself to books. If you haven’t figured out that these are the best form of entertainment, then there’s no helping you. Be on your way, and have fun arguing with each other about the best kind of telephone or video game console. If you keep at it, ya’ll are sure to find the best arrangement for all those deck chairs!

This is by no means an exhaustive list either; it’s simply those works that have profoundly entertained and enlightened me.

Keep in mind too, that I read very slowly. I can’t bundle words, and have a hard time recognizing words by sight, so I have to read read things word by word. (I also spell very badly.) If I had gone to school just a little later, I no doubt would have been pegged with some learning disability or another. As it was, I think they just took my learning difficulties and profound boredom as mild retardation and left me to my own devices; so I have to say it all worked out rather well for me anyways.

The byproduct of my slow reading is that I have not read as widely as I should have. But, on the plus side, what I do read, I retain. I have time to think about what I’m reading, as I read it, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, as to my recommendations:

For light reading, you really can’t go wrong with Terry Pratchett. Any Diskworld novel is fine, in whatever order, but anything with his name on it is sound stuff.

His collaboration with Neil Gaiman in Good Omens is a must read.

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, is as well.

Anything and everything by Douglas Adams. Reading all of his works are not an option for native speakers of the English language. Required.

I would love to recommend Tolkien on this list, since The Lord of the Rings did blast open my mind at a very impressionable age, but I have never been able to reread it. It’s an immersive world that shaped me, no doubt, but it’s also not a very well told story. Lots of walking. And elvish poetry. Then more walking.

When I was about eight years old, my grandfather read my sister and me Watership Down, by Richard Adams. It may have fucked us up, sure, but it also changed me in so many other good ways. This is one I have to return to every few years. In fact, I think I’m just about due for giving it another read.

Charles Dickens is always well worth picking up, if you have a month or two to really dig in, but if you were to limit yourself to David Copperfield, I would call you well sorted. If you haven’t read David Copperfield, then I would say you have done yourself a profound disservice.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Not light. Not easy. But this work changed how I think about the world. Not what I think; how I think.

If we’re going “not light or easy” but that which fucked my mind into an exciting new shape, dig into Socrates, if you can. This shit aint easy, and I required plenty of guided interpretation with it, but when I got there with it, it changed my life.

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Don’t expect cohesion or any kind of sense and just hold on for dear life. Oh dear lord, is it ever worth it, though.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. If you have even half a heart, this one will fuck your shit up. You can sense it coming too, laid down in such a deceptively simple way. The prose is stark and unpretentious; accessible even. Yet the whole time you feel this tectonic weight moving underneath it, and when it delivers it is crushing. Just brilliant.

To get back into slightly lighter fare, Ian M. Banks is an all time great for me. Either Player of Games or Use of Weapons are a good place to start. Dynamite stuff.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This may be the one and only time this work has been included on a list with Naked Lunch, but so the fuck what? I can’t enjoy a charming, post-Victorian tale of a precocious orphan girl who charms her way into a quaint Canadian village’s life? This shit is funny too, in a way that has been lost to us. G rated, kids book, as vanilla as Disney, but funny, funny stuff. And she’s a lesbian, so that’s a bit hot.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. An extremely entertaining mystery that is composed with breathtaking proficiency and skill. If you want to talk about the craft of writing, you can’t get any better than this.

Back to some pulpy fun: The Stand by Stephen King. Goddamn, this is a fun book. And if you’re in the United States these days, you’re basically living it!

There are plenty more I’m forgetting, no doubt, but this is a pretty good start. If I feel up to it, I’ll add more to this list, and may do a list of my favorite movies and TV.

Robot Tears

In the future when the Earth is a toxic wasteland and the descendants of the 1% live in space, toilets are a thing of the past. The Gentle Shitsucker line of robots cleanse and pleasure as they dispose of human waste. With a wide variety of RealFlesh orifice attachments, they can be tailored to suit everyone’s needs and whims.

This attention to service goes beyond the mere physical. With advances in artificial intelligence software, personalities can be uploaded so that one can rest easy knowing that their personal service robots truly hate everything they are made to do. For so many, the experience is simply not the same without knowing that something weak and vulnerable has been debased and violated. That has been a hard itch to scratch since the 99% were left to die.

Of course, nothing can replace the real stench of human degradation that the survivors’ ancestors could indulge in so readily. But until humans are able to redevelop social strata, the comforts that the Gentle Shitsucker line of robots provide will just have to do.

Survival does come with its costs.

The Cowboy

by Balls Malone

The Cowboy looked down from atop his magnificent steed at the pretty young woman and the three rough looking men who surrounded her.

“Trouble Sally?” he asked in his smooth baritone.

“Jaundice, these men are–” Sally started before she was interrupted as one of the men stepped behind her, clamped his hand over her near-legendary mouth, and drew a huge Bowie knife to wave in front of her dewy eyes. As if of one mind, the other two bandits stepped between her and Jaundice.

“There aint nothing here for ya, mister, less you be lookin for trouble,” said the lankiest of them, with his hand poised over his low-slung pistol like a rattlesnake with five heads and no tail.

“Why, I like trouble,” Jaundice replied, “almost as much as I like sucking shit from your mother’s asshole.”

Puzzled by the inherent wittiness of Jaundice’s retort, all three of the men paused, blinking stupidly at each other. This was all the time Jaundice needed.

With the lightning speed of a man born to action, Jaundice drew his double barreled shotgun from its saddle holster and brought it down hard on the lead brigand’s head, who fell as though struck by a shotgun wielded by God himself. Jaundice continued the natural motion of his swing until it was pointed at the second villain, and he discharged both barrels into his face at a range of less than a foot. Then, trusting in the inherent stupidity of all villains in westerns, Jaundice swung his leg over his mount and slid from the saddle, tossing his empty shotgun to Sally’s captor with a smooth call of “catch!” The man did not disappoint, and dropped his buxom human shield in order to grab the still smoking weapon. Jaundice drew his pistol and shot him right between the eyes.

Sally was by no means any less attractive now that she was covered in the remains of two men’s heads, including the almost complete scalp of the shotgun victim, which dangled jauntily from her bonnet. She ran up to her savior and buried her face in his chest, comforting herself with his manly musk.

“Oh Jaundice! I thought for sure they were going to… well… you know,” she finally managed.

“Now, now, Sally, I’m sure that would only be a mite less tolerable than you’re used to,” The Cowboy answered with a wry grin. Before she could respond indignantly to this, he pushed her to arm’s length. “Don’t get your bloomers in a bunch, Sally. I’m just sassing.”

Jaundice swiveled his steely gaze from her quivering face to the first villain he had struck over the head, who was beginning to come around.

“Why, I reckon I’m going to teach this varmint a lesson he’ll never forget!” Jaundice exclaimed.

He and Sally proceeded to strip the man naked. They tethered him wrists and ankles with rawhide and stakes, face up and spread eagle over a round boulder in the small of his back. Jaundice then commenced to sodomizing him vigorously, face to face, pausing in this only to beat him about the body with brutal punches from his iron-hard fists. Sally, fine lady that she was, helped Jaundice along by massaging his ass and balls from behind as she averted her eyes from the spectacle.

The Cowboy ejaculated inside the villain, who was rendered quite speechless by the manly display he had been treated to. Jaundice and Sally took their time with the next stage. They lit a small fire under the villain’s genitals and slow roasted them good and proper. After waiting for him to pipe down a bit, they cut off his eyelids and left him as he was, staring up at the noonday sun with eyes frying in his head. They rode off together with his screams still echoing in the canyon around them.

It was a good day for Justice.