Bi-curious by Natalie Weber on the 19 bus. Glossy cover. Watching this woman read unapologetically gives me some serious hope. I felt embarrassed once for reading Story of the Eye on the train, the cover was facing an elderly woman seated in front of me, or it might have been Frisk by Dennis Cooper, I can’t remember. Regardless I was reading something about sex and genitals. I felt embarrassed and giddy at the same time.
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald on the N Judah train. This is probably Fitzgerald’s least beloved novel. The woman reading it doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself. She’s about 30 pages into it. Reading Fitzgerald is like agreeing to feel sad for an extended amount of time. How could you read this stuff, really? It’s all tragedy, in the fiction and in real life. Zelda burning in her hospital room some years after Scott dies of a heart attack. Damned forever.
Fragments of Cutlure: The Everday of Modern Turkey by Debuz Kandiyoti and Ayse Saktanber on the 22 bus. Library book. Turkey makes me think of Libya, of Egypt, of Iraq. Out drinking the other night with friends I said that the protests in the Middle East and North Africa prove that America going to Iraq was a waste, that ‘democracy’ did not need to be delivered by the US armed forces. My friend said that that didn’t need to be proven. Democracy will spread and America never needs to deliver it. The protests prove nothing. I think my friend was right.
Empire Falls by Richard Russo on the N Judah train. Didn’t they make a movie based on this book? No, it was an HBO mini-series. Whenever I see the title I think of Empire Records starring Steven Tyler’s daughter. Her name is Liv Tyler. Have you seen American Idol this season? I used to sit in my mother’s living room and watch Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. The only redeeming part of this show is when they relentlessly bully the poor, delusional contestants (or at least during the auditions). It’s sickening to feel so enthused by other people’s poor fortune. But, shit, they are on television. I would give anything to be on television. Anything.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving on the N Judah train. Woman reading it marks her place, puts the book back in her purse. She’s on her Blackberry now. I understand. I get headaches when I read on the train. I want to reach over, tug on her Patagonia jacket and ask if she’s liked the book so far. She gets off at the same stop as me. I let her walk ahead. We turn down the same street. She’s answered a phone call now. She’ll be there in a minute she says. I spit into the gutter.
City of Quartz by Mike Davis on the 22 bus. I read this the summer after college. It made me not want to live in Los Angeles. It filled my head with great trivia for a while. Now I’ve forgotten it all. Wasn’t California great back then? Just looked this book up on Wikipedia. It says it was supposed to be Davis’ PhD dissertation but it was rejected. Went on to sell a billion copies. I wonder what his dissertation committee thinks about that. Slow growth indeed.