Sunday, December 4, 2016

the last book I ever read (Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, excerpt three)

from Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen:

Also south, down Route 9, stood Freewood Acres, the first subdivision any of us had ever seen. What distinguished Freewood Acres was not just its “first ever” status as a planned community but the fact that it counted as its inhabitants descendants of Genghis Khan: Mongolians. It was a long ride from the Russian steppes, but due to the grace of Alexandra Tolstoy, daughter of Leo of War and Peace fame, they’d arrived locally in the late forties after the war. Alexandra had a foundation that assisted in getting them out of the Soviets’ reach, so, persecuted by Stalin and rabidly anti-Communist, they settled in Monmouth County. It was Siberia or New Jersey, a close one, but they were sprung from Stalin’s cages and ended up literally on Highway 9. Their children became my classmates at Freehold High.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

the last book I ever read (Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, excerpt two)

from Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen:

Bart would shortly give up the sticks for good and join the marines. Rushing in one last afternoon, a goofy grin on his face, he told us he was going to Vietnam. He laughed and said he didn’t even know where it was. In the days before his ship-out, he’d sit one last time at the drums, in his full dress blues, in Marion and Tex’s dining room, taking one final swing at “Wipe Out.” He was killed in action by mortar fire in Quang Tri Province. He was the first soldier from Freehold to die in the Vietnam War.

Friday, December 2, 2016

the last book I ever read (Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, excerpt one)

from Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen:

In this house, due to order of birth and circumstance, I was lord, king and the messiah all rolled into one. Because I was the first grandchild, my grandmother latched on to me to replace my dead aunt Virginia. Nothing was out of bounds. It was a terrible freedom for a young boy and I embraced it with everything I had. I stayed up until three a.m. and slept until three p.m. at five and six years old. I watched TV until it went off and I was left staring alone at the test pattern. I ate what and when I wanted. My parents and I became distant relatives and my mother, in her confusion and desire to keep the peace, ceded me to my grandmother’s total dominion. A timid little tyrant, I soon felt like the rules were for the rest of the world, at least until my dad came home. He would lord sullenly over the kitchen, a monarch dethroned by his own firstborn son at his mother’s insistence. Our ruin of a house and my own eccentricities and power at such a young age shamed and embarrassed me. I could see the rest of the world was running on a different clock and I was teased for my habits pretty thoroughly by my neighborhood pals. I loved my entitlement, but I knew it wasn’t right.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty, excerpt twelve)

from The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty:

Black people don’t even talk about race. Nothing’s attributable to color anymore. It’s all “mitigating circumstances.” The only people discussing “race” with any insight and courage and loud middle-aged men who romanticize the Kennedys and Motown, well-read open-minded white kids like the tie-dyed familiar sitting next to me in the Free Tibet and Boba Fett T-shirt, a few freelance journalists in Detroit, and the American hikikomori who sit in their basements pounding away at their keyboards composing measured and well-thought-out responses to the endless torrent of racist online commentary. So thank goodness for MSNBC, Rick Rubin, the Black Guy at The Atlantic, Brown University, and the beautiful Supreme Court Justice from the Upper West Side, who, leaning coolly into her microphone, has finally asked the first question that makes any sense: “I think we’ve established the legal quandary here as to whether a violation of civil rights law that results in the very same achievement these heretofore mentioned statutes were meant to promote, yet have failed to achieve, is in fact a breach of said civil rights. What we must not fail to remember is that ‘separate but equal’ was struck down, not on any moral grounds, but on the basis that the Court found that separate can never be equal. And at a minimum, this case suggests we ask ourselves not if separate were indeed equal, but what about ‘separate and not quite equal, but infinitely better off than ever before.’ Me v. the United States of America demands a more fundamental examination of what we mean by ‘separate,’ by ‘equal,’ by ‘black.’ So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty—what do we mean by ‘black’?”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty, excerpt eleven)

from The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty:

As I lay, not exactly dying but close enough, I thought about Marpessa. Who, if the position of the sun high in the gorgeous blue sky was any indication, was at the far end of this very same street taking her lunch break. Her bus parked facing the ocean. Her bare feet on the dashboard, nose buried in Camus, listening to the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty, excerpt ten)

from The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty:

Sometimes I wish Darth Vader had been my father. I’d have been better off. I wouldn’t have a right hand, but I definitely wouldn’t have the burden of being black and constantly having to decide when and if I gave a shit about it. Plus, I’m left-handed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty, excerpt nine)

from The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty:

The philosophy professor on sabbatical inbounded the ball. A personal-injury lawyer hit a corner jumper. Displaying a surprisingly good handle, a fat pharmacist cross-overed a pediatrician, but bricked the layup. The day trader air-balled a shot that sailed out of bounds and rolled toward the parking lot. Even in L.A., where luxury cars, like shopping carts at the supermarket, are everywhere you look, Foy’s ’56 300SL was unmistakable. There couldn’t have been more than a hundred left on the planet. Near the front fender, Foy sat in a small lawn chair, dressed in only his boxers, a T-shirt, and sandals, chatting into his phone and typing on a laptop almost as old as his car. He was drying clothes. His shirts and pants hanging from hangers hooked onto the car’s gull-wing doors, which were in full flight and hovering above like wings on a silver dragon. I had to ask. I got up and walked past the basketball game. Two players vying for a loose ball tumbled by. Arguing over possession before they got to their feet.

“Who’s that off of?” a player in beat-up sneakers asked me, his outstretched arms a silent plea for mercy. I recognized the guy. The mustachioed lead detective in a long-canceled but still-in-syndication cop show—big in Ukraine. “That’s off the dude with the hairy chest.” The movie star disagreed. But it was the right call.