reading list

fall reading list by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Books fall from trees and Warrior Ant Press rakes them up and bags them for your fall enjoyment.

Let the Great World Spin. Colum McCann.2009, Random House. A book that stretches a long thin wire between Philippe Petit's wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center and 9/11 and dares to take the reader along the route. With a cast of New Yorkers that makes you long for a big city escape. No doubt, the best book you'll likely read this year.

Bowl of Cherries. Millard Kauffman. 2007, McSweeney's Rectangulars. The Iraq conflict filtered through the eyes of the co-creator of Mr. Magoo and the screenwriter of Bad Day at Black Rock. One part comix, one part satire, one part Hollywood blockbuster. Settle down with a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the ride.

Lowboy. John Wray. 2009, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. A lowboy, as presented here, is someone who hangs out and lives in the subway tunnels. This lowboy, manic with the implications of global warming, is on the verge of a weirdly comic and inventive nervous breakdown. Jump the turnstile and join him.

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. Matthew B. Crawford. 2009, The Penguin Press. I found the first 100 pages of this book annoying as an admonishing parent. Work is useful for the soul. You knew that and if you didn't, well, you're lazy or ill. There's value in fixing things rather than outsourcing them. It wasn't until Crawford got over his embarrassment of having a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Univ. of Chicago that the book finally released itself from pedestrian interests and moved into something more substantive-like the quality of nuts and bolts.

The Impossible Dream: The Story of Scott Walker and the Walker Brothers.
Anthony Reynolds. 2009, Genuine Jawbone Books. So you want to be a rock 'n roll star? Borrow 10 grand from your father, move to England, and act like one...for a few months. Make a hit record then drink heavily for 40 years. Then sober up a little and try to convince the world that you were once bigger than the Beatles and the Stones. OK. So? Could be true? One of the funniest books I've read in some time. At some point I actually had to google the band to find out if they ever existed. They did.

The American Painter Emma Dial.Samantha Peale. 2009, W.W. Nortong. A perfect little book about big paintings dripping with sexy characters amidst the back-stabbing art world.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.
David Grann. 2009, Doubleday. One of my colleagues has a collection of books about the world's most challenging adventures: sailing solo around the world, hiking in Anartica, getting lost. Most of these end in tragedy or dismal failure. The Lost City of Z is more than that, sorta of the equivalent of repeatably sending in someone to save a drowning man only to watch the rescuer drown. And then sending one person after another. Eventually someone makes it safely back and writes a story about it. This book will make you stop complaining about the occassional mosquito bite.

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives. Peter Orner (Ed.)2008, McSweeney's Books. Stop complaining about your job and reconnect with the American Dream. It's not all pudding and raisins.

Stiches: a memoir. David Small, 2009, W.W.Norton. Small pulls us through a childhood filled with mentally ill family members and into a life of redemption and art. Soft strokes and hard words rendered into reality.

Prayer Requested, Christian Northeast. 2009, Drawn and Quarterly. It's easy, upon first reading, to dismiss these prayers as the quirky, ramblings of desparate internet trolls. Give this book a second read and you'll discover these prayers aren't that much different from your own. Don't you want to be God's FB friend?

A Gate at the Stairs. Lorrie Moore. 2009, Alfred A. Knopf. This book got a lot of attention when it appeared the summer. Seemingly, Lorrie Moore was every where talking about the time and energy spent writing this book; the premise sounded intriguing. I really wanted to like this book. I really did.

warrior ant press: summer reading list by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Warrior Ant Press casts a shade tree shadow on some summer books.

Gone Tomorrow: A Reacher Novel, Lee Child. Delacorte Press, 2009. Fiction noir at it's best. With a little Homeland Security profiling thrown in the mix to stir up the melting pot.

Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed, Marc Blatte. Schaffner Press, 2009. Suggested subtitle: The Effrontery of Street Cred. This book received more critical attention than it deserved; proof that connections in the Hamptons do matter and coy marketing slogans like hip-hop noir sell books. Don't kid yourself or let me dupe you into thinking it wasn't a decent read because it was; perhaps the sequel will lose some of the pretense.

Small Crimes, Dave Zeltserman. Serpent's Tail, 2009. Pushes fiction noir off a cliff. You'll find yourself jumping after the 1st paragraph.

God Says No, James Hannaham, McSweeneys Rectangulars, 2009. Despite, at times, reading like a book published through a politically correct lens you might want to say yes.

Bright Shining Morning, James Frey. Harper Perennial. 2009. Frey's editors appeared to have given him considerable leeway so as to put as much distance between his last book and Oprah. Frey's latest is interesting and funny. Weird thing though. This book, a work of fiction, has an ongoing relationship with factoids. Frey likes the joke, although three-fourth's of the way through the text I stopped caring so much about the laughs (the punchline is always LA) and wanting more character. Maybe for his next book Frey will let go of the facts entirely and stick with truth.

City of Refuge, Tom Piazza. Harper, 2008. Just because books are written to bring attention to Katrina and its aftermath has little bearing on their depth of meaning, the soul of the place, and whether or not you should read them. There's only so much room; leave this one behind when planning an evacuation.

Candide, Voltaire, translated by Theo Cuffe. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2005. Everyone is clamoring for Hope, but Optimism was a philosophy that came before. Steep yourself in its mirth.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone, August Wilson. Theatre Communications Group, 2008. Unlike Biggie O and Mother Michelle I wasn't able to make it to the Lincoln Center revival but the exerts I've seen have me pining for a stimulus check and a week along The Great White Way. August Wilson is destined to replace Tennessee Williams as America's greatest playwright. Get some today.

My Dinner with Andre: Screenplay for the Film by Louis Malle, Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. Grove Press, 1981. You and a friend decide to have dinner at a local restaurant to catch up on each other's lives. In the past this was a regular occurrence but it's been awhile since you've talked over a slow meal. History would suggest that usually the food is decent, sometimes it is good, rarely it is wonderful. Although at times the conversation is irritating, it is always interesting, and sometimes the discussions are profound. You'll want to leave a 20 percent gratuity after this one.

warrior ant press: spring reading list by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Even though we've spent way too much time in front of movies and vintage tv shows over the last few months, we've still managed to read a few books. Here's some you might want to check out.

Topdog/Underdog, Suzi-Lori Parks. Theater Communications Group, 2002. This play, about two black brothers named Lincoln and Booth, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002. The play remains fresh and poignant as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth and the rise of the Obama nation. The clumsy, younger Booth hopes to follow the success Lincoln, his older, wiser brother, as a smooth operator of three-card monte. The reluctant Lincoln though, has forsaken the street life for an 'honest' life as an Abe Lincoln impersonator in an arcade show, even though it is one that requires him to wear whiteface. The audience acts as the mark as the brothers perform a bit of street theater.

Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson.2008,
Growing up in a small town and reading Anderson's character tale, I was charged to find a way out of the 'burg and into the world. But after seeing Eric Rosen's musical of the same name and re-reading this classic, I found that even if you can go home again, all too often, it's just not that interesting.

Snuff, Chuck Paliacke.Doubleday, 2008. A quick read that wavers on the edge of political incorrectness and a feminist view of sex as an aging porno star vies for lasting celebrity (and personal redemption) by attempting to break the record for most sexual partners (600)in a day.

The Forever War, Dexter Filkins.Alfred Knopf, 2008. OK. This book came out last year and made a bit of a splash. With good reason. It's about the war in Iraq which may, or may not, be winding down as promised. However, considering that it seems likely that we'll be in Afghanistan forever, it's still worth reading.

The Farther Shore, Matthew Eck. Milkweek Editions. 2007. More resonant and universal than Tim Obrien's The Things They Carried, more real and intense than Meditations in Green, this is one book you'll want to keep in your library.

Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, Martha A. Sandeweiss. 2009. The story of Clarence King, the first Director of the US Geological Survey, who first found happiness in the golden California hills and then later in the arms of a black woman. King lead a secret life of philandering that neither his wife nor his professional colleagues was aware. The exception to the mystery appears to have been former Secretary of State, John Hay, who make payments for years in King's honor to keep his illicit family from the poorhouse. Makes John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Colorado River raft-runner and 3rd director of the USGS, seem provincial by comparison.

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink. Vintage International Paperback, 1997. Just because Kate Winlett won an Academy Award for her role in the movie adaptation of the book and just because it's been translated into 37 languages doesn't make this book any better. Mediocre books make for mediocre movies.

Lush Life, Richard Price, Picador Paperback, 2008. With this novel, Price sets the tone for the street patois he would later master in writing for the HBO series The Wire . There are some differences. The novel is set in New York's lower East side and centers around a robbery gone awry; the series plays out in the Baltimore drug trade. Unfortunately for readers, the series is better than the book.

warrior ant press: winter books by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

When the weather outside is frightful, here are some books we're reading we've read and you might want to as well.

All Known Metal Bands, ed. by Dan Nelson: McSweeney's, 2008. I gave this one to an upstart co-worker. "Finally," he said, "a book worthy of my coffee table!" This book is easier on the ears than venturing into dark clubs and even darker basements to hear the likes of Absythium, Circle of Pestilence, Chemo Therapy, Enfilade, Erotikill, Explosive Diarrihea, Fatal Disaster, Fear is Not Faith, Kumshot Diesel, Masturbathor, Ringworm, Pustulated, Wisdom of the Leech, and Worse than Birth.

Night of the Gun: One Journalist's search to uncover the darkest story of his life-his own, David Carr: 2008. This is the book that Oprah wished James Frey had written. Because Carr's book is more honest, it'll never sell as many copies as Frey's, but Carr, who, has lived a charmed and, at times, hellish life, proves that one can be a complete knucklehead and eventually find their way in the world. It works because most of us live our own version of a charmed and hellish life and all have a few obstacles in the way-many placed there by our own hapless guile. One of the best arguments for treatment over incarceration ever written.

Bible Illuminated: The Book, New Testament: 2008. Even folks who don't like to read the bible can enjoy the pictures in this one. When was the last time you saw a photo of John Lennon, Pricess Dianna, or Arnold Schwarzenegger used to illustrate a biblical passage?

A People's History of American Empire, Howard Zinn, Mike Konopack, and Paul Ruhle: Metropolitan Books, 2008.

Follow up your biblical passages with some real world examples of American hegemony. This is a graphic novel remake of the Howard Zinn classic. Turn off CNN and read this one to your children if you want them to grow up a be good citizens.

The God of Animals, Aryn Kyle, Scribner, 2007. Set on a Colorado horse ranch where puberty runs headlong into love lost and love gained, cowboying wrestles with class struggle, and family dsyfunction embraces sisterhood this novel does for raising show horses what Edgar Sawtelle did for dog training.

In Defense of Food: an Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan: The Penguin Press, 2008. Forget those blowhards on the food channel. Read this book and you'll be cooking.

The English Major, Jim Harrison: Grove Press, 2008.
Harrison writes with the kind of prose and nuanced understanding of the West that folks like Rick Bass could only hope to write. If you enjoy the landscape, and wish to explore our place in it, you need more Harrison in your life.

The Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall: Canongate, 2007.
You loved the movie, now read the book. Oh wait, different book, different movie. But this one might even be better. It's certainly more original.

Downtown Owl, Chuck Klosterman: Simon and Schuster, 2008.
This is Klosterman's first novel. One suspects that after he's written several more, he might become proficient at fiction. It's an easy read, but the characters, when they should be living their own lives, fall into Klosterspeak all too freqeuently.

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.You thought you were special, gifted even. Pulled yourself up from your bootstraps to make a name for yourself in this world didja? Well maybe that and a lot of help from others who don't get the credit. Here Gladwell explores the who, what, and where of the credit. Turns out its simple enough. All you need is ambition, drive, luck, and 10,000 hours of practice.

The Green Bible: Harpers, 2008. If God created the Heavens and Earth wouldn't that make him an environmentalist? One would hope, but for some reason it's taken a couple thousand years for the Christians to figure this out. The answer, apparently, is green ink.