- Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein
- This is a truly odd yet completely amusing book that tells the true story of Atilla Ambrus, Hungary's most wanted bank robber during the period in which the country was shifting from communism to capitalism. The characters in here are just nuts--along with armed robber, Ambrus held jobs as Transylvanian Pelt Smuggle, part-time goalie for one of Hungary's pro hockey teams, zamboni driver, and more--but the picture Rubinstein paints of a country where the promise of capitalism isn't quite living up to the reality is really hilarious and poignant. Very entertaining and quirky read.
- Fluke by Christopher Moore
- All right, this guy is truly strange. Fluke is Moore's most recent book (well, besides the Christmas tome The Stupidest Angel) and it tells the story of a marine biologist trying to learn why humpback whales sing. While out whale watching one day, the biologist sees a whale lift its tail into the air to display an unexpected message: Bite Me. And believe me, it only gets stranger from there. Moore is weird, irreverant, and out-of-control, but I personally find his books consistently entertaining and enjoyable. This is definitely not Pulitzer Prize winning stuff, but it may very well have you laughing out loud.
- Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safron Foer
- Have you not read this yet? Do yourself a favor and check it out immediately. Foer's second book has just been published (I'm going to buy it tomorrow I think) but this is one of those books that left a profound effect on me. Told by a variety of narrators over a number of years, the story centers around an American Jew (also named Jonathan Safron Foer) searching for what happened in his family before, during, and after the Holocaust. This book is at turns hilarious (as his Ukranian guide simply murders the English language), interesting, and really moving. Definitely one of my favorites (and also one of the authors that makes me think I'll never be a great writer--he was only 24 when he published it). Just great stuff
- Get Lifted John Legend (CD)
- What? A CD? "But Joel, you're no music expert." True, but I think I have pretty good taste, and this guy is good. John Legend combines the feelings of great soul with a unique style all his own. Seriously, if you're like me and really dig Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke , or maybe you like Alicia Keyes but not enough for a full album, then check out John Legend. His piano is both jazzy and smooth, his lyrics are engaging and enjoyable, and his voice is fabulous. I highly recommend tracks 8 (Ordinary People), 12 (Refuge), and 13 (It Don't Have to Change), but the whole album is pretty great. I'm not a big R & B fan, but I do love soul, and this guy is just a big thumbs up in my book. Give it a shot, I think you'll like it.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
in case you missed it
Just a few recommendations again. I haven't done this in a while, so I figure it's about time: