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Friday, February 1, 2013

Good Kids … The Art of Character … Panhandler Party … Super Bowl Sunday …

Amici:
 
 
Good Kids … one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. A laugh a page, often a laugh a line. Josh and Khadijah are fifteen-year-old friends who inadvertently observe a kiss between their parents; Josh’s father and Khadijah’s mother (although both kids consider Khadijah’s Mom a dad). The kids become close as they attempt to gauge the weight of the kiss; was it the real deal or something inconsequential? They engage in some sleuthing to figure it all out and eventually come to the obvious conclusion: Josh’s Dad and Khadijah’s Mom are having an affair. A lifelong pact is the result: the kids will never cheat on their partners.
 
Alas Josh and Khadijah are parted once the inevitable divorces come to pass; Khadijah moves away with her mother while Josh, still carrying strong feelings for Khadijah, lives with his Mom until he hits the road with his band.
 
Josh is the narrator of this adventure. He’s the musician son of hippy parents, and his pursuit of becoming a rock star nearly materializes, except it doesn’t, leaving him a young man with some residual royalties from overseas, where his music serves as background filler for a few Pepsi commercials, but without a career. Lucky for him, his first big relationship is with a television personality from a very wealthy family. Not necessarily by design, but let’s face it, income problem solved.
 
It is an ironic twist of fate that his father seems to hop from one very wealthy woman to another in his never-ending pursuit of free-time to write essays he never writes, but that’s a fractal (as the author might point out) of the bigger through-line of the novel. There are many such fractals in this hilarious tale, some of which include politics, race relations and the homeless situation. The politics includes some ivory tower liberalism versus libertarian tunnel vision and is funny stuff. And then, of course, there’s the no-cheating pact (sorry, no spoilers) …
 
Josh has a do-gooder sister, Rachel, who goes out of her way to help shelter the homeless. A family discussion between Josh’s family and his fiancée’s family is one of the funniest scenes in the book, especially when Josh’s liberal sister is pitted against Julie’s (Josh’s fiancée) very wealthy libertarian father.
 
Coming of Age for a kid as bright as Josh (Khadijah is no slough either) makes the trip all the more fun for the reader. His dialogue is super sophisticated (think Big Bang Theory), yet believable. The ironies in this tale are wonderfully scripted, as is the clever repartee. Bottom line: you’ll laugh your ass off while visiting Massachusetts, California and some familiar turf (for me) in Greenwich Village. And American nostalgia abounds, including in one of my favorite passages:
 
Khadijah and I were forty minutes late, in the end. Dinner might have been torture, except that Ted and Khadijah turned out to have an artful and mesmerizing couple-shtick, a routine developed unconsciously over years of get-togethers, a performance of themselves. It was like RUN-DMC.
 
And Good Kids is way too much fun to pass on, amici. A very funny read and highly recommended.
 
 
 
 
 
Speaking of good reads, ESPECIALLY for writers, here’s one by an amico with much vested in this weekend’s football game. David Corbett’s, The Art of Character. I’ve been working with writing text guides for the past two years in an MFA program and none of those have anything on what my brother from another mother has to offer. Visit David’s website and learn more about his work and his literary aid here:
 
Bio: David Corbett worked as a private investigator for fifteen years before becoming the widely acclaimed author of four novels, with short fiction twice chosen for Best American Mystery Stories. He has taught at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, 826 Valencia, Chuck Palahniuk's LitReactor, and the San Francisco Writers' Grotto.
 
 
 
Panhandler Party … a friend of my son-in-law’s pulled this one off on the #4 train … funny stuff.
 
 
Breakfast of Champions ...
 
The Super Bowl (to me it’ll always be filled with pasta) … let’s face it, if yous read this far, it’s what yous have no doubt been waiting for, the ugly Knuckster’s lock of the year … or, as it’s known around bookmaking offices everywhere: money in the bank (for bookmakers).
 
The ugly one’s pre-season super bowl picks were the San Fernando 49’ers and the Texas Two-Steppers … but Texas proved themselves pretenders when it counted and were routed by the Foxboro Choketriots … who were then routed by the Wes Cravens of Baltimore (by way of Cleveland) … so where does this all go (yous ask)?
 
The Knuckster still holds a grudge with the San Fernandians over the Alex Smith situation, even though the K-kid has more than proved his worth. This is probably more a dinosaur issue for moi, much like having to accept C.J. Spiller has proven himself over Fred Jackson as the feature running back for my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills, but that doesn’t change the fact that the San Fernandoians would still be playing in the big game if Alex Smith was their QB (just like my Bills would still suck if Jackson was the feature back).
 
So … because I left my heart in Alex Smith’s locker, I’ll be rooting for the Wes Cravens of The Wire fame, because … I want the 49’ers to have to wonder about that mid-season choice they made (even though it will have nothing to do with anything should the Wes Cravens actually beat them) ... and let’s face it, they’re among the elite capitalists of the NFL (5 rings already).
 
This is all very scientific stuff, amici … much the way my wife picks horses (and wins) while I study the Racing Form (and lose).
 
The reality is I’m not particular about who wins this game. Both teams have rings, the 49’ers several, and more important than who wins or loses, the Choketriots have the worst seat on the couch ... for getting there so late ... AGAIN.
 
The Cheatriots are out, so the Bills win.
 
Go either or ...
 
—Knucks
 
And for the Mack the Knife routine the 46’ers (they lose 3 points having Ackers) pulled on Alex Smith ... 
 

And because my wife loves this one ...