Milk-Crate Bandit – Punched Out by Literacy

In the last year, a friend of mine got what is likely the cleverest tattoo imaginable; each of his hands, when made into fists, now read respectively ?read? and ?more? so that should need ever be that he give you a pair of black eyes, at least the experience would be educational.

In a time when 85 per cent of the Afghani police force is illiterate, and most of your children think that ?ha ha? is spelled ?lol,? I personally couldn’t agree with the sentiment more. Pow! Take that, video games.

Miss Lonelyhearts

by Nathanael West

One of the least recognized and most formative writers of the post-war era, Nathanael West became famous for his writing posthumously. Sales of The Day of the Locust, Miss Lonelyhearts, The Dream Life of Balso Snell, and A Cool Million were disappointing at best while he was alive, though most of his stories are now films and still strike a remarkably resonant chord today.

This tale of an agony columnist from New York with problems of his own echoes Bukowski, Burgess, and Burroughs in a way That’s both surprising and yet not at all, and is (in my opinion) one of the best short stories ever written.

I Am Legend

by Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson is a hugely influential writer, responsible for inspiring such over-lauded word machines as Ann Rice and Stephen King, and this, his most famous novel, has been made into three separate films, starring Vincent Price (The Last Man on Earth), Charlton Heston (The Omega Man), and Will Smith (I Am Legend), but the original book tells the story with such detail and style as to make it a completely distinct tale.

Brilliantly haunting and nauseatingly realistic, this is the horror story of vampirism as a bacterial infection, the narrator being the only human left alive who is immune to the plague.

Insane from night-time cabin fever and wholesale daylight slaughter of the sleeping undead, he paces in an ever-tightening spiral of fear and misery beyond respite, while desperately seeking a cure for the infection.

It’s no wonder that this apocalyptic tale of inward frustration and outward terror has been so influential for so many years.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

by Laurie R. King

This is an adorable and easy to read retelling of a later period of Sherlock Holmes’s life, through the eyes of a pubescent, petulant, and brilliant young lady that the master detective takes on as an apprentice.

While It’s not exactly great literature, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is still a very fun, well-written novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously: it opens with a disclaimer that the text was found on a doorstep amongst other oddities like some rope and chunks of foreign rocks, immediately placing the reader on guard for both mysteries and clues.

Worth reading, but not necessarily keeping for a second go-round, this is a good summer choice to grab at your local library or garage sale to occupy some time sun tanning or sitting in a park.

The Resurrection

by John Gardner

An aging university professor is diagnosed with leukemia in the midst of struggling with the greatest paper of his career, the one that will put his name in the history books, and so he and his family move to his childhood home where he goes through a touching and sympathy-laden, if wordy, reawakening and comes to grips with his disease.

This is a page-turner without any real development until the last few chapters, and you’ll find yourself looking up from it saying ?Why am I reading this?? However, once the climax hits, you’ll thank yourself for sticking it out, because the ending not only explains all of the superfluous, seeming nonsense from the rest of the book, but also blows you away with the simple elegance of its message: the true beauty of life is in how it is lived.

Timequake

by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is the sort of author that separates the world into two distinct categories: those who read his books, and the brain-dead masses fighting for survival in an intellectual winter, huddled around the warm glow of their cell phones and personal digital assistants.

The idea behind Timequake is a simple one: the universe is constantly expanding, and with it, time. But what would happen if time were to hiccough for an instant, to the tune of approximately 10 years?

Those 10 years would repeat themselves exactly as before, and those creatures sentient enough to be aware of it would be stuck on autopilot until the repeat finished and everything started up again where it had left off?and the impact of suddenly being in control of your own body, thoughts, and movements again would be devastatingly jarring.

This is Vonnegut at his wackily serious, philo-sci-fi best.

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