It’s September, time to say goodbye to your Tevas and tank tops and hit the books. We asked a handful of artists releasing music this Fall to find out what’s on their reading list. To close out our week-long series, we’ve decided to share The FADER staff’s top picks. What we learned: It’s hard to pick just three books, but now thankfully we’ve got an awesome list of books to read.
MATTHEW SCHNIPPER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Great House by Nicole Krauss: Straight up and down the biggest bummer book I read this past year, but boy is it pretty. I have a thing with and for Nicole Krauss and have read her three books voraciously, loving some moments and hating others. Her first was an all-night, one-sitting read, about a man who loses his memory. It was perfect until she made him do stuff. Just let him have a hard life readjusting! He doesn’t have to get super into NASA or whatever because that is what he liked when he was eight and he remembers it a little! Who needs a point? Life doesn’t have points. I suppose that’s why you read a lot of books, though, some succinct translation of a random series of events into a decided tale of change and a decent moment of moral. Cool, I guess? Just make me feel like something and don’t make me realize I am feeling it. And that’s what her strength is, her books, at their best, exist in a world where no one has ever written a clunky sentence. It’s a nice place to visit. With Great House, you stay there a long time, you also just get pretty devastated. Heartbreak! Mild mental problems! The Holocaust! Death! Abandonment! Tackling so many large ideas head-on makes you inevitably a little trite, but she embraces that, too. Sometimes shit hurts, is bad, etc., but you know that because occasionally it is amazing! Those amazing parts, by the way, mostly happen in Great House’s past. The present is a bummer, but it’s a pretty one.
Open City by Teju Cole: You would be forgiven for calling this book pretentious, but it also has a very moving scene based around forgetting your ATM pin number. It’s not that Open City is a mix of high and low (it’s basically just high), but that it tackles much of the everyday within your own head with the grace it deserves. Cole’s narrator is a Nigerian immigrant to the US, now a psychiatry resident, who ambles across Manhattan (and briefly Brussels), talking about whatever passes his mind. He meets people, spends days alone, pines, gets laid, get mugged, looks up at the skyline because, honestly, it’s really pretty. There is not a great deal of plot, but wishing for that is like wishing for a Van Damme movie to have a plot. It’s about the action, even if that action is a slow unfurling of one man’s mind. He’s not a boring dude.
Ladies’ Man by Richard Price: I read Ladies’ Man immediately after Open City, and it took me until the very end to realize it was another book about a guy walking around New York City. While Open City is current, Ladies’ Man was written and is based in the late ’70s. Though it is fiction, Richard Price is so minute with his detail, reading Ladies’ Man almost 35 years after its publication is like reading an anthropological survey of a very different city. It’s also written in first person, by Kenny, a door-to-door salesman who breaks up with his obnoxious girl and quits his job to float around Manhattan looking for love and sex. He finds it occasionally, but mostly finds companionship in his old school friends from The Bronx. They make him feel old and like he hasn’t lived up to his potential, he is kind of old and he definitely has not lived up to his potential. He is pretty funny, though, and occasionally a dickhead. What’s not to love?