Tired of reading the same recommended books from the usual sources? Just think of our weekly What We’re Reading column as your non-committal book club with The FADER and some of your favorite bands. For this installment, Fashion Editor, Alex Frank, gives us his top picks.
Marilyn by Norman Mailer: Yes, America’s favorite misogynist Norman Mailer wrote a book about America’s most objectified woman Marilyn Monroe. And, surprise, it’s really good. Don’t go see My Week With Marilyn starring Michelle Williams. It sucks! Read this book instead. Mailer pretends to be interested in the woman behind Marilyn Monroe but he isn’t; he’s obsessed by her myth—at once putting her on a pedestal and then describing the pedestal to you, how gilded and sad and unstable it is. But that’s what I want! I want the myth! I’m almost never interested in books that focus on the “real” woman or man behind the celebrity. I know plenty of “real” people, so I’m happy to fantasize about the “unreal.” I am much more excited about the possibly untrue fact that, according to Mailer, that Marilyn always did her own makeup for photo shoots, as though she was the only person who knew exactly the face she wanted to project to the world, as though her art of self-invention and glamour was so literal that she could literally paint it onto her own face with lipstick and blush. I care more about the painting than the easel or the off-white canvas underneath.
The Folding Star by Alan Hollingshurst: It took 100 pages for this book to get good! I almost gave up, I’m not kidding. But then, when it got good, it got really good. I think that’s the point. Alan Hollingshurst seems interested in conceptual boringness, almost as political statement. He spends many, many pages talking about a fake Flemish painter named Orst and it’s a test: he’s going to write about that boring topic really formally and classically, and if you have the attention span to recognize its unexciting beauty, he’ll reward you with the second part of the book, which is filled with kinky sex.
Promethea by Alan Moore: Alan Moore is crazy because he’s the only writer that can make me feel like a 16-year-old girl even though I’m a 25-year-old boy. This is quite possibly his comic that most closely mirrors my brain. Promethea is the story of an NYU college student who studies the myth of a fabled superheroine and then eventually conjures that superheroine and becomes her. Spoiler alert: Even as a crimefighter, she’s super punk.
Erik Satie’s Wikipedia biography: I don’t really care about classical music. That’s not completely true; I like it if I hear it. I just don’t know anything about it. Sometimes I forget who came first, Bach or Mozart or Beethoven. The only guy that matters to me is Erik Satie. My mom bought me Satie CDs many years ago. I listen to them always. How can something that is played only on piano with no guitars or synthesizers mean so much to me, feel so contemporary? That’s the questions I always ask myself, and so lately I’ve been going to Erik Satie’s Wikipedia page to try and figure out how a dude born in 1866 sounds like he has the same sense of humor as I do. You’ll learn from his Wikipedia that he was the worst music student at his school, possibly only ever had sex with one person that he dated for only six months and that he wrote for Vanity Fair. It’s also a really good jumping off point to lots of different topics. Listen to Son Binocle played by Aldo Ciccolini while reading it and you’ll feel like you’re in the saddest period film.
The @GeminiSignz twitter feed: I follow seven or eight different astrological twitter feeds but none are this good. It’s full of empowerment tweets like “OH WELL if you can’t handle me. I won’t change who I am. Deal with it. #gemini” And also some weirder shit, including a list of all the best Gemini celebrities (Courtney Cox! Angelina Jolie!).