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, Mike Silver bka CFCF gives us his must reads.
Nixonland by Rick Perlstein: I’ve been reading this on and off since like last November, after having it recommended to me by a few people. It’s basically the story of how Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign and ensuing presidency have shaped what has become the American political landscape. It’s told in a very casual, fun and narrative so it’s easy to get immersed in, at least for a book about political campaigns. There are some really hilarious character bits about Nixon, in particular one quote that made me laugh out loud when I was reading it on a train to New York: “…(how he hated speaking to women’s groups: ‘I will not go and talk to those shitty ass old ladies!’ he once said).” As a character, he’s amazingly entertaining and interesting. Overall the book is a really great portrait of what the mood was in the late ’60s that led to him being elected, and how he kind of invented the filthy way the politics are played today.
Inter Ice Age 4 by Kobo Abé: I became interested in Kobo Abé originally after watching The Face of Another, the film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara based on his book of the same name. That movie is a very designed, stark and theatrically filmed existential tale about a man with a facial disfiguration whose identity becomes clouded when he takes on a face transplant. I really liked the minimal way the story is told and went on to read Abé’s The Woman in the Dunes. That book is really wonderful, especially the detail put into making the constantly moving sand a character in its own right. I always really appreciate a pared-down, simple and formal writing technique, which Abé does in a kind of scientific style. I’m only about a quarter into Inter Ice Age 4 but so far it is a slightly more humorous read, a sci-fi tale about a man who invents a machine that can predict the future.
That’s what I’ve got going at the moment. I’m a really weak-willed reader. I let books sit for weeks after putting them down and then get back into it kind of begrudgingly. Basically, it depends on the whether the weather is nice enough to sit out on my balcony. Next in the pile is Schrader on Schrader, one of Faber & Faber’s fantastic Directors on Directors series that gave us the amazing Herzog on Herzog. This one is about Paul Schrader, writer of Taxi Driver and director of American Gigolo, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and Light Sleeper, among others. Some of my absolute favorite movies. Schrader started out as a film critic and gradually got into writing and directing, and wrote a book about Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu and Carl Dreyer called Transcendental Style in Film. I’ve been warned away from that book by a few, but I’m hoping the interview style of the Faber books will offer some interesting behind-the-scenes insight and more casual musings.