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What We're Reading: Ricky Eat Acid on Kafka and Keeping Up with the Kardashians

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 FADER and some of your favorite bands and artists. For this installment, it's Maryland songwriter Sam Ray aka Ricky Eat Acid.

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret
In high school my mom was my go-to for books, trading me all kinds of stuff she liked growing up and whatever she checked out from the library that she thought I’d like. She came home one day with Etgar Keret’s The Girl on The Fridge when I was in sophomore or junior year and said “you’ve got to read this guy, he writes like you but better,” which is still really funny to me. Anyway, it’s been probably eight years since then and I’ve read and re-read everything Keret’s written, except his latest collection Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, which I’ve been working through very slowly since it was published. I just really don’t want it to end. I waited so long for new work by him and I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait to get more again, so instead of binge-reading it all I’m taking it in over a period of… years. I actually got to see him read in DC two years ago and we met briefly after. I told him the aforementioned story about my mom and he signed a copy of Suddenly for her and drew her a picture of a flower. He’s a very genuine person and his writing reflects that, while still being incredibly funny and sometimes very disturbing. I pretty much urge everyone to read him any chance I get.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
I’m only three stories into this collection so far, and I’ve enjoyed each one more than the last. I don’t know how I feel about Russell’s narrative style (things don’t seem to really end, just kind of burn out slowly – but when it feels intentional, it’s great). I’ve never really put narrative first though, and I definitely enjoy unraveling the weird surreal worlds she creates, as well as her characters. Her writing is good enough on its own (and very, very funny sometimes, too) that I feel like I’d enjoy her if she didn’t even attempt plot at all. Maybe the rest of the stories will be horrible and disappoint me. We’ll see. I find myself thinking a lot about what I’ve read, even after weeks have passed, which is always a good sign. I don’t feel like I’m just reading to kill time. Also, side note, but all of what I just said about Russell I’ve already vocalized to the only person whose book suggestions I trust as much as my mom’s, and I promised to shout her out in this, so shouts out to Peli – who I just gave a copy of Vampires to so we could dissect it in real time instead of taking turns.

Collected Stories & Diaries by Franz Kafka
I have this big book of all Franz Kafka’s stories, published and unpublished, that I bought a few years ago and it has traveled everywhere with me. It’s the only translation of his work I’ve really, really enjoyed and I totally forget who did it (I’m sorry). I read it between classes at community college, then real college, then in my car when I was lying to my parents about still being enrolled in college. I read it on trips to South Carolina, Boston, New York, and during a band’s set at CMJ 2012 (sorry, whoever you were, your band was really boring). I would read it when we’d stay in Philly for a couple weeks at a time, intermittently playing shows and trying to record things and it ‘s been a staple of bus, car, and train rides forever. I still bring it everywhere because I feel a weird and familiar fondness for it; even though I know it front to back I get some weird comfort from revisiting it. I also took the cover off it and now everyone thinks it’s The Bible because it’s bound in a similar way and looks very authoritarian (not to mention it’s thick). Thanks Kafka. I make a lot of jokes at your expense on Twitter but I love your work, not that you care because you’re dead.

The Simpsons Wikipedia page
The other day I spent literally two and a half hours reading the Wikipedia plot summaries for various Simpsons episodes from the fourth – eighth seasons (also fun facts about them!). I laughed audibly several times. I got a great deal of enjoyment from this. I don’t know why I did it. I have the ten classic seasons on my computer, at all times, yet I chose to read reader-sourced plot summaries instead of just watching them, and got probably 50% of the enjoyment from it I would have had I just watched the episodes. I don’t know why I did this. I think it’s a pretty sad thing to have done, but I’ll probably do it again soon, maybe without even realizing it. Summer does weird things to me.

Any and all gossip/tabloid websites covering the Kardashians:
I keep up. I love them. I love Kris. I love Kylie’s blog. I love Kanye more than my own father, in some ways (no offense Dad, I love you too but you aren’t Kanye). I take more inspiration from Scott Disick than maybe any other living person. Khloe and French Montana are probably my all-time favorite pairing of people, romantically linked or otherwise. I don’t love Kendall (sorry Kendall). I don’t remember who referred to Rob Kardashian as ‘an elusive sock designer’ recently but that’s probably the highlight of my year, along with that photo of French just totally geeking for the cameras with Khloe while she hides her face.

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What We're Reading: Ricky Eat Acid on Kafka and Keeping Up with the Kardashians