What We’re Reading: Alex Frank

July 19, 2013

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. For this installment, Alex Frank looks at some recent readings.

Having My Say-So by James Schuyler
Best poem I’ve ever read about being in love, which is especially hard for me to read at times since it’s been a long damn time since I myself have been in love and this poem makes it seem like it's so much fun. After spending stanza after stanza describing what’s so great about his boyfriend (What kind of thing does a man say to a man he’s in love with? Things like, I can’t tell you how adorable you looked in your new suit and that tie
 the other night) and writing quite effusively (That’s not my sleeve, that’s my heart), Schuyler tries to focus on something else but is so enamored that he just can’t: I must get back to work,
 but first I’ll look at the clock and imagine where he is. It'd be nice to be that overwhelmed, damn.

Diver by Paul Thek
Page after page after page of work from one of the most diverse artists of the 20th century—paintings, drawings, poems, a life-size replica of his body as a corpse with his tongue sticking out. His brain was all-encompassing and enormous. One of those artists that’s trying to reach into the deep chasm of nothingness and find some sort of meaning, who creates totems and artifacts that feel deeply connected to who we are as people that you can imagine future civilizations or aliens finding and loving the same way we look at the ancient cave paintings in France to learn something about the early days of human culture. “I think now perhaps we're all part of one big creature, like coral, separate consciousnesses, parts of a great big one.” Very deep dude.

Cher's Twitter
Because it makes no sense!

The Passion of Gengorah Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga
A collection of insanely graphic erotic manga from Japan that’s perhaps the most sexually insane thing I’ve seen in a minute.

Privilege Is Like Money: Reflections From France by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I’m a natural contrarian so my instinct is always to disagree with people—any people. But Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of those writers that I go to for moral clarity, who provides me with some kind of road map of how to feel about so many issues. He writes passionately about a range of things, but on the subject of privilege, in a blog post no less, and not even one of his more formal essays for the print version of The Atlantic, he reflected from Paris about what privilege means in the 21st century that inevitably asked as many questions about life as it hoped to answer. It's about being lucky and good at the same time—just because you've been very lucky in life and given a privileged head start, doesn't mean you're not also very good and worthy. But that also means that even though you might be good and worthy does not mean you wouldn't be where you are except if you were very lucky. "But the game is rigged," Coates says. "...I write for a major magazine and this is a privilege. I would say that it is earned, except that many people earn many things which they never receive."

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger
I am one of those people that reads endlessly about people I admire to try to figure out how to live my own life beautifully, i.e. more like them. And no one lived better than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And when I say better, I also mean scary. Because I don’t think life is worth it unless you’re so in love with someone that it’s also bad and you throw dishes at them in the middle of the night, but the next day you’ll also move to Mexico with them and get so fat because you’ve never been happier in your life. That's what Liz and Dick did. I believe people will look at Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s life in the future as we look at Romeo & Juliet now—as the most poetic expression of intense love that the contemporary age had to offer. Also, it’s luxury porn: they had yachts and diamonds and $7,000 a week liquor bills on the set of Cleopatra, plus Elizabeth Taylor had the tablecloths changed in her house every night to match her dinner outfit.

On Wings of Song by Thomas M. Disch
I’m a huge sci-fi fan but it had been a long time since I had read any and picking up Disch’s classic instantly reminded me why reading about a scary dystopia in which its illegal to sing because in the future singing can allow you to fly into the heavens is somehow the most empowering reading I’ll ever do and tells me more about life than non-fiction ever could.

Everybody’s sad essays and opinions and tweets about Trayvon Martin
Because in my grief over the situation, it is somehow so comforting to read as other people express their own grief. When the world feels this shit, one of the few things we really have is our ability to tell everyone why we’re mad. And in the most beautiful but bittersweet way, it creates community in ways that could alter everything, that will hopefully lead us to turn our sorrow into true change.

From The Collection:

What We're Reading
What We’re Reading: Alex Frank