Like Oprah, I influence many people on their choices, be they lifestyle, television, celebrity-watching and reading. Most of the books on my night table have become required reading at some of the finer book clubs about town. That’s because people feel I have the finger on The Pulse of Culture. TM
Seriously, I bet nobody reads the kinds of things I do. Because I am a bizarre and schizophrenic cultural sponge. The topics range from the high brow to ones in extremely bad taste such as the Madonna porn book.
I read everything that might leak juice. My bookshelf is lined with books about Oprah, Princess Diana, Barbara Walters, Jackie Oh!, books that promise salacious details of the lives of these very fascinating women. I also have a bathroom stocked full of Vanity Fair magazines. I read them for the pictures.
I am a regular fixture at Costco where you can buy books really, really cheap. Today, I picked up Tina Fey’s Bossypants for $17 compared to the nearly $30 I’d have to fork out to Heather Reisman.
You may say: why don’t you get a Kindle or an Apple IPad because digital books are so much cheaper?
I hope to never have to get one of these devices. I love the feel of the book, especially one made from good paper stock. When I was in university, I would comb the Carleton bookstore for the classics produced on onion paper. Like the Canterbury Tales. I would read these books carefully savoring the smell, the feel, the typeface.
It’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer — because I loved the physical book and I wanted one with my name on it.
I have one, by the way, as many unsuccessful authors do.
It’s called The History of the Canadian Postmaster. I wrote it in 1980 and it was published by the association that represented, at the time, all the little country post offices throughout Canada. It was a steamy little dittie about graft and corruption, superannuation and bargaining. The book was published in hard cover with gold embossed lettering.
It was a stinker but I got paid handsomely for it.
My first book was published when I was 23.
My last book was also published when I was 23.
I keep it in a hermetically sealed room which also stores the good wine and cigars.
Anyway, I’ve written a million words since then, most of them ending up as liner for bird cages or to pack cutlery. I’ve loved writing for newspapers over the years, but I have always envied anyone who has written a book and been published.
Like Ron Wood, the diminutive little Reformer-Tory and former bingo caller who wrote two books: And God Created Manyberries and its sequel: All Roads Lead to Manyberries. One was nominated for a Leacock (!) and the other has a foreword written by a prime minister, John Diefenbaker. I mean Stephen Harper.
Well done, Ron.
Then there is my pal Mike Strobel from the old Ottawa Journal days, who has just published a book, Bad Girls — And Other Perils. I think I knew a couple of those girls, Strobe. And it wasn’t pretty, not pretty at all.
Apparently, Strobel’s book is easy to find in the GTA, given the fact Strobel writes for the Toronto Sun. It’s a little hard to find around these parts — and impossible to find at Costco. I must write them.
Ron’s books are sitting on my nightstand unread because I’m waiting for a nice sunny day. I like to read books like his on sunny days while sipping cocktails. Unfortunately, it’s looking like June before Manyberries gets its star treatment on my deck surrounded by pugs and retrievers.
Also on my table is Philip Roth’s Nemesis which is a tiny novel about polio and prejudice in the 50s. Like all Roth’s work, it’s spectacular.
For some reason, I’m partial to reading books written by Jews. I have Nora Ephron, David Sedaris, all the Roth novels and many, many more. I’m also inexplicably drawn to books written by gay men.
Maybe because Jews and gays are underdogs legions of whom have gone through some pretty scary times. I mean, when Yul Brynner is hunting down your children and straight kids are giving you wedgies in high school, God has to throw you a bone once in a while.
So God gave Jews and Gays comedy.
It’s better to laugh than cry any day.
Especially after Bernie Madoff.
So that’s what I’m reading, children.
I’ve already gotten my first laugh out of Tiny.
Two peanuts were walking down the street and one was a-salted.