Poetry Madness

33 Halliburton in Hell
32 Mr. Fabulous Chicken Fricassee
31 Little Dictators
30 The 2002 B-TOY Awards
29 My Fitness Goals
28 A Streetcar Named Darlene
27 Operation Enduring Irritation
26 Au Revoir
25 Jeanette MacDonald Among the Ruins
24 I, Flannel-Mouthed Shave Tail
23 The Center of the Universe
22 Some Ketchup with That?
21 That Loathsome Guild
20 Honey-Sweet
19 Buff-Daddy Bookseller
18 Dr. Seuss, Heretic
17 A Smart Bomb Sampler
16 Bin Laden, Bushranger
15 Puppet Nature
14 Character Determines Fate
13 Fundamentally Changed
12 The Smell of Rodent in the Morning
11 Planet of the Bobos
10 Poor William Rehnquist
9 What Michael Pollan Learned From His Alien Abductors
8 We Are in the End Times
7 The Incurable Disease of Writing
6 Halitosis of the Mind
5 My Mommy Fetish
4 Sherlock Holmes Was No Fancy Boy
3 Joyce Carol Oates Scares Me
2 Global Warming is Getting on My Nerves
1 I. Don't. Like. Dave. Eggers

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Q&A | February 27, 2014

Rene Denfeld: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld

Describe your latest book. The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty... Continue »
  1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Enchanted

    Rene Denfeld 9780062285508


Bibliolatry: opinions from a very
No. 19:  

Buff-Daddy Bookseller

Editor's note:
We won't comment on Carlisle's prospects for beefing up and climbing the ladder of success. There is an easier way, though, to feel better about one's mediocrity: simply take a look at how miserable the Beautiful and Successful really are. A little well-placed schadenfreude is the best antidote to the pudding pop blues. Here are our suggestions:
Look at Me
Look at Me
by Jennifer Egan

At the center of this excellent novel exploring the empty heart of of image culture is a formerly successful model who's lost her face in a terrible accident. Ahhh.

Your Price $24.95
(New - Hardcover)
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A Way of Life Like Any Other
A Way of Life Like Any Other
by Darcy O'Brien

Recently brought back in print, this classic coming of age novel about a young man raised by Hollywood actors is funny, though unsettling. You won't want to be famous after reading this one.

Your Price $12.95
(New - Trade Paper)
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Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls
by Jacqueline Susann

The greatest trash novel of all time is also, perhaps, the most damning expose of the dangers of celebrity. Neeelllllyyyyy Ooohhhaaarraaaa.

Your Price $12.00
(New - Trade Paper)
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President Nixon: Alone in the Whitehouse
President Nixon
by Richard Reeves

No one who ever had it all was ever less capable of enjoying it. Whatever you think of his politics, as a man, Nixon was a wreck.

Your Price $35.00
(New - Hardcover)
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by Joyce Carol Oates

Marilyn: what a mess. Oates: lighten up.

Your Price $15.00
(New - Trade Paper)
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The Chief
The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
by David Nasaw

For the greatest portrait ever made of the emptiness of wealth and power, watch Citizen Kane. But since this is a bookstore, how about the next best thing: this excellent biography of Mr. Kane himself, William Randolph Hearst.

Your Price $16.00
(New - Trade Paper)
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Oh. My. God. I generally try to avoid mirrors — as they say, no news is good news — but I just broke down and took a peek. What a shock. I must have gained three or four pounds over the holidays. Maybe five. I'm obese. I look like a manatee on an all mayonnaise diet. And then, get this, when I realized that the pudding pop staring at me from out of the glass was Me, I started to cry. I don't emote! What is happening to me?

It's true. The shocking physical transformation is only the half of it. My life isn't exactly going as planned. At this point I was supposed to be stuffed in a shirt harassing a sycophantic secretary, or delighting hoards of reverent fans with my savoir-faire and down-to-earth manner. Not some flaccid fish in a Portland puddle.

And I think it's starting to get to me. Lately I've been listless and moody. Last week I sat through an entire episode of Suddenly Susan. I (!) wasn't appalled enough by Banal Brooke to bother changing the channel (!). I'm not myself. Even my mind — as you know, normally a steel trap — has begun to falter. Last month, I lost my car keys, my wallet, and, I'm beginning to think, my sanity. Where's the calm, cool, slim, trim, up-and-comer I used to know? I've got to get it together. It's not too late. January isn't over yet. There's still time to make some resolutions. And it's pretty clear where I need to start.


Just as soon as I've finished the four pounds of fudge granny sent for Christmas (it would be ungrateful not to enjoy it; it was a gift!), I'm going on a diet. And I won't stop until I need a belt for my jockeys and people start calling me Carlisle Flockhart. But which one? Suzanne Somers "got skinny on fat." That sounds good, but...well...I've seen Three's Company. That diet where you eat all the steak and cheese you want sounds like heaven...until you find out that you can't have even a single scoop of mashed potatoes or slice of Wonder Bread on the side. A friend of mine has a sister who lost her hippo-hips eating only peanut butter. But what am I, twelve?

Maybe I'm approaching my problem from the wrong direction. Perhaps, instead of putting a straightjacket on my intake, I should simply increase my output. I've never been much for physical exertion, but I understand "working out" is all the rage. If I just start to exercise, then I'll be free to eat whatever I want.

I'll hire a personal trainer from Brazil named Raoul, or maybe a Hans from Munich. He'll take me under his firm, authoritarian wing and pummel me into shape. It will be like boot camp, without the bad hair. A four-mile run at dawn before a scientifically calibrated regimen of calisthenics, weight lifting, and rope climbing (or something). Then a breakfast of oatmeal, skim milk, prunes, and a vast array of suppository-sized supplements. Or, maybe I'll subsist on nothing but powershakes. Then off to work, where my coworkers will be spellbound as they watch my transformation from flabby wimp to buff-daddy bookseller in only a few short weeks.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "It's a chimera, Carlisle. A mirage. Physical beauty doesn't ensure happiness." Duh! I wasn't born yesterday. I know what happened to Marilyn in the end. I know all about poor Tom Cruise's love problems (and all he has to go through to keep them out of the papers). No. Attaining physical perfection will be just the first step toward creating the perfect life, the life I was meant to live. My new body won't mean squat if it's achieved at the expense of my mind. So...


Now there's no sense denying it. I'm doing pretty well in this area already. But there's always room for improvement. Doesn't Tiger Woods keep working on his golf game? George Bush still worries about his ratings. And Jerry Springer continues to find ways to sink even lower. Just so, I can do even more to increase my knowledge and develop my powers of rational thought.

Yes, I'm well read, but there are still large gaps in my education. I've never read the unexpurgated Norse sagas. I've only read the Russians in translation. The last issue of The New Yorker is sitting on the coffee table half read. And I still haven't even cracked the cover of that biography of Jacqueline Susann. I guess I've just been plain lazy. Well that's going to stop. From now on, I'm going to seize every opportunity that presents itself to enrich my mind. After today, I won't be watching Regis during breakfast. I'll be reading Kierkegaard. On the bus to work, I used to catnap. Now I'll be poring over the latest history of the Crimean War. And here on out, lunch will be a brown bag in the park with Anna Karenina or David Copperfield. I'll follow my passion for knowledge wherever it takes me: Rome, Chichén Itzá, Peyton Place...I'll explore the history of ideas, the latest theories of physics and mathematics, the origins of life, and the semiotics of the Teletubbies.

Now wait a minute. I shouldn't get too carried away. I can't spend all my time pumping iron and reading. After all, it's just about tax time, and before I start spending my evenings with Mrs. Karenina, I've still got to fix that leaky faucet. Therefore...


This year, I'm not going to let the house deteriorate any further. After I've fixed the faucet, I'll take care of that fence, and the furnace, and those storm windows, and that broken bedstead. If my bicycle were in working order, I'm sure I'd start to ride it to work as I'd always planned. And it's time to admit that the paint I chose for the bedroom was a terrible mistake. Sailor's Sunrise sounded so peaceful. But let's be honest. It's pink. I feel like I'm sleeping in a bottle of Pepto Bismol. It's time to repaint.

Unfortunately, all this costs money. And I can't even afford a shot of hazelnut syrup in my morning double tall skinny latté. I need to take charge of my finances. It's painful to contemplate, but I need a budget. I'll allow myself a few small pleasures — a CD here, a new appliance there — but otherwise Mussolini will control the purse strings. With discipline my financial shortfall will become a windfall. I'll bet within six months I can pay for all my home improvements and have enough saved to start investing in Microsoft, or GE, or one of those Texas energy conglomerates.

Oh, it's going to be great. This is the year I'm going to become Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Stephen Hawking, Tim Allen, and Suze Orman all rolled into one. Admittedly, it's a tall order. I'll be juggling more than a few balls. Jeez. Can I really handle all this? Of course I can. I think. Maybe I should get a little help keeping it all together. I know just what I need: a new organizer.


I'm going to go out tomorrow — well, I'm no zealot. I suppose next week will do — and buy the biggest organizer on the market. No sense skimping. My new organizer will be worth its weight in gold. And it will weigh a lot. I'll choose one called The Effective Executive (or something), one so substantial, it will come with a shoulder strap.

The Effective Executive will be a complete life's planner. It will not only keep track of my appointments, tasks, and contacts in neat little rows, it will determine my goals, budget my time, and marshal my unruly mind. For every moment of every day, I'll know just what to do, for how long, and why. No more downing brewskies when I could be typing up (and spell-checking) my notes on the uses of beer in Ancient Egypt. And I'll never miss another birthday or anniversary. The Effective Executive won't let me.

But it's the little details that will really set the Ef. Ex. apart. It will have zippered pockets for pens and pencils, a slot specially designed for business cards and one for floppy disks, a built-in calculator, and a one-by-three inch slot for my cell phone (as soon as Mr. Mussolini allows me to buy one). My new planner will also feature soothing reproductions of Nature and Art and Celebrity. It will have inspirational quotes by Gandhi and Maya Angelou in the margins. And each day will feature a visualization from Shakti Gawain or a helping of chicken soup from Jack Canfield. And whenever you check a task completed, the Ef. Ex. will play one of the many tune's stored in its tiny memory chip: Beethoven's Ninth, that song from Man of La Mancha, Vogue by Madonna, etc.

I can practically hear the Effective Executive now, playing it's little tune in celebration of my success:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go.

(blah blah blah)

And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.

Except my star won't be unreachable. I'm going to be all that I can be (without the bad haircut). It's going to be great. I don't think I'll be crying again any time soon. I'll be too busy doing it my way. I feel energized. Ready. And, as the saying goes, there's no time like the present. Where shall I start? I know. Where's that fudge.



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