Special Issues » Summer Guide

The Current-approved Summer Reading List

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Gods Behaving Badly
Marie Phillips

A jokey mash-up of classical myth and chick-lit, Gods Behaving Badly details the shenanigans of Apollo and Cupid as they rearrange the sex lives of mortals in modern London. More giggles than Gilgamesh, and the quickest of summer reads. — TJ




The Waitress Was New
Dominique Fabre

The Waitress Was New is a pitch-perfect evocation of three days in the life of a middle-age barman at a Paris bistro. Willy Loman for apéritifs, Pierre is a self-effacing minion who also serves by standing and waiting. The first of Dominique Fabre’s nine works translated into English, The Waitress Was New makes me thirsty for another round. — SGK



The Flowers
Dagoberto Gilb

The coming-of-age story of a ballsy California picaro, who — but for the fact that he has never attended prep school and comes from a working-class Mexican background — could be Holden Caulfield. The novel derives its title from an apartment complex; it derives its vibrancy from its antagonist’s verve and its author’s panache. — SGK




Skull Rack
Ron Braithwaite

I have a lot of better things to be reading: A last-gasping of the DIY scene courtesy of Anne Elizabeth Moore, stern indictment of North American political racism in No One Is Illegal; and more quasi-socialist treatises on economic reform that you can shake a repo’d doublewide at.

But what did I rifle after each night to jelly over my eyes? A quintessential “boy’s” book on the Conquest of Mexico, Skull Rack by regional writer Ron Braithwaite.

Like a comfort food I had left behind with the swearing off carne in all its luxurious forms, the richness of this action novel proved a fun — if guilty — pleasure for this reader just going into the hot season in South Texas. — GH





August: Osage County
Tracy Letts

Letts’ sprawling saga of intergenerational dysfunction has pulled down every single possible prize, including this year’s Tony and Pulitzer awards. (For all we know, Norway will fork over the Nobel, too, just to get it over with.) Filled with caustic wit and the blackest of humor, August is like Eugene O’Neill, except, you know, funny. — TJ




Babylon Heights
Irvine Welsh & Dean Cavanagh

Welsh and Cavanagh take an urban legend about the hanging munchkin visible in the background of The Wizard of Oz and concoct a scenario to explain what would lead to a munchkin suicide. The dialogue would make Deadwood’s Al Swearingen blush and the authors’ vision of humanity is dark and unforgiving, so don’t expect to see this play hitting the boards anytime soon — which is a shame. It’s nice to see a play that doesn’t pull any punches, even little ones. — WR




Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice is a lyrical and largely wonderful remix of the myth of Orpheus in the underworld. Let’s hope that after last year’s splashy production of the Vexler’s Metamorphoses, this play — which also features water, water, everywhere — finds a home in a San Antonio theater soon. — TJ




David Mamet

David Mamet’s potty-mouthed November is the type of play that can be only be produced in an election year. A frothy satire of all things presidential, November features an Oval Office that’s home to hair-curling profanity, heartless political maneuvers, and farcical cluelessness. (Hmm. Perhaps this is actually Mamet’s glance at théâtre-verité.) — TJ







Goodbye 20th Century
David Browne

The very qualities that make Sonic Youth a great band — their academic rigor, their cool detachment, their well-reasoned refusal to ever make a foolish move — also make them fairly boring people. We learn this in David Browne’s exhaustive new SY bio, Goodbye 20th Century, in which the closest thing to a scandal is the fact that Lee Ranaldo had his feelings hurt when his songs received cursory treatment in the early ’90s. Fortunately, Browne is more interested in the band’s art than its personal foibles. — GG



Tell the Truth Until They Bleed
Josh Alan Friedman

Dallas-based writer-musician Josh Alan Friedman is a product of the New York music business and he understands (and even loves) its sleazy heart the way Sammy the Bull Gravano understood John Gotti. His consistently riveting Tell the Truth Until They Bleed offers definitive accounts of songwriting geniuses Doc Pomus and Leiber & Stoller, and it’s worth its sales price for the chapter that recounts Friedman’s brief, disastrous, late-‘70s affair with Ronnie Spector. You’ll never hear “Be My Baby” the same way again. — GG



The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star
Nikki Sixx with Ian Gittins

In between mounds of drugs, backstage debauchery, and alcohol-fueled rages, bassist Nikki Sixx found time to pen his memoirs while Mötley Crüe was at the height of their fame. The Heroin Diaries is alternately intriguing and disgusting, but it succeeds because because Sixx is brazenly honest and doesn’t make excuses. For a guy that’s flatlined twice, it’s amazing that he’s still here to tell the story — better yet, that he’s come full circle to embrace sobriety. — NC



Graphic Novels



Adrian Tomine

I’ve heard of “the perfect break-up movie” and “the perfect break-up song,” but I never thought I’d meet “the perfect break-up graphic novel.” Wunderkind Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings relates the workaday ups and downs of Ben Tanaka, whose long-term relationship is, unbeknownst to him, about to end. — AL




Age of Bronze:
Betrayal - Part One
Eric Shanower

Maybe spending several years getting halfway through the story of the Iliad is the best way to get the bilious aftertaste of that Wolfgang Peterson Trojan travesty out of my mouth. (Yep, almost gone.) This is the third collection in this series and the Greek fleet hasn’t even gotten to Troy yet. Finally, a storyteller who knows what the word “epic” means. — WR



Strangers in Paradise -
Pocket Book 6
Terry Moore

This year I had to say goodbye to one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Terry Moore finally concluded Strangers in Paradise. What will I do when I can’t follow the adventures of Francine and Katchoo? Well, unlike television soap operas, you can always go back and re-read comics — and Terry Moore’s characters are so addictive that once you’re sucked in that’s exactly what you’ll do. When you need a break from superheroes, mutants, and rabbit samurai, this is where you should go. — WR


Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Yoshihiro Tatsumi has been crafting literate, adult-oriented manga since the late 1960s, but he’s mostly gone unnoticed in the U.S. Drawn and Quarterly comes to the rescue with their beautiful reprints of Tatsumi’s early stories, and the third volume, Good-bye, gets political as well as personal, as Tatsumi’s outsider characters relate to a changing Japan in the aftermath of World War II. — CK

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