I Insist You Borrow This Terrible Book And Tell Me How Much You Liked It

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Vol 37 Issue 35

Area Man Uses WTC Attack As Excuse To Call Ex-Girlfriend

DAYTON, OH—Despite being deeply shaken by the tragedy, Dayton resident Dan Marchand used the World Trade Center attack as an excuse to phone ex-girlfriend Stacy Frankel last Saturday. "I know we haven't talked in a long time, but I just wanted to call to make sure you were okay," Marchand told Frankel, who lives in nearby Xenia. "You know, just with all the crazy stuff that's been going on around the country and all." Frankel told Marchand it was "good to hear [his] voice again" but was unresponsive to his suggestion that they get together for coffee.

Sales Of Chamomile Tea, Gas Masks Up Sharply

WASHINGTON, DC—According to the latest consumer-index figures from the Commerce Department, sales of chamomile tea and gas masks have shot up more than 50,000 percent in the past three weeks. "Far and away, these are the biggest movers," said Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, announcing the new figures Monday. "For whatever reason, these are the two consumer items generating the most interest right now." Also up sharply, Evans said, are sales of infrared night-vision goggles and aromatherapy oils.

Network Programming Dominated By Surreality TV

LOS ANGELES—A new "surreality TV" trend has been sweeping network programming in recent weeks, Daily Variety reported Monday. "Not content with such reality fare as Spy TV, Big Brother 2, and Fear Factor, the networks are taking it to the next level," Variety TV reporter James Leff said. "And it's paying off: Viewers have been glued to their televisions to watch such surreal shows as NBC Nightly News and Nightline, a recent episode of which discussed the possibility of the entire eastern seaboard being wiped out by germ warfare."

U.S. Urges Bin Laden To Form Nation It Can Attack

WASHINGTON, DC—Speaking via closed-circuit television from the Oval Office Monday, President Bush made a direct plea to Osama bin Laden to form a nation the U.S. can attack. "Whether you take over an existing nation like Afghanistan or create a new breakaway republic called, say, Osamastan, the important thing is that you establish an identifiable nation-state with an army, a capital, and clearly defined borders," Bush said. "Maybe you could also sign some quick treaties to definitively establish who your allies are." The president then pledged $600 million to bin Laden for the construction of a state-of-the-art defense headquarters that the U.S. can bomb.

Coca-Cola Introduces Coke Mandatory

ATLANTA—At a press conference Monday, the Coca-Cola company unveiled Coke Mandatory, a new version of its signature soft drink "as refreshing as it is obligatory."

Security Beefed Up At Cedar Rapids Public Library

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA—In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Cedar Rapids Public Library is undertaking steps to tighten security, library officials announced Monday.

Horoscope for the week of October 3, 2001

You will find yourself in a bizarre alternate universe where the sun is on the wrong side of the sky and everyone looks like they're sleepwalking when you get up before noon for the first time in your life.

A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again

SPRINGFIELD, MO—Were this an ordinary Tuesday night, Wendy Vance would return home from her receptionist job at a Springfield chiropractor's office and spend the evening engaged in any number of empty, meaningless diversions: watching old, taped episodes of Friends, browsing the new issue of Cosmopolitan, or driving to Center Square Mall to browse for shoes.

Arming Our Pilots

The Airline Pilots Association recently proposed that pilots be allowed to carry handguns to defend their cockpits. What do you think?
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Technology

Technology Unfortunately Allows Distant Friends To Reconnect

WAYNE, PA—Providing them the tools necessary to bridge a gap that both individuals say they were more than willing to maintain indefinitely, sources confirmed Monday that the advent of modern technology has unfortunately allowed distant friends Mere...

Race Relations

I Insist You Borrow This Terrible Book And Tell Me How Much You Liked It

I know you love to read, and I think I have something you'll really, really dislike. I just finished this book called Dog Days, by J. Phillip Edward, and it changed my life. I've never read anything that so perfectly captures the shallow things I think and feel every day. You absolutely must borrow it.

I know you're a busy person, but this book is just incredible. (To me, that is.) I mean, it blew my mind. I haven't read a book this meaningful since Catcher In The Rye back in high school, when I stopped reading books assigned to me by people with good taste. If you just give the first few cliche-ridden pages a try, I swear you'll be so put off, you'll want to throw it away. But I won't allow that, because I'll continue to hound you about it for weeks.

Look, I have it right here, and I think it's perfect for me. It's this incredibly trite story about a man who can't connect with people, so he creates a world where he talks to his pets. Then, after a while, they start to talk back to him, only you don't know if they're actually talking to him or if it's all in his imagination. I mean, like I said, you probably will be able to put it down after the first few pages. After that, it really doesn't pick up.

I really wish you'd read it, because I've been dying to discuss it with somebody. My mind has been reeling ever since I finished it. It's like a combination of William S. Burroughs' stream-of-consciousness and J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy sensibility. It's a little "out there," and the narrative is a total mess, but it kind of just barely makes sense once you've finished and digested it.

Yes, it is a "pointless pile of claptrap." But why would you say such a thing? That kind of cynicism is just the sort of thing this book talks about. It says that people like you mask your real feelings with sarcasm and are incapable of genuine human expression. If anyone really needs to avoid this, it's you. You won't change your tune once you get to the part about the kleptomaniac monkey in the candy store. Or the part where the protagonist tearfully confesses his failings to a cat he's dressed as his mother.

Well, okay, I'm just going to leave it here, and you can pick it up. Go ahead. I'll turn my back so you won't feel guilty or foolish. My back is turned. Do you have it? No? I can't believe you're so closed-minded! The predictable twist ending alone is worth the 572 pages you have to plod through. Actually, it's not, but it was to me.

Dog Days is so much more than an endless string of cliches with a gimmicky ending slapped on, seemingly from out of nowhere. The characters are forgettable, too, failing to leap to life off the page. Like Salty, the wizened sea captain whose life of loneliness parallels that of the nameless protagonist. Or the ghost of Eva Braun, who tempts him and tries to keep him from doing good. It's a rich tapestry of bizarre, poorly established characters, implausible plot developments, and thinly veiled autobiographical conversations that a dumb guy like me can't help but fall in love with.

Well, if you change your mind, I'd be happy to loan it to you. That is, if I haven't loaned it to someone else by then. Right now, I'm reading the new John Gray book, which you'll find every bit as bad as you expect. I'll have to get it to you when I'm done.

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