Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Five: 5 Best Things Matt Baker has read recently

I'm new to Matt Baker's writing. But I've seen his work in bookstores, libraries and in my home--in the form of the printed edition of the Oxford American mag. Baker was the circulation director and is now an associate publisher. His book, Drag The Darkness Down, was published last summer on No Record Press.

Matt lives in Little Rock, Arkansas and here's an interview with him that ran on the OA website.

Here are the five best things Matt has read recently:

1. The Knockout Artist by Harry Crews

Everyone knows that Crews writes about freaks. Eugene is no exception, he’s known for a trick, a self-inflicted knockout. But don’t be fooled, the “freak show” is a Crews trick to get you inside the tent. Once inside he demonstrates with big tent showmanship that the irregularities among us are really the truest human beings. And really, the spit-shined and polished regulars are the biggest suckers among us.

2. “A Pryor Love” by Hilton Als. The New Yorker Sept 13. 1999.

I still have a copy of this issue that I keep stored in my 1976 commemorative centennial wooden Budweiser box. I re-read this article once a year. It’s the best profile I’ve ever read about Richard Pryor. Pryor’s artistic honesty is unrivaled. My hero.

3. Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 Edited by Kevin Brockmeier.

I’m not completely finished with this one yet and that’s intentional. I’m reading these stories slowly, like a twelve-stepper, one day (story) at a time. I don’t want to overindulge too quickly, and wake up the next day feeling like I don’t remember half of it. So easy goes it… and so far the stories are richly written and full of imaginative bursts.

4. The Unknown Knowns by Jeffrey Rotter

I borrow a well-used phrase from my pothead friend, Shane, who likes to say, “Seriously, this is the good shit.” That’s my sentiment exactly. You can take The Unknown Knowns with or without the cannabis, your choice, but you won’t need it. Reading Rotter’s hilarious novel gave me a serious fit of the giggles that stayed with me even after I finished.

5. “Amid the Swirling Ghosts and Other Essays” by William Caverlee

I learned more about on Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury in his ten-page essay than I ever did in literature classes or the fragments of understanding I grasped on my own.

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