NonFiction: Navigating Snark-Infested Waters, a Gay Gypsy, the Invisable Arab, a Mob-Daughter, and Greedy Bastardsby Larry Cox on Feb. 21, 2012, under Uncategorized
The Snark Handbook: Sex Edition by Lawrence Dorfman (Skyhorse, $12.95)
You don’t have to venture much further than your television news broadcasts to realize that we are awash in snark-infested shenanigans. From Anthony Weiner to Paul Babeu, it is evident that these are strange times. Whether you’re looking for a couple of snickers or show-stopping material to unleash at your next cocktail party, this nifty little book is loaded with possibilities. Innuendo, irony, and ill-advised insults on intimacy are all trotted out to shock and amuse.
Some of my personal favorites:
“My boyfriend and I live together, which means we don’t have sex — ever. Now that the milk is free, we’ve both become lactose intolerant.” (Margaret Cho)
“Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.” (Barbara Bush)
“Girls who put out are tramps. Girls who don’t are ladies. This is, however, a rather archaic usage of the word. Should one of you boys happen upon a girl who doesn’t put out, do not jump to the conclusion that you have found a lady. What you have probably found is a lesbian.” (Fran Lebowitz)
“In sex as in banking, there is a penalty for early withdrawal.” (Cynthia Nelms)
You get the idea. This book is wicked fun that serves up some of the best wisecracks, curiosities, jokes, and witticisms about sex ever presented between two covers.
Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry by Dylan Ratigan (Simon & Schuster, $25)
As Dylan Ratigan, a host on MSNBC, puts it, “The truth will set you free — but first it will piss you off.” And that is exactly what will happen as you read his new book that documents and exposes our broken system. What is different from most books of this ilk is that he doesn’t just document the problems but presents a series of solutions.
According to Ratigan, “Almost everywhere you look, if you just open your eyes, you will see ordinary people struggling.” He adds, “Not far away you’ll find a few greedy bastards making out like bandits. What defines greedy bastards? It’s not merely that they’re rich. I’m a capitalist; I’m in favor of making lots and lots of money, as long as it comes from creating value for others. Americans have a long tradition of getting rich by making a great product or service that contributes to the growth of the country. But greedy bastards have given up creating value for others and instead get their money by rigging the game so that they can steal from the rest of us.”
Rastigan is convinced that the only way to break the grip of corruption and greed that has permeated our country is to reform the money in politics so that America can have the open and honest debate it deserves.
You might not agree with some of Ratigan’s conclusions but almost everyone realizes that the system is gamed and workers no longer have a level playing field.
Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies by Mikey Walsh (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.99)
When this memoir was first published in Britain, it immediately became a #1 Sunday Times bestseller. This book is the extraordinary story of how a young man found his way in the secretive and illusive world of Romany Gypsies.
Mikey Walsh grew up in England’s Romany Gypsy community, the son and grandson of bare-knuckle boxers. When he was four, his father attempted to draw him into the sport but when he failed, he became an embarrassment to his dad. Even though he was determined to find other ways to make his father proud, he found himself being taught to shoplift by an aunt and mistreated by an uncle at a scrap yard worksite.
Traveling from place to place, remaining mostly illiterate, and trying desperately to fix in with other members of his close-knit community, Mikey is conflicted by a dangerous secret, he is gay.
Written with insight and a powerful and at times shocking narrative, this is an incredible book about a young man’s courage and his pride in his family and culture.
The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolution by Marwan Bishara (Nation Books, $26)
Marwan Bishara, as Al Jazeera English’s senior political analyst and the editor and host of its flagship show, “Empire,” he has spent the last few years trying to explain how the West got the Arab world so wrong. When the West was blindsided by the Arab Spring, none of the journalists and so-called experts in this country knew how to describe the momentous events that were unfolding. Many even failed to see the incredible importance.
With the soaring oil prices and unstable conditions throughout the world, once again, Bishara believes the West must attempt to better understand the Middle East and North Africa without the usual distractions and misconceptions. He is convinced that it is vital that our leaders put events in the Middle East in context as the peoples in the region move toward making a decisive break with the past.
This is a rich exploration of the history of the contemporary Arab world from the colonial period through the present period of liberation. As he explains, it is not civilization issues or a “captive Arab mind” that have bedeviled the region — as some American commentators have suggested — but “The origins of the miserable Arab reality are political par excellence. Like capital to Capitalism, or individualism to liberalism, the uses and misuses of political power have been the factor that defines the contemporary Arab state.”
Mobdaughter: The Mafia, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and Me by Karen Gravano with Lisa Pulitzer (St. Martin’s Press, $24.99)
Sammy “The Bull” Gravano was born in Brooklyn in 1945. He shot his way up the ladder to become an underboss to the Gambino crime family. He later became an informant, wore a wire, and helped nail John Gotti. In 1995, he went into the Federal Witness Protection Program and was relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona. The big problem is he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He led a high profile life and even gave network interviews include one sit-down with Diane Sawyer. Gravano got involved with drug trafficking and crime again which sent him back to the slammer.
His daughter, Karen, was also born in Brooklyn. When she was six, she discovered a gun tucked under her parents’ bed but assumed it was a souvenir her dad had kept from his service in the military. At her father’s social club in Bensonhurst, she begins to understand her father’s position in the mob.
According to Karen, Sammy Gravano was a sometimes elusive but always loving father figure. She thought he made a living from a construction business but by the time she was twelve she knew he was a gangster.
This is a fascinating look at the inner workings of a Mafia family and of Karen’s struggle to forge a new life for herself. She currently iappears on the VH1 Realty TV show “Mob Wives.”