Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Capsule Prize Reviews: That's Funny

Like the treasures you get in a gumball machine, here are three tiny reviews of odd yet entertaining titles you'll see kicking around the humor section of your local Book Superstore.

PhotobucketA La Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers is odd. There's no denying it. Hillary Carlip, acclaimed author and performance artist, has been collecting discarded grocery lists since she was a teen for that voyeuristic glimpse into the writer's life. From there, she's concocted 26 personas, documented by photos and vignettes and preserved here, with the original lists, in all their glory and humanity. Another blogger used the phrase "Amy Sedaris meets Cindy Sherman," and that's the best descriptor I've heard yet. It's weird, yes, and definitely funny (No demographic goes unskewered), but touching and poignant too--so much story is told in a picture and a few hundred words. My favorite? Heather, who finds enlightenment as a Suicide Girl.

PhotobucketConfession: I love dioramas. Who doesn't, you say, aren't they a hipster staple nowadays? No, actually; I love dioramas unironically. A visit to the Museum of Natural History can make my week. That's why Sloane Tanen's Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same is one of my favorite undefinable titles. Sloane photographs tiny yellow Easter chicks in ridiculous settings, with incredible attention to detail and a twisted sense of humor. It's a lot of fun, and you'll want to go out and pick up some chenille chickies of your own to photograph. (LOLChicks? It could happen!)

PhotobucketSimon Doonan's Wacky Chicks was a gift I was reluctant to begin reading, but has become a twice-a-year ritual. Within, Doonan profiles over a dozen modern Auntie Mames, cultured and crazy women with fantastic style and incredible stories. Kazuko designed healing crystal jewelry with the help of her pet sparrow, Bobi Bird. Mary Christmas radically cheerleads at protests. Pearl Harbour took her rockabilly sound to Japan, and came back to do up her apartment like a kitschy bordello. Spider Fawke shares her apartment with dozens of reptiles. (Just like the poster says, these are the dangerous ladies you'd dare to invite to tea.) And Simon Doonan? He celebrates these ladies' eccentricities, and invites the reader to join them in living life out loud.

Extra Bits:

*The A La Cart Blog
*An A La Cart Excerpt, on Fresh Yarn (complete with video!)
*Hillary Carlip's Website (I love her assemblage art)
*Sloane Tanen's Website (check out her tiny yellow chicks in action!)
*Simon Doonan's Website
* Sloan Tanen interview at Tastes Like Chicken
*A sample chapter from Wacky Chicks, all about Amy Sedaris

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