Non-Required Reading

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When I reach that professional plateau where reading is indeed part of my job, it won’t be a distraction. For now, though, reading stuff outside of the courseload IS one of many distractions. The offending book in question?

Best American Non-Required Reading 2006

Best American Non-Required Reading 2006

Never picked up anything with Dave Eggers‘ name attached before, but after scanning his intro at a used bookstore in Ocean City, NJ, I bought this and his introductory opus, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Still haven’t read the latter, but it sits on one of the bookshelves behind my stain-resistant couch.

Every lavatory trip, though, I’ve been reading BANR 2006, and among written pieces on things ranging from the Iraq War to a lesson in creative writing (by the late Kurt Vonnegut!), and excerpts from graphic novels by guys like Joe Sacco, I found what has become my favorite list of all time: The Best American Things To Know About Hoboes!

There is a bit of history involved (hoboes written out, thanks to FDR!!!), and the piece concludes in a few pages. The real gold is the list of 700 hobo names. Yep, 700. I can count on this list to make me laugh, every time I pick it up. You get classic-sounding names like: Boxcar Jones, the Boxcar Benjamin Disraeli and Tennessee Ernie Dietz, but the real joy is in names like Slo-mo Deuteronomy, Fr. Christian Irish the Deep-Fat Friar, Whitman Sampler and Dee Snider. I’d share a boxcar with all these tramps.

Just keep your distance from Battlin’ Joe Frickinfrack. Before you know it, you’ll be scrappin’ for pork and beans under a watertower, makin’ moonshine for the blind tiger with the flim-flam man and outrunnin’ the railroad bulls, while some copper stars are chasin’ the lot o’ ya.

Don’t say ya hain’t been warned.


-Strictly Local Lydonwrites

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  • Deborah said,

    Years ago I asked my brother (the younger one, also named Matt) why he took so freakin’ long in the bathroom all the time – as guys tend to do. His reply was that he was usually finished within 5 minutes but tended to get lost in his book or paper. I figured that must be what all guys do.

    You’ve just cemented that theory.

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