Reading white people over the shoulder

Earlier this month, delayed by a summer storm, I was distraught to discover my iPad’s battery had run its course. A frequent guest on the YTZ-YUL Porter run, I’d pretty much saturated my attention span for their little magazine that makes places like Labrador and Thunder Bay look like they are full of whimsical shops and cafes full of people wearing tortoiseshell glasses.

Given the circumstances, I had no choice but to look for a shoulder to read over. I know that it’s considered rude, but I have a terrific talent in this regard and generally remain undetected in my nosiness.

The guy in front of me was reading Stuff White People Like. Soon came the stifled snorts because it really is a funny book, and totally bang-on.

#9 Making you feel bad about not going outside. Who doesn’t feel morally superior after a refreshing hike, or a 90 km bike ride? “Get on the subway? No. It’s such a nice night, I’ll walk home”
#46 The Sunday New York Times. If the authors wanted to be more accurate, it would be “pretending to like The Sunday New York Times’. Yes, I’d rather be watching Friday Night Lights, but paying $10 for the Sunday Times shows my local Barrista that I have cerebral chops. He’s cute, ok?
#40 Apple Products. Check.
#37 Renovations. I don’t know exactly how many discussions I’ve had about oak vs bamboo flooring, but it’s safe to assume we’re into double-digit territory.
#10: Wes Anderson Movies. For me, this was case in point. If I were to make a list of my favourite films of all time, Rushmore, The Royal Tanenbaums and The Life Acquatic would all be in the top 10. I love the actors. Bill Murray as Herman Blume. Gene Hackman as Royal. I love the aesthetic . Corduroy blazers, fur coats and vintage Louis Vuitton. I love the mood. Boarding school ennui and subtle malaise. Let’s face it, Wes is a genius.

So, I’ve just finished reading and loving The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks and now realize that there is a whole genre of literature equivalent to Wes’ movies. Could be a whole new category of Stuff White People Like: ‘Stories about rich intellectuals self-destructing”, or more specifically ‘Stories about rich intellectuals who live in New York self-destructing”.

Jay McInerney is a modern master of this genre. While reviews from the BBCE of his latest book: The Good Life were mixed to say the least, I’d argue this is far from his best. Brightness Falls is brilliant and sad and Last of The Savages chronicles the rise of a Rick Rubin-esque character so heart-breakingly well that he remains my biggest literary crush.

However, the grand-daddies of the cannon, without a doubt, are The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye. I fancy myself a mix of Daisy and Jane Gallagher, so to say I love these books would be undermining the degree to which they’ve influenced my persona. What’s not to love about a rich bootlegger* throwing wild parties every weekend in hopes that it would somehow bring his soulmate back to him?

I never did understand what Tom saw in Myrtle, but I should remember that horsey mistresses are not uncommon. Cue Charles and Camilla. Not from New York, but definitely WASPy.

Ok, that’s it from me. It’s nice to be back.

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2 Responses to Reading white people over the shoulder

  1. Pingback: July 4, 2011: Bad Classics | 50pagesadayforayear

  2. Welcome back LA! We’ve missed you.

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