On the Bus btwn Milwaukee and Madison, WI -- August 8, 2007

On the Bus between Milwaukee and Madison: Ironically, he has plans to do the same thing I'm doing, except that it's going to be in Montreal, where he lives and he's going to specialize in women and books : ).

Reading Le Mal, by Rudiger Safranski. The book is about the perception of evil throughout history. Where he picked it up? He asked his friend who studies philosophy to recommend books on ethics, which he’s interested in more than morals and religion. The first hundred pages was hard, but after that it gets really good.

His favorite book of all time—1984—Orwell is a political visionary; the interactions of character are great, gut wrenching when he’s being tortured and totally relevant today. Maybe not his favorite, but best book he’s read.

Other authors he likes; Chuck Palahniuk and the French author, Amelie Nothomb, who wrote Stupeurs et Tremblement, Combustibles Fossiles, Metaphysique des Tubes. The fist six or seven of her books are really good, he says, but after that…she wrote about a book a year and the style gets old and the stories are not as interesting and they’re shorter and they’re more expensive.

His own book? He actually did write one. It’s a novel about a deranged paranoid alcoholic who gets kidnapped by a church and is later saved by a transvestite gothic chick and Jesus when he’s later in Africa and he becomes a Neonazi. A plot twist—Jesus and the gothic chick fall in love and the alcoholic becomes jealous and kills Jesus. I may not have done this description justice. Check out his website. He used to have the story posted, but no longer. There is other stuff though--elfassi.hautefort.com.

Another author—Amy Hempel—she writes short stories and he’s read her collected works. She writes about relationships between men and women. It’s a narrative, sentences that make you stop and just go wow. She is Chuck Palahniuk’s favorite author. She has lots of plays on word and ways of saying things, not naive, but sweet, makes you see the world in a pleasant way. One really good story--Do Not Lead Us Into Penn Station--it’s a portrait of a moment and she captures it in a way that is perfection. It’s like a big freeze frame.

His friends have “bible books”: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Alchemist, 100 Years of Solitude. For him, they are Fight Club and 1984.

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