Books Acquired:
You Glow in the Dark, Liliana Colanzi

Progress Made:
Great Jones Street, Don DeLillo
Lou Reed: The King of New York, Will Hermes
Loaded, Dylan Jones

Books Finished:
With Friends Like These…, Alan Dean Foster
Who Needs Enemies?, Alan Dean Foster
Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut

Props to friend of the blog Delano, who reminded me that I’d yet to finish Klara and the Sun. That was low-hanging fruit, and the ending was good — bittersweet, but not nearly as sad as Ishiguro had hinted it might be.

Welcome to the Monkey House was pure joy, the kind of book where you have to remind yourself to slow down and savor it. One day at a cafe I read three stories in a row and felt like an absolute glutton. Finishing it completes my dive into Vonnegut’s short fiction, so I think Mother Night is next.

The next-to-last story in Monkey House is “EPICAC,” which could not feel more timely at this moment in history. EPICAC is a giant supercomputer — an AI in all but name — that (who) is enlisted by its (his) operator to help woo a pretty coworker. The operator/narrator (unnamed in the story) feeds in all available information about the object of his affections, and EPICAC spits out romantic poetry that makes her swoon. But in the process EPICAC falls in love with her too, and… well, should I not spoil it? If you haven’t read “EPICAC,” and the 24 other Buddhist catnaps in Welcome to the Monkey House, you have a treat in store for you.

The two books of Alan Dean Foster stories were also quite enjoyable. There was one where aliens who have been monitoring our TV transmissions come to Earth and ask to meet the most important man on the planet. When all the world’s leaders gather to greet them, they ask perplexedly where Johnny Carson is. (Shades of “Send more Chuck Berry.”) That roughly coincided with my discovery of this Beach Boys song, a touching salute from one titan to another:

Also around the same time I saw a weird little movie called Late Night with the Devil. It focuses on a fictional Carson competitor named Jack Delroy, host of a show called Night Owls. Sick of his also-ran status, Jack plots a special show where he will interview a teenage girl possessed by a demon, and… well… things don’t go according to plan. No spoilers again. I can’t give this an unqualified recommendation — the ending is a bit of a head-scratcher — but I’m glad I saw it.

Anyway — the only book acquisition of the month was a slim volume of catnaps by Liliana Colanzi, writer of a fantastic story I read in the New Yorker last year. Speaking of which, I finally reached the bottom of that pile this month by polishing off the Oct. 16, 2023 issue. That leaves only a stack of half a dozen Harperses, which I am a bit cowed by. Whereas the New Yorker is pitched at the perfect intellectual level for my reading pleasure — smart but accessible, with one foot on the ivory tower and the other in the pop culture swamp — Harpers is work. I can get through it, and I learn stuff, and I feel good about myself, but it’s not relaxing.

But what the hell. Spring is upon us, my brain is feeling strong, and many things can be accomplished with the wind at your back. I wish you luck in your endeavors, whatever they may be.