my garfunkelesque 'recent reads' list (the dozen titles in that column on the right) has been awfully tomboyish lately, probably because i picked up a bunch of media roundups (especially esquire's "75 books every man should read"*) right before creating my own latest 101 in 1001 list. so how's the Man Canon? a bit dodgy, but surprisingly enjoyable. in order of suitability for mixed company (descending), a handful:

sharp teeth, toby barlow

{+} like vikram seth's the golden gate (sonnets about san francisco), a modern take on the epic poem (free verse about packs of werewolves in los angeles). one of its main story lines - a romance between a dogcatcher and a she-wolf - springs from the idea that packs, like bee hives, have queens. barlow's an ad exec, not a full-time poet, and his style's a bit rough - but it suits the material, and he's got joss whedon's knack for writing strong female characters (several of sharp teeth's remind me of buffy and angel's ladies).

{-} the lonely gal who took in strays was a bit one-note, but i quibble.

watchmen, alan moore and dave gibbons

{+} lady superheroes costumed heroes! okay, one is murdered long before the book starts and another is considerably more forgiving than she should be, but the most prominent one - laurie - gets to kick some ass. next to most of its contemporaries (neil gaiman's sandman, which came a few years later, notwithstanding), it's positively girlpowertastic.

{-} how to say this without spoiling the book? i get the feeling that alan moore hasn't spent a lot of time around real, live women. his can be...improbable.

rabbit, run, john updike

{+} as i tweeted a few weeks ago, updike is something of an apple with a razor blade: his language is gorgeous and precise, and his sense of a conversation's emotional pace is really remarkable. but then there's the

{-} constant need to make really vile observations about women. rabbit angstrom (a former basketball star and current philanderer) is a dog, and the contrast between his adorable/despicable tendencies is A Big Deal, and i get that - but do i need the panty-sniffing on every page? it jerked me out of the book, as did updike's disproportionately unflattering portraits of his women (poor ruth: 5'8" or 5'9", 147 pounds, and thus - according to updike - hopelessly, relentlessly fat!). i felt unwelcome in updike's head, if that makes any sense.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 what's the most masculine book you can think of? define 'masculine' however you like.

02 why does art garfunkel's reading list cut off after 2007? did studs terkel's the magnificent ambersons ruin all other books for him?

03 what should female superheroes wear?

*an especially silly list, but Manly Cultural Roundups are fascinating, aren't they?

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