What We're Reading Now: Hitchhiking John Waters, McSweeney's Latin America Issue
If I was to drive by John Waters with his thumb out, you can bet I'd be pulling over the car. And indeed, the film director, "Pope of Trash," and sometime SF resident was able to convince an assortment of Americans to do just that, as he embarked on a nationwide hitchhiking journey to our shores from his native Baltimore. The resulting book, Carsick, plays right into Waters' wheelhouse, which is appreciating what the rest of us find ugly, strange, or dull. Which means his fans probably won't be surprised by the fact that he became besties with one of his drivers along the way – a young Republican politician.
Anyone who's read Geoff Dyer can testify to his ability to make pretty much any subject interesting, whether he's tackling an inscrutable Tarkovsky film (Zona), jazz (But Beautiful), or not actually writing a book he's supposed to write (Out of Sheer Rage). His latest, Another Great Day at Sea, takes him aboard an American aircraft carrier, where he quickly realizes he's the oldest man on the ship at the ripe age of 55. The narrative is, like all of Dyer's work, gently funny and deeply engaged, and though he encounters plenty of annoyances (impossible-to-navigate ship layouts, acronym-heavy jargon), he also displays a deep appreciation for the crew, who've chosen lives so different from his own. And anyone curious about or fascinated by the details of military technology will definitely vibe with Dyer's nuts-and-bolts dissections of how the ship works.
While big writers from Europe and Asia frequently arrive in translation on our shores, less attention is paid to what's going on with literature in Latin America. McSweeney's is aiming to change that with their new issue (#46), which spotlights 13 crime stories from writers spanning Latin America. Collectively, they tell the story of a world in turmoil, with settings ranging from a secret Venezuelan prison to the home of a Cuban transsexual. Two of the translators will appear at the Booksmith to discuss the various authors involved in the project, offering a roadmap to enjoying the varied and diverse tales within its pages.
Appearances: Booksmith, Monday, June 2