books, Friday Recommends, movies, music, things that make you sad

Introducing a Regular Friday Feature…

And one solely for your benefit!

In this space, we will recommend a nugget to treasure in one of the following categories: literary, musical, and visual arts. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Where do we even begin? There are so many books, albums and movies worth recommending, and so many more that are not. So, for starters, we’ll give you one in each category. The first, a film, where the Vores as we know them began; the second, a book, that both Vores have recently read; and the third, a musical that Jon G. and the Squish (my parents) treated us to for my (Erin) graduation.

1.  Film: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.  A documentary about Wilco by Sam Jones.

Before Ben and I knew each other, there was Wilco. And it was good. Before Ben and I were an item, there was Ben’s Nalgene bottle, decorated with Wilco’s Summerteeth sticker. From the moment I saw that bottle under the bug lights of SB2W’s mess hall, I knew I’d befriend its owner. By that point in my time at camp, I’d had enough Amy Grant to beef up the spiritual quotient of any pagan nation. Going to see I Am Trying to Break Your Heart at the Belcourt in Nashville is what Ben calls our first date, and what I call our first “outing.” Before there was us, there was them, and they filled our heads with glorious images of Jeff Tweedy trying to play nice with an increasingly hostile and be-dreaded Jay Bennet. What strikes me most about the film is the final scene played out to Gene Wilder’s exit comments in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The same mystical eeriness that struck me as a kid while watching Charlie exists in the Wilco film — the sense that something has changed and that something can’t be recovered, but perhaps it’s for the best. I don’t like to overanalyze who Wilco is or is not, or what their music means. I more than like their music, I heart their music. Or so the diary entry says…

2.  Novel: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Diaz just won the Pulitzer for this novel, which took him a decade to write. I’m wary of recommending this book to more than half the people we know because it’s loaded with Spanglish and many, many a crude and profane image or word, but it was really, really good. It’s part truth, part fiction, and it’s about Oscar Wao: son of Dominican immigrants, morbidly obese, lover of ladies (who, sadly, are looking for someone less fat, less pock-marked, and less into Star Trek). The story is told through several perspectives: his roommmate, his mother, his grandmother and his sister. It traces back to Trujillo and his reign of terror from 1930 to 1960. Some parts are funny, others are gut-wrenchingly sad. Thank you, Hecks, for loaning us your book.

3.  Music: Jersey Boys: The Musical. As a rule, Ben hates musicals. Except this one! It helps to sit next to The Squish, who clapped during most of the songs. Jersey Boys was essentially the greatest VH1 Behind-The-Music ever with cool sets to boot. And Joe Pesci is a character too. But he doesn’t sing. Which is probably for the best.

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