Saturday, April 21, 2012

What Are the Homeless Reading this Week? A New Blog Feature.

The many longtime readers of this blog have been bugging me for reading lists, not just stuff I've been sampling but stuff my bunkies and comrades at the Mission read.   So here we go . . .


Most Homeless People, like most people, don't read a damn thing, preferring to watch videos on their iPods and smoke hand rolled cigarettes and scream "Motherfucking Bitch! I kill her!" over and over.  But more than a few read more than you might think:

The Bible, of course, in several different editions and covers advertising enticing degrees of thinness and accessibility.  The Combat/Camouflage Bible, a lean and mean battle-ready weapon for spiritual clashes on the plains of ignorance.  Also popular is "The Very Easy Bible."  The text is trimmed to the bone--no begats or mind-numbing litanies of injunctions from Jehovah (The Hebrew god has always struck me as a spoiled infant genie with diaper rash--like that fat, bearded, know-it-all-friend of yours who works at the tech-help desk at the library and eats cartons of fried clams, except he's got magic powers.)  Many prefer the King James Version, especially the old-timers, who seem well-versed in basic scripture knowledge (Shamefully, I got most of mine from a Mormon upbringing that didn't take hold, and the rest from books of snarky, skeptical Bible commentary.  I do recommend the King James, though) Occasionally,  heated exchanges over niggling details of translation and interpretation erupt.  Sample:

"Namaan got his skin condition all cleared up in the River Jordan.  River washed his skin clean as a baby's.  I wish I could bathe there.  What a cool, refreshing blessing that would be!"

"You missing the whole point.  Wasn't no skin condition.  It was fucking Leprosy.   Motherfucker's fingers be falling off."

"He was a great warrior.  He had all his fingers."

"You don't know shit and let me tell you something else, Punky Brewster.  The Jordan River was one jacked-up stinking repugnant body of water.   God told him to dip himself seven times.    How do you think he felt with all his troops watching him?   Like a fucking fool.  God was giving him the acid test of obedience.  It wasn't no god damned skin treatment salon."

Etc. . . .

Westerns.  You'd think soft-core porn paperbacks or serial killer stuff might be more popular, but apart from some stiff competition from science fiction, fantasy, and graphic novels, Westerns are the hands-down winner this week.    Louis L'Amour predominates, but plenty of homeless folk seem much taken with Larry McMurtry's forays into the genre--Lonesome Dove and its sequels.    I snobbishly recommend Charles Portis's True Grit.

L. Ron Hubbard.  Dianetics inventor,  Church of Scientology Founder, science fiction writer, cult leader, charismatic nutcase obsessed with embryonic engrams, evil  Thetans,  naval protocol, epaulets, proper wear of and caring for.   Your guess is as good as mine.

Danielle Steele.  John Grisham.   "A Tale of Two Cities," by Charles Dickens

Sasquatch Books

Oprah's Magazine

Boris Pasternak, "Doctor Zhivago"


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