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The Morning News and Powells Present
2006 Tournament of Books
APRIL 5, 2006
GUILFOILE: Every time I see the cover of Saturday I start singing the classic song from the band Chicago (Saturday in the park/I think it was the 4th of July). A Windy City entertainment reporter held up that group’s latest CD on the local news the other day and said that the title, which she pronounced “Triple-X,” was a reference to the three X’s that backhoes dug into the downtown Meigs Field runways in the middle of the night at the order of Mayor Daley. I don’t think this is true. I think it’s called XXX because it’s their 30th album and it is the next step in a logical progression that began with albums II, III, IV, V, VI, Hot Streets, and so on. If it really is a Meigs Field joke, that has to be the insiderest gag to make an album cover since Mozart put a reference to the Masonic Rites of St. John on the frontispiece to The Magic Flute. Maybe the entertainment reporter was joking, in which case she’s a lot funnier than I gave her credit for. I will have to completely reevaluate her entire Bennifer oeuvre.

It was much easier to spot satire in the days before the web, when each of us only knew one or two fully qualified morons. In those days, when someone said something idiotic, it was easily recognized as ironically idiotic. Now, we read blog entries and comments authored by hundreds of morons every day and it is much more difficult to tell the ironic morons from the other kind. I bring this up because I stated in an earlier commentary that people who “reread” books were destroying the book publishing industry. Most observers recognized that statement as a joke, but at least one person took me to task, attempting a reductio ad absurdum against a position that was already as absurdum as I could make it. For the record, while I am no stranger to the occasional spasm of idiocy, it is not actually my position that “rereading Midnight’s Children is no different from breaking into Salman Rushdie’s luxury Manhattan apartment and stealing a wheel of imported cheese.”

WARNER: When I saw Beasts of No Nation in the bookstore, my first thought was that I could read it in an hour because that shit is small! Seriously, it looks like the kind of books they stash near the counter, the ones like 101 Pictures of Puppies Including One of a Half-Dozen Golden Retrievers Sleeping in a Basket, or golf humor titled Isn’t Golf Wacky and If You Are a Golfer One of Your “Friends” Will Buy This for You Thinking that You Will Enjoy These Insipid and Obvious Jokes and Aren’t You Sick and Tired That Just Because You Enjoy Golf, Friends and Family Buy You “Golf-Themed” Gifts, Like Those Slippers from Last Christmas, the Ones with the Golf Tees and Balls at the Toes that You Made the Mistake of Wearing Outside Once and that Fucker Gary from Next Door Had the Sack to Snicker at Even Though You Didn’t Say a Goddamn Thing When You Signed for His Mail-Order Viagra When He Wasn’t Home?.

As far as I know, there’s no golf or cute puppies in Beasts of No Nation which means it holds very little appeal to me since I like to live in a Bush-like fantasy world where ethnic disputes in failing African nations are settled by puppies wrestling with each other, as opposed to nine-year-olds shooting each other with AK-47s.