Tag Archives: books

Indigo’s the Color of Your Energy, pt 2: My Kid is Specialer Than Your Kid

ADHD, Attention Dialed Into a Higher Dimension

I often stop to thank my lucky stars that my mom wasn’t a credulous yuppie. Had she been just a little bit dumber and a lotta bit richer, I’d be draped in amber and freebasing chia seeds right about now. That’s because, at least superficially, I meet many of the criteria of an indigo child.


Gawky, awkward, and indigo–a fatal trifecta

So what are the signs of indigo-ism? According to P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., indigo children are

  • sensitive
  • impatient
  • diagnosed with ADHD

That last one must be important, because Atwater runs back to that well over and over again. We saw last week that she blames ADHD on allergies and advocates curing it with head massages. She later states that ADHD is actually a sign of membership in the fifth root race and signifies the return of the “hunter gene,” an allele that will save humanity as the fifth world goes into ascension. So…guess it’s not caused by allergies, then? This is one of many occasions on which Atwater tries to combine two competing new age theories, and she never quite carries it off.

Some of the other qualifications for membership in the indigo club are

  • memories of one’s own birth
  • psychic ability
  • giftedness

This is the part of the book I could barely bring myself to read. It’s so rife with bullshit and special-snowflake-ism-by-proxy, I feel like I need chelation therapy to get rid of the douche chills. And now, I’ll share it with you. Because I care.

Continue reading


Rumble at the Goodwill Book Sale

Later in my life, when I’m asked to reflect back on my time in Boston, I’ll remember exactly two things:

  1. The T was always late.
  2. People in Boston are ready to throw down anywhere at any time.

I see more arguments on an average day in Boston than I’d see in an entire year in the Midwest. Some of these altercations can be chalked up to population density (in the city center) or meth use (in my neighborhood). But others seem to spring from something embedded in the culture. What would earn you a silent grimace in Michigan lands you in a profanity-laced screaming contest in Massachusetts.

That’s not to say the Midwest is perfect, because God (and recent voting results) knows it’s not. But people there are, on the whole, less likely to become homicidally enraged because someone gave money to a homeless person outside Tedeschi.


But I digress. Sort of.

Let me tell you about a fight I saw at Goodwill. Continue reading

Sex-Crazed Idiots: A Trashy Book About a Classy Boat

The Pleasure Palace, by Joan Lee

Please Note: This post is thoroughly NSFW.

Last time, I explored the labyrinthine innards of John K. King Used Books. This time, I’ll show you what I fished out of said innards: Joan Lee’s staggeringly stupid 1987 sex novel, The Pleasure Palace.

Never before or since has a novel containing so much sex been so thoroughly unsexy. The characters kiss, lick, and boink their way down a non-stop stream of soap operatic misadventure, yet they fail to ever look cool doing it. Before we get to the boinking, though, allow me to mention my biggest problem with this book.


This tagline is complete bullshit, because the god damn Pleasure Palace–a much referenced luxury cruise ship–doesn’t even show up until the last 30 pages of the book. This novel should have been called Lots of Pointless Screwing, and Then There’s a Boat at the End. By the way, when the Pleasure Palace does show up, no one finds dreams there. One person finds danger, but we’ll get to that in a second.

First, let’s look at the characters… Continue reading

“Largest and Strangest”: John K. King Books

John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

“Did you know one of America’s best used bookstores is in Detroit?”

I can honestly say I didn’t–not until my friend clued me in. I knew Detroit had a fantastic art museum, incredible Greek food, and a thriving underground music scene. But the best used book store? That distinction had somehow passed me by.

“Best” is in the eye of the beholder, of course. In this case, the beholder was Salon Magazine, and what they actually wrote was this:

Standing defiantly amid one of Detroit’s many surreal, post-apocalyptic ruin-scapes is a place that has to be experienced to be believed: John King Books. Converted from an abandoned 1940s glove factory, John King is a five-story wooden maze stuffed stairwells-to-ceilings with used and rare books — one of the largest and strangest collections in North America.

Having now seen John K. King for myself, I know that no single post can do it justice. It really is a maze–so much so that one of the first things the employees do when you walk through the door is hand you a map. The stacks are organized, but only roughly, with sections as specific as 50’s-era middle grade boys’ chapter books and as general as…well…

Jesus, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

Honestly, though, the haphazard organization of the store’s estimated one million books is part of the fun. You never know what you’re going to find around the next corner. Will it be vintage adventure books with snicker-worthy titles…?

The Wailing Octopus, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

Hee hee.

Teeny Gay, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit


A Matter of Spunk, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

*spit take*

Or perhaps something a bit more on the naughty side…?

Guide New Edge, John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

I don’t know what “techno-erotic paganism” is, but I assume it’s naughty.

“Something for everyone” is such a dull platitude, but it rings true in this case. I myself walked away with a book of 501 Japanese verbs (thrill a minute!) and a spectacularly trashy novel called The Pleasure Palace, which I’ll review in a week or two.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures:

Continue reading

Back Bay Books: The 2015 Boston Book Festival


This post is the very definition of “long-overdue”–the 2015 BBF took place on October 24th, which scientific sources inform me was three and a half weeks ago. Never mind. I’m in grad school, so it’s a minor miracle when I’m able to post at all.

I went to the Boston Book Festival chiefly to get a feel for the small-press literary scene in Massachusetts. To that end, I bought a fat stack of local literary journals. Behold!


Whether owning said journals will lead to future publishing success is anyone’s guess. When I lived in Michigan, I wound up publishing pieces with outfits based in Albany and Canada, so, you know. There’s not really a correlation between where you live and which periodicals accept you.

Anywho, here’s some other stuff I saw: Continue reading

Unreadable: The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript

(Recently, I was asked to create a faux blog for my Writing for Media Professionals course. Because the resulting “site,” Libris Obscuriis tonally similar to my author blog, I’ve decided to reproduce three of its “posts” here. It’s a shame to let content go to waste, after all!)

In 1912, Polish book dealer Wilfrid Voynich bought a manuscript. It was 240 pages long, contained hundreds of full-color illustrations, and seemed just the sort of dusty tome that would appeal to Voynich’s antiquarian clientele. There was just one problem: Voynich couldn’t read it.

He showed it to some professional academics. They couldn’t read it either.

Neither could the amateur cryptographers. Or the professional codebreakers.

Voynich Manuscript

When Voynich died in 1930, the mystery of his eponymous manuscript was still unsolved. To this day, no one knows what language the text is written in, or even how many distinct characters it consists of. The Voynich Manuscript has seduced and stymied generations of researchers, none of whom have been able to determine where it came from, what it’s about, or who on earth wrote it.

What We Know
Little is certain when it comes to the Voynich Manuscript. It appears to consist of six different sections covering herbs, astronomy, biology, cosmology, pharmaceutics, and recipes. None of the plants pictured are identifiable, and the biology illustrations are just a bunch of tiny naked women in bathtubs.

Carbon-dating indicates that the book was written in the early 1400’s, but even that’s tentative. The first known reference to the Voynich Manuscript is from 1666, while one of its previous owners stated that it was written by a Franciscan friar in the thirteenth century.

Where Do I Find It?

  • Title: Voynich Manuscript
  • Genre: Pharmacopoeia(?)
  • Location: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
    Yale University Library
    121 Wall Street
    New Haven, CT 06511
  • Hours: Closed for renovation until September 2016.

No Skin Off My Nose: The Unappetizing Narrative of the Life of James Allen

(Recently, I was asked to create a faux blog for my Writing for Media Professionals course. Because the resulting “site,” Libris Obscuriis tonally similar to my author blog, I’ve decided to reproduce three of its “posts” here. It’s a shame to let content go to waste, after all!)

In a room at the Boston Athaeneum, there is a locked box; and in that box, there is a book. Take the book out. Run your hands over its cover. See how pale it is. Feel how bumpy. Raise it to your nose and inhale the dust of two centuries. Imagine the author and his surroundings. Get drunk on nostalgia for a time and place you’ve never visited.

Now listen to me as I reveal the following: The book you’re holding is made of human skin.

Narrative of the Life of James Allen, bound in human skin.

You didn’t throw the book on the ground just now, did you? That was a bad idea. Pick it up. Dust it off. Stick it back in the box and hope nobody noticed. Narrative of the Life of James Allen is one of the rarest volumes in the Athaeneum’s collection.

Penned in 1837 by condemned highwayman James Allen, Narrative is both an autobiography and a confession. Allen, it seems, was a bit of a self-promoter. If he was going to be executed by the state, he was going to leave society something to remember him by—particularly one member of society, Mr. John A. Fenno.

It was Fenno who turned Allen in after Allen unsuccessfully tried to rob him. Allen didn’t nurse any hard feelings, though. He was impressed. So impressed, in fact, that he had a personalized copy of his opus sent to Fenno with his compliments—and three square feet of his skin.

Binding books in human skin wasn’t unheard of in those days. But a criminal requesting his skin be put to that purpose? That was something special.

Where Do I Find It?

  • Title: Narrative of the Life of James Allen
  • Genre: Autobiography
  • Location: Boston Athaeneum
    10 ½ Beacon Street
    Boston, MA 02108
  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 9 am – 8 pm
    Fri 9 am – 5:30 pm
    Sat 9 am – 4 pm
    Sun 12 pm – 4 pm