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Suicidal bunnies and slutty saints.
by Tobin Levy


here were two deer staring down at me when I woke up. They were dead (I was in Texas). Their owner was unconscious to my right. So I did what I normally do when I wake up in someone else?s bed and that someone else is still sleeping: I got up and looked for something to read. Granted, the taxidermy and beige carpet should have been enough incentive to call a cab. But I was curious . . . and I couldn?t find my pants.

What I did find was two shot guns (again, Texas), a very large bong, three pairs of cowboy boots, and, finally, a paperback copy of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that he owned only one book, and that book was sexless non-fiction about a group of ill-fated masochists climbing in sub-arctic temperatures. Well, shit, I thought, after the flash of insight that preceded the end of the long-distance relationship a few months later, what do the books on my bedroom, bathroom and living-room floor say about me (other than I’m crap when it comes to housekeeping)?

This holiday season, literary snoops passing through (or bedding down in) my apartment will find THE BOOK OF BUNNY SUICIDES (Plume), by Andy Riley, a macabre set of illustrations depicting ?little fluffy rabbits who just don?t want to live any more? two of whom juggle chisels during a total eclipse of the sun. It’s strangely uplifting compared to what’s on my nightstand: Anna Gavalda?s heart-wrenchingly self-explanatory collection I WISH SOMEONE WERE WAITING FOR ME SOMEWHERE (Riverhead). Then there?s WHEN I WAS COOL (Harper Collins), Sam Kashner?s memoir recalling life at Jack Kerouac?s school of disembodied poetics. In READ ?EM AND WEEP (Harper Collins), ?a bedside poker companion,? writers such as John Updike, David Mamet, and Martin Amis wax poetic about the card game-turned-art-form. From bedside to couch-side and poker players to DANGEROUS COMPANY (Miramax), Peter Bart?s interconnected tales of Hollywood hell. It?s like a well-written ?fictionalized? issue of Us Weekly, rife with smarmy lawyers, screenwriting scandals and all things repulsively seductive.

Jim Crace?s novel, GENESIS (FSG) charts the sexual history of a man cursed with highly determined sperm. EAGLES AND ANGELS (Granta), German author Juli Zeh?s debut, is a profound, drug-infused Houellebecq-ian saga with love, sex, death, enough toot to kill a small horse, and, of course, a not-so-happy ending. On the coffee/dinner table lays Virginia Burrus? THE SEX LIVES OF SAINTS: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography (Penn). Although dense and academic ? think Foucault, Bataille, Baudrillard, construction, deconstruction, reductionism, and ascetic concerns ? Burrus proves that saintly love ain?t all that saintly.

Next to my computer, THERE ARE JEWS IN MY HOUSE (Pantheon). Set in Moscow and Brooklyn, these delicate tales by Russian newcomer Lara Vapnyar convey the slight pathos and not-so-subtle sexual confusion of adult life. Lastly, and back to the nightstand, is A WOMAN WHO (Bloomsbury), Rebecca Miller?s children?s book for slightly deranged adults. This capricious assortment of captioned blind contour drawings depicts a woman who, for example, ?is beginning to wonder if she isn?t some sort of low-grade nymphomaniac,? ?loves to suffer,? and ?gets confessional when she drinks.?

So what could a sleepless stranger deduce from the books strewn across my apartment? That I have an unreasonable affinity for poker games, faux celebrity, and dirty saints? Masochistic tendencies? Of that I’m a woman who gets confessional when she drinks? Since I?m not drinking at the moment, I guess you?ll never know.  

?2003 Tobin Levy and Nerve.com.