Judging A Cover By His Books: An Annotated Bibliography of the Intellectual Macdaddy

This annotated bibliography is a comprehensive overview of the titles most prominently displayed on the bookshelves—real or virtual—of the cosmopolitan educated heterosexual male of color whose intention is to seduce the bodies and minds of cosmopolitan educated heterosexual females of color. Jenna Lang of The Guardian effectively sums up his quandary: “How do you pick the perfect book to confer the desired air of intelligence and approachability, not to mention the combined sex appeal of Brad and Angelina?” Brangelina notwithstanding, Lang’s question permeates all aspects of Said Male’s lifestyle choices, from iPod playlist to faux-hawk coiffure.

Admittedly, the urbane heterosexual educated female of color should not judge a potential mate by the covers of his books. She can, however, endeavor to read between the lines and, thus, preempt future disappointments and shattered Ikea dishes.

The selection of titles is not based on the bookshelf of any individual. Rather, it draws from informal surveys of cosmopolitan heterosexual educated males and females of color alike about the predatory bibliophilic habits of the former. By no means is this compilation exhaustive, as it is also subject to the prejudices and proclivities of the bibliographer herself. Nor do I intend for this work to be taken seriously—least of all as blueprint for the aspiring Casanova or as syllabus for the lazy professor of literature or as ingenious marketing tool for any author and/or publisher. e reader is invited to adjust titles according to the ephemeral demands of popular and/or academic American culture. Furthermore, compilations of counter-bibliographies by irate males and/or cited authors are humbly encouraged.

For the sake of conciseness, the cosmopolitan educated heterosexual male of color will heretofore be referred as “Said Male.” As this Euro- and hetero-sexist bibliography attempts to expose the psyche of a grossly proto- and stereo-typical character, I utilize APA format, per American Psychological Association standards. In the interest of narrative ow, items are not alphabetized, neither by author nor title. e resource material is divided into the following nine major subareas, though many of the titles can be easily cross-referenced:

I. I Have a Colossal Penis
II. And Yet…I am a Sensitive Man, Masculine Enough to be in Touch with my Anima and/or Child Self
III. こんにちは, Yo suis Mr. Internationale, Mio Amore
IV. I May Be the Second Coming of Christ
V. Count on My Visionary Virility When is Race Man Starts The Revolution
VI. I am a Horse in the Sack
VII. My Inner Geek=moneycash2
VIII. I’m With It, Got My Finger on the Pulse IX. I am Obama Beta

KEYWORDS: dating deal-breakers, dick-lit, hack intellectuals, oranges, biblio- and other -philes,pears, post-modernist tropes, Che- Guevara Complex, nutty professors, apples, STDs, academic spoofs

I. I Have a Colossal Penis

Tolstoy, L., Pevear, R., & Volokhonsky, L. (2008). War and Peace. London: Vintage.

Weighing in at over 1400 pages in most paperbacks, this tome is sure to elicit swooning in the cosmopolitan heterosexual educated female of color. However, the novel may signal subconscious Napoleonic complex of Said Male for its broad focus on the namesake’s 1812 invasion of Russia. See III.

II. And Yet…I am a Sensitive Man, Masculine Enough to be in Touch with my Anima and/or Child Self

Rombauer, I., Becker, M., & Becker, E. (2006). Joy of Cooking. New York: Scribner.

That this classic cookbook (published over 75 years ago) is not displayed in the kitchen nor the least bit stained should raise a red flag.

Morrison, T., (2006). Beloved. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Everyman’s Library edition, for every man who ventures to read highly lyric prose juxtaposed with barbaric scenes. Half-read by Said Male at a Miami beach during Freaknic, this freshman required novel chronicles the post-Civil-War life of a woman haunted by the memory of slavery.

Rowling, J., (2009). Harry Potter (paperback boxed set). New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.

The wizardry of the Harry Potter series, which Stephen King hails as “one for the ages,” essentially translates here as: “I am in touch with my inner child—ergo, father material.”

Rosario, N., (2002). Song of the Water Saints. New York: Pantheon Books.

Typical multi-generational, Latin-American family saga set during war and dictatorship, with a splash of coming-to- América. Book discussion often includes: “see, I read women;” “real steamy scenes;” “Dominican, like A-Rod and Manny Ramirez…” See III.

Cameron, J., (2002). The Artist’s Way. Los Angeles: Tarcher.

A self-help book for the blocked and self-destructive artist. It suggests writing regular “morning pages” and “artist’s dates,” egocentric activities he finds unusually stimulating. Opportunity for male to discuss brilliant novel-in-progress, as well as to bemoan his sufferings as a struggling artist living in the hard, cold city. Good for trapping potential cosmopolitan heterosexual educated muses of color or otherwise. Due to the book’s quasi-spiritual nature, also see IV.

III. こんにちは, Yo Suis Mr. Internationale, Mio Amore

Garcia, G., & Rabassa, G. (1998). One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York: Perennial Classics.

Oprah’s Book Club Edition! Like Oprah, one is not alone in owning the novel that made the world pigeonhole as a magical- realist every writer with a Spanish surname. Follows a century of a fictional village called Macondo, of men building castles in the air. e novel is as comic and tragic as the knock-o s it has since engendered.

Camus, A., (1990). L’Etranger. City: Gallimard Jeunesse.

The Stranger…in Français, mon chéri! According to Amazon, this 1946 existential novel “not merely one of the most widely read novels of the 20th century, but one of the books likely to outlive it.” It follows a “disaffected, apparently amoral young man” who feels “[a]lienation, the fear of anonymity, spiritual doubt,” with whom the cosmopolitan heterosexual educated male deeply identifies, you know?

Osborne, L., (2005). The Accidental Connoisseur. San Francisco: North Point Press.

Certainly not an accidental choice. A wine-drinker is not an alcoholic but a romantic man with worldly tastes in all fine things beginning with ‘W.’

Dostoevsky, F., (2004). The Brothers Karamazov. New York: Barnes & Noble.

The true erudite must own at least one of the Russians. e intellectual, the sensual, the idealistic, the literary, the philosophical, the psychological, the religious, the familial, and of course, murder!, all come together in this preeminent masterpiece. As this is Dostoyevsky’s longest novel, also see I.

IV. I May Be the Second Coming of Christ

Zondervan, Z., (2001). GNT Holy Bible, Good News Translation, Catholic Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

That this is the Good News Translation and not the King James version: make of it what you will. at this is cited under a single author with two Z’s in the name: make of it what you will. at this is the Catholic Edition: make of it what you will…

Coelho, P., (2006). The Alchemist. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Bestselling exotic and inspirational fable about a shepherd boy who through his travels comes to understand himself. Often thrust in the face of hapless visitors as a “You have to read this!”

Sultan, S., (2004). The Koran for Dummies. Indianapolis: Wiley Publications.

Implies deep inquiry into and respect for Islam, despite national propaganda to the contrary. See III.

Editors, T., (2009). The Torah in English Text. City: CreateSpace.

The cosmopolitan heterosexual educated male also happens to be part Jewish, he will have you know. Furthermore, he will clarify that the seeds of the Bible lie in the Torah and that Israel is the pebble in President Barack Obama’s 9 1⁄2-sized shoe. See III and IX.

Easwaran, E., (2007). The Bhagavad Gita. Petaluma: Nilgiri Press

Punctuates his monologue about paths of knowledge, devotion, action, and meditation with, “Hindu women are as beautiful as the scriptures.”

V. Count on My Visionary Virility When is Race Man Starts The Revolution [Can also be cross referenced with IX]

Zi, S., & Giles, L. (2006). The Art of War. City: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC.

Merely owning this 25-centuries old book on Chinese military strategy and thought endows him with the superpowers needed for e Revolution.

Fanon, F., & Philcox, R. (2004). The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.

Among the canonical works on international black-liberation struggle. Purchased for an undergraduate Post-Colonial History Course. Corresponding Cli Notes not available, forcing Said Male to read book in entirety by research-paper deadline.

Mao, Z., & Mao, T. (1972). Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. Peking: Foreign Languages Press.

Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, as it is known in the West, is sure to spark heady discussions of Marxism-Leninism, vinyl bindings, and the inevitable fall of Wall Street. An opportunity to brag about past illegal and illicit trip to Castro’s Cuba. See III, of course.

Guthrie, W., (1989). The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle. New York: Routledge.

Said Male holds up a hand to drive home the point that, according to palm-readers, his long, knuckled fingers betray a philosophical mind.

Haley, A., (1973). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, by arrangement with Grove Press, 1973.

Based on interviews conducted by Haley, this 1965 biography of the African-American militant religious leader and activist née Malcolm Little is a black classic. Says Said Male: “ is changed my life, man, changed my life.”

VI. I am a Horse in the Sack

Vatsyayana, M., Doniger, W., & Kakar, S. (2009). Kamasutra. City: Oxford University Press, USA.

Hindu religious treatise written c. 400, which Amazon hails as “more than a book about sex. It is about the art of living.” Sadly, Said Male will trace the etymology of Kamasutra to cama (Spanish for bed) and sultry, as opposed to god of love and thread/guide/manual.

Miller, H., & Nin, A. (1980). Tropic of Cancer. New York: Grove Weidenfeld.

Miller divulges on life as an American expat in Paris. Explicit material. Banned. “Rawer than a mooing steak, a literary STD,” exclaims Said Male. See III.

VII. My Inner Geek=moneycash2

Gasiorowicz, S., (2003). Quantum Physics. New York: Wiley.

Riddled with typos as it is, this text is priced at over $100. Said Male will drop formaldehyde-scented words like “degeneracy,” “entropy,” “quarks,” “vector”…

Author, A., (2003). The Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

The words “Chicago” and “style” inspire anyone to pick up this title. Said Male claims to use its typographical rules when writing lovemail.

Isaacson, W., (2008). Einstein: His Life and Universe. New York: Simon & Schuster.

There is a photo of Einstein playing the violin on Said Male’s refrigerator door, accompanied by the following Post- It: “Genius. Rebel. Discriminated against. Did not speak until, like, 3 yrs old. Failed sixth grade math (?). Spiritual. Womanizer.”

Cheng, R., (2007). Practical Chess Exercises. City: Wheatmark.

Said Male acquired first chess set after watching Laurence Fishburne and Denzel Washington pensively fiddling with pieces in The Matrix and American Gangster, respectively. “RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan plays, too.” See V.

Gates, B., (2000). Business @ the Speed of thought. New York: Warner Business Books.

The cosmopolitan educated heterosexual female of color will bite a knuckle and marvel: “Both money and brains?!”

VIII. I’m With It, Got My Digit on the Pulse

Bolaño, R., (2008). La Literatura Nazi en América / Nazi Literature in the Americas. Barcelona: Editorial Seix Barral.

Roberto Bolaño is the New Yorker’s latest toast to Latin- American, dead, male writers. “I’m probably the only one reading him in español—oh, you haven’t heard of Bolaño?” See III.

Moore, A., & Gibbons, D. (2005). Watchmen. New York: DC Comics.

And not the movie, mind you. is graphic novel about a plot to kill and discredit costumed adventurers is one Said Male has actually read in its entirety.

Shakur, T., (1999). The Rose That Grew From Concrete. New York: Pocket Books.

Hardcover published by MTV. Collection of poetry written by rapper Tupac Shakur between 1989 and 1991. Prefaced by his mother, Afeni, with a foreword by poet Nikki Giovanni. Expresses the very angst Said Male feels as a cosmopolitan heterosexual educated male of color. See V.

Bukowski, C., (2007). Women: A Novel. New York: ECCO.

A Caucasian undergraduate who reads “only Bukowski, dude” put Said Male on to the author. Centered around the autumn life of a celebrated writer, the novel title conveys the kind of yin-ness sorely absent from Bukowski’s earlier works. See II.

Diaz, J., (2008). The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. City: Riverhead Books.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Dominican-American Junot Díaz oftens serves Said Male as a “two-fer,” as its title can easily be mistaken for a biography of the Victorian-era writer, Oscar Wilde. e author, a self-described “ghetto nerd,” raucously tells the tale of a 300-pound-plus “lovesick ghetto nerd”. See III and VII.

Hemingway, E., (2007). Four Novels. Barnes & Noble.

Of course Hemingway. Economy of prose. Understatement. Stoic men who hold it together under pressure. Cool American classics, punctuated by the writer’s struggles with alcohol and his idyllic times in Europe and Cuba. See III.

IX. I am Obama Beta

Carnegie, D., (1998). How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Pocket Books.

This is among the tattered books that inconspicuously line the bottom shelves, in addition to The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss and random self-help literature.

Obama, B., (2008). The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. London: Vintage.

While watching Obama soar to become POTUS, Said Male was secretly surprised to find his own excitement audaciously tinged by… envy. Other titles owned: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Chinese edition) and Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s Plan to Renew America’s Promise.

Franklin, B., (2005). The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. City: Digireads.com.

Benjamin Franklin, polymath of polymaths, “a mother of a Founding Father,” according to Said Male: printer, publisher, inventor, politician, theorist, author, satirist, scientist, activist, soldier, diplomat, statesman. Ending on the year 1757, 33 years before Franklin’s death, this autobiography is unfinished…

 

Contributor Notes

I often listen for the ‘conversation’ between form and substance in a work of literature: the how (form) can be itself as much of a narrative as the what (substance).  “Judging A Cover By His Books” is, in part, inspired by “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” (1956), Horace Miner’s influential satire of anthropological scholarship on non-Western cultures.

 

 


Image Credits: Public Domain