Again, My Summer Movie Agenda Is Derailed . . . By John D. Lukacs, Donald Ray Pollack, and Co.

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Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
At the beginning of summer, just as all of the bigger Oscar-worthy films are starting to screen, I have good intentions of going to see 'em all. But this summer was really no different from the ones past. Things just get busy when it is warm out, and I always seem to scramble right about now to play catch-up.

When I told a few of my dude friends that I really was looking forward to seeing the film The Help, I got a sort of sideways look that foretold of male-ego-living-around-chicks-too-much-whatever-dude-chick-flick-watcher. Yes, whatever indeed. I read and enjoyed the book, and had heard that the movie was just as good. Oddly enough, the other movie I made it to, also featured a mainly female cast. But Bridesmaids ain't no chick flick either.

Getting to a book, of course, can be done on a nightly basis at home. Hence, I have some new reads that I'd like to share.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett: I hate to write like I am a film or book critic, because I am not. I DO, however, know when something is depicted so well, and the story is so good, that I am deeply and profoundly moved. This era of American history has always piqued my interest, too.

I wrote about the book last year, so I won't repeat myself. But I will say that if you haven't seen this movie yet, do yourself and your friends and/or family a favor and see it. Emma Stone plays a perfect "Skeeter"; Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer portray "Aibileen" and "Minny" so well (aka, the "help"), that it is hard to fathom how actors get this good.

Escape From Davao, John D. Lukacs: I've read a whole shit-ton of books about World War II, and have spent a lot of that time zeroing in on things in the Pacific. The Bataan Death March, and anything to do with being a prisoner of the Japanese back then, will most certainly be in my realm of expertise (That's right. I said it!).

This story of airman Ed Dyess' escape from a Japanese labor camp in the Philippines is as epic as Unbroken. Lukacs is a top-notch nonfiction writer who can put together the facts of warfare, distance, hunger, and fear and still make a compelling and engaging full-length book. Escape From Davao goes to the top shelf of my book case.

The Devil All of the Time, Donald Ray Pollack: In trying to find good fiction authors who I can somehow sympathize or see their angle, my search takes me far and wide. I am still a bit new-ish to fiction, and hence maybe a few of you already know of Donald Ray Pollack's work. For me, I was just turned onto him by a friend who owns a hip and independent bookstore in the Bay area.

TDAOTT is an abrupt and sickening story of murder, rape, white trash, religion, and hopelessness in 1970s America. Pollack is a master.

Knockemstiff , Donald Ray Pollack: Once you start, you cannot stop reading Pollack. Knockemstiff, Ohio is, according to Pollack's storytelling, a desperate and no-win corner of America. In the same sense that Cormac McCarthy can make a reader queasy with the necrophiliac in Children Of God, Pollack can do the same with his speed sniffing, glue-huffing ruffians and sex fiends.

Bridesmaids (movie): Holy fucking shit! All right, so most of you have probably seen this movie? But if you haven't, please read that first sentence over. Holy fucking SHIT! This movie is one of the funniest and certainly-not-a-chick-flick flicks that I've seen in a few years, for sure.

Saturday Night Live alums Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are absolutely ridiculous. There are a bunch of scenes that got uncontrollable laughter in the theater. And for the first time ever, there was yet a few more scenes during which I actually heard people laugh so hard that you could hear the beginnings of a good throw-up. Now THAT is good humor, ladies and gentlemen!

Here Be Monsters . . . 50 Days Adrift at Sea, Michael Finkel (Kindle Single): I don't advertise for anyone here, of course, but I do now also use an e-reader, as well as simply just buying the physical book. Kindle has started to amass a bunch of different larger articles from the likes of GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Outside , et al., for the purpose of selling something they call "singles" for a buck ninety-eight or some such trifle. I'm not sure if I am going to be looking into these that often, but was glad I ran across this story.

I like stories of survival and misery for some reason. Last year, three 15-year-old boys from the tiny speck of the island nation called Atafu in the South Pacific got drunk and decided that they had had enough of living so far away from the modern world. They made the inebriated and knee-jerk reaction of stealing an uncle's fishing skiff and setting off on an adventure. There is no other land anywhere nearby. They did not bring any water or food. They guessed that they'd probably be found within a day or two anyway. They were not.

The boys did survive their 58-day ordeal, but just, and Finkel does an outstanding job of reportage. My second question is: Do magazines still have the dough to send a reporter all the way to Samoa to write this stuff?

Note to Seattle Weekly: I want to write about a climb of Mt. Everest. Can we sort that out?

 
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