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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Nobody knows who Bradley Denton is and that depresses me sometimes.

MOOD: hungryandtiredandnotwantingtocleanup

BACKGROUND: PartyBen's Led Zeppelin/Snoop Dogg Mix "Drop It Like It's A Whole Lotta Love" (thanks to PartyBen)

Sometimes it seems as if you're the only person in the world who's into something, even though you know it's not true. Case in point, Jim's Big Ego. They are an amazing band. They've never made a bad album. I listen to them almost every day. In my book, they're modern day Beatles but with less hair and a better sense of humor. But nobody else I know in Sacramento knows who Jim Infantino is. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who listens to them. I know it's not true, that they have a huge following, but those fans don't seem to be in my general direction. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the world who remembers and still obsesses over Sifl and Olly, who geeks out over the writings of Chuck Klosterman, who freaks out over every episode of and song from Home Movies, and who watches the show Cheap Seats. Bradley Denton is the exact same way. He has a new book coming out next month and no one seems to care. No one I know, at least.

The problem is that nobody reads book for the simple reason that they saw it and they thought it might be fun. Nowadays people's reading choices are solely dictated by other areas of pop culture that are light years more popular. People don't accidentally stumble onto an author and start a lifelong love with their work. I should know. I work at a bookstore. Those days are dead. Now people look for books because of Oprah or because of NPR or because of the newspaper. People's reading patterns are dictated solely by what another, more trusted, outlet tells them is satisfactory for them to be allowed to read and that's pathetic.

I was hanging out at a used bookstore in Tempe that no longer exists. This was back in 1995. I wasn't looking for anything. I was just trying really hard to not go to any of my classes. I hated college but I went anyway probably for the same reasons that I went from eight grade to ninth grade - that was what was next. And I stumbled upon a ratty little mass market called "Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede." The cover really grabbed me. It was a sort of concert poster of Buddy Holly's, really well drawn, pasted on a brick wall and there was an alien hand over it.

I read the back. It seemed absurd enough to grab my attention. A nonstop, noninterruptible live performance by Buddy Holly, somehow alive and well on a moon of Jupiter, inturrupts every television and cable channel throughout the world. Buddy Holly has no idea what's going on. All he has there is a television camera, a guitar, and a sign that says to contact Oliver Vale for more information. Oliver has no idea what's going on and suddenly he's on the run from police, religious cults, aliens, a robotic dog, and angry rednecks who want their tv shows back on.

I picked it up, bought it, and had a great time reading it. it still sits on my shelf now, ten years later, and occasionally I force some unsuspecting friend of mine to read it. That was one of the most positive, uplifting reading experiences I've ever had. The book has no moral, no uplifting message, no ulterior motive. It was pure fun and I loved every minute of it. It's out of print now but can easily be found on Amazon or one of those other trendy on-line used book places. Or you can ask me. I'll let you borrow it.

Five years later, probably due in some small part to the renewed love of reading I got from Buddy Holly, I found myself working at a bookstore. I immediately sought out more books from author Bradley Denton. The internet was no real help. No one seemed to know anything about this strange Texas author. But I did find another book of his, one that has remained my absolute favorite book to this day. The title is called Blackburn and it's about a serial killer.

In simple terms, the book is part coming-of-age story, part violent American road trip. It's about a young man who takes action against what he considers to be wrong through violence. Sure he kills but the people he kills deserve it. It's a story that challenges your sense of morals because you end up sympathizing with the killer to the point where you accept his actions as being right. It's still in print and it's an incredible book. It's my absolute favorite book of all time and I honestly think that everybody should have to read it.

The third book of his that I read took me almost two years to find. It was out of print for years until I managed to get my hand on a copy, strangely enough, the last day I lived in Phoenix, Arizona. It's a strange love story called Lunatics. It's a romance for those chosen few humans who do not subscribe to romance that most people consider "normal." It's about a man in love with the moon and it warmed my heart. I never thought that I would ever consciously, seriously say that about a book, but I just did, so there you go.

I've been waiting for a new book from Bradley Denton for a long time now. Since I work at a bookstore, it's easy for me to check our system and see when a book is coming out. I was estatic when I found out that Bradley Denton hasa new book coming out called Laughin' Boy. But when I tried to tell people about how excited I was, nobody seemed to care. That upset me. Sometimes you find yourself wading in a very small pop culture pool. But that's ok. His book is something like $32-40 but I'd happily spend that ten times over to get a taste of America's second best author (next to Chuck Klosterman).

Bradley Denton's work is something you need to hunt down but believe me, it's worth it.


Anonymous said...

Well, I am one of those people who wait for the word on high to determine what I watch, read, listen to etc. I just can't help it. I don't like to get burned by a shitty experience. Well now I've heard about Bradley Denton, and I'm looking forward to reading his stuff. -jesse

Anonymous said...

My favorite way of finding about authors is just asking people what their favorite books are. That's how I found a lot of the books I read.

I'll be sure to look up Bradley Denton next time I head to the bookstore.

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