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"In How to Be Inappropriate, Daniel Nester determines the boundary of acceptable behavior - mostly by disregarding it. As a man, he looks for love with a Williamsburg abstract painter who has had her feet licked for money. As a teacher, he tries out curse words with Chinese students in ESL classes. Nester provides a short cultural history of mooning and attempts to cast a spell on a neighbor who fails to curb his dog. He befriends exiled video-game king Todd Rogers, and reimagines Terry Gross's Fresh Air conversation with - and invents a robot
"In How to Be Inappropriate, Daniel Nester determines the boundary of acceptable behavior - mostly by disregarding it. As a man, he looks for love with a Williamsburg abstract painter who has had her feet licked for money. As a teacher, he tries out curse words with Chinese students in ESL classes. Nester provides a short cultural history of mooning and attempts to cast a spell on a neighbor who fails to curb his dog. He befriends exiled video-game king Todd Rogers, and reimagines Terry Gross's Fresh Air conversation with - and invents a robot version of - Kiss bassist Gene Simmons." Composed of arguments, lists, barstool rants, queries, pedantic footnotes, play scripts, commonplace miscellany, profiles, and overly revealing memoirettes, How to Be Inappropriate adds up to the portrait of a twenty-something-becomes-thirty-something, bachelor-becomes-husband, man-child-about-town who bumbles through life obsessed with one thing: extreme impropriety.
Notes Toward a Definition of the Inappropriate: An Apologia 1
The Puerto Rican Lockhorns Reunion 4
The Turds of Billyburg 10
Hot Blooded 15
A. I. Wanna Rock 'n' Roll All Night 18
Revising the Footlicker Story 33
Notes Toward a Philosophy of the Inappropriate 43
Mooning: A Short Cultural History 44
My Ass Life in the West 64
The Difference Between Chickens and Goats 70
An Inappropriate Commonplace 81
On Late Style 85
Are You Hot Enough to Play with Journey? Todd Rogers Is 87
Pulling the Muse's Finger: A Fartspotter's Guide to Poetic Passings of Wind 119
Two Imitations of Christ 133
Bob and Tom's Fish and Fry 135
Takin' Care of Jesus 153
The Case for Upsizing 170
An Inappropriate Discourse 186
Goodbye to All Them 189
Garden Path Paragraphs: Variations on Eggs, Faith, Doubt, and Fathering 199
The Talk Box Reveries 221
Yes I Tan: The Indoor Tanning Diaries 233
Timeline of the Author's Inappropriate Acts, Selected, c. 1968-Present 244
I judge books by covers. The moment I saw the cover of How to Be Inappropriate I knew I had to have it. After about twenty minutes I felt guilty and purchased it because I'm not one of those people that thinks a bookstore is a library. It's not. I know because there are less homeless.
Nester's book is hysterical. Is there more of a reason to read? Fine, unlike other authors that poke fun at others, Nester embraces the fact he is often the butt of the joke. It's easy for people to tell tales that embarrass others but it's a whole other beast to recount stories that tell the whole world how you accidentally moved down the hall from an ex or what exactly happens when a person doth tan too much. Sprinkle in some clever rants, spells cast on neighbors and the King of Video games and you've got yourself an incredibly entertaining read.
Pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
Posted January 6, 2010
This is a great book, and not only for the reasons you (if you are drawn to it for the "inappropriate" content) may think. The attention grabbers are the ones about the most taboo subjects (read the table of contents), but How to Be Inappropriate, at it most comic and its most serious, is so much more than that. My favorite of the super funny essays is "Queries," which lists comments he's made on students' writing assignments--"Isn't everything tucked lovingly tucked?," "Is there another, non-legendary Kraken?" The gentleness with which the author treats his students' work heightens the funniness of their contorted language while celebrating the strange products that can result from the awkward effort to put words on paper.
But (and I hope I don't turn off anyone who wants a funny book, because it IS funny) Daniel Nester's book is also quite moving. Several essays--my favorite is "The Difference Between Chickens and Goats"--explore in between times in the author's life, when he has finished one part of his life and is waiting for another to begin. They convey the poignancy of those moments, the lost feeling, the uneasiness of transition. This is a different kind of inappropriate--the feeling of being out of place, the sense that you are acting in ways that do not fit your context. And it is a different kind of funny, the in-retrospect kind you experience when you look back on a painful time in your life and recognize the humor of the human condition.
How to Be Inappropriate is a great humor book, but it is also great writing. It is ideal for anyone who appreciates the art of the personal essay.