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"Daniel Nester is funny as hell." —Stephen Elliott
"Daniel Nester is a stone-cold genius. Clever, lyrical, inappropriate in all the right ways—I'd rather read him than just about anyone right now." —Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You
"Daniel Nester's essays are haunted by a Victorian perversity. His writing exhibits a kind of Tourette syndrome in which the author continuously abases himself and revels in his own shortcomings. It's a painful kind of comedy leavened by gentle good humor and wonder." —Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist and How To Be a Man
"Former McSweeney's editor Nester (English, Coll. of Saint Rose), whose writing has appeared in The Best Creative Nonfiction, The Best American Poetry, and Poets & Writers, presents his debut collection of humorous nonfiction, amassing 41 years' worth of experience in nonconformity. His stories are, as the title suggests, inappropriate, and they often engender squeamishness, discomfort, and laughter. But they are fresh and, at times, touching, qualities that make this an enjoyable read. Subjects include teaching curse words to Chinese ESL students, reimagining a Terry Gross NPR interview of Gene Simmons by substituting Gene Simmons with an AI computer, a collection of references to flatulence in English poesy, the history of mooning, and out-of-context comments he made as a college professor in order to clarify and expand upon his students' writing. Nester includes photographs, illustrations, and a time line of his inappropriate acts from birth to the present. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and essays." —Library Journal
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.