Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

All For a Few Perfect Waves

The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora

a book review for Playboy Magazine, May 2008

Miki Dora hated the spotlight. But the sotry of the iconic surfer and scam artist who ruled Malibu in the 1950s and 1960s and spent the 1970s on the lam is too good not to be told. Playboy Contributing Editor David Rensin weaves quotes from more than 300 interviews with Dora’s friends (and enemies) into a candid portrait of a rebel who cruised the world’s best beaches on bad checks and forged credit cards. This book isn’t just about surfing; it’s about risking it all for complete personal freedom.                                  –Ben Conniff



The Pen is Mightier than the Needle

beautiful_boy.jpgFrom the Playboy Blog 2/27/08

A dark past opened into a bright present this week for contributing editor David Sheff and his son, Nic. The pair just released concurrent memoirs dealing with Nic’s long and harrowing methamphetamine addiction. David’s book, Beautiful Boy , has been selected as Starbucks’s next featured title and both books received great write-ups in the New York Times last Thursday and this Tuesday. Janet Maslin praised the “sturdiness and sense” with which David deals with a crisis that “goes well beyond the horrors of garden-variety substance abuse.” Amazon’s David Callanan called Beautiful Boy “achingly honest,” and Publisher’s Weekly said it’s “a hopeful book, coming at a propitious moment in the meth epidemic.”
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Slaughterhouse Live

From the Playboy Blog, 2/6/07


Last week copy editor Joseph Westerfield gave the stage version of Slaughterhouse Five at 59E59 Theater a glowing review. I was equally excited going in, but not so enthusiastic coming out. Joe knows a lot more about theater than I do, but as an avid Vonnegut fan I didn’t think the play did justice to the masterpiece novel.

Staging the absurdist time-traveling life of Billy Pilgrim in 90 minutes is not an easy task. Pilgrim bounces from one era to another so rapidly that he often doesn’t know where he is, so it’s tough for a theatergoer to follow along without all of Vonnegut’s narration. Add to that the fact that the small ensemble cast changes roles constantly and that props and scenery are left to the imagination, and the audience is befuddled. In the confusion, Vonnegut’s best jokes and most powerful lines get lost. This is no fault of the actors. I agree with Joe that the cast is outstanding. They shift smoothly from role to role, speaking in British accents one minute and German the next. Deanna McGovern deftly handles every female role in the story (though Joe and I both agree that she’s a bit attractive to pull off the aging mother and portly wife). Unlike Joe, I thought Gregory Konow as the older Pilgrim was the weakest member of the cast. Konow’s Pilgrim struck me more as a wide-eyed flower child than a quirky aging father. 

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Giving America Some Lip

From the Playboy Blog, 1/22/07


I first latched on to Sam Lipsyte’s fiction when I read “The Gunderson Prophecy,” a farcical tale of a pseudo-prophet and his apocalyptic visions, in our November issue. When I saw that he was reading new work at Russian Samovar, a chic vodka bar and restaurant just blocks from our office, I had to check it out. 

Lipsyte read from an untitled work in progress, or as he aptly called it “a work in egress.” Words seemed to flood out of him uninhibited, and he rarely stopped to take a breath. Yet if you were on your toes and kept up with him, you could see the basic truths beneath his whirlwind rant. Either way you laughed your head off.
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We Philia

From the Playboy Blog, 12/21/07 


If you find a bookstore gift card in your stocking on Christmas, keep your eyes (and your mind) open. Dennis DiClaudio’s Deviant’s Pocket Guide to the Outlandish Sexual Desires Barely Contained in Your Subconscious hits shelves December 26. DiClaudio is a comedian and fiction writer who has recently turned to more “scientific” research.

The guide covers every fetish you can imagine in comical but factual detail. DiClaudio introduces each obsession by envisioning a practitioner’s ideal fantasy. Then he gives facts about the fetish, its psychological origins, and important things you should consider if you’re feeling tempted (“If castration is your thing, you can really only do it the once. So you’d better make certain you enjoy yourself that one time”). Believe it or not, every one of these oddities exists and has actual followers.

Among the most obscure desires are the robotofetish (lusting after unfeeling automatons who may or may not want to take over the world), the inflation fetish (the desire to see your partner blown up like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka) and, of course, the fursuit fetish (getting hot for people dressed like animals—a cat, a teddy bear… perhaps a bunny?) Maybe some of these fantasies aren’t so outlandish after all.

Cover Your Khyber

From the Playboy Blog, 10/29/07


I have a dangerous tendency towards blunt speech. I mean physically dangerous. I can still feel the stings and bruises I’ve received for my loose tongue, and even carry a scar on my neck from my angry ex-girlfriend’s nails (she’ll probably beat me again when she reads this).

But guys like me are in luck. This week, R.W. Holder releases the newest edition of his book, How Not to Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms. Holder has made a truly exhaustive search to catalogue our evasive speech, and his findings are a testament to human creativity. When I first got my hands on Holder’s dictionary, I thought of it as a funny book to flip through while I was bored. Now I realize it has much greater value as a resource. 

Perhaps if I’d told the women I met this past summer that I was “at liberty,” rather than “an unemployed deadbeat,” they would at least have taken the time to make an excuse before running in the opposite direction. If only I’d had the sense to tell my friend that I “bestowed my enthusiasm on [to copulate promiscuously with]” his sister (who happens to be quite a “bit of crumpet” [a woman viewed sexually by men]), maybe I wouldn’t have forfeited his extra Yankees tickets.  Continue reading