Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

What We're Reading in November

Reviews of Clean Time: “The True Story of Ronald Reagan Middleton” by Ben Gwin, “This Darkness Got To Give” by Dave Housley and “Thank Your Lucky Stars” by Sherrie Flick.



By its own nature, satire is outlandish. When serving up a dose of acidic commentary, it's best to coat it with the candied shell of the ridiculous. From Jonathan Swift's “Gulliver's Travels” to Kurt Vonnegut's “Cat's Cradle” to that urtext of 20th century-satire, “Monty Python's Flying Circus,” the skewering of contemporary culture goes down much easier with a chaser of hilarity.

Clean Time: The True Story of Ronald Reagan Middleton
by Ben Gwin
BURROW PRESS; $17


Add Ben Gwin's debut novel, Clean Time: The True Story of Ronald Reagan Middleton to this celebrated company. In Gwin’s America, big pharma and corporate media have merged to create The Recovery Channel, a sort of 24-hour-a-day version of VH1’s “Rehab with Dr. Drew.” The hit program is called “Clean Time,” and the break-out star is would-be writer Ronald Reagan Middleton.

Gwin takes aim at recovery culture, academia and our media obsession and scores a direct hit. Reminiscent of the stylish postmodernism of David Foster Wallace and Vladimir Nabokov, “Clean Time” is rollicking and self-aware. The diagnosis Gwin offers may be dire, but the author's bedside manner is so funny you won't mind the grim news one little bit.

 
This Darkness Got To Give
by Dave Housley
PANDAMOON PUBLISHING; $13.99


Another debut novel with a druggy patina has perhaps the best concept I've encountered in a long time. Penned by Dave Housley, This Darkness Got to Give tells the story of Cain, a Deadhead with a difference. This member of that obsessive and nomadic tribe of Grateful Dead diehards happens to be a vampire.

While following the band on its ill-fated, final tour in 1995, often referred to as The Tour from Hell, Cain is dosed with a very dangerous strain of acid, which sets off a chain of events culminating in several grisly murders and garnering the attention of a secret government agency.

Housley's earlier short story collection, “If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home,” proved thoroughly that this author knew his way around pop music and could write engaging, funny-sad stories about the fan's experience of his favorite rock band. “This Darkness Got to Give,” however, is a much more sober rendition of Housley's familiar refrain. Cain is one of those fans whose whole existence and well-being is predicated on following the Dead on tour. This is rock fandom as horror and tragedy.


Thank Your Lucky Stars 
by Sherrie Flick
Autumn house press; $17.95


Sherrie Flick may very well be the Shakespeare of the shorty. Flick's milieu is the short-short story, also widely referred to as flash fiction, and her latest collection, Thank Your Lucky Stars, is something of a master class in brevity.

The 50 tales here stalk the borderlands between narrative and poetry. Whether Flick is detailing the surreal encounter between an unhappily married woman and the mafioso proprietors of a roadside corn stand in “How I Left Ned” or dreaming up the imagist fantasia of “Pittsburgh Women” who “scatter the nickels, dimes, and quarters up and down the city streets,” the range of her stories never ceases to impress.  
 

 

Speak Up


PHOTO BY TANYA SAZANSKY
 

Nov. 5/ New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen takes the stage for Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' Ten Evenings to discuss the current goings on of Vladimir Putin and Russia. Gessen is a Russian-American journalist who won the National Book Award in 2017 for “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia” as well as the author of “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.” (Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org)
 

Nov. 10 & 11/ Join Arlan Hess, proprietor of the North Side gem City Books, for Arts & Literature in Old Allegheny. This walking tour serves as an “introduction to the legacy of arts & letters in Pittsburgh and the North Side in particular,” focusing on the birthplaces and early lives of renowned writers including Gertrude Stein, Willa Cather, Robinson Jeffers and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Afterward, the group reconvenes at City Books for a discussion on antique books and a hands-on look at some of the shop's impressive inventory. (City Books, 908 Galveston Ave., Allegheny West; 412/321-7323, airbnb.com/experiences/312960)

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Toby Fraley’s love for historical photos inspired him to take the next step for Pittsburgh’s future.

New Dimensions: The Comic Book Store's Surprise Move

Comic-book (store) avengers. How a sprawling comic-book shop moved out of its longtime home — and reopened for business mere hours later.

PM on KD: Recent Restaurant Openings

PM food critic Hal B. Klein appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss recent Pittsburgh restaurant openings that have him excited.

One Person's Flip Flop is Another One's Art

Ocean Sole Africa’s mission is to reduce pollution and waste by collecting flip flops from the ocean and making them into art.

All In The (Giaramita) Family: La Tavola Italiana and Pizza Taglio

Family members run two distinct restaurants, one classic and one with a contemporary spin.

DeCastro’s Preferred Order: Fries with That, Hold the Drama

The Steelers have emerged from their offseason sessions confident they’re capable of playing better. They also maintain a new atmosphere and culture have been established. But they won’t know for certain until they actually start playing.

Restaurant Review: Masala House in Shadyside

You'll find excellent Indian cuisine in a Shadyside building with a long culinary history.

A Tale of Two Strands: Theaters With the Same Name

In two small towns nearby, old vaudeville stages — which share the same name — have reopened and revitalized their communities.

Hello Neighbor and Scratch Food & Beverage Pair Up for a Very Special Dinner

The community dinner will feature Syrian cuisine, raising awareness of Hello Neighbor's mission and promoting connection and conversation with the region's refugee families.

The 400-Word Review: Murder Mystery

Well into Adam Sandler's tenure as a Netflix actor, he finally comes up with a mostly enjoyable comedy.

From Pittsburgh to the Moon: Our Role in the Space Race

As the nation and private entrepreneurs focus again on space, 50 years after Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, Pittsburgh is once again in the celestial spotlight.

The 400-Word Review: Men in Black International

The alien-comedy series hasn't been good since the 20th century. That trend continues with this soft reboot.

Sweet Partnership: Cakery Square and Fudge Farm

The opening of Fudge Farm's Bloomfield store marks an expansion of Wes Lyons' Pursuit Program and larger menu for the confectioners.

Things We Love — Three Rivers Arts Festival Edition

HOME editor Jessica Sinichak shares her favorite, locally made decorative items from the show.

In a Crowded City for Concerts, Rivers Casino Steps Up

The casino's new Events Center proves itself more than worthy of competing for big-name acts.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Toby Fraley’s love for historical photos inspired him to take the next step for Pittsburgh’s future.

Comments

PM on KD: Recent Restaurant Openings

PM on KD: Recent Restaurant Openings

PM food critic Hal B. Klein appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss recent Pittsburgh restaurant openings that have him excited.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Hello Neighbor and Scratch Food & Beverage Pair Up for a Very Special Dinner

Hello Neighbor and Scratch Food & Beverage Pair Up for a Very Special Dinner

The community dinner will feature Syrian cuisine, raising awareness of Hello Neighbor's mission and promoting connection and conversation with the region's refugee families.

Comments

Sweet Partnership: Cakery Square and Fudge Farm

Sweet Partnership: Cakery Square and Fudge Farm

The opening of Fudge Farm's Bloomfield store marks an expansion of Wes Lyons' Pursuit Program and larger menu for the confectioners.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


In a Crowded City for Concerts, Rivers Casino Steps Up

In a Crowded City for Concerts, Rivers Casino Steps Up

The casino's new Events Center proves itself more than worthy of competing for big-name acts.

Comments

Our Favorite Events and Experiences at the 2019 Three Rivers Arts Festival

Our Favorite Events and Experiences at the 2019 Three Rivers Arts Festival

A pick — and another one — for every day of the festival's 60th year.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
DeCastro’s Preferred Order: Fries with That, Hold the Drama

DeCastro’s Preferred Order: Fries with That, Hold the Drama

The Steelers have emerged from their offseason sessions confident they’re capable of playing better. They also maintain a new atmosphere and culture have been established. But they won’t know for certain until they actually start playing.

Comments

Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 1 Pick Makes a Lasting First Impression

Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 1 Pick Makes a Lasting First Impression

Devin Bush will still have much to prove once the pads come on and the hitting commences. But the presence and purpose he brought to OTAs justified the hype on draft day.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Murder Mystery

The 400-Word Review: Murder Mystery

Well into Adam Sandler's tenure as a Netflix actor, he finally comes up with a mostly enjoyable comedy.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Men in Black International

The 400-Word Review: Men in Black International

The alien-comedy series hasn't been good since the 20th century. That trend continues with this soft reboot.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Most Popular Wedding Trends of Summer 2019

The Most Popular Wedding Trends of Summer 2019

Romantic bistro lights and balloon arrangements? Yes please.

Comments

Need to Know: The Best Time for Wedding Photos

Need to Know: The Best Time for Wedding Photos

We examine the pros and cons of first look sessions versus waiting until after the ceremony to get those perfect photos.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Tiny Cabins Offer Weary Pittsburghers a Relaxing Escape

Tiny Cabins Offer Weary Pittsburghers a Relaxing Escape

Located about an hour from Pittsburgh, the elegantly minimalist cabins from Getaway are nestled in nature — and offer an unplugged experience.

Comments

James Gallery Aims to Make Art More Accessible

James Gallery Aims to Make Art More Accessible

The West End gallery takes the intimidation factor out of art selection with its new Preferred Designer Program.

Comments