The Literary Canon: Trash Dude Edition

Look, we can all agree that it’s pretty easy for women to find books to read–straight to “Women’s Fiction” and “Romance,” right? But what about ~~men~~? What books are they supposed to read, if there aren’t any clear signposts like “The Hammer Is My Penis Autobios” or “Deeply Personal Pain That No One Else Can Understand–Health & Wellness”? Where is their literary canon???? (I know no one believes that silly claptrap about the majority of books being (un)consciously written for a male audience–that’s just liberal garbage.)


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But don’t worry! For once, I’m thinking of The Man and his dumpster-trending interests. So, come into my parlor, all you trashbabies and aspiring literary trash dudes; I’ve selected five books that I believe are a great start to building a foundation for a future as a ~*~literary-minded man~*~.

 

Vox

 

1. Vox by Nicholson Baker

At only 176 pages, Vox has so much to offer: monologues, finding a ~true connection~ via phone sex line, and unrealistic depictions of female fantasies! Here’s proof that you don’t need to stick to 2011’s New 52 Starfire design to indulge in blatant objectification of the female form. The fantasy threesome scene–involving two rooms, two handymen, an aesthetically ~and~ functionally useful ladder, and a convenient hole in the wall large enough for a woman’s torso–has enough uneven power dynamics to keep any redditor with ~serious~ thoughts interested.

Recommended for: The sensitive, fedora-wearing man who hangs around comic book shops asking women if they even know who Jason Todd is.

 

Fear and Loathing

 

2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

This is the kind of book that fans your desperate desire to buy weed from the sketchy youths who hang around the 7-11 down the street. After all, what better way to get your heart racing than indulging in a plotless tale that offers a front seat to drugged-out destruction, wanton disregard for social mores, and some truly impressive hallucinations? Short of getting punched in the face repeatedly, not much. There’s also a good chance it will help you remember that magical night you almost did shrooms with your high school crush, but then you chickened out and she never spoke to you again. Always a plus.

Recommended for: The human version of the alligator who can’t reach the check in those Geico commercials.

 

Atlas Shrugged

 

3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

As an affluent white man, you’re legally required to read something by Ayn Rand. You can’t pick The Anthem because it’s so short that it’s basically cheating, so you might as well go with Atlas Shrugged and take your place as our One True Leader, the Voice of our Generation. You’ll enjoy the way that Big Government is clearly going to fail. You might even particularly identify with the idea that you don’t owe anybody anything–it’s every white-bread superman for himself out there! There’s not a quiz at the end, but the literary version of secret shoppers will be extremely disappointed if you don’t know who John Galt is.

Recommended for: The garbage king who can’t help but play devil’s advocate and says, “Well, actually…” and “Not all men…”

 

Jonathan_Franzen,_Purity,_cover

 

4. Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Once you’ve raced through all 1,168 pages of Rand’s diatribe about the leeches of the world holding back society’s more valuable and productive members, you’ll probably want to take in some relatively lighter fare. At 576 pages and full of dialogue that no human would ever utter, Purity is tailor-made for anyone who misses talking over women during the “Reproductive Politics” course their adviser made them take in college. Take this book to a Starbucks inside of a Barnes & Noble and enjoy Franzen’s condescending diction and cheap imagery while you ponder why this book’s TV adaption is what Daniel Craig has chosen to do with his post-James Bond life. Read with glee and remember to drop the word “pussycat” in your next conversation!

Recommended for: The dumpster dweller who tweets #AllLivesMatter and encourages his friends to get into molecular gastronomy and homebrewing.

 

Guts

 

5. “Guts” by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk is the writer version of that friend who constantly says, “You know what’s fucked up?” and then proceeds to tell you about people eating their own fingernails and sibling incest cults in the plains of Nebraska. You love that friend, but wow are they full of shit. Look, if you’re going to call yourself a ~literary~ man, you can’t say that Fight Club is your favorite. Everyone will know you’re a phony and assume you only watched the movie. To truly push yourself to the next level, I suggest tackling “Guts.” Without giving away too much of the plot of this sixteen-page ~masterpiece~, “Guts” tackles some high-interest topics like masturbation, masturbation in communal spaces, and anal prolapse. It’s also been called “the most gruesome short story ever published” and if you make it through without puking or fainting, everyone will know just how tough you are and throw a parade in your honor.

Recommended for: The frat bro who has seven different “Suns Out, Guns Out” tanks and thinks that, for historical accuracy, James Bond must always be a white male.  (Tribal tattoo optional.)

 

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These books aren’t the alpha and omega of nu-dude literary canon, but they’re a good starting point! Eventually, you’ll decide if you’re more of a hoity-toity, vest-wearing Franzen aficionado (in which case, you’ll probably like David Foster Wallace) or if you lean more toward the raw, unfiltered-cigarette smoking type of of Hunter S. Thompson (give Tom Wolfe a try), and we can give you a wide berth as needed. Happy reading, and remember that there’s something out there for everyone–even you men!

Jessika Rieck

Jessika Rieck

Jessika disapproves of nametags, a certain Dido song, period piece films (except for Belle; that can stay), British literature, and many other things that probably bring you joy. She loves the phrase "tire fires," and wild owls flock to her wherever she goes, assisting with her daily chores. If you want to make her laugh, just mention "prancercise."
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