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 The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government- David K. Johnson
This book nicely collects the history of the anti-gay panic that went along with the Red Scare, but it is mostly worth reading because it contains some of the more wonderfully bizarre sentences I've ever had the privilege of reading in a non-fiction book. I already gave it back to the library (woe) so can't get up to too much direct quoting but rest assured there were references to "men gaining weight on a diet of semen", "lavender lads", and homosexuality somehow leading to Communism. 
 
The Hakawati- Rabih Alameddine
The Hakawati interweaves the story of a young man coming back to Lebanon to visit his dying father, the story of his grandparents, the story of how his parents met, stories from his childhood, and two different invented myths/legends. It occasionally gets a bit too "yo dawg I heard you like stories so I put a story in your story in your story" for my taste, but overall I would recommend it, although I do think Koolaids: The Art of War was much better, if you haven't read anything by Alameddine yet. 
 
The Gift of Fear- Gavin de Becker
I read this after one of my aunts went on and on about it recently. I'd heard of it before, of course. Having read it I don't quite get the hype. Any of the interesting stuff (the chapter on dating is actuall pretty decent) is totally destroyed for me by de Becker's incessant victim-blaming. He actually writes (on page 188 for those playing along at home) "I believe that the first time a woman is hit, she is a victim and the second time, she is a volunteer". No, de Becker. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Fuck off. Also, he completely fails to address how culture plays a part in any of this. Several thumbs down. 
 
Parley P. Pratt and the Making of Mormonism- edited by Gregory K. Armstrong, Matthew J. Grow, Dennis J. Siler
This whole book felt like a smarter version of when my seminary teacher would have a class where he didn't have a lesson planned and would just tell us weird early LDS history stories instead. By which I mean, it's fantastic. Pratt really is kind of neglected in histories of Mormonism and this book is a nice summation of his importance.
 
Lipstick Traces- Greil Marcus
This book carries a weird weight in my life. My dad has owned it since I was really young, and I remembered the cover shot of Johnny Rotten scaring the shit out of me when I would see it on the bookshelf (I mean, look at it). At 13, having gotten me into Patti Smith and Television and the Velvet Underground and the Clash, my dad handed me his copy of it with the solemnity of a religious ritual. It's been at least 5 years since I've read it, so I borrowed it from my dad again to occupy myself during the road trip we recently took. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it's still great. I had forgotten that, while my dad got me into the Clash and the Sex Pistols, Lipstick Traces was what introduced me to the Slits and X-Ray Spex. My one quibble with it is Marcus's unending love affair with the Sex Pistols. I would argue that there are only four Sex Pistols songs anyone should actually care about: "Anarchy in the UK", "God Save The Queen", "Holiday in the Sun" and "No Feelings". "Bodies" doesn't deserve as much ink as has been spilled about it. 
 
Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore- edited by W. Paul Reeve and Michael Scott Van Wagenen
Lent to me by my dad. Favorite chapters were on the Bear Lake monster (invented by one of my ancestors!) and Mormon interpretations of UFO sightings. A good collection, although it would have been cool to see more of an emphasis on modern Mormon folklore, especially how email forwards contribute to weird doctrinal misunderstandings (totally not speaking from my own experience here or anything, cough cough).

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January 2013

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