Just the Recommends

David Iscoe newsletter weekly update #10

Might not have any time to write much of an email this week, because a lot spooky 💀☠👻👻dEEeeeEAAAaaaDlllliiiIIIiiines👻👻👻💀☠☠ are coming up on me. I’m substituting all day at a school, and after that I have ~13~ student essays to edit last-minute, a very SCARY number for an October Friday. (It will probably be a lot more by the end of the day and I might be buUUUUuuuurrrrrriiiiiieeeDD allliiIiiiiiIIIIIiiiiiiIIIIIve in work).


I’m a big fan of the fanfare of Halloween, where we make death and fears fun, and I am sad that it will soon pass just like our brrrrRRiiieefF mortal LiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIiives, but enjoy it while you got it, but Halloween parties themselves are a tough one. One the one hand, it’s fun to see everybody in costume, and it’s more fun to be in costume, but on the other hand it’s a lot of work to put on and stay in a costume. It’s so deep in hassle territory:


  1. Wearing clothes at all. It is easier to just stay in our apartments or beds or wherever without them.

  2. Wearing the kind of clothes you can go outside with and people don’t bother you. They can’t be covered in stains or ripped and anything.

  3. Wearing the kind of clothes you can wear at a nice party.

  4. Getting a whole costume together.

  5. Getting a good costume together.

But then again, it’s not fun to be not participating, so if you want to see a bunch of ghouls and monsters walking around you need to go the horrible hassle of assembling multiple things and looking at them, so it’s a 👺devil’s bargain.👹

Anyway, here’s some recommends (I saw it used as a noun on a few menus and now I think “recommendation” is overly formal and clunky):


Heavy by Kiese Laymon. I just bought this, the memoir of one of my favorite writers, and I’m going to try to see him in a fully-booked event at the Brooklyn Central Library by showing up on standby (October 30th). The book is great, what can I say? I’ve only just started. I think there’s a level of honesty in Kiese’s work that I rarely read in non-fiction, and he’s able to write first-person stuff that is packed with deep meaning without falling back on all these certain types of verbal constructions we fall back on that either dilute our meaning because they don’t mean much but sound good, or kind of echo these serious voices that are somebody else’s. I can’t exactly explain it but I’ll study it. Kiese teaches classes too, so somewhere out there are a lot of memoir writers being trained which is great for reading.

American Tantrum by Anthony Atamanuik. It’s not for everyone (I can see just wanting to avoid more reflections of Trump in general), but I’m a big fan of Atamanuik’s interpretation of Trump, which is fully immersed in the man’s psyche but at the same time very serious about the consequences (and about blaming the parts of America that led to his rise and will outlast them). It’s an extension of what he did in “The Tony Show” at Upright Citizen’s Brigade for a while, doing an over the top character but talking through the character about what was wrong with the audience and construction. The book is in that spirit. If you’re someone who hates Trump but would like, in isolation, Trump’s speaking rhythms and performance style if you could take it out of any context where he has power, you’ll probably like Atamanuik-Trump, but if you’re just completely sick of him I can see passing. What I can’t see is liking Alex Baldwin.

No articles. I think I read no long articles this week, actually kind of relaxing, usually I read a bunch. I’ll be back on it a minute though.


Next episode of the podcast on Monday, featuring Matt Klinman.

Kiese @ Central Library, October 30th


The goddamn election, which is eating a lot of time and focus and is important.

New fiction writing by the end of the November.