Dan Perkins, whom Kurt Vonnegut calls “the wry voice of American common sense, humor, and decency,” is better known as Tom Tomorrow, creator of the award-winning syndicated strip “This Modern World.” This year, he published his third anthology, The Wrath of Sparky (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin).

Mother Jones asked Perkins what he’s been reading lately. He suggested re>Wired (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996):

“This Wired parody captures the magazine’s smug, self-contained, and ultimately empty techno-libertarianism while satirizing digital elitists Nicholas Negroponte, John Perry Barlow, and Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto (here ‘Lewis Risotto’). Unfortunately, while the concept is on target, the follow-through tends to fall flat. But the two-page spread that takes Wired‘s read-me-if-you-can design to its logical extreme is worth the price in itself.”

Perkins also recommends:

A cynical, charming, and unpredictable road novel-slash-romance set in and around Alamogordo, N.M., Cathryn Alpert’s Rocket City (New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1996) begins with a classic opening line — “Three melons and a dwarf sat in the front of Marilee’s ’72 Dodge, but the cop was not amused…” — and it just gets better from there.

On Grown Man (New York: Virgin Records, 1995), Loudon Wainwright III sings about aging, infidelity, genetic predetermination, his acknowledged failings as a father (in a brutally honest duet with his daughter), and his response to a female friend who idly wishes she was a lesbian (“…now at that point,” he sings, “I wanted to say, you mean you wish you were a lesbian, because grammatically…”).


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