The Crux of the Biscuit


August 05
Crux of the Biscuit emerged fully formed on Jan 5 2009. The Crux primarily discusses music, makes fun of music, and celebrates music. The Crux also reserves the right to discuss movies, books, and other aspects of pop culture. And if you don't know what the crux of the biscuit is please, for the sake of humanity, educate yourself. Or look for the answer on my banner.


Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 14, 2009 5:44PM

Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers

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Are you still holiday shopping? Do you know any aspiring writers? Here are four gift ideas for the writer in your life, or for anyone who simply loves a great story. 


The New Kings of Nonfiction (ed. Ira Glass)(2007)


Fourteen pieces of contemporary literary nonfiction from writers like Malcolm Gladwell, David Foster Wallace (who has the first and last word on right wing talk radio here), Chuck Klosterman, Susan Orlean and Michael Pollan. Great reporting and great stories. This should be inspiring for the many nonfiction writers out there.



Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers (ed. Joyce Carol Oates)(1998)

                                                telling stories

I know this is an 11 year old book, but this is one of the best writer’s anthologies I’ve seen. Oates is a terrific writer in her own right, but she’s also a great teacher and what she does here is to educate. The 100+ stories are arranged into instructive sections ranging from childhood stories, memoir, craft (two different versions of Joyce’s “The Sisters), horror to writings from classic sources like Grimm, the Bible, and Ovid. The breadth of writing covers writers like Chekhov and Kafka to contemporary writers like T.C. Boyle and Margaret Atwood. The stories entertain as well as provide an overview into style, tone, voice, and genre writing. Oates even provides a detailed afterword on writing strategies and writing workshops. This would be an indispensable tool in any aspiring writer’s belt.



Fierce Pajamas and Disquiet Please! Humor Writing from the New Yorker (2002 and 2008)

                                          new yorker 1

                                    new yorker 2

Believe it or not Fierce Pajamas was one of the textbooks for a satire writing class I took. Both of these collections are top notch, and with selections ranging from E.B. White, James Thurber, and the brilliant Robert Benchley to Woody Allen, Ian Frazer, and Steve Martin these books brilliantly capture the urbane and witty humor characterized by The New Yorker. You will laugh, and then you’ll laugh some more. (One of my favorites is Noah Baumbaugh’s Keith Richard’s Desert Island Discs, which imagines Richards actually on a desert island slowly going mad as he listens to the same ten songs over and over again.) Either one of these would be great books for any aspiring humorist or for anyone who simply likes to laugh.


Hardcore Hardboiled (The Best of Neo-Noir Fiction) (2008)


Definitely not for everyone, this is hardboiled crime fiction for the 21st century. With titles like “Kill Posse” “Burning Ring of Fire” “Eight Guns over a Dead Girl” and “Sweet Benny and the Sanchez Penitentiary Band” Hardcore Hardboiled reads as if Humphrey Bogart or Jean-Paul Belmondo hitched a ride with Elmore Leonard into a Tarantino film. Hardcore Hardboiled is a great pulpy modern crime-genre anthology. It’s crude, lewd, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.



I guess this is my holiday post, so-- Happy Holidays Everyone!

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Happy Holidays to you too, MJ!

And for everyone else who reads your post:
Hardcore Hardboiled looks really interesting...(hint, hint)
happy holidays to you too MJ, may yours be filled with warmth and love.

You just read my latest post, so you know I'm a big fan of Sherman Alexie...I would recommend his latest War Dances found here on Amazon. I just love his style. As in his other work, this is a collection of his short stories.

Good list from you and I just ordered the Ira Glass edited volume. Thanks
Spotted--Hardcore Hardboiled is a blast!

bbd--thanks! And as a matter of fact I just ordered "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." It's listed as a young adult novel, and I'm hoping it will appeal to one of my students. I look forward to reading it and recommending it.
Or a gift certificate to Levenger!
Great list, man.
But I want a netbook. Hear that everyone? A Netbook!

Send it to: Aric Dante, S/N #9329239587774309909845, c/o UEN space corps, Earth. Leave it in will call - I'll pick it up in about 12 years.
I'm with you spotted Hardcore Hardboiled in now on my list!
Good list. I especially want to read Hardcore Hardboiled. I love this kind of stuff; also film noir.
I'm going with Joyce Carol Oates and I didn't know there was a satire writing class - I've GOT to find one.
Thanks MJ & Happy Holidays to you and yours.
For everyone intrigued by Hardcore Hardboiled, I caution that it is very un-PC and very rude. I love it.

trilogy--the satire class was one of the best classroom experiences I've ever had. We explored satire from Juvenal to John Stewart.
These all sound great! Thanks for the ideas.
Oh hell---no I want them ALL! Am typing in amazon right now. This is great!
Thank you. I am new to OS and to writing, and could use some inspiration. The Joyce Carol Oates anthology looks great. Now I know what to hint at for Christmas.
I just have to investigate anything title "Fierce Pajamas." =o)

Thanks for the list!
Here's one just for you: "I Hate Myself and want to Die, the 52 Most Depressing Songs Ever Heard." Author Tom Reynolds brilliantly dissects some of the most morbid songs ever recorded. Never has so much hilarity been wrestled out of so much angst. Here's a snippet from his take on "Total Eclipse of the Heart," by Bonnie Tyler, produced by Jim Steinman.

"...I suspect Steinman was dangling a live rat in front of her."

"An overblown instrumental passage that sounds like Steinman's scoring an oil tanker disaster pounds forth...."

"Listening to it is like an opera company bludgeoning you with Anne Rice novels.....You're completely drained when its over and in desparate need of a shower to wash off the raven droppings."

I really think you could pull off a book like this.
Well we know what to get YOU for Christmas!
Thanks. I needed some ideas. Happy holidays!
Good stuff M.J. Thanks.

I join bbd in my love of Sherman Alexie. I actually met him through Salon. He used to connect with readers a lot through Table Talk years ago. (ouch...I just "name dropped" shamelessly...but he's wonderful!)

And you, my dear, get extra credit points for mentioning one of my all time favorites, Juvenal. I "use" him a great deal when teaching World History. ..."Duas tantum rex anxius optat, panem et circenses" or, even better..."Sed quis custodiat ipsos custodes?" (Who will guard the guardians?)

He is so very good to use when discussing politics and society and eerily captures the timeless idea of power.