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90 Minutes in Heaven Don Piper
This can be a lightening read if you want it to be. A basic easy-read; an interesting story of trauma and recovery in its bare bones.  Piper’s book is meant to encourage Christians and non-Christians alike towards the reality, desirability, and value of life after heaven. I connected with one of his main thrusts: that helping others instead of being angry at God for this, that, and the other is a good idea. It is. Piper has overcome a great deal of pain, depression, and suffering and now tours as a motivational speaker with his post-heaven experience. That’s a fantastic use of God-given resources, I just wasn’t that blown away by the book.

What is the What Dave Eggers
I’m fascinated by the premise of this book. It’s actually the true story of Valentino Achak Deng, as told to Dave Eggers. Eggers takes down Valentino’s story as remembered.  The honest solution to this borderline nonfiction situation was to call the book a novel. It’s sold as fiction, and marketed as fiction, but the note at the beginning of the book explains why. To me, this is as honest a work of creative nonfiction as one can craft, but to call it fiction to be safe and honor the truth in the best way possible – this, I love.

Throuhgout, Eggers never fails as an engaging and creative storyteller. He succeeds tremendously in allowing Achak’s voice to penetrate the page. The themes of identity are heart-wrenching. The conditions are those I can only imagine – I’ve never lived – but Eggers allows me a perspective of empathy, understanding and heartache just the same. In my reading, I wiped away the damp corners of my eyes, I gasped, wide-eyed, and I flipped the pages so fast the edges crinkled, trying to see what comes next. So much more than just a book, this is. But fulfilling its role as a book, it does exceedingly well.

The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace David Lipsky
first printed in Rolling Stone, also in Best American Magazine Writing 2009
DFW, David Foster Wallace, is the tragic hero of the literary world. He was a true intellectual and creative genius among us, and like most of his kind, spend his lifetime struggling to exist in this gap between reality and passion.

Shortly after the death of this, my single favorite author, David Lipsky was sent by Rolling Stone to interview Wallace’s friends and family to craft a post-humous article. Lipsky had written extensively on Wallace before, interviewing the author and reading his work. With great sensitivity, the article he writes for Rolling Stone serves as a sort of tribute to the mark Wallace left on the writing community at large. We are able to hear the voices of those closest to Wallace regarding his success, fame, depression, self-consciousness, and dreams. It’s the “insider’s advantage” crafted into a compelling profile piece about someone that the world didn’t have a chance to meet quite yet. Take the time to get your hands on something [this, so quick] by [or this, so long] or about [maybe this] this literary genius, you won’t regret it [my fave, one of so many].

Waiter Rant Steve Dublanica
Again, the same as all waiter books. But also fresh and new, funnier than those books, sassier, more exact; he takes the truth of the job that we waiters all already know and spins it. The book is driven by Dublanica’s experience at a restaurant he anonymously calls The Bistro. The style it employs zooms in close, maybe to a customer situation at Table 23, and draws out the universal “waiter-principal” from that particular disaster. Or he zooms out a bit more in the next chapter and showcases a night where the restaurant nearly falls apart, drawing parallels between the operation of a business and his personal life, approaching burnout in the industry.

Sprinkled in with the zooming are restaurant truths such as a list which profiles tippers, one among many of the unique details that sold me on Waiter Rant. Overall, the book is a well-crafted look at the messy experience of the front-of-the-house in “the industry”.  Plus, this guy really knows this industry better than your average joe; and better by generous estimation.  The book has a heavy focus on the small-ish percentage of customers that make the job very difficult and less of a focus on the injustice and idiocy that goes on within the heartbeat of the restaurant business; the clogging of the central arteries, if you will.  This is intentional, but leaves room for another angle of waiter-book.