One Fell Soup

I'm cheating with this one, because I haven't actually finished it. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. It's mostly a great book, if a tad uneven. Books like this often are — it's basically a collection from Roy Blount, Jr.'s AJC column. Since Roy is Roy, it's almost always going to be uproariously funny, but because it's a collection you're going to feel like you're reading a game of ping pong. And since these columns date back to the early '80s, you're occasionally going to get halfway through one of them before realizing you have no idea what is going on because you don't remember who Michael Deaver was or what the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 was all about. So you skip the rest of those pieces and feel slightly guilty.

Anyway, the book is worth picking up even if you just skim through it and read all the ridiculous poems (Hymn to Ham is just one classic reproduced therein). Aside from his wicked sharp humor, what's great about Blount is the way his voice comes through loudly and insistently — if you've ever heard him speak, you won't be able to read one of his sentences without automatically imagining it in his gravelly baritone. That's a rare gift among non-fiction writers — even good ones usually write with a sort of generic journalistic voice, which, done well is clear and comprehensible, but lacks the bubbling joy you get reading folks like Blount or Sarah Vowell, or for that matter, Twain or Thompson.