vanity fair
June 2005
Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark

Twin Brothers Tulsi and Basant, Famous Circus, Calcutta, India, 1989

Below right, a tape from Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, edited by Thurston Moore.

Dysfunction junction, what's your function? Simon Doonan, the creative director at Barneys New York, gets Nasty (Simon & Schuster), shaking the nuts and "glamorous varmints" out of his beloved if slightly twisted family tree. Half man, half biscuit? Not so far‑fetched in—The Geneticist Who Played Hoops with My DNA (Morrow), David Ewing turns a scarily bright light on the exploding frontiers of biotechnology and genetic engineering, from stem‑cell research to cloning to finding cures for deadly diseases. In Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (Harcourt), an aging bookdealer awakens to find he has instant recall of every plot of every novel he's ever read, every line of poetry, yet his own life story, including his name, is lost to him. So begins his quest through the detritus of his past old newspapers, comics, diaries, and photographs --in search of the face of his first true love, which he believes holds the key to his identity. Robert Trachtenberg's When I Knew (ReganBooks) collects essays from gay men and women on that eureka moment when they discovered the object of their loins' desire. There's no business like show business! Larry McMurtry captures the larger‑than‑life lives of Wild West icons Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, or The Colonel and the Little Missie (Simon & Schuster). The hero of Paul Theroux's Blinding Light (Houghton Muffin) is a one‑hit‑wonder author of a cult classic who discovers a rare hallucinogenic drug that dissolves his writer's block, but leaves him with periodic bouts of blindness. Saucy lad‑book author Nick Hornby's marvy new novel is A Long Way Down (Riverhead). After packing her two kids off to summer camp, the heroine of Lisa Grunwald's Whatever Makes You Happy (Random House) embarks on a quest to discover joy. In Reynolds Prices The Good Priest's Son (Scribner), the 9/11 attacks not only decimate a man's home but reduce the rest of his seemingly unchanged life to a psychic ground zero. Paranoia, small‑mindedness, mass hysteria, Martians! The great H. G. Wells sci‑fi classic The War of the Worlds (New York Review of Books) is being reissued with illustrations by the master of cheerful morbidity, Edward Gorey. Right now, I think nothing short of an alien invasion could unite this dysfunctional country of ours. Or maybe I'm just paranoid, small‑minded, and hysterical.

Also appearing on shelves this month: Michael Eisner's Camp (Warner), Gigi Levangie Grazer's Malibu Shocker (Simon & Schuster), Thurston Moore's Mix Tape (Universe), Daniel Fuchs's The Golden West (Black Sparrow), V.F. contributing editor Christopher Hitchens's Thomas Jefferson (HarperCollins), Mary Ellen Mark's Exposure (Phaidon), Amanda Filipacchi's Love Creeps (St. Martin's), Kristoffer A. Garin's Devils in the Deep Blue Sea (Viking), Sam Stagg's When Blanche Met Brando (St. Martin's), Marion McEvoy's Glue Gun Decor (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Jade Albert and Ki Hackney's The Charm of Charms (Abrams), Frederic Morton's Runaway Waltz (Simon & Schuster), and Joy Nicholson's The Road to Esmeralda (St. Martin's).