Summer reading gets hot hot hot

The sun has shone now for five days in a row. Like a fevered dream, this luminous apparition in the sky has left us in a swoon. Like a Buster Poindexter meets Elvis Costello album, Fine Print salu

Jul 2, 2003 at 2:06 pm

The sun has shone now for five days in a row. Like a fevered dream, this luminous apparition in the sky has left us in a swoon. Like a Buster Poindexter meets Elvis Costello album, Fine Print salutes our friend Ra with a recap of hot and saucy books, a sampling across categories.

Crazy from the Heat: Dave's Insanity Cookbook by Dave Hirschkop, founder of Burrito Madness and perhaps the only person ever banned from the National Fiery Foods Show because his sauce was too hot. This collection of 100 recipes covers all courses and features ingredients that will fan the flame in your mouth. As spicy foods fans know, one of the best ways to glide through hot weather is to gobble up some chili pepper-laced fare. Then the inner temperature makes the outer temperature a whole lot more palatable. Although not for the teetotaling tepid taster or truly timid of tongue, if you enjoy a little spice in your life (you can adjust the amount of chili per recipe), give it a try next time the mercury bounces above 90.

Two little books will help any reader wile away some time when stuck waiting in line at the bank, or perhaps serve as the perfect food for a spicier conversation: Sex: A User's Guide and Death: A User's Guide. Both pocket-sized volumes are stuffed with strange facts and curious observations about two of the constants in life.

Sex: A User's Guide is a volume that columnist Dan Savage would like to find stuffed in his stocking any time of the year.

The tongue-in-cheek writing style really complements the A(wesome) to Z(any) comprehensive collection of sexual peccadilloes and practices across the ages. Same goes for Death. But in this heat, Sex is better: skin slick and wet, heart pumping, breath coming fast. These aren't picture books nor technique books — just text. So it was worth learning to read way back in third grade.

Visually, Elliott Erwitt is at the top of his game. A world-renowned photographer whose career spans more than six decades (next year marks his 50th year at the prestigious Magnum group), Snaps is essentially his greatest hits album. What sets him apart from so many other photojournalists is his sense of humor, magically captured in his work. Although his photos of dogs and cats are perhaps his best-known images, this staggering collection (over 500 pages and photos in all) reveals his mastery in freeze-framing every species in the animal kingdom, including mankind. Snaps is a treasure to be relished all summer long, lingering over your favorite photos, delighted by the new ones. Thank heavens Erwitt likes to travel, armed with camera, film and a zest for life. The world is a better place because of it.

Speaking of the world being a better place, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore is just out in trade paperback. Worth the wait and every penny of the price, Moore's irreverent take updates the Bible with the addition of a new gospel from Jesus' boyhood friend, Biff. Lamb is scathingly funny, like the best scenes in Monty Python's Life of Brian, but as an added bonus it goes on twice as long as the movie. The dialogue is just priceless. I often put a Post-It on pages which would be good to quote. I went through a whole stack in the first half of the book alone, which made it appear as if virtually every page had sprouted little angel wings, because the writing is divine.

Moore's newest book Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings has just appeared on local bookstore and library shelves in hardcover. Fluke's story and characters are likewise entertaining, and there's plenty of pure laugh-out-loud material to get you through the heat. So hurry on down and get yourself some more Moore. Then find a spot of shade and a tall glass of something cool, 'cause it's all hot, hot, hot.