I've said it before, I'll say it again: Jonathan Raban is a genius and if you've never read him, you have some catching up to do. Read this piece about what's going on in the minds of jihadists. Or pick up one of his books—my favorites are Passage to Juneau (about a sailing trip he took to Alaska and, well, I don't want to say anything else) and Hunting Mr. Heartbreak (a very funny book about how weird America is). As I wrote back in 2006:
In 1991's Hunting Mister Heartbreak, he travels from England to New York City the old-fashioned way, by ship—the ship is a "giant Italian breadstick" crashing through an ocean storm—and, as an experiment, spends some time at the corner of East 22nd Street and Broadway sitting on a fire hydrant. He wonders if passersby will assume he's homeless. Sure enough. People walking past (all with "the same boiled look on their faces") refuse to make eye contact. "I'd never felt the force of such frank contempt—and all because I was sitting on a fire hydrant."
And if you'd prefer to listen him read, tomorrow is your lucky day. He rarely gives readings, but he's giving a free reading at the Frye Art Museum on Saturday at 3 pm. Charles Mudede is going to introduce him—Charles isn't at his desk right now, but if memory serves, Mudede has different Raban favorites than I do.
While you're there at the Frye, you can check out the rest of the Genius show, including a short story by Sherman Alexie that was first published in The Stranger but looks so much better vinyl-lettered to a wall. At the opening night party, I stood in a dark corner and watched people read it, one person after the next. People are weird. Their responses were fascinating. (I'm weird too: I like to watch people read.)
Here's a close-up of one of the paragraphs of that Alexie story on the wall.
If you can't make Raban's Saturday afternoon reading—which would be really poor form, but whatever, I realize we're all different—maybe think about going to another of the many upcoming events in the Genius show.