Patrick Wensink is the author of the story collection, Sex Dungeon for Sale! He is currently working on his first novel. He lives in Louisville, KY. No, not in a sex dungeon.
(A coloring contest is currently being held to celebrate the release of his new book. The contest will run until December 14th and the winning artist will receive an autographed stack of Patrick's favorite books from 2009. More information can be found at his website.)
what are you reading now
The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim.
I'm slowly getting into this one. The impossible feat of one hundred men having the same parents is less important than their shared paranoia and quirks. At least I think so. I'm only about 50 pages in. Oddly, Antrim doesn't divide his story into chapters or acts, so it's basically a single 200 page chapter.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
This has been staring me down from the bookcase for at least three years now. It's not so long that it is intimidating. And the subject matter sounds really enjoyable. But for some reason I keep chickening out and moving on to something else.
last book to make you laugh out loud
Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman
I'm not a huge comics or graphic novel reader. But this collection of comics was by far the funniest thing I've read in several years. Each one is a short burst of absurdity. The first comic is a fake advertisement featuring Mickey Rourke selling pubic hair stencils. It was so funny I closed the book, tracked Kupperman down online and sent him an email to thank him.
strangest book you’ve ever read
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien.
Somehow it moves from 1930s Ireland to an alternate reality full of one-legged men, cops obsessed with bicycles, a theory that the universe is sausage-shaped and a secret underground layer called "Eternity" where time stands still. It’s actually much weirder than it sounds, but is still fun to read.
In the nonfiction category I have to mention The Walrus Was Paul by R. Gary Patterson. I was obsessed with this book during college. It's a very detailed account of how Paul McCartney was accidentally decapitated in the 60s and a lookalike named Billy Shears took over for him. There are websites that break all the songs and visual clues down now, but I read this book right before the internet really exploded, so I had to spin my Beatles records backwards and stare at the album covers in the mirror for clues. I have never been that fascinated with a single topic since.
book you borrowed and never returned
Triumph of the Underdog by Charles Mingus
I used to live in Portland, OR and my buddy loaned this to me, knowing I really love Mingus's music. It sat around for years and I never touched it. It's a shame, because Mingus had a crazy life and was supposedly a good writer. I actually gave it back to him before I moved to Louisville, KY. So, I guess I lied about the never returned part of the question.
favorite book from childhood
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
I couldn't name you a single story or poem from this book now, but I remember it was a hot item in grade school. I would eagerly wait for the book to be back on the shelves so I could check it out again. My mom was the librarian, so I probably got to hang on to the book a little longer than the other kids.
Fun fact: Shel Silverstein was also a highly respected songwriter in Nashville. He penned "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash.
last reading you attended
BizarroCon in Portland, OR.
My publisher, Eraserhead Press, prides itself on its bizarre catalog. They also pride themselves on readings that are an extension of this. Eraserhead put on BizarroCon and the readings were part literary event, part performance art. Some of the highlights included one story being reenacted by sock puppets, one featuring a William Shatner impersonator and one guy throwing raw meat at the audience.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
Movie Stars in Bathtubs (see Recommended Reading List)
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
I'm partial to this journal because they took a chance on me and published my story "Sex Dungeon for Sale." But I can consistently go there and find something funny, which is pretty rare.
most anticipated upcoming release
Probably Don DeLillo's new book. He is one of those authors who make you feel like you suck as a writer after reading their work. I mean that as a compliment, because it’s always good to have a boot in the butt.
recommended reading list:
Coffee Table Books That Will Get a Reaction
My wife and I have a rotating crop of coffee table books. We don't leave them out to make ourselves look smarter, but they are instant conversation pieces.
- Movie Stars in Bathtubs
This is a very G-rated book, probably made in the 60s. It features a ton of still shots from black and white movies where people are in the tub. I have no clue why something like this was published, but it never fails to get cracked open when guests are over.
- How to Form a Rock Band
This was also made in the 60s. My mom's library was throwing it out about 15 years ago and I've held onto it tightly since then. It shows budding musicians how to buy their gear at the mall and wear matching suits, because that's what talent agents like to see. It's hilarious and about the most un-rock 'n' roll thing I can think of.
- Cleveland, the Disco King
Another book I rescued from my mom's library. This is an illustrated children's book from the 70s, featuring a little boy trying to impress the prettiest girl in school with his disco dancing.
- Scoundrels & Scalawags
This is a Reader's Digest book I picked up at a yard sale. It's as thick as the Bible, but features stories about the world's most famous grifters and con artists. My favorites are Charles Ponzi, inventor of the Ponzi Scheme and "The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower.”
This was published by the army in the 40s and 50s (I think) and given to soldiers to teach them how to kill people more efficiently. Some highlights include diagrams for rigging a whistle, a tea kettle, a briefcase, a television, an ink pen or a Barcalounger to blow up when used. I bought this when my friend dragged me along to one of those gun shows at a convention center. I was surrounded by sub-machine guns, bazookas and gun nuts, but I was drawn to the book counter. Other books I should have bought but didn't: How to Make Your Own Fireworks, How to Make Your Own Munitions. Any of these are certain to get you a few odd looks during your next party.