How to Be Inappropriate
By Daniel Nester. Soft Skull, $14.95 paperback.
Wed Oct 14 2009
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
What do Chaucer, Alexander Pope, Frank O’Hara and Jorie Graham have in common? According to poet, sometime TONY contributor and massive Queen fan Daniel Nester, it’s that they all make lyrical fart references in their verse. Clearly, Nester is no Emily Post, and in his deeply funny new collection of booger-flecked nonfiction, How to Be Inappropriate, the author also tackles other known bugaboos of good taste—like self-tanning (a topic he meditates on in the vignette “Yes I Tan”), penis extension, bands that parody Christian rock (a band called ApologetiX seems to have the market cornered) and the etymology of mooning (the earliest example of it being used as a verb, Nester tells us, comes from a 1601 translation of Pliny’s Historia Naturalis).
While all of these lowbrow reflections are amusing, it’s when Nester is semiserious that he’s at his best. In “Goodbye to All of Them”—a “largely sincere and bitchy account of the author’s exit from New York City and the low-stakes world of the New York poetry scene”—Nester recalls how charmed he once was by the clubby poetry world, but is also hilariously critical of that crowd’s insularity and overpoliteness. As a whole, How to Be Inappropriate reads like a coming-of-age tale in which adulthood arrives with a refreshingly juvenile mind-set. Here, the “unsophisticated yahoo” poet comes to New York, leaves the city, passes on his “bat-shit crazy” genes and even becomes a functioning writing teacher—one who alludes to Sir Mix Alot’s “I Like Big Butts” during faculty meetings.—Drew Toal
Nester reads Wed 21 at BookCourt.