Daniel Nester is the type of author anyone who frequents Popdose should be reading. His essays and prose contain much of the same humorous, sometimes smartass attitude that you readers have come to love. At the same time, he is an accomplished journalist whose ability to immerse himself in his articles makes reading his informative pieces that much more enjoyable. His new book of essays and articles is entitled How to Be Inappropriate; it is available in paperback from Soft Skull Press.
Throughout the book, Nester has a self-deprecating charm that makes his writing seem like he’s just hanging out with you, telling you a good story. Whether it’s recounting the time he moved in next door to an ex-girlfriend while living in New York (“The Puerto Rican Lockhorns Reunion”) or detailing his adventures in self-tanning (“Yes I Tan”) Nester is funny, but never mean. Indeed, even when he could go for the jugular in two of the finest pieces in the book, he instead remains an observer, allowing the laughs to emerge from his subject’s behavior rather than any snarky remark he could have come up with.
The first of those pieces is “Are You Tough Enough to Play With Journey,” which profiles Todd Rogers, a video gamer who set the world record for playing the Atari 2600 “Journey Escape” home video game at 85 hours and 46 minutes. The piece plays like a literary version of the great documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Rogers, like the men in the film, is pretty full of himself and his great achievement. But it isn’t when talking about video games that the article had me cracking up; it’s the tangents Rogers went off on while speaking to Nester and descriptions of those situations that had me spitting my milk out while reading.
“Takin’ Care of Jesus” is a detailed account of attending a concert by the Christian parody band ApologetiX, who take popular rock songs and change the lyrics to more Biblical material. Some examples of their songs are “Bethlehemian Rhapsody,” “Lazy Brain,” and “Welcome to the Judges.” Nester explains that he began following the band after seeing them mentioned on his favorite Queen fan site (which is humorous in itself). When an opportunity arises to see ApologetiX live in concert, he feels that he can’t miss it. Besides the amusing account of the concert, Nester also gives a history of the art form of Christian music parodies. Great stuff.
Nester also has a poignant side, as shown in “Garden Path Paragraphs.” The author and his wife attempt to get pregnant and Nester takes you along for the ride. This is a moving piece that goes into detail what they went through to get pregnant.
While Nester’s writing style is laid back and easy to ready, it’s also smart, making How to Be Inappropriate a book definitely worth seeking out at your local book mart or on Amazon. Like I said, he’s the kind of author you’d find on this site, if he wasn’t writing for mainstream magazines, giving lectures, getting books published and attending ApologetiX gigs.