Short stories 

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The Adventures of Unemployed Man

Erich Origen and Gan Golan

Little, Brown and Company, $14.99/paperback

Talk about a work of genius that captures the zeitgeist: This scathing classic-comic parody set in a fictional world not too distant from our recession-battered life hilariously riffs on greed and what's inherently backassward about our financial systems. When Bruce Paine, aka Ultimatum, meets The Boot for suggesting his mega-corporation share more wealth with its employees, he suddenly finds himself among disenfranchised and dejected cohorts like Plan B and Master of Degrees, fighting villains like Nickel & Dime who've accidentally unleashed a toxic debt blob. Paine becomes Unemployed Man, champion of all who've lost their jobs and who struggle against a system rigged against them. Within the narrative, enjoy vintage-style mail-in ads for products like the Think Positive Ring ("one smack upside the head leaves a '+' mark they can't forget!"). — Matthew Schniper

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Weekends With O'Keeffe

C.S. Merrill

University of New Mexico Press, $24.95/hardcover

Beyond her elegant, enigmatic paintings, we remember American artist Georgia O'Keeffe for her reclusive life in north central New Mexico. However, O'Keeffe actually employed a staff to help her with her home and estate and to keep her company. C.S. Merrill, a college student, worked weekends in the 1970s in O'Keeffe's library and often cared for the aging artist. Along the way, Merrill carefully recorded what she saw of O'Keeffe's gorgeous home, her lovely meals and the enchanting landscape that inspired her work. It's an incredible set of experiences — but sadly, the diary format ensures the compilation comes off as fairly dry. Merrill's entries often amount to quick scribbles cataloguing the day's duties, with scattershot thoughts thrown in here and there. In the end, I was left wishing for a proper memoir, instead of a reconstituted journal. — Edie Adelstein

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The Official High Times Pot Smoker's Activity Book

Natasha Lewin and the editors of High Times

Chronicle Books, $16.95/paperback

Do you consider a feature on how to roll a blunt with tampon wrappers useful? Assuming you do, of course, here's some other stuff to enjoy. Nuggets of wisdom: "If you're getting stoned and opportunity knocks, ask yourself: 'Do I actually know anyone named opportunity? Better check the peephole.'" Pot palindromes: "A slut nixes sex in Tulsa." A "Joy to the World" remix: "I'm fucking high / Everything's great / I'm going to get laid." Tongue twisters: "Six sick slick slim sensi seedlings." Not to mention how-tos on making your own gravity bong and stash box; "weedoku"; crossword puzzles; coloring pages; "high-ku" poetry; and lots of connect-the-dots pictures. So just as it's defined in the book — "What you say to someone who asks you if you'd like to smoke some pot" — say "Yes" to leafing through this one. — Bryce Crawford


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