8. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven

by Sherman Alexie

Alexie is a Spokane Indian poet and novelist. This one is a collection of endearing, heartbreaking, humorous and ultimately hopeful in a limited way, short stories. Great stuff. I am exploring the stories along with my 12th grade English class. It has been great. They love his writing too but often for different reasons than me.

I think the author photo on the newest edition of Lone Ranger says a great deal about the man. Kind of reminds me of this guy's humor. A lot of pain that humor can make tolerable, sometimes palatable.

7. The Pillowman

by Martin McDonagh

Jesus, this is perhaps the best funniest and darkest play if read. It's brilliant. An actor friend of mine tried to talk me into paying 70 bucks to see the play when it hit New York but everything he tried to tell me about it seemed just plain nuts. So I'm not going to try to explain it here for fear that you'll never see it or pick up a copy.

McDonagh also wrote and directed the movie In Bruges this past year, which was truly outstanding. Grossly underrated. You must see it.