Pick up a copy of Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage and get ready to enjoy yourself.
This new collection of old columns by newsprint poet Pete Dexter is sometimes harrowing, frequently laugh-out-loud funny and always masterful. Crammed with colorful characters and heartbreaking detail, the book's 82 columns read like compressed novels.
If newspapers these days had the guts to hire real writers like Dexter rather than spending all their money on showboat editors, well-paid bean counters, fancy infographics and market research, they might not be bleeding subscribers. Some piqued readers might get a little loony and write in, offended, when the columnist in question shows a slim glimmer of the knife. But that's the price you pay for relevance.
P.S. Special thanks to David Miller for turning me on to Dexter.
P.P.S. And speaking of newspapers and columnists, doesn't this headline look familiar?