The Great Escape

VLS Beach Reads: Relax with a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard, other people's notebooks, and a carnivorous plant

Thong Nation
By Henry Sutton
Serpent's Tail, 187 pp., $14.99

Unfolding in chapters as brief as the lacy undergarments from Agent Provocateur, Thong Nation gleefully follows the randy exploits of one big, not-so-happy, half-illegitimate family through a wet hot British summer deserving of a Serge Gainsbourg soundtrack. Old or young, married or single, these punters and slappers fantasize constantly about swapping bedmates like playing cards and finding the next great shag. Whether it's shopping for a new marital aid, whiling away the hours at a strip club, or attending a neighborhood barbecue that ends in a drunken game of show-me-yours, everyone is absolutely gagging for it. K.S.

West of Jesus
By Steven Kotler
Bloomsbury, 261 pp., $23.95

Kotler's tale starts slow and then, like a seasoned surfer calibrating his board to his ride, monumentally catches stride. It starts with the author, an out-of-work journalist, searching for a story, a journey, a question—anything to keep his life afloat—and seizing on the twice-heard legend of a mystical surfer who, with a human-bone scepter, controls the waves and the weather. What boarder, or writer, wouldn't want to discover the wand that conducts all confluence and coincidence? So Kotler becomes his own Conductor, piecing together the science of snowstorms and surf mechanics, immigration legislation and General Hospital, with increasing fluency. There's a serious rush to feeling the writer and the story peak, in perfect synchroneity. Call it mysterioso or the oceanic feeling, what Kotler's seeking is nothing less than the big explanation. C.B.

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