Sunday, January 30, 2011


Finished Su 1/30/11

This is Carrie Fisher's 'real' autobiography. The high and low points of her life have been detailed and chronicled in several novels written by Fisher, but this is the first book in which she claims to provide more than a simple review of the facts thinly disguised as fiction. In this 'Tell All Saga' she likens it to , "a really, really detailed personals ad", and by the end of the work, "you'll feel so close to me that you will want to divorce me". The book recounts her early childhood as the daughter of two of the biggest stars of the 50's, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and takes the reader up to her recent adventures in electro-convulsive shock therapy. Booze, pills, toxic relationships, and a crazier than crazy family life have done nothing to stifle her razor sharp wit, or dulled her uncanny ability to see the humor in almost anything. WISHFUL DRINKING is a short work, and I read it in an evening in one sitting.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


This book is an extremely clever, witty, and hilarious look into the horrors of addiction. Loosely autobiographical, Carrie Fisher uses the fictional character of Susanne Vale to tell the tale. The book recounts the trials and tribulations of achieving movie stardom, managing a love life, and orchestrating and supporting a monumental addiction to pills, powders, and booze. In and out of various rehabs, Fisher recounts a grab-bag of off-beat insights and asides from a cavalcade of kooky friends and acquaintances. Very soon the reader wonders how could so talented a person become so deeply disturbed, yet this is the aim of addiction recovery philosophy. If the genes and the behavior are properly aligned, then dependence and obsession can occur in the most perfect of lives. Fans of the book should most definitely check out the 1990 film starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.


Finished late January 2011

This is the sanctioned sequel to GONE WITH THE WIND which was released in 2007. The novel is largely told from the perspective of Rhett Butler, and by and large, the book deals with the same events and timeline of the original novel. However a few new, and captivating characters are introduced which never appeared in Mitchell's book. Andrew Ravanel is a character who is a friend of Rhett's, and is a die-hard supporter of the secessionist movement, and later becomes a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This man has a son, Taz, who was incorrectly believed to be the bastard child of Rhett. Also, Rhett's younger sister, Rosemary, is given a much larger role in the story. McCraig's novel doesn't hold a candle to Margaret Mitchell's stellar achievement, and merely introducing several interesting characters is certainly not reason enough to rewrite an American classic. Reread the original, and don't both with this novel.

LIFE by Keith Richards and James Fox

LIFE is the memoir of the greatest rhythm guitarist to walk the face of the earth. All parts of this book are filled with interesting and exciting detail. And, even Keith's reconstruction of his early life is thoroughly captivating, and this is usually not the case in most biographies. I thought the most innovative section of the book is the handling of his legendary addiction to drugs and alcohol. Most biographies take the, "I was lost, and now I am found" approach. However, Mr. Richards maintains that he was never lost. He says that he never had a drug problem, he had a police problem. And, he seems to believe this without a shred of irony. This point of view is anathema to all the tenants of Addiction Therapy, yet Keith does not back down. Also, his relationship with Mick Jagger is dealt with in an inimitable fashion. I guess you could deduce that Keith sees his lead singer as a 'mate', but not a friend. He doesn't particularly like the man, but he has the greatest respect for what they have achieved together. This is one of the best Super-Star biographies that I have ever read, and I think that it would even delight and entertain readers who are not fans of The Rolling Stones.

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell

Finished early January 2011

I spent about a week reading, and skimming this excellent novel. It is a very linear, well written saga about The American South during the Civil War and The Reconstruction. The novel is seen through the eyes of Scarlet O'Hara, a strong-willed child of privilege who creates a life for herself without much thought of social consequences. The bane of her existence is that she cannot have the man of her dreams, Ashley Wilkes. And although Scarlet marries more than once, she cannot stop the yearning for the love of her life. Rhett Butler is deeply in love with Scarlet, yet even this dashing and resourceful figure can't make her forget the unattainable Ashley. While I was reading the novel, I ordered the four hour film from Netflix, and this provided another view of Mitchell's work. The commentary on the film was especially helpful, and both the novel and the film represent true classics in American literature.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Finished Fr 1/7/11

Although this novel is the latest in the Mitch Rapp series, it refers back to how Rapp was originally recruited for the most secret US spy agency. As he begins 'Spy Boot Camp' he is regarded as an impossible fit because he has no military background. He is from a university where he has been a championship lacrosse player. However, regardless of his back-story, nobody can 'read' a situation or a person like Mitch Rapp, and by the end of the course, it is obvious that they have discovered someone who was born for this type of work. Then, the novel takes Mitch to the middle east where an American has been held hostage, and along the way, Rapp and his curmudgeon of a supervisor, manage to 'hack' millions of dollars of terrorist/Soviet funding. Wham-Bang Action of The Highest Order.

ONE SHOT by Lee Child

Finished Tu 1/5/11

Another Jack Reacher novel which never fails to lag-they are all a, "Can't Put It Down", read from start to finish. This book begins at the scene of a terrorist type shooting similar to the "DC Sniper". So many clues are left at the scene that the cops have an immediate suspect. This man demands to talk with Reacher, and soon he is on his way to Bloomington IN where the crime has been committed. However, as Reacher and his new friends work the case it becomes clear that if something looks too good to be true, then maybe it is.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Finished Fr 12/31/10

GORKY PARK is the first Arkady Renko novel by Martin Cruz Smith. The book is a great Police Procedural novel with a labyrinthine plot, but it's very effective. As each additional layer is examined and added, you really see the mind of a classic detective at work. However, the biggest incentive to this novel is the wonderful atmosphere of the Soviet Union just prior to the breakup. Three murders in Gorky Park predicate the action, but after a plethora of twists and turns involving fake religious ikons and the smuggling of Russian sable, the book ends with an unforgettable showdown. The movie with William Hurt is available for streaming from Netflix, and I plan to check out the film.