Saturday, December 27, 2014


Finished Fr 12/26/14

'Kummersdorf' is German for 'sorrowful' (sorrowful town)

Eric Ramsey is a pseudonym for David Hagberg-
wikipedia entry-

Kozhevnikov is a Soviet operative who uncovers a link between a Nazi death camp and a possible camp in Siberia. He thinks that 100,000 Jewish women are being held and will be eliminated. He tries to defect. The western operatives think that he might be part of a plot to sell a fabricated story that will prove to be bogus and embarrass the west.

The Nazis were doing genetic experiments and the Russians stole the info and then spent thirty years building on the knowledge and were now building an army of clones.

Much better than an 'airport read', but along those lines.

Gustav Predel is a doctor working in Wisconsin on genetics. This man is actually an escaped Nazi who ran the camp in East Germany during WWII. The Nazis burned the camp and all the research animals and Jewish convicts, but he escaped. He uses the name Dr. Meitner in the US.

Predel has recently been awarded a Pulitzer prize for his work, and this leads a New Orleans reporter, Laurie Andrews, to find out about is background. She travels to his home and Germany to check up on him. In the end, Russian spies capture her and bring her to the new facility in Siberia. The town is called Markovo.

Fedor Udalov- This is the name of one of the Russian clones. They are all identical and Nordic types with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Rafn is the name of a western operative who is operating out of Norway for hire. He is an old hand in the espionage business and his connection to Kozhevnikov is that during WWII he saved the man's life. So now, Kozhevnikov's life is 'in his hands'. Rafn is disillusioned and the Kummersdorf Operation rekindles his belief in mankind, or he realizes that he has been living a flawed emotional life.

Kozhevnikov's wife has numerous affairs and she is convinced that he should stay in the service of the Soviets, but only for monetary reasons. She is having an affair with Kozhevnikov's supervisor. Kozhevnikov kills Nadya in a fight in their apartment. She was going to turn him in and she fell and hit her head. The Soviet authorities call the murder a suicide to keep Kozhevnikov under their control. They send him to the camp in Siberia. He hopes to gain information about what they're doing, and escape to the west, and the authorities hope to keep him under control in Siberia.

In the last scene Kozhevnikov dies just as Rafn is about to tell him that the Israelis have destroyed Kummersdorf East. West was how the original Nazi camp was referred to in the novel.

The spy action in the novel was very good, but the clone angle was kind of weak and wasn't adequately developed. Seemed tacked on and really wasn't believable. However, I felt the need to read the book in its entirety.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BACK TO BLOOD by Tom Wolfe

Finished Su 12/21/14

Similar to BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, but not nearly as complex or developed, but nonetheless, an entertaining read.

The title refers to an age (contemporary society) in which the ties of government, religion, and culture have fragmented and broken, and people have reverted to tribal, racial, or 'blood' connections.

Main character is Officer Nestor Camacho; rookie cop who rescues a Cuban immigrant. The man is on top of a ship's mast, and Nestor grabs him with his legs in a scissor hold and goes hand to hand down a line. The Cuban's hate him for turning him over  to the cops, but Nestor is just a good cop.

Interesting fact- Any Cuban who reaches American soil is given landed immigrant status. 'dry foot' yes; 'wet foot' no.

Magdalena- his girlfriend, but she drops him for Dr. Lewis Norman. He is a psychiatrist who treats porn addicts, and he's pretty close himself.

A Haitian college professor who's upwardly mobile, but poor. His daughter Ghislaine who does charity work. And his son who is a gangster wanna be.

Subplot- Russian billionaire donates 70 million dollars worth of paintings to a Miami museum, and these are all fakes. A drunken Russian forger is responsible, and Officer Nestor and a reporter, John Smith, uncovers the deception.

This would (will?) probably make an interesting movie. And, I was reading it during Obama's relaxation of relations with Cuba that happened in December of this year.

Worth a look, but not nearly as good as BONFIRE, but better than ELECTRIC KOOL AID

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

THE BRIDE WORE BLACK by Cornell Woolrich

I read this book in March of 2005, but reread it and finished in Mo 12/15/14

A series of murders by a beautiful woman is a mystery to the police.
She is killing a group of five men who killed her husband on their wedding day.
Nick was killed, and Julie Killeen seeks her revenge

Bliss- pushed off the top of a building

Mitchell- poisoned with cyanide

Moran- smothered in a closet

Ferguson- shot through the heart with an arrow

Nick was shot on his wedding day  by what was believed to be a shot from a carload of drunks out 'wilding'.
Actually Nick was trying to end a criminal partnership with Corey. Corey felt that he knew too much about the enterprise, so he found where Nick and Julie were to be married and timed his shot to make it looked like the joyriders were responsible.

The last killing was Holmes who was a cop pretending to be a writer

The book was written in 1940 and French New Wave director, Francois Truffaut's first film in 1968

The author died from alcoholism and a leg amputation that was due to an untreated laceration from a too tight-fitting left shoe. WOW!!!!!

Cornell Woolrich at wikipedia-

Saturday, December 13, 2014

BRUTAL MUSIC by James Lindsay

Finished Sa 12/13/14 (My book and this seems to be the first and only novel by this author)

This novel isn't so much about the deleterious effects of Heavy Metal music, but how an attempted suicide colored by this music impacted a dysfunctional family.

Tom and Ellen Newsome and their high school senior son, Chris.

Opening Scene- Chris and his friend Jim Firestone are listening to the music of a death metal band, SHALLOW GRAVE (Album Title- 'Hope Against Hope').  Jim is poor and from a single family home. His mother is dead from cancer and his father is a shiftless alcoholic. Both boys  seem to agree that death would be preferable to life, and Jim produces his father's pistol and they both shoot themselves in the head. Jim dies and Chris's shot goes through his cheek.

The novel backtracks and fills in the reasons for this act. The story is told in alternating chapters where the point of view is presented from Tommy and Chris's perspective.

Ellen wants to blame the band and convinces Tommy to engage a lawyer, Donald Correa. This man tells them that they would have no case. First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.

Chris's girlfriend is Meg and she is a local girl without aspirations, and her relationship with Chris is shaky. Clearly a significant reason for Chris's depression, and it's revealed that they have recently engaged in sex.
Neither one of them seems to view the relationship in the same way.

One night Tommy travels to a local tavern that features Heavy Metal music. He meets the lead singer of a band and befriends the young man, Sean-Patrick. This is where the discussion of Heavy Metal enters the novel, and Tommy eventually invites Sean-Patrick to his home for dinner. Ellen immediately blames Sean-Patrick for the death of Jim and the crippling injury to Chris. Sean-Patrick flees the house after being nearly assaulted by Ellen.

Chris is very smart and had just been accepted to Cornell, but he isn't sure that this is the right move. College is much more a dream of Tommy's. Another possible motivation for the suicide pact.

The novel ends a month after the accident/suicide. Chris is at home and not very communicative. He has found an old battery operated toy of three monkeys, ('see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'), and he is cleaning them. One of the arms is broken and he is determined to repair the toy. Probably a clumsy metaphor for working on the repair of family's relationships.

I'd only rate the novel a 'C', but it can be read easily in one or two settings. Could have been much better if the Art vs. Freedom of Expression was more deeply developed. However, this suicide incident could have occurred regardless of Chris's musical choices, and maybe this was the author's real point.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

THE CHILL by Ross McDonald

Finished Th 12/11/14

Read in a couple of days- A Lew Archer novel from my collection, and John D. McDonald offers up the same type of thing, but so much, much better.

Three Murders over 20 years-

Daughter witnesses the murder of her mother when she was ten. Claims her father did it and he served ten years, and his reappearance is in the opening act and starts the action going.

Ten years prior to this, a rich man accidentally shots himself cleaning his handgun, or it's a suicide, or it's a murder.

A college counselor is killed and it might be the daughter or her father or somebody else.

To say that this is a wildly contrived plot is putting it mildly.

A college dean is living with his mother who is not his mother, but his wife whom he married when he was a student a college. They are living as mother and son because of the age difference and to conceal the fact that she is a murderess.

She killed they girl's mother because this woman was having an affair with her husband the dean.
She also killed the man who was cleaning his gun.
And she killed the college counselor because this woman was blackmailing her son the dean because she knew what was going on.

The book was not so much a mystery, but a mental exercise in keeping all of the characters straight and following the thread of the plot.

In the end the son/husband is killed in a car accident, and his wife/mother is driving the car that kills him. Lew Archer is their to pick up the pieces and deliver the old lady over to face justice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FATHERLAND by Robert Harris

Finished Tu 12/9/14

I found this on the shelf, and on the flyleaf it said that I finished this one on Th 9/18/97 "after 2 hrs. and 30 mins. of overtime; 18 poles and picked up 5 scrap reels with Ed". God, I don't miss that 'other life'.

The big 'reveal' is that the SS Inspector Xavier March comes across proof that Hitler and his henchmen orchestrated the murder of 8 million Jews. The novel is set in a world in which National Socialism triumphs, and this knowledge had been successfully repressed.

The last part of the novel includes a fairly accurate portrait of what went on at the meeting at Wannsee in January of 1942.

Robert Harris is an authority on the life of Adolf Hitler and this was his first novel. Well worth the time I spent on it, and I'm surprised that I really didn't remember much of the storyline.

Author's wikipedia page-

FATHERLAND at wikipedia-

Wannsee Conference at wikipedia-

Saturday, December 6, 2014

THE HUSBAND'S SECRET by Liane Moriarty

Finished Sa 12/6/14

The December selection for the Contemporary Book Club

I loved the novel, and plan to read more by this author.  This might be my favorite selection that we have ever read, and I can't wait to discuss this one!

The author's page on wikipedia-


Thursday, December 4, 2014


Finished Th 12/4/14

Although it weighs in at 698 pages, I read every word. I found this novel (Wolfe's first) on the shelf downstairs, and I'm surprised that there is no date on the flyleaf when I last read it. I know I must have read it, or maybe I just saw the movie. But, I find it very hard to imagine Tom Hanks playing Sherman McCoy.

Sherman McCoy (Master of The Universe/ bond trader) is taking his mistress, Maria Ruskin, home from the airport and they get off the expressway, and find themselves lost in the Bronx. He's driving and they notice debris on the street, and think that they are being set up for a robbery. He gets out to move the stuff so that they can proceed, and two black teens ask if they need help. Sherman and Maria think they're about to be robbed, and Maria takes the wheel and Sherman jumps into the passenger seat. She clips one of the kids backing out, and puts him in a coma.   This ends 'the good life' for Sherman.

Dozens of well-developed characters, and really examines the truly American issues of Race, Class, Prejudice, and our corrupt legal system.

It was ironic that during the week that I was reading the novel, the craziness in Ferguson, Mo was in the headlines, and the day before I finished the book,  a NYC grand jury failed to indict a cop for killing a young black kid for murder after putting him in a deadly choke hold.

Tom Wolfe has a new novel set in the milieu of Miami and I'll probably start this one when I'm done with this month's selection for The Contemporary Book Club (THE HUSBAND'S SECRET)

Wikipedia entry for 'Bonfire of the Vanities'-

Friday, November 28, 2014


Finished Fr 11/28/14 (The Day After Thanksgiving)
Found this on one of the shelves downstairs and was surprised to learn that I'd never read it. Only took a couple of sessions over a day and a half.

The dark side of the movie industry/hot air balloons/bikers

The usual complex plot with zany philosophical insights, and I can still remember Daren McGavin's voice when I used to listen to these dragging a semi around the state.

Some are better than others, but they are all worth it.

The novel on wikipedia-

Travis McGee at wikipedia-

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THE SEVENTH SECRET by Irving Wallace

Finished Tu 11/24/14

Picked this one out of my collection, and finished it in two days. I read most of it the day of the Anderson Construction kitchen countertop remodel.

Emily Ashcroft and her father are writing the definitive biography of Adolf Hitler, and her father is killed in a hit and run in Berlin. She journeys to Berlin to complete the book and gets information that Hitler might have used a double and faked his suicide in April of 1949.

The book is a blend of fiction and fact about Hitler's various secret hideout/bunkers in Germany.

The novel posits that the seventh bunker was a secret one, and was attached to the Fuehrerbunker where Hitler was thought to have taken his own life and then to have been burned by his SS troopers.

In the novel Hitler died of Parkinson's on the same day that Kennedy was shot, 11/22/63. And Eva Braun lived on under the alias Evelyn Hoffman.

Emily is helped by an architect from California, Rex Foster, who is also writing a book. His deals with the architecture of the Third Reich.

Nice read and it kept my interest, but the parts that were not developed were probably the most interesting. Hitler and Eva envisioned a war between the Soviets and the Americans and after they annihilated each other, National Socialism would take over the world.

Worth the half dozen hours I spent reading the book.

Wikipedia entry-

Irving Wallace wikipedia-

Saturday, November 22, 2014

DEMON BOX by Ken Kesey

Mid November 2014

I picked this up at the library when I found the they didn't carry, SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION. This book is just a random series of essays and short stories, and I realy only read/skimmed two of them.

The first is about a young man in Mexico who meets 'an ugly American'. The older man is driving a big motor- home and has a drunk for a wife. The man is referred to as the 'Tranny Man' because he is in the Mexican village trying to have the transmission replaced in his truck.

Kesey's character is named Devlin Deboree. I noticed that this name is used in at least one other essay.

Also I read/skimmed the short essay about Kesey's trip to Egypt and the pyramids.

None of these pieces were bad, but really not worth the effort.

I'll return this one to the library on Monday, 11/24/14. Basically I spent about two hours with this at FitClub and before sleep. His second novel about logging in Oregon I'll order from the library when the Classic Book Club is off for the summer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

LAZY BONES by Mark Billingham

Finished Th 11/20/14

I learned of the author because I streamed the film, SLEEPYHEAD which was based on his debut novel.

Both feature Detective Inspector Tom Thorne who is a jaded and cynical London police officer. Divorced and lives alone with a cat named Elvis.

In this novel someone is murdering released sex offenders. The three men are found naked and strangled with blue rope. The men have also been raped annaly.

After the first murder a woman calls the crime scene and claims that she owns a flower shop and was asked to deliver flowers to this number. Tom takes the call and develops a relationship with this woman.


A man's wife is raped and she goes to court and the system makes it appear that she was somehow responsible for the act. Her husband grows to believe the hype, kills her, and then hangs himself. His two children wind up in foster care and lost in the system. Later they strangle the man responsible for the rape (he got off for the crime), but this crime ends up as a 'cold case'. And later target recent rape releases from prison, and these are the crimes that the focus of the novel. The brother has a film company and got access to recent prison releases when he got a contract to make a film about the prison system. The secret is not revealed until the very end,  but the brother and sister team capture Tom Thorne, and he is almost killed in the same manner. One of Tom's cop friends goes to visit the woman who had the children in foster care, and she shows him a picture and he recognizes that the children are really the flower owner and her roommate's lover. He arrives at Tom's house just as Eve and Ben are about to murder Tom.

Eve Bloom and Ben Jameson are the brother and sister. Eve rooms with Denise and Denise's boyfriend is Ben.

A fine novel and I'm looking forward to reading more by Billingham.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Finished Tu 11/18/14

I found out about this book when I was reading material about the Joe Henry CD, BLOOD FROM STARS. In Henry's Wikipedia entry it mentioned that he had written a book about Richard Pryor with his brother, David. The library had it, and the rest is history.

A terrific read about a local hero- Pryor was born and raised in Peoria. I read through it in a couple of days.

A comic genius and a tortured artist with drug, alcohol, and women problems.
A funny quote attributed to Mickey Rooney. He said that he liked to get married in the early morning so that if it didn't work out, he hadn't shot the whole day.

Pryor's wikipedia entry-

Monday, November 17, 2014


Finished Mo 11/17/14

The November selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Bob and Sarah Nickerson. They live in Wellmont, a Boston suburb.
Charlie, Lucy, and Linus
Martha- Sarah's mother who has a house on Cape Cod. They were estranged because Sarah's brother, Nate drowned when they were children and Martha was crippled by depression and ignored Sarah as she grew up.
Berkley- Placement firm that Sarah worked for

Heidi- A neighbor of  Sarah's. They are acquaintances who met when they dropped their children off at school.  She becomes Sarah's therapist at Baldwin.

Mike Green- the snowboard instructor in the mountain lodge in Vermont.  NEHSA New England Handicapped Sports Association

Lisa Genova—whose novel Still Alice is soon to be a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart

Learn to live simpler and deeper. 
Reconnect to people; 
Visits the office after four months on medical leave, and although she makes a positive impression on the boss and co-workers, this is when and where she realizes that it would be a mistake to come back. She has learned from her inactivity that she really wasn't 'doing nothing', and that really her hyperactive life offered a very limited payback.

Gratitude vs. Attitude Sarah misreads this very important theme of the novel when she was in the hospital at Baldwin. 


Finished Mo 11/17/14

I picked this up to get info about Ken Kesey who wrote ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST which was the November selection for the Classic Book Club.

Kesey is married to Faye and has two children, but his partner seems to be Carolyn Adams (MOUNTAIN GIRL)
Kesey and his wife live in Perry Lane which is a bohemian area of Palo Alto near Stanford, but he's primarily from La Honda, Oregon. The Perry Lane area was razed in 1963 while the Kesey's were still living there.


1964 East to West trip to New York on the bus, 'Furthur (Further)'; CAUTION- WEIRD LOAD
To see World's Fair/visit Leary's bunch, League For Spiritual Discovery at Millbrook, NY. The Goldwater election

Beatles concert in Los Angeles at the Cop Palace. Describes audience as a giant squid-like organism that is attached to the performers' every movement. A powerful image.

Kesey met the Hell's Angels through Hunter S. Thompson while he was writing his book, HELL'S ANGELS- A STRANGE AND TERRIBLE SAGA.



Pot bust with Mountain Girl in North Beach, San Francisco. They were relaxing on a tenement roof late at night. The police raid the building, they don't leave and the two cops find a couple of grams. Kesey was facing a five year sentence. He and Mountain Girl skip bond and travel all over the Southwest including Mexico. Gives himself up in Arizona and begins to speak against drugs and wants to bring about the 'next stage of evolution'.


Saturday, November 15, 2014


Finished Sa 11/15/14
The October selection for the Classic Book Club

What a triumphant ending....Makes ya want to stand up and cheer!

Link at wikipedia-

Ken Kesey at wikipedia-

A few days ago I began reading THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST by Tom Wolfe to get some background on Kesey. Kesey must have changed immensely in the couple of years since he wrote 'Cuckoo' and when he formed The Pranksters.

In 1962 he was working at a psychiatric hospital near Stanford in Palo Alto and working on a book about Beatniks in North Beach, San Francisco when he came up for the themes and ideas in 'Cuckoo'.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A GHOST IN THE MUSIC by John Nichols

Finished Fr 11/7/14

Marcel Thompson
Bart Darling
Lorraine Waldrum
Kitty Thompson
'Dolphin Bays'- The East Coast estate where Bart grew up
'Chamisaville County, New Mexico'- The mythical area where the action is centered. This is the locale that Nichols has set most of his novels.

John Nichols wikipedia-

Marcel Thompson is the adult illegitimate adult child of Bart Darling and he receives a telephone call at 3 am out of the blue where he lives in NYC. Bart's new girlfriend, Lorraine Waldrum has left him and he wants Marcel to come out to New Mexico to plead with her to stay.

Bart is a classic womanizer who specializes in Playboy styled floozies, however Lorraine is a scrappy guitar playing waif who is clearly not his type, yet they truly love each other. But, Bart's suicidal tendencies have forced Lorraine to end the relationship....." I didn't sign on to be your pallbearer".

Bart is an actor/director/stunt person who is shooting a B Movie in Chamisaville County. The headquarters of the operation are in a ramshackle mansion that he owns that's full of strange characters who assist in the movie making. Hippy Carnival Atmosphere/sex/drugs/rock'n'roll to the max.

The story turns on a stunt that Bart is supposed to do in which he will leapt off a bridge and parachute to safety hundreds of feet down in a ravine. Lorraine is pregnant with his child and says that if he jumps, she leaves and aborts the child. She does, and Marcel drives her to the operation.

The stunt goes off without a hitch, and Bart dies of a massive heart attack just after he completes the stunt.

This is a slim novel and an enjoyable look at a very unusual relationship concerning the love between a father and son. And, the father is truly a 'larger than life' individual. Father as God.

THEME- It's better to burn out than to rust

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THE ROBBER BARONS by Mathew Josephson

THE GREAT AMERICAN CAPITALISTS 1861-1901. Published in 1934.
Skimmed and read over a couple of days- Th 11/6/14


Not exactly a muckraking take on America's nineteenth century industrialists, but the facts don't lie. None of these men seemed to care a bit about the public welfare or the US citizens, but their only concern was for maximum corporate profit and their own self-aggrandizement.

I was surprised to learn how much the state and federal governments played in the development of these huge corporations. Especially the growth of railroads where land grants and bond issues very much funded these ventures, but 'the barons' made sure that the profits only accrued to themselves.

They had absolutely nothing positive to say about unions or even the right of working men to stand up for their rights. The only rights that they recognized were those of the owners. Workers were only servants to them. Near the beginning of the 20th century some of the industries tried to embrace 'company unions', but these were just discussion groups that had no influence or power.

Many industries owned the workers homes and where they spent their money. The workers were paid the absolute least in wages, and then charged exorbitant rates at 'the company stores'.

The tenets of Calvinism and the the Puritans very much drove the selfishness of the era and this view seems a real distortion of the Christian message.

Although they donated millions through various charity organizations, it never effected 'the bottom line'.

Most of the leaders were closed mouth and taciturn, and their biographies cannot be trusted. Many took the secrets of their nefarious endeavors to the grave.

pecuniary- Of or relating to money

The Robber Baron entry in wikipedia that contains a comprehensive list of the key players-

The author's entry on wikipedia-

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

THE CLOWNS OF GOD by Morris West

Finished Mo 11/4/14

I pulled this one off one of the shelves in my living room, and I wrote on the flyleaf that I first completed the book on Fr 7/30/93 while I was having a Kenwood stereo system installed in my Hyundai Elantra. I have no recollection of the book, the stereo system, that particular day, or even that much about that particular car.

But, I loved the book this time around and it presents an intriguing premise. What would happen if a modern day pope got a direct revelation from God that the Parousia (The Second Coming) was imminent. The book shows that he would almost certainly be forced to abdicate his position by the clerical hierarchy because if the word got out it would result in a near complete breakdown of global society.

I thought that this author had written a book about what would happen if the bones of Christ were discovered to be buried in the Vatican, and it is discovered that a papal cover up has been in place for two millennia. Would the teachings of Christ as the basis of the Christian faith still be valid if it was shown to be that the resurrection never occurred? Apparently Morris West did not write this novel, but tonight I should be getting the film THE BODY from Netflix, and it is supposed to examine this philosophical question. Can't wait.

Author's page in wikipedia-

Downs Syndrome and the book-


THE FLASH BOYS by Michael Lewis

Returned to library Mo 11/3/14

I read about half of this over a couple of weeks.
The premise is fairly obvious. The speed of trading on wall street is now measured in microseconds or even fractions of them, and the trading public gets 'minute to minute' coverage. This gives a big advantage to the insiders who can stay far, far ahead of pack. Even an infinitesimal fraction of a second makes a critical (and lucrative) difference.

Traders screaming into telephones and waving arms on a trading room floor have absolutely no relation to the modern reality.

Throughout the history of the market, whenever laws have been put in place to stop malfeasance, lawyers for the traders have always found a way around the new rules. In a capitalist society the smartest people will be drawn to where the 'big money' is at, and the market is a real-life metaphor for capitalism. Although government can never prevent them from trying to rig the market, that doesn't mean that they should give up. 'Giving Up' seems to be the Republican answer to the problem (however, they don't even see this as a problem. It's just the way of the world.)

"Where will we be 'in the room'?"

Fiber optic cables make the difference and some of the traders vie for space in the room where the computers are located. The closer to the source is very important (the difference is so small it's almost unmeasurable), and a matter of inches or feet over hundreds of miles of cable will be seen to be of value.



Monday, November 3, 2014

PERFIDIA by James Ellroy

Finished Th 10/30/14

The book is an authentic 'thrill ride', but I think it went on a bit too long. It's almost 700 pages and I made it to about five hundred and skimmed to the end.

Some of the characters are modeled after 'real-life' people, and other character appear in other James Ellroy novels.

All of the characters are drunks, drug addled, and depraved and it's really hard to believe that these people were in control of the city of Los Angeles. But, stranger things are true.

Benzedrine and opium (and, of course, booze) are the fave stimulants.

Many of the characters are incredibly violent and racist.




Friday, October 24, 2014

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK- My year In A Women's Prison by Piper Kerman

Finished Mo 10/23/14

I was expecting this book to be a condescending put down by an uppity and privileged white girl distainful of lazy and shiftless women who couldn't or wouldn't follow the Republican playbook and 'work hard, and be successful', but was I in for a shock!! This was one of the best books I've read about life behind bars, and showed amazing insight into America's broken prison system.

The television show has very little to do with what 'the real' Piper experienced, but the show is still one of my faves. It's too sexually provocative and 'over the top', but I guess they mean it to be transgressively entertaining.

Piper must wait almost a decade before she begins her sentence. I think that alone would be punishment enough.

The show doesn't mention her running the track, and how important working out was to her sanity.

The last section of the book about her trip to Chicago to testify and the ride on Con-Air was fascinating.

Piper Kerman at wikipedia-

Amazon customer reviews-

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A STUDY IN SCARLET by Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle

October 2014 selection Classic Book Club

Finished Mo 10/20/14


I was kind of expecting more, and on the Monday morning before the meeting I watched on You Tube the BBC production from 1968 starring Peter Cushing. This was a 'theater production', and the second section of the novel that takes place in Utah was not included, but alluded to. (45"- probably an hour on British television including commercials)

They also added some material about the 'old woman' who answers Holmes's ad in the newspaper about the ring that was found with the first body.  He and Watson track this actor down to his playhouse and he's a popular 'drag artist', and had no connection to the crime, but the murderer had paid for his services. This isn't in the novel, and strange that this is the area that they chose to expand upon.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Finished Mo 10/13/14 Columbus Day at FitClub South

Last week I finished CARTHAGE and I found this novel of Oates in my collection. I loved it, and although not as long (340 pages), the writing was denser and less driven by dialog with more character development and descriptions.

The McCullough Family-

Ian, Glynnis- husband and wife. A seemingly happy couple, but not quite what they seem.
Bianca- Only daughter, although a son died at childbirth many years before. Bianca is a college student
Ian is employed in a think tank and deals with statistics and demographics. He is an avid racquetball  player- often with Denis.

In the end of the novel Bianca becomes deeply involved with Eastern Religion and makes a trip to the far east to study these philosophies. She calls her father a murderer and holds him accountable for her mother's death. Actually, I think Ian does too, and if it wasn't for his newfound love of Sigrid, he would have given up on life and went to prison (to die there).  

Nicholas Ottinger- Ian's lawyer when he is charged with second degree murder for the death of Glynnis. During at drunken dinner at The McCullough's (Bianca is at school), Glynnis tells Ian that she has found the cancelled check and is convinced that he had an affair with Sigrid and the money is an abortion for his child. A struggle ensues, Glynnis pulls a knife and Ian pushes her away and she falls through the plate glass window. The McCullough's live in a modern, glass house.

Sigrid Hunt- 'The Other Woman'. Originally a friend of Glynnis's but the Hunt woman was enamoured with them both. She asks Ian for help and a one thousand dollar loan for an abortion. The father was an Egyptian who was very jealous of Sigrid.

Meika and Vaughn Cassity- a married couple who are friends with The McCulloughs. During the trial, Ian has an affair with Meika. She drops him, and at the conclusion of the novel, Ian ends up with Sigrid and seems very happy.

Denis and Roberta Grinnell- Probably the closest couple to the McCulloughs in their wide circle of friends. Denis had an affair with Glynnis, and Ian suspects but doesn't know for sure. During the night of the incident Glynnis admits that she has had affairs, even with his close friends, and Ian suspects almost all of them. Ian tires to have an affair with Roberta during the trial, but she rebuffs him.

Samuel S. Lederer- The county prosecutor who is after Ian and probably motivated by politics. He is looking for publicity to attain higher public offices.

I suppose the point of the novel was that educated and upper class marriages in upstate New York during the late 1980' might look fabulous on the surface, they are serious cracks and flaws beneath the surface.

I loved this book, and it might even be better than CARTHAGE.

Friday, October 10, 2014

CARTHAGE by Joyce Carol Oates

Finished Th 10/10/14

I had hoped to recommend this one to The Contemporary Books Club, but I didn't because it was almost five hundred pages (482). However, this is a true page-turner; it's a thriller/mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. Well written character development on every person in the novel.

Set in the Adirondacks town of Carthage, NY

The Mayfield Family-
Zeno, Arlette, Juliet, Cressida

Corporal Brett Kincaid

Prof. Cornelius Hinton (The Investigator)

Hayley McSwain- Armed forces veteran who rescues Cressida on the night of the incident.
Sabbath McSwain (Cressida assumes Hayley's sister's identity. They look similar

What happens on the night that Cressida confronts Brett is never explicitly explained, but she most likely declared her love for Brett after he had dumped Juliet. He still loves Juliet, but doesn't feel that (because of his disability) is worthy of her love. What exactly happened to him is also left to the imagination. He might have been the victim of 'friendly fire' because he wanted to 'come clean' about some of the atrocities that he witnessed.

When Sabbath (Cressida) tours the death row at the Orion Maximum Security Correctional Facility for Men she is asked to sit in the execution chamber and she freaks. Although not stated explicitly, she begins to understand what she has done to Brett and leaves Florida and The Investigator.

Travels by bus back to Carthage. The Mayfields are no longer together. Arlette works for a women's shelter and Zeno is living in a condo. He has a relationship with Genevieve who he drinks with, and is still deeply in love with Arlette and his family.

Juliet has married a man twenty years her senior and has two young children.

Cressida has been gone six years and seven months.

Brett in imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter and actually admitted to many murders which probably he witnessed or participated in while he was in Iraq.

Juliet at first cannot forgive Cressida for ruining The Love Of Her Life. She feels that she would have married Brett despite his disabilities.

Cressida was befriended by Brett when she was bike riding when she was in a bad area of Carthage when she was fourteen. He helped her when she was run off the road by a driver. This was their secret.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Finished Th 10/2/14

This had been 'bedside reading' for about two weeks. This makes the third time that I've read this novel since I bought it in 1996.

And, each time, I'm reminded how much more the story is about Sera than Ben. In the movie, Elizabeth Shue was great, but her performance was overshadowed by Nicolas Cage's 'scene-chewing' extravaganza. However, both the book and the film were exceptional, I think I preferred the book.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LIGHTS OUT! by Donald Bain

Finished Tu 9/30/14

A saw this on the New Books Section at the library and finished it in two days. This author is supposed to have 'ghost-written' the novels of Margaret Truman. This book is like a second rate Donald Westlake, but not entirely bad.

Carlton Smythe is a Canadian engineer with POWER-CAN and is retired (forced layoff) and his wife is wealthy. They've been married for thirty years and it was a shotgun wedding, but they lost the child. He gets the bright idea to cause a power outage, and then sell the exact time to a mafia kingpin. Then he plans to leave his wife and take up with his Argentinian girlfriend in South America.

Dominick Marone- Crime boss of Toronto and a lover of opera. Gives Carlton a million dollars for the exact time of the power outage. When it doesn't occur, he's enraged at first, but then views it as a wake up call. Time to quit the life of crime.

Cynthia- Carlton's wife, a major supporter of COC (Canadian Opera Company)

Mrs. Gladys Wiggins- Carlton's mother-in-law. She is a domineering woman who lives with the couple

Gina Ellanado- Carlton's beautiful girlfriend. She's just looking for a sugar daddy, and really not an evil person.

Paul Saison- the slovenly drunk that works for POWER-CAN that Carlton pays $250,000 to shut off the power at 9:45pm on August 22nd. Paul is drunk and his watch is fifteen minutes late and the plans fall through.

Carlton gets on a cargo ship and sails to Brazil. And, when he arrives at Gina's love nest, she's been paid off by Cynthia and Gladys and his dismal marriage continues.

The book was an easy read, and I've read hundreds better plotted and written.

About a C-

Monday, September 29, 2014

FALLING ANGELS by William Hjortsberg

Finished Su 9/28/14
Published 1978

I loved the novel, and I wished it was longer, but it was a quick read. I can't really say which one I liked better....the book or the movie; and that's pretty rare. Both great!
The film FALLEN ANGEL with Robert DeNiro and Micky Rourke (Allen Parker-dir.) was based on this novel, however, the book is all set in NYC and the Bronx whereas the film travels to New Orleans.

DI Harry Angel is contacted by a lawyer representing Louis Cyphre (LUCIFER) to try and find Jonathan Liebling who is believed to be in an upstate New York mental home. He returned from WWII shell-shocked and was institutionalized. He owes to Mr. Cyphre, and Harry is retained to find out if he there or what became of him.

The hook is that Harry Angel IS Johnathan Liebling and he made a deal with the devil. In exchange for his soul, he would be rich and famous. He tried to welch on the deal, but he was wounded and couldn't conclude his plan.

Johnny was a famous singer with the Spider Simpson Orchestra

Harry Angel lives in the Chelsea Hotel

Dr. Fowler- murder or suicide. Junkie who was Liebling's doctor at the sanitarium.

Millicent/Margaret Krusemark- her father is a devil worshiper and she was engaged to Johnny for 2 1/2 years. Margaret is killed after talking to Harry. (heart ripped out)

Edison 'Toots' Sweet- the pianist for the Simpson Orchestra. He's a Harlem resident and involved in black magic. He is killed after contacted by Harry. (genitals stuffed in his mouth)
Ethan Krusemark is killed in the subway after a black mass. Electrified on the third rail.

Epiphany Proudfoot- she is Harry's girlfriend, but she's also his daughter, but he's unaware of this until the very end of the novel. Her mother was deeply involved in white magic. She owned a magic store in Harlem and Epiphany runs it. Epiphany is also into white magic, but well aware of the darker implications.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

TO THE POWER OF THREE by Laura Lippman

Finished Fr 9/26/14

Before dinner with the Brandenburgs at salad bar at the new Hyvee

Set in the fictional Maryland city of Glendale. This is in the far north portion of Baltimore County
Farmland that has been hastily developed that includes a mix of upscale 'McMansions' and suburban track homes.

The novel is about the intense friendship between three girls who have bonded since they were in primary school. The main story occurs in their senior year of high school.

Kat Hartigan- the rich girl in the group. Her grandfather was responsible for the massive building growth and they live on the original dwelling that dates back to the 18th century. She is 'queen of everything', well liked, and it seems, well deserved.
Father Dale and mother Chole have divorced. Dale has remarried and Chloe is a nagging bitch; a kind of 'low class' woman who is out of her element in the Maryland high society.

Perri Kahn- drama queen. Is shot in the face and thought to be the shooter. Almost as academic as Kat. She had kind of hippie parents who let her do whatever she wanted.

Josie Patel- small and athletic. Indian background on father's side. She is witness to the murder

Eve Mulhy- in the same class as the three girls, but is from the old section and a farm girl. SKEEZER

Detective Lenhardt- older detective in charge of the case. Married for the second time, late in life and has a teenage daughter and is apprehensive about what he sees of the behavior of the Glendale teens.
Detective Infante- he is Lenhardt's partner and younger and a 'ladies man'.

Peter Lasko- graduated a couple of years before and used to date Kat. He comes back to find what has really happened and Dale tries to make him infiltrate the teens. He's up for a movie with Guy Pearce and is a kind of egomaniac.


The previous year three of the top boy students had been killed in a bad car wreck. They were sent on a mission by Kat to stop Binnie Snyder from beating Kat academically. Binnie is in the girls bathroom on the fatal morning. Perri had the gun and wanted Kat to admit to the involvement in the boys accident and when Josie tries to grab the gun she shoots Kat through the heart. Perri tries to use the gun on herself and in the struggle with Josie the bullet hits her in the face. She dies within a week. Binnie flees and tells that Josie should cover for her ("you owe me that much"). Josie shoots herself in the foot (after removing her expensive new sandals), but realizes that she has to relock the door. When she hops to the door to relock it, she leaves blood splatter and footprints that cause the cops to doubt her story. It all comes out in the end, but it seems that the case is stalled in the grand jury. No indictments.  That ending was kind of weak.

I loved the book because each character was fully developed and you never really understand what has happened until the last few pages. I absolutely love Lippman's 'stand-alone' novels, and I'm almost ready to give a Tess novel a chance.

Lippman's wikipedia entry-

Link to Amazon-

Monday, September 22, 2014


Finished Mo 9/22/14

September selection Contemporary Book Club

The book follows the story of Nuri, a teenager living in exile with his family in Cairo in Egypt, after the sudden death of his mother, he also loses his father Kamal Pasha el-Alfi who disappears in mysterious circumstances in Switzerland, and it becomes obvious that he was abducted by the regime of their country. The young Nuri tries to come to terms with the disappearance of his father while he is living in London in Britain.


  • Nuri el-Alfi - the young teenage narrator
  • Kamal Pasha el-Alfi "Baba" "Father" - Nuri's father
  • Ihsan "Mother" - Nuri's mother
  • Mona - Nuri's Stepmother
  • Taleb - Kamal Pasha's best friend
  • Hydar - Kamal Pasha's best friend
  • Naima - el-Alfi's young Egyptian maid
  • Hass - Kamal Pasha's Swiss confidant; the family attorney
  • Fadhil - Nuri's uncle
  • Salwa - Nuri's aunt
  • Souad - Nuri's aunt
  •  family’s devoted housekeeper Naima
  • Beatrice Benameur- Kamal's girlfriend in Geneva. He was kidnapped with this woman and it's revealed that he had a long lasting relationship with this woman.
Magda Marina- the summer resort where father and son first see Mona near Alexandria

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Finished Th 9/18/14
I noticed this book on display at the checkout desk. It was 'Large Print' and the newest John Rebus novel owned by the library- released 2013. I couldn't resist.

The title refers to a group of Edinburgh detectives who put themselves above the letter of the law. John Rebus was just getting started and wasn't completely vetted. The novel hinges on the fact that had he had a bit more seniority, he would have been with these guys 100%. Summerhall was the name of the police station where they worked.

Car crash in which a girl has been positioned to appear to have been the driver of the car. Her boyfriend is the son of a prominent politician and she is the daughter of a ruthless businessman. Later, the politician is murdered and might be connected. A snitch for the 'saints' is shot and killed and his body is found in a canal. The 'saints' killed a prisoner while in their custody and this snitch was in the holding cell at the time. He used this as leverage against the group.

Siobhan Clarke is friends with John Rebus and is featured in many of the novels. Her name is pronounced "Chiv-ahn".

Malcolm Fox is an internal affairs detective trying to find the goods on the 'saints'. This includes Rebus, but he is coming to like John. Malcolm is a recovering alcoholic and tries to get Rebus to enter a program.

Forbes McCuskey- His father, Pat, is the politician. Jessica is his girlfriend.

Alice Bell is Jessica's roommate and her family is involved in organized crime. They run car parks where they park car in long term parking that have drugs, guns, or bodies hidden.

Saunders is the name of the snitch who is shot by Maggie.

Stefan Gilmour- one of the 'saints' and he has gone on to become a successful businessman

Phil Kennedy- the bad guy that the 'saints' killed. He was being beaten, fell, and died. They brought him back to his house and made it look like he fell while drunk. The autopsy was corrupted. They poured liquor in his stomach while on the operating table. The coroner was in on the plan.

Dod Blantyre is one of the 'saints'. He is dying of cancer. His wife Maggie had an affair with Rebus during the time of the 'saints'.

Maggie is the one who killed the snitch and she and her husband attempt suicide.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A FLASH OF RED by Clay Harvey

Finished Mo 9/15/14

I found this in my collection, and I had read it in September of 1997, The book is a debut novel and is the first in the Tyler Vance series by Clay Harvey. I noticed on Amazon that today, there are several more of his novels featuring this character.

Tyler Vance is a highly trained military man who served in the DMZ of Korea during the 80's. Apparently there were special American forces who did 'dirty deeds', and Vance was one of the most skilled. He has been back in the States for many years, and one day he is at a bank and brutally foils a bank robbery. He kills two of the criminals, and one of them is the brother of the international gang leader.

The plot hinges on the fact the the US doesn't want it known that such a highly skilled killer was schooled by US forces, and Vances old army boss intercedes to help. Although he knows that Vance can do all that is necessary, he doesn't want him to go too far and bring attention to this secret program.

Once Vance realizes that an international criminal gang has him in their sites, he knows that all of his friends and family are at risk. The gang is kind of a mash-up of a huge Mexican gangster and two Croatian/Serbian brothers. A 'gang for hire' on the international criminal market.

Vance's wife had been killed by a drunk driving several years before, and he has the sole custody of a four year old son, Cullen.

The climax of the book is how Cullen is kidnapped, and Vance and his team kills the bad guys and rescues his boy.

The novel is set in Greensboro, North Carolina

McDuffy and Fanner- local cops who do almost nothing to help Vance. McDuffy is an ignorant bully, and Fanner goes by the book, but only to cover his ass.

Dave- Vance's pal from the military. They were friends since young boys. He's a 'mountain of a man' and equally skilled in martial arts and arms.

McElroy- Vance's old boss in the military. He's actively helping, but strives to conceal who Vance really is.

Heather Patterson is Vance's girlfriend. She is getting a divorce from Jason who has come out as a gay man. Vance has respect for this man because he saved Cullen at one point in the story. 'The Tree House Incident'. Web is Heather's son who is a friend of Cullen.

I'd read more of these (if the library has them), but the only thing that I could locate about the author is kind of negative. Just as Tyler Vance makes his living writing for gun magazines, so does the real-life author, Clay Harvey. But, there is a post on the internet where several people who have dealt with him have some negative comments.

Link to that post-

Saturday, September 13, 2014

THE BAD PLACE by Dean Koontz

Finished Fr 9/12/14

I had read this book (different edition) several years ago, and I always liked this one the best of all Koontz novels, but I could never remember the title.

A terrific mash-up of the Detective Novel with Supernatural/SciFi

Frank Pollard

Dakota & Dakota (Julie and Bobby)

The Pollards-
Candy (James), Violet, Verbina (Twin sisters) Roselle (mother)

Set in Orange County, California

Unstuck in space. Teleportation

Link to wikipedia-

Link to Amazon-

BARNEY'S VERSION by Mordecai Richler

I spent a few days with this Canadian novel the first week of September, 2014 after seeing the film (Paul Giamatti)

When I checked out the film on IMDB I noticed that this author had 21 novels made into films.

He's kind of like the Saul Bellows of Canada, and I'd never heard of him

I read about 100 pages, and then skimmed through to the end.

I liked the premise that a man meets the true love of his life at his wedding reception

The library had the book, and Id be willing to give another novel of his a chance, but I just wanted to move on to something else.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman

Finished Th 9/11/14

The Maryland section of the novel is set near Catonsville Md.

Strange tale of a kidnapping and rape. Elizabeth is taken by Walter as he has just finished burying Maude. Although, Elizabeth has no idea what he had done, he takes her captive for 39 days.

She is easily manipulated, and she does this to elicit some control over her situation, but even after over twenty years, she cannot forgive herself for her possible complicity.

She's definitely a victim, but can't commit to this 100%

Holly is taken after she had been with Walter for over two weeks. Holly is younger than Elizabeth, but more developed. She was taken from her house as she was raising money for a classmate with a deadly disease.

Walter tries to rape Holly at a remote campsite. Holly flees and is either pushed by Waler, or falls to her death.

Elizabeth is saved by a routine traffic stop, and maybe she could have left Walter numerous times.

Elizabeth's mother works with the criminally insane and her father is a psychiatrist. She changes her name to Eliza and changes schools. Later, she marries Peter a successful venture capitalist and has two children, Albie (Albert) 8yrs. old and Isobel (Iso, pronounced 'eye-so') 13 years old. The family is back to Maryland after Peter's job took them to London. Iso misses it more than she acknowledges and Albie seems like a sweet English boy.

The novel's push is that Walter wants to see Elizabeth before he his execution.

She does, and the novel ends where she begins to see herself less of a victim and starts to take an active role in her own life.

In the afterword Lippman says that this novel is based on a true crime, but it has been camouflaged.

This was my least favorite Laura Lippman novel so far, but it was still well worth the time and I'd still read almost anything by her. Wait a minute.....The Girl In The Green Raincoat was much weaker.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Finished Th 9/4/14

A terrific stand-alone, and I loved every page!

Two eleven year old girls take a baby and kill it. This is covered in the opening chapter, but you don't know what 'really happened' until the last chapter.

Alice Manning- 'the good girl'. Her mother is kind of a hippie-type, and wanted Alice to NOT follow the crowd, but Alice wants to just get along to get along. Their relationship is the trigger for all of the action, but that's not revealed until the end.

Ronnie Fuller- the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. And, she is instantly tagged as the mastermind behind the abduction and killing.

Alice's mother, Helen Manny, encourages the relationship between Ronnie and Alice because she sees and identifies with Ronnie's independent spirit. She thinks that this is lacking in her daugher.
Book opens with a birthday party for Maddy in which Ronnie brings a black Barbie. This is obviously an inappropriate gift for an eleven year old girl. Ronnie accidently hits Maddy's mother and both Alice and Ronnie are asked to leave the party. This is where they see the baby, Olivia.

This baby is the granddaughter of a prominent black judge and his daughter is very well connected to the local political structure.
Kevin Infante and Nancy Porter are the detectives on the case. Detective Sergeant Lenhardt is the wise old mentor to both Kevin and Infante. This character is in the 'Tess' series of novels by Lippman.
Sharon Keppelman is Nancy's lawyer. She feels guilt about the outcome, but has only been manipulated by Alice.

The girls get seven years, and the story skips to when they are 18 and have been released. Alice is fifty pounds heavier. Ronnie managed to get into a mental ward by gaming the system. She's obviously troubled, but Alice is much, much worse, but this is carefully concealed until the end of the novel.

A series of 'false' kidnappings of toddlers has been occurring just as the girls are released. Finally, one girl is actually abducted.
Mira Jennings is a reporter for the 'Beacon-Light' who is trying to advance her journalistic career through the current kidnapping case. She is fed a lead (by the mother of Olivia) that the two girls had taken the girl because there was a strong resemblance to her daugher that they killed.

Because Alice and Ronnie were juveniles they couldn't be charged very severely, so the charges were split into three different issues. That way they could at least serve until they turned 18. A sub-plot ( I wish this was more developed) was that children really do kill, and what is odd is that they don't do it more often.

Alice had a child when in prison by a guard. This child was taken from her and she is falsely convinced that the child she took was this child.
Although Ronnie actually strangled the first child, it was Alice convinced her that it was in the best interest of the child. She was deranged and said that the kid wasn't wanted, and they would be doing the kid a favor.

Helen knew that Alice was the real 'evil doer' and convinces Ronnie that Alices' jack'n the box which she planted at the crime scene would make sure that they would both be treated fairly. Alice would get some of the blame.

Ronnie slits her wrists in the tub. Alice's boyfriend flees the country.

Amazon link-

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Finished Su 8/31/14

A Tess Monaghan novel. She is bedridden and very pregnant with Carla Scout.

She notices a young woman in a green raincoat walking a dog and one day, the dog runs by without the woman.

Man has two wives and one girlfriend die of mysterious circumstances and the disappearance of this woman looks like he's a contemporary Bluebeard.

The book is only a novella and what I love about Lippman's writing is her brilliant character development and eloquent settings, and all of that is missing in THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT. It's pretty barebones and reminds me of why I hate Agatha Christie. It's a terrific plot, but it doesn't enchant.

Many of the characters reappear in her books and although a stand-alone, I felt like I was 'in the middle' of something.

Link to Amazon-

CALLGIRL by Jeannette Angell

Finished Sa 8/31/14

I learned about this book when I was researching THE MOST DANGEROUS THING by Laura Lippman. This book was the August, 2014 selection for the Contemporary Book Club, and in an interview on Youtube Lippman said that CALLGIRL was a book that she was reading, and that she really enjoyed. Boy, she wasn't kidding! This was one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long, long time.

Angell has a four year undergraduate degree in Psychology from Harvard, a Masters and a Doctorate in Social Anthropology, and was working as a teaching assistant making $1,300 a class per semester; two classes. Her boyfriend wiped out her savings accounts and racked up a huge bill on her credit cards. She tried to work as a sex 'hot-line' operator, and found that she couldn't handle it.
Set in Boston. Harvard/MIT

By chance (an ad in a flyer) she meets 'Peach' who works as a madame at a moderately high-end escort service, and Jeannette finds her niche as 'Tia'.  Peach sets the price and screens the clients, and gets $60 off the top. Jeannette (as Tia) calls when she arrives, she gets the money upfront (although repeat customers are allowed to pay at the end), and Peach calls back at the end of the hour so that the client is aware that the encounter has ended and it will require more money for it to continue.

400 pound fat man who tries to collect info on the callgirls to control them. Jeannette never tells anyone that she is a teacher and keeps that part of her life separate.
A call girl friend of Jeannette's who becomes a free base addict and steals money from Jeannette numerous times.
Jeannette falls in love with an Indian graduate student only to learn that he was only trying to cause a hooker 'to give it up for free'. Tia learns what is going on when she hears one of his friends congratulating him on his answering machine.

The book is not very sexy, but is really about how people view sex. Jeannette is really an actress playing a sexual role.

She was teaching a class about people in asylums throughout history. She claims that women were institutionalized by a man and were kept in the institution regardless what the healthcare pro's of the time felt. The man that filed the paperwork was the only one who had the power to free the woman regardless of what the doctors felt.

Also a class about how people grieve and their feelings on Death. And, finally a class on prostitution which was a smash hit.

Amazon book link-

Friday, August 29, 2014

RAT GIRL- A MEMOIR by Kristin Hersh

Finished Fr 8/29/14

I read over half, and then skimmed to the end. This was based on a diary that she wrote in the mid 80's, and she re-wrote as an adult. She fairly successfully kept the 'childlike' point of view of an eighteen year old although she was almost forty when she released it.

A rare 'female' perspective to the darker edges of the punk scene, and most definitely worth a look.

Alternative Rock
Sleazy punk rock scene
Set primarily in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island

Her father is a professor and her step sister, Tanya Donelly, was in THE BREEDERS and BELLY.

She claims to have been involved in a harrowing hit and run when she was on her bicycle. The car was driven by a 'witch', and after the accident, she was able to 'see music'. The best part of the book is when she describes these 'visitations' which continue until she is able to learn the song.

She was actually friends and attended college with 30's movie star, Betty Hutton. Hutton was there trying to kick an addiction to booze and pills. She seemed to add an off-kilter edge to the work. I wasn't really sure that the woman was real, but I saw Hersh in an interview that it all happened and many other readers were equally baffled.

Link to Hersh's observations about Betty

Kristin's link at wikipedia-

Tanya Donelly link to wikipedia-

Thursday, August 28, 2014


(Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents In The Forests of Rock And Roll)

Finished Tu 8/26/14

Fourteen years as a fourth grade teacher in Dayton, Ohio, and then starts (at 35 years old) a career on the fringes of Rock.

Background in sports. Ace baseball pitcher but threw out his elbow in college
His brother, Jimmy, was even more famous locally as a basketball player. He also suffered an accident (to his knee) that ended his college career.

His home is in the blue-collar, Northridge section of Dayton.
The Monument Club is the garage area of his home where he and the members of GBV would drink, play music, and shoot hoops.

Recording artist for 'Scat' and 'Matador'

I was really impressed by the lyrics which were used to introduce the chapters. He's a poet, and that's not just a great lyricist, but a true poet!

I had a couple of his albums on the Ipod, and re-listened, and was re-blown away. Got 'Bee Thousand' from the library, and found the EP 'I Am A Scientist' in the stacks.

The book is chock full of incidents and has an exhaustive and comprehensive discography of his works.

His link at wikipedia-

Link to the book at Amazon-

GBV web page-

Saturday, August 23, 2014

RIOT OF OUR OWN- NIGHT AND DAY WITH THE CLASH by Johnny Green and Garry Barker

Read over half and returned to library Sa 8/23/14

Johnny Green was a roadie and road manager for the Clash and he tells his story of life with the band.
It's mostly a collection of juicy anecdotes and really is only enough content for a long magazine piece.

The only thing that I learned is the Sex Pistols would come on stage with The Clash when they were in limbo (the Sex Pistols On Tour stage).

The drugs and alcohol flows freely, but not much is revealed that you wouldn't expect.

At a later date, I'll read one of the more comprehensive books about The Clash. This seemed to be mostly frosting, and not much cake. Johnny comes across as 'just one of the gang', and it's an interesting perspective, but he never provided any artistic or any other input for the band. And, to be fair, I don't think he tries to come off as if he did. 'Grins and Giggles' is what you get.

Link at Amazon-

YouTube Link for Johnny Green-

Friday, August 22, 2014


Finished Fr 8/22/14

A comprehensive look at this amazing guitarist.

Born in 1945 and grew up thinking that his grandmother and grandfather were his mother and father. Actually his sister, Pat had an affair with a Canadian soldier stationed in England during the war, and this man was his father. He never met this man.
When Eric was nine, his mother re-entered his life, and when he asked if he could call her 'mom', she said no and he should continue to act as if his grandparents were his parents.  EC claims that this had a devastating effect on his emotional development. He has a step-brother and sister by Pat.

I was surprised had how much of a beatnik he was in his early years. Very close to bluesman John Mayall- he lived at his house with John's family for a time

The love of his life, Patti Boyd, seems more like a liability
Alice Ormsby-Gore was also one of his primary love partners. She was part of England's upper class, and it's kind of strange that this poor boy from Ripley could fit in so easily.
Lory del Santo gave him his son, Connor. The boy fell out the window while the condo superintendent was telling Lory how dangerous the windows were.  The windows were like the windows in my condo, and I hate the way that they open vertically.
He married Melia on New Year's Day 2000. It was a surprise wedding as it was presented after the baptism of his two daughters, Julie and Ruth (six months and 16 years old). His new wife is from Columbus, Ohio, and that's where it took place. He's 25 years older than Melia.

A strange interlude that I wasn't aware of....when Clapton left the Yardbirds and John Mayall, he was part of a band called The Glands. They played at a mafia owned bar in Greece and he had to leave the country and was afraid that there would be dangerous repercussions with the mob. He actually toured to quite a few cities in Europe with this lineup.

His lost years are very revealing.

First went to Hazelton during the Christmas season of 1982, but it took another five years before he finally stopped.
Xmas 1982 he wanted green thermals that he would wear while fishing. He was out of his mind on Xmas Eve and after everyone had gone to bed, he continued to drink and opened all of his gifts, finding the green thermals. He put them on and went out to the local rive to fish. While fishing he fell against one of the fishing poles, and snapped it. Other fishermen were watching, and he was so embarrassed he decided that he had reached the limit with his drinking (he hadn't).

'Crossroads' is a recovery center that he setup at the Caribbean island of Antigua. It was paid for by the auction of many of Clapton's vintage guitars. Some of them went for almost a million a pop.

The book ends with the collaboration of Clapton with J. J. Cale, THE ROAD TO ESCONDIDO.

He certainly doesn't present himself as a wonderful individual, and I was left with the feeling that he's a kind of upper-class British twit. His relationships with women are atrocious.

Link to customer reviews at Amazon-

Link to his wikipedia page-

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SEE A LITTLE LIGHT- A TRAIL OF RAGE AND MELODY by Bob Mould (with Michael Azerrad)

Finished Tu 8/19/14

This is a book that I suggested that the library buy, and I was amazed that they went ahead and borrowed it from a sister library. I want to find out from Anne if this is the policy. When you suggest a book, they will see if they can get it. I was floored!

This was probably the best Rock Star bio that I've ever read. He is an amazing individual, and it really clears up his image of 'an angry man'.

The first third of the book is a detailed explanation of his early life (born, 10/16/60) in the farm town of Malone, upstate New York. His high school years, and his admission to Macalester College in Minneapolis. where he met the two other guys that would become Husker Du. It all really happened quite by accident.

Grant comes off as a kind of 'hippy-dippy', and he probably was (is), and Greg Norton is kind of a non -entity. When the band folded, at least Grant formed Nova Mob which is a worthy outfit. But Greg completely reinvented himself as a chef. I don't think he was all that musical in the beginning, but he only was a record clerk with 'artistic' taste in music (Sun Ra, 60's experimental jazz).

By the time the band that he forms with Anton Fier is formed, Husker Du becomes a footnote, and I think this is how Mould sees it. And, he really makes the case.

'Copper Blue' by Sugar is probably where he would like to see as his greatest early achievement.

The last third of the book delves into his 'gay nature', and it's very revealing. None of what he says fits into any literary framework, and his choices and attitudes about who he is and what he did are truly heartfelt and clearly his own.

I ordered BEASTER and PINK FLAG (by the English punk rock band, 'Wire') after finishing the book.

The section where he relates his eight months writing for World Championship Wrestling is crazy. It's not that wrestling was 'fake', it's just that it is all completely scripted. You might as well call Shakespeare 'fake' because it never really happened.

The fact that he was involved in Wrestling after such a stellar career in music was completely unexpected, and  I wouldn't have been more surprised if he had decided to become a dental technician or even a long distance truck driver.

He's another rock musician who implies that he has a superior IQ (Warren Zevon). And, he might even be smarter than Warren. Certainly he was more successful at keeping his life and 'the books' in order. And, Kris Kristofferson is a Rhodes Scholar.

I don't think I will ever be able to see someone wearing a 'Bears'(football) tee shirt and not think about his experience with 'Bears'.

The book is a tremendous expose about his experience in the Music Biz and also works as a brilliant bio of a gay man. And, his sexual identity is laboriously crafted by him, and he absolutely refuses to be nothing but true to himself.... as it most definitely should be....

I was surprised that there was absolutely no mention of David Bowie because I would have thought this artist would have had some kind of a connection with him, and the absence of any kind of a rapport is kind of odd.

Link to the book on Amazon-

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Finished Sa 8/16/14

This was borrowed from the library and I read it, off and on, for a couple of weeks. But, if you have any interest in the band, I don't think there is anything better or more all-inclusive.

A stellar, in-depth biography of the band, and I especially enjoyed the 'early years' section. Although the book was released in 2008, that pretty much was near the end of the band. The last band album was in 2009, THE ETERNAL.

The book opens with the author marveling that Itunes filed one of their early releases under the category of, 'Unclassifiable'. I've often wondered about who comes up with these ridiculous categories, and 'Alternative' to what???

Kim Gordon (1953), Thurston Moore (1958) Lee Ranaldo (1956) Steve Shelley (1962)
Kim born in Rochester, NY but raised in Southern California. Her father was an academic; Sociology professor.
Thurston was born in Coral Gables, FL, but raised in Bethel, CN. Although he went to college for a couple of years, he never graduated and became one of the early people on NY's Scum Rock Scene. His father was also a teacher, but on the high school level.  Kim had a degree and she offered the panache of Art and Education, and he had the 'street creds'.
Renaldo was born on Long Island, and was in the Glenn Branca electric guitar orchestra. Numerous electric guitars droning on the same note, or different notes to create alternative sounds and timbres. Moore was also a fan of this type of sound, and was crucial for the flavor of SY.
Steve Shelley is much younger than the other band members, but in the beginning seemed like the 'mature' voice that was lacking from the rest of the members. He seemed to manage the band when the other three members got 'up in the clouds'. He had experience of playing 'on the road' with the punk band, THE CRUCIFUCKS. This band was signed to Jello Biafra's label, Alternative Tentacles
The band mostly were their own 'agents and managers'

Jim O'Rourke is an amazing character and he seems to be the musical genius that influenced much of the music that I really like. The later Sonic Youth and the best stuff by Wilco (YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT, A GHOST IS BORN)

The sound of the band is a distillation of No Wave. At first SY dropped melody for a chance to experiment with the power of raw sound. They used cheap guitars, weirdly tuned, and often jammed paraphernalia under the strings to create otherworldly sounds.

Link to Amazon Customer Reviews page-

Friday, August 15, 2014



Link to page with interview with the author-

Gwen Robison
Father has broken his hip, and Gwen is back at the family home to take care of him. House was original and not welcomed by the community. He is a professor of medicine. Wife, Tally, died of cancer when Gwen was in college.

Two much older siblings. Miller and Fiona (Fee)
Tally was kind of a hippie mom and fancied herself a bit of an artist

Halloran family
Gordon (Go Go) The youngest of the three brothers. Possibly mentally challenged, alcoholic, sexually abused? Commits suicide by car in the first chapter. Two years on the wagon/member of AA/ gets somewhat drunk and decides to crash into the 'Jersey Wall'.  What's this?

Sean- Mr. Perfect. The middle child and darling of the family. Lives in St. Petersburg, FL.
Tim- Oldest and married to Arlene. Three blonde and beautiful daughters. Michelle, Lisa, and Karen. Two oldest experiment with sex and drugs. Tim is assistant state's attorney for Baltimore county.

Mickey (McKay) Dark and beautiful. First friends with Gwen. Mother not married to Rick who runs an auto parts store and handy mechanic. Rick is true to Gwen and not the real father of Joey. But, pays support even though he could probably push the paternity issue. Mickey goes to public schools where as the rest of the gang go to Catholic schools.

Gwen is trying to get a divorce from her husband, Karl. She wants to not live with himn for a period of two years so that she can get the divorce. However, she is present at bedtime and breakfast for Annabelle, their Chinese adopted child.

Chicken George (real name not mentioned, but this name is taken from a character in Roots). Died during Hurricane ?. May or may not have been 'touching' Go Go when Mickey and him went out to check on the shack.  

Sean and Gwen had a sexual affair when she was 14 and he was fifteen. Tim still a virgin, and very curious about what they were doing. The affair ended abruptly after the death of Chicken George.

Sean has a 'perfect' son named Duncan. Tim's girls (and Tim) think he's a suck ass.

P. 117 is kind of a wrap-up of the story.

VOODOO, LTD. by Ross Thomas

Finished Th 8/14/14

I was looking through my collection for something by Ross MacDonald, and found this one that was written in 1992.

The characters names are probably the most striking thing in the novel, although the story was inventive, and kept me interested until the very end. These characters are used in several of his novels.

Ione Gamble- Hollywood actress and director. In this book she is framed for murder and blackmail. She was drunk and arrives at the home of billionaire, William A.C. Rice IV (Billy). "Was disliked or despised by everyone who knew him for more than three minutes". Ione is 'black-out' drunk and shoots a Chagall painting in the foyer, but only finds the body. She can't remember a thing, and the plot hinges on the location of a pair of questionable, brother and sister team of hypnotists who will help her recover the lost memories of that New Year's Eve night.

The title is a bastardization of the names of the two owners of the detective agency.
Artie Wu and Quincy Durant. 'WuDu'. Durant is also known as, 'that fucking Durant'.

Booth Stallings and Georgia Blue. They are a couple and he is a terrorism expert and significantly older than the rest of the characters. Georgia is an ex-CIA operative.

Otherguy Overby (Maurice Overby) Works with Artie and Quincy on firm business

The reveal is that one of Billy's neighbors shot him because the billionaire's house was blocking his view of the ocean. Eddie Cleveland was his name. And, Jim Broach was Ione's lawyer and manager. He was trying to blackmail her with the tapes of her hypnotized interview.

Hughes and Pauline Goodison are the brother and sister hypnotist team who falsely claim that they are husband and wife. They engage in incest and attempt sexual assignations with numerous people. Hughes and Pauline are murdered by Jack Broach.

Howard Mott, a Washington Lawyer takes Ione's case in criminal court. He's a recurring character in Thomas's works.  

Colleen Cullen is a black owner of a seedy bed and breakfast in Topanga Canyon and deals in almost anything illegal (guns, drugs, etc.). The climactic shootout occurs in her establishment.

THE TOUGH GUYS by Mickey Spillane

I read and finished the first two novellas in early August, 2014. The book included three short novels which were published in magazines during the early sixties.




Nothing terribly memorable, but the usual (predictable) 'tough guy' attitude (hence the name), and a few descriptive phrases were worth it. But, the overall plot to both stories has escaped me, and only after a couple of weeks.

'Her hair was so shiny that you could bathe in it'.

Spillane's link to wikipedia-

Friday, August 8, 2014

I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD by Crystal Zevon


Finished Fr 8/8/14

The book is a collections of reminiscences, parts of interviews, and random observations by nearly all of the important people in Warren Zevon's life. He comes across as a very deeply flawed individual who acted even worse under the influence. And, he was nearly always 'under the influence'.

When he finally stopped alcohol he found that his AA sponsor had used heroin while in the program. He was told that the program was 'divine', but that the individuals involved it were deeply flawed. He never attended another AA meeting, yet continued to abstain for another seventeen years.

He was always abrasive and belligerent with the people in his life and he seemed to feel that if he didn't 'push it', they would take advantage of him. Once the David Letterman program tried to get him to fly coach to appear on the show. He became enraged and said that the coach section of a  plane had recycled air, and he would only arrive sick. By saving a couple of hundred bucks, they would undermine a multimillion dollar television program. Someone overheard his comment about 'recycled air', and he admitted that he just made it up. He claimed that it wasn't about 'making sense', but if you ever let them put you in coach, just once,  you'd be in coach for the rest of your life.

Friends with many writers including Mitch Albom, Carl Hiaasen, and Steven King.

He was able to write and score music and was the musical director for The Everly Brothers during the 70's.

He was musically competent and could play piano at the classically trained level.

Developed lung cancer (Mesothelioma)

When he was diagnosed he went back to drinking and drugging. Billy Bob Thornton saw him drinking a five hundred dollar bottle of scotch in which he was mixing liquid morphine.

Zevon found it ironic that when he was found to have cancer, doctors would force upon him drugs that he previously had to resort to intricate illegal means to acquire. Maybe he felt that the legal system involving drugs was just as flawed as AA, and this is a reason why he 'non-complied'.

Ryan Rayston was the woman who was with him when he died. Although they did not have a sexual relationship, she was able to tolerate is extremely aberrant behavior-both with drugs and alcohol, but also his sexual escapades.

March 19, 1986- Last drink and beginning of his 'clean up' which lasted until the diagnosis (December, 2002). However his extreme OCD continued to the very end. 

Would insist on the color gray for almost everything.  He collected hundreds and hundreds of gray, Calvin Klein tee shirts. After his death, they were distributed to his friends and family as keepsakes. 

Link to an article about the book that was published in The Guardian-

His entry at wikipedia-

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ELVIS COSTELLO- A Biography by Tony Clayton-Lea

Finished Tu 8/5/14

The author does an excellent job of describing his subject, but the book was written in 1999, and is woefully out of date.

Detailed account of the beginning of his 'sound', and his adventures with women, drugs, and drink.
Bebe Buell (ex-Playmate and fashion model) in particular, yet not enough on Cait O'Riordan, his wife from 1986 until 2002.

THE BIG WHEEL by Bruce Thomas is mentioned and Costello says that it basically is the tale of a man who is not very happy with what he was doing, and Costello is kind of sad that he didn't have more fun. I have read Thomas's book, and I think this is an accurate way to look at it. He says that his relationship with the bass player is 'pretty non-existent', yet he did engage his services for BRUTAL YOUTH and ALL THIS USELESS BEAUTY

The Attractions were never a group of friends or buddies, but were conscientiously assembled by Elvis. They were never meant to be like The Monkees, although Pete Thomas has been with Costello pretty much throughout his career. The book outlines the demise of the Pub Rock scene in Britain, and this is where Elvis found the band. Although Steve Nieve is from The Royal College of Music.

Davey Faragher is the bass player that became The Imposters and Bruce Thomas's replacement. He's from the American band, CRACKER and was in John Hiatt's band (Nick Lowe-lifelong Elvis collaborator- backed Hiatt in 'The Village People', one of the most prestigious backing bands of all time). This occurred in 2000, so that's why it's not in the book. He's been with the band almost fifteen years!!!

Married Diana Krall in 2003. Has twin boys.

His wikipedia entry-

Six reviews of the book at Amazon-

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Finished Sa 8/2/14

I never particularly cared for the music of Guns N' Roses, but I always liked their EP, 'The Spaghetti Incident'. It seemed far too punk for a mainstream, heavy-metal hair band, and probably that's due to the influence of their bassist, Duff McKagan (Michael Andrew-1964).

He's from the Seattle area, and grew up and was friends with many of the Grunge/Punk superstars of the 80's. Mother Love Bone/Soundgarden/Alice In Chains/Curt Cobain/Soul Asylum/ and all of the rest.

The youngest of eight children. His father was a fireman and much older than most fathers. He respected his father for being a fireman (thought this was an admirable occupation), but all of that changed when his father cheated on his mother and the marriage broke up. It was only until he was much older that he was able to become close to his father, but his mother was always a driving force in his life.

When he left for LA from Seattle, he always had a plan, and even though he never really had much of a roof over his head, he always had a job. Minimum wage jobs, although he was able to become somewhat trained as a pastry chef.

The family was very much affected by his Depression Era father. 'The McKagan's never live beyond their means' (He said this on the David Fricke interview at the Strand Bookstore). "FHB" means, 'Family Hold Back'. When guests showed up for dinner, his family would let each other know that they should hold back so that the guest would have enough to eat'.

He seems very sympathetic to Axle Rose who is generally perceived to be the villain of the band. Rose sounds like he suffers from mental issues and Duff describes his life-long battle with panic attacks.

After he kicked drugs and alcohol he went back to school, first to Santa Monica Community College, and later to Seattle University's Albers School of Business. He went from not knowing a thing about finance to becoming actively involved in managing his portfolio, which includes everything from stocks and mutual funds to property. He writes a financial column for He is co-founder of a business venture called 'Meridian Rock' which provides investment counselling to rock stars.

The book was very readable and he apparently wrote the book himself. There is no ghost writer (or, at least none is credited).

To kick his habits he got involved in mountain biking and martial arts. And, reading seemed to provide an escape and a blueprint to get a handle on his life. He never really completed high school, and went back when he was in his late twenties to get a GED , community college credit, and then on to a four year college. Also, some on-line credits. 

I liked the idea that he thought that he was alone in not understanding the financial contracts that he and the band had signed. Although he did say that he demanded to know the real addresses of his money minders. More than an implied threat that if things went south, he'd come a looking. He brought it to an MBA (I think this was his brother) and he said that he didn't even understand the contract. I guess the banking industry loves this idea that what they do is so complicated that 'mere mortals' cannot possibly comprehend what they do, so it's best just to 'trust in your betters'. 

It's hard to believe that anyone could drink ten bottles of wine a day, yet he claims that this is what it took when he stopped drinking whiskey and opted for something less strong.

Duff Beer from the Simpsons is named after him, although the show scoffs at this idea.

McKagan sounds like an interesting person and would probably stand out in any endeavour. 
He's probably a rock star that would be interesting even if he never played a note. Although, he never mentions much about what he listens to, and it doesn't sound like he is a collector of music, but he's obviously a fan. 

YouTube 36" video/interview about IT'S SO EASY-

Link to his entry on Wikipedia-