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.