Saturday, December 26, 2015


Finished Xmas Day Fr 12/25/15 after lunch at Jamie and Melissa's with The Brandenburgs and her family from Taylorville.

page on wikipedia-,_Take_My_Hand

at amazon-

I loved the book! Great writing and a gritty and wonderful story.
However, I thought that the psychiatrist was 'the second killer'. It was like I had 'mis-remembered' the novel because I had read it before.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

CAITLIN- Life with Dylan Thomas by Caitlin Thomas with George Tremlett

Finished Su 12/21/15

I got this after I saw the film,  'SET FIRE TO THE STARS' with Elijah Wood. Wood played  John M. Brinnin,  the man that sponsored Dylan Thomas's tour of America in 1950. The legend of the drunken and debauched, wildman poet.

Not a long book, and strictly from Caitlin's perspective. He died very young, 1953, and she lived to 1994.
The movie reminded me of Charles Dickens tours of America
He was mostly a beer drinker.
Stole from his friends and pawned the loot. Never cared about money. Gave away what he and Caitlin did not drink.
Both he and his wife were barely five feet tall, and she was the stronger of the pair.
He had many affairs, but according to her, he wasn't very sexual. More needy in a childlike way.
She was a professional dancer in the late 1930's before she gave it up to be the mother of his children.

The book was OK, and about interesting people and I'm glad I only invested a few hours. The movie was better.  

Caitlin's page wikipedia-

Amazon page for the book-

Dylan Thomas wikipedia-

Monday, December 21, 2015

THE WIDOWS' ADVENTURES by Charles Dickinson

Finished Su 12/20/15

This is one of my books that had set on the shelves for I don't know how long. There is no record of when I bought this novel. When I finished the book, I really wanted to know what happened to the characters on down the line. This hardly ever happens to me. I was enchanted.

Two sisters in their late sixties, one blind and one a heavy Old Style drinker, decide to drive from Chicago to Los Angeles. And, the blind sister is the driver. Adventures galore.

Amanda kills her abusive boyfriend and flees to LA and stays with Ray

Ina Lockwood; Vincent- husband; Ray- son; Annie- daughter; Meg- granddaughter Don is Annie's husband
Helene Bolton; Randy- husband; Amanda- daughter

The author is an editor at the Chicago Tribune. Stories published in many magazines and he has written several novels.

page at wikipedia-

Saturday, December 19, 2015

TRAIN DREAMS by Denis Johnson

Finished Mo 12/14/15

This was the featured book for the Contemporary Book Club. I think I was the only member who liked the book. The kindest comment was that the book was very short.

I loved it and I think it was one of the best books that the club has read. The writing was superior and it gave a realistic portrait of life in the nineteenth century American West.

The life and times of Robert Grainier. 1886-1965
Parents unknown. Brought up by his uncle's family in the wilds of Idaho. Married to Claire, daughter, Kate. They were killed in the fire that burned through the Moyea Valley.

Kate was four years old and comes back near the end of the novella. She visits Robert and has been raised by wolves. This incident was especially irritating to the club members. I thought it might have been a dream sequence or possibly Bob has lost his mind.

Dies in his cabin and is not found until the following Spring.

It's really a series of vignettes; some funny, some tragic, and some 'head-scratching'.

An articulate portrait, worts and all.

Writer's page wikipedia-

Customer Comments at Amazon-

GASPING FOR AIRTIME- Two Years In The Trenches of Saturday Night Live by Jay Mohr

Finished Sa 12/19/15

This was one of my books and it was odd that I found this after listening to his podcasts, MOHR STORIES.

In a long interview with Marc Maron I learned that Mohr's life basically turns on an incident in which he knowingly stole a sketch from a fellow comedian. He mentions it in the book and it involved his stint on Saturday Night Live when he ran out of ideas for sketches that he was writing. He doesn't make a big deal of it in the book, but it affected him very dramatically.

The book is well written and the most revealing aspect is his description of Panic Attacks. He makes the experience crystal clear.

Jay Mohr is a man with a big chip on his shoulder, but after reading the book anyone can understand the reasons why.

His idol is Chris Farley, but I really can't get into his comedy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

FINNEGAN'S WEEK- by Joseph Wambaugh

Finished Mo 12/14/15

Lightly comic. Tone similar to something by Donald E. Westlake. An entertaining read and never a dull moment.

Two truck drivers arrange to have their truck stolen so that they can pocket hush money. Before they abandon the truck, they steal two thousand pairs of boots from a navy warehouse where they were making a delivery. They didn't know it, but there boss was illegally transporting dangerous chemicals, and there were two barrels of waste on the truck.

Three cops, two female and one male, collaborate to find the guilty parties.

Finbar Finnegan- cop/actor/ladies man. three sisters and married three times.

Bobbie Ann Dogget (Bad Dog Dogget) Young Navy detective. Loves the job.

Nell Salter- Environmental cop in the DA's office of San Diego.

Jules Temple- GREEN EARTH HAULING AND DISPOSAL. Psychopath. Runs the company that disposes of waste illegally.

Shelby Pate- Driver/Biker. Hooked on Meth and Booze.

Abel Durazo- Mexican Driver. Arranges a Mexican fence for the boots in Tijuana.


After a so-so show in Fugitive Nights (1991), Wambaugh returns nearly in top form with a very funny suspenser about toxic waste. Finbar Finnegan, a San Diego police detective and sometime actor, has a midlife crisis at 45, his existence having been dominated by three sisters while growing up and by three ex-wives as an adult. His theme song is "Someone to Watch Over Me"--he needs a mommy/wife, has sworn off marriage, but finds himself tied ticklingly to two female detectives at once, both of whom see him as romantically interesting despite immense shortcomings: happy, cheerful, pistol-packing Petty Officer "Ba-a-d Dog" Bobbie Ann Doggett, 28, an investigator for the Navy who's looking for 2,000 boots hijacked from a warehouse; and District Attorney's Investigator Nell Salter, 43, once divorced, and looking for a stolen truck filled with supertoxic waste. The truck actually was "stolen" by its tow drivers--porky meth-head Shelby Pate and his Mexican sidekick, Abel Durazo, who lifted the boots while picking up drums of toxic waste at a naval station, took them to a fence in Tijuana, then pretended their truck was stolen while they ate lunch. The truck, however, gets sold to a Mexican pottery maker, who repaints uses it to deliver pots to San Diego. During all this, the waste drums still on the truck spill horrible Guthion over two kids, killing one of them. In their investigation, the three San Diego law folk wind up in weirdest Tijuana for some surreal surveillance duty--and have a punchy pair of drunk scenes that show Wambaugh at his cleverest in the sexy, gin-soaked Nick & Nora Department. Smart, crunchy dialogue--too topical, yes, but for now quite witty enough.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

TERRORIST by John Updike

Finished Tu 12/8/15

One of my novels that I first read and finished St. Patrick's Day, Sa 3/17/07

Ahmed, son of Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who abandoned the family when Ahmed was three, is converted to Islam. He's honestly drawn to the faith of Islam, but becomes caught up in an American inspired sting operation (not revealed until the very end, and the last part of the novel is probably the weakest).

Jacob (Jack) Levy is Ahmed's high school counselor and he suspects that Ahmed is going down the wrong path. He ends up having an affair with Ahmed's mother. Jack's wife is grossly obese and although Jack loves her, he's not sexually attracted. Jewish Guilt.

Tylenol Jones- Bully at Ahmed's school. Tylenol is friends with Joryleen Grant. She sings in the church choir and invites Ahmed to come and see her. He does. Tylenol becomes Joryleen's pimp.The Chehab's own a furniture store, Excellency Home Furnishings that hires Ahmed to deliver the furniture. Charlie, son of the owner, introduces Ahmed to the idea of killing for 'the movement'. He's a US informant.

Mr. Levy gets in the truck with Ahmed for the final run. He's to blow up a NYC tunnel at rush hour.

Shaikh Rashid- Ahmed's Iman.


wikipedia page-

Gives you an idea as to why and how the young are converted to radical Islam.

Very few would arrive at these conclusions by themselves, so the authorities should keep an eye on the Iman's. I'm sure that they do. These are the guys that are making converts, but of course, these days social media can 'convert/groom' the impressionable to do the evil deeds.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

RAVELSTEIN by Saul Bellow

Finished Sa 12/5/15

This is from my collection and looks like I got it when I was a member of Quality Paperback Books. According to the flyleaf, I read half of it in late February, 2001, and I checked out THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND by Allan Bloom from the library.

This time through, I really enjoyed the book I'm blown away that Bellow wrote this when he was 85.

Stunning tribute to his friend and colleague, Allan Bloom (Abe Ravelstein). Roman a clef.

Six and a half feet tall and addicted to 'the finer things', and always in debt. Constantly talking and smoking, bald, opinionated and loved to gossip. He had a multitude of friends at every level of government and business. Always the first to know of a dramatic change in government or business policy. Asian partner, Niki (in the novel)

The last quarter of the book is about Bellow's (Chick in the book) near death experience. He was poisoned by eating a tainted fish in San Juan, Puerto Rico while on vacation with Rosamund after Ravelstein's passing.

 The ciguatoxins (CTXs) are a group of marine biotoxins, which are the cause of a foodborne intoxication known as ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). CFP is associated with consumption of coral reef fish from tropical and subtropical waters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Caribbean sea.

He was first diagnosed with Dengue. I wonder if this really happened to Saul Bellows.

Last line of the book, and perfectly sums it up-

"You don't easily give up a creature like Ravelstein to death"


Thursday, December 3, 2015

ACAPULCO GOLD by Edwin Corley

Finished We 12/2/15

An examination of the early 70's advertising world with a twist. but even almost a half century ago, there is no way that the drug laws could have been changed by presidential wishes. And now, it would be absolutely impossible. A huge segment of government is entrenched with this policy that really has almost no basis in reality.
The prices of things and the salaries are a riot! Everything was so much cheaper and Mike Evans's salary is only $28,000 a year. Today, that job would probably pay at least a million and all kinds of other perks.

A kind of 'star crossed lover tale'. Mike righteously drops Jean, the pot head, and reunites with his ex-wife, Laura.

Mike has an inferiority complex, in so far as he is unable to be married to a woman who has access to more money than he does. She is from a super-rich family. And once the Marijuana Account at Morton, Keyes, and Cooper allows him to become wealthy, they get back together. The Pot-Society angle is lost, and this relationship seems to be more important....a 'false note' to me.

Great idea for a novel, but very strangely handled. First published 1974; copyrighted 1972

Sunday, November 29, 2015

JAMBEAUX by Laurence Gonzales

Finished Sa 11/28/15

This is one of my novels and I finished it the first time in 1996. I don't know when I bought it, but there is a review from the Chicago Tribune, Su 1/20/80 taped to the inside flyleaf.

Unfortunately the book is very dated and clearly does not in any way reflect what the music industry of today, however, it was still a fantastic read.

It's kind of an amalgamation of The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and possibly "Traffic"( the Butch character on reeds made me think of the more jazzy sound of Traffic).

Page- writer guitarist; the novel is told from his point of view.

Link- bassist and served in Vietnam with Page

(The Vietnam experience is presented as a kind of metaphor for the band's assault on 'The Music Industry')

Butch- keyboards and sax

Scoop- lead guitar and friends with an albino guitarist, Sonny (obviously modeled after The Winter Bros)

Blye- the English drummer. Possibly the wildest man in the group.

Perry- The engineer and manager of the group; Bill Graham/George Marin/Steve Albini

Jill- Perry's contact with the band. She is Page's lover, but, in the end, can't commit to him. She is too attached to her career.

Steve- Page's brother. The novel begins with Page, alone on his ranch in Michigan. He's visited by Steve who wants him to reform the band. It's not revealed until the end, but Link has died from an overdose, and this is probably the biggest reason that Page has withdrawn. And, the novel ends with the possibility that Jambeaux might reform with Steve playing bass with the original lineup.

I was looking for a more modern presentation of the music industry and saw a novel called 'Powder' on the English Amazon. It was only a penny, but almost twelve bucks in shipping.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Finished Mo 11/23/15

This is one of my books that I bought at the library book sale on Sa 6/15/96. It is three novellas by O'Hara called, SERMONS AND SODA-WATER.

Jim Malloy is a newspaperman and 'media flack' who wrote obituaries. The novel demonstrates how little these pieces actually tell about the person.

He's looking back at the interaction he had many years ago with an actress, Charlotte Sears.

She's a very smart and knowledgeable actress who is involved with a corrupt financier, Thomas Rodney Hunterden.

Malloy is her driver and handles publicity. She 'fills him in' on what is really going on in the industry.

The end of the novel concerns a party in which Malloy tells Hunterden what he thinks of him and Charlotte leaves with Hunterden. Although Malloy has been drinking, Hunterden and Sears drive back to NYC and Hunterden is killed and Sears is disfigured.

The book is a good description of The Rich in the 1930's and a cold and unflinching look at what the entertainment industry was like.

I'll probably read the other two selections in the trilogy. Each novel is only one hundred pages or less.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Finished Su 11/22/15

The novel is just under one hundred pages, but it was a fascinating read.

This is the kind of book that would work great for a book club.

Set in 1957 written in 1959.

Title refers to the 1957 Columbus, Ohio commencement exercises at Ohio State. Ron, Brenda's brother graduated from that university. He's a jock and gets married near the end of the novel. He wanted to be a gym teacher but gives up his dreams to work for his father's plumbing company.

Brenda Patimkin and Neil Klugman have an affair. Neil lives with his Aunt Gladys and Uncle Otto in Newark. The Patinkin's live in the suburbs. They have fled the inner city and are much wealthier than Neil's family. His parents live in Arizona for their health. He has been in the service, finished college (Rutgers in Newark), and he works in the public library. He's scared that he'll be stuck there forever. His dreary future is closing in on him.

Over a few summertime weeks, Neil and Brenda have an affair at her parent's house before she returns to college in Boston. Her father is very supportive of Brenda and her mother is vindictive.

Slightly before the pill and before the sexual revolution of the 60's.

Neil tries to get Brenda to buy an IUD at the Margaret Sanger Institute in NYC. She does, but this marks the end of the affair.

The book ends with the question, 'Brenda, can you admit to your parents that we are sexually active'?  And, the answer is....NO.

I really wonder how today's college aged people would view the attitudes of the novel.
Although it's about sexual attitudes, it really is about recognizing and understanding what is a true relationship.

Friday, November 20, 2015

THE FAR CRY by Fredric Brown

Finished Fr 11/20/15

One of my books that I'd read before (Sa 12/7/03); reissued on True Crime/ Black Lizard Press

George Weaver- Lives in Kansas City. Mentally unstable. Recovering from a breakdown. He and his wife, Vi, are heavy drinkers. They have two daughters, seven and five; the girls are at summer camp.

George is in New Mexico recovering. He's looking for a house so that Vi and he can spent the summer. Locates a cabin near Taos that he can make some repairs and live the summer for free.

Luke Ashley is a writer and friend of George's. He tells him of a 'lonely hearts' murder that happened at the house eight years before. A man by the name of Nelson enticed a young woman, Jenny Ames to come to Taos and marry him. He kills the woman the day that she arrived.

George is obsessed with the killing. Realizes that the girl's suitcases were never found. He locates them buried on the property. Later finds a letter from Nelson that Jenny had saved in some blank pages. George finds that Jenny was from Barton, Ca. and he begins an odyssey to find out what happens. Finds that Jenny's last name was not Ames, but Ailes.

Goes to Barton and gets drunk. Tells Jenny's mother that she is dead. We don't know at the time, but the woman believes that George is the killer and notifies the authorities. Her daughter is not the body found on the Taos property because her daughter had a mole on her thigh and was two inches taller.

He finds that Nelson went to Tucson from treatment of his tuberculosis. Paintings at the facility prove that he was there and he died of the disease several years ago.

The final scene of the novel the local sheriff in Taos visits George and tells him that he has been under observation on his trek for the killer. He would have been jailed a number of times for his drinking but the cops knew he was writing up the incident for a magazine article.

Then, George realizes that Jenny escaped from Nelson on the night of the killing. Vi has the same mole, and he met up with her near the time of the killing eight years ago. For some reason he decides that Vi must die, so he is going to stab her at the close of the book.


Why wouldn't Vi have reacted to the cabin? She doesn't seem ill at ease at any time and wouldn't she have some kind of a reaction if this was the place that she was almost stabbed to death?

A slim novel and can be read in a couple of sittings. A nice slice of Noir and a pretty good example of 50's mystery writing. (1951)

Link to author's page at wikipedia-

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The JOHNSTOWN FLOOD by David McCullough

Finished Tu 11/17/15

The November selection for the Contemporary Book Club. Last year I suggested that we read one non-fiction and the group agreed.

This is McCullough's first novel from 1968 and he was born in Pittsburg and very familiar with this tragic incident in American history.

I enjoyed the book and I think that most of the members liked it.

Link to the YouTube video that is an expanded version of the film that you would see if you visited The Johnstown Flood Museum. David McCullough is the host of the show.

Link to Johnstown Flood Museum-

Friday, November 13, 2015


Finished Fr 11/13/15
I had read this novel many years ago, and the reason I'm rereading it is that THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH is the January, 2016 selection for The Classic Book Club. I've got HERZOG and a couple of others to read before the meeting.

Set in NYC during the late 1960's

Elegantly dressed black man is a pickpocket on bus and notices that Mr. Sammler has observed him. He exposes himself to Sammler in the lobby of his apartment building. Near the end of the novel, he is attacked by Mr. Sammler's son in law.

Elya Gruner is a rich doctor who supports Sammler and his daughter. Sammler is a Polish jew and has lost his wife in the holocaust. Sammler was underneath a pile of bodies and assumed that he was also shot. Lost an eye- knocked out by Nazi.

Sammler covered the Six Day War in 1967 for a small magazine

He lives with Margotte; distant relative. She's talkative.

Wallace and Angela are Dr. Gruner's two adult children. Wallace is a genius, but never completes anything. Has a scheme to fly above rich houses and take pictures of their plants and flowers so that the owners' know what they have. (I could use this service on Westview).

Angela is blowsy and sexy. Part of the Andy Warhol crowd.

Shula is Sammler's daughter and she steals a copy of a manuscript written by a professor that is studying HG Wells's writings about Life On The Moon.  Sammler knew Wells when he lived in London. Shula spent part of WWII in a Catholic convent. Sammler spent part of the war hiding in a cemetery.

Link to author on wikipedia-

Link to novel at wikipedia-

Monday, November 9, 2015

THE ALTERNATION by Kingsley Amis

Finished Mo 11/9/15

The author is the father of Martin Amis, TIME'S ARROW.

An interesting novel, but I don't think that the concept of 'alternate history' worked very well. The premise is that the 1976 (the year that the novel was released) that the book is set is a time in which The Protestant Reformation never happened and the Catholic Church has suppressed science and has become the most powerful force in the world. New England is basically the USA and exhibits slightly more freedom than the Catholic Empire. The novel has a medieval feel and almost no part of the 1970's can be detected. Cars and trains are similar to the real thing (the descriptions are not the best, but it is addressed), but flight and electricity are thought to be evil.

TIME ROMANCE- (TM) SciFi type of literature that is frowned upon.
COUNTERFEIT WORLD- (CW) Alternative history fiction (Harry Turtledove; the novel refrences PKDick's THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE.

Novel on wikipedia- (This article has more detail- makes more sense- than the novel; an example of an idea that is much more successful than the execution)

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Finished Sa 11/7/15

I first read and finished this novel on We 11/22/10. I loved it then, and loved it more this time through.

Charles Lindbergh is working with the Nazis because his son was kidnapped and held by the Nazis. However, he does agree with some of the National Socialist policy, but is not a hardliner about the Final Solution.

In this novel, after Walter Winchell is killed Lindbergh flies to Louisville, gives a speech, and returns to Washington, but his plane is lost and he's never seen again. Wheeler, the Vice President, takes control and spins a tale about a Jewish conspiracy, and he arrests all of the remaining Jewish leaders in the US. Philip's aunt hides in his house.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Charles's wife, finally rests control of the government and the US goes to war with Germany. Philip's father and Sandy travel to Kentucky to get Sheldon. His mother was killed by marauding mobs and Sheldon is left alone. Philip's father is still suffering from his brutal fight with Alvin, Philip's cousin.

The epilogue tells the true story of the historical people in the novel.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood

Finished Th 11/5/15

Strange presentation, but 100%  effective.This is now one of my favorite novels and it sat on my bookshelf unread for god knows how many years. I hope that there are hundreds more just like it, gathering dust and waiting to be discovered.

Iris Chase Griffen is telling the story of her life. She's in her 80's, and grew up, with her sister, Ruth, in Port Ticonderoga, Canada. Her grandfather Benjamin, started a button company that was the town's major employer. Her father, Norval, took it over after the first world war, and the company floundered due to labor problems and a lackluster economy.

In an attempt to salvage the company in the early thirties, he makes a deal with an amoral, yet successful businessman, Richard Griffen. Norval essentially allows Richard to marry his daughter, Iris, if Richard will save his business and keep his employees on the job. Richard does neither, and it is revealed in the end of the book, that he was sexually abusing Ruth throughout the marriage to Iris. He got 'both daughters for the price of one'.

Alex Thomas is a labor agitator who is falsely accused of burning down the button factory and murdering the night watchman. He flees and is helped by Iris and Ruth. They hide him in the attic of the ancestral home, Avilion. Both Iris and Ruth have affairs with Alex. Alex is a science fiction author and 'The Blind Assassin' is one of his tales. Ruth is impregnated by Alex and Richard has her imprisoned in a mental hospital where the child is aborted. Later Ruth commits suicide when she learns that Alex died in the Spanish Civil War.

"What does god wear?"

"What age are you in heaven?"

Benjamin- grandfather
Norval- father

Richard Griffen- wealthy amoral businessman

Winifred (Fred)- Richard's conniving sister

Absolutely beautiful descriptions, and Attwood's insights are astounding.

on wikipedia-

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Finished Tu 10/27/15

Loved it from page one....FIVE STARS... Great saga of a family and a really innovative storyline. You don't even know what the novel is really about until about forty pages in.

Daughter and father relationship against the backdrop of the turbulent sixties.

Rather a depressing ending. Does Roth feel that all is doomed? No real option to prevent the deterioration of all things.

There is a movie in the works (Begun Sept. 2015)

Page 402 uses the words 'American Pastoral'. A reference to Thanksgiving, a day in which all differences, religious and otherwise, are to be put aside.

wikipedia page-

Friday, October 23, 2015


Finished Th 10/22/15

Although this novel is not the basis for the 1933 film, THE INVISIBLE MAN, Philip Wylie helped with the script. The genesis for that film was from an H.G.Wells novel, however the subject of 'invisible men' was big during the thirties.

I felt that the premise was hard to accept especially since all of us have been living in the 'War On Terror' for a couple of decades.

One man (invisible or not) doesn't seem that much of a threat these days. I kept thinking that all the authorities had to do was wait until winter and then Carpenter wouldn't be able to go outside because clothes would make him visible.

I still want to read Wylie's GENERATION OF VIPERS.

The author's page on wikipedia-

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Karilyne's Korner: An Allert Village Novel (Allert Village Novels Book 1) by Kristy Woods

Finished Th 10/22/15

I got this for 99 cents to read on the Kindle app.

This is the October selection for the Contemporary Book Club. The author will be at the meeting when we discuss the book.

A very sweet Romance novel and I read it in a couple of sittings.

Kind of like a John Denver song. You definitely are 'moved', but in  a slightly corny and manipulated fashion. I felt that I had to suspend all ties to the real world, and just 'give in to the spell' of the novel. But, this prevented me from identifying with the characters because they are clearly not based on anything in the real world. This could be seen as the novel's strength, and also, as the novel's primary weakness.

All in all, an enjoyable read, but a bit too sentimental and soppy for my taste.

I'm looking forward to meeting the author because in the prologue to the novel she mentions that she began her love of reading at the Lincoln Library West Branch.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Finished Sa 10/17/15
This was one of my paperbacks, and according to the flyleaf, I bought it Mo 2/29/88, but I know that I must have read this novel at least one time (probably more) before that.

This is the kind of book that can be read several times over the years, and it never grows old and new ideas can be found. Without a doubt, a true Sci Fi Classic.

Link to wikipedia-

This time, I didn't find the inclusion of the 'arch-angel' sections so clumsy. Now it made more sense and added to the theme of 'after-life' and some type of 'divine' involvement.

Although I felt it was a pretty long novel, Heinlein's original manuscript was quite much longer. I'd like to find this unedited edition and see what it's like.

Monday, October 12, 2015


Finished Mo 10/12/15

My hardbound copy which I had never read.

No aliens or alternative universes, but much more terrifying.

Michael Ackblom repressed watched his father attack and kill is mother when he was eight years old. And, when he was fourteen, he discovered that his father was a serial killer and he shot him.

He spends the rest of his life traveling the country with his dog, Rocky, telling people his story in long barroom chats.

Rocky was abused before he came to Spencer and is basically terrified of everything. He is every bit as 'human' as any of the other characters in the book.

Because his father was not only a notorious serial killer (over 40 kills), he was also a famous artist. Michael (now known as Spencer Grant) becomes a wizard at computers and is able to bury is old identity. He also is an ex-Army Ranger.

When he enters a bar called 'The Red Door' he meets the love of his life. Valerie Keene. She is also in 'deep cover' and a computer whiz. She was the daughter in law of the Assistant to the US Attorney General who is responsible for a 'Black Op' that has subverted American liberty.

Roy Miro is the head of  an operation that is trying to kill Valerie before she blows the whistle on this clandestine governmental coup. The government seizes citizen property and is able to fund a massive 'off the books' fascist operation in the name of government policy.

Roy murders people in the belief that he is helping humanity and ending their private suffering. He is a vicious psychopath, but an essential component in the unholy Black Op system.

The novel begins when Spencer goes to the bar where he first met Valerie and she has called not reported for her shift. He goes to her home and enters the house just as it is hit by Roy's SWAT team. He escapes, and later is rescued by Valerie in a flash flood.

Spencer, Rocky, Valerie, and Roy are the principal characters in the novel.

As with most Dean Koontz novels, it has an electrifying beginning.

The book was released in 1994 and I'm certain that things have gotten much worse in the last two decades, but in the afterword Koontz states that to preserve American democracy 3 things must be done-

1. We must revoke all asset-forfeiture laws in their entirety.

2. The Congress must cease exempting its members from laws passed to govern the rest of us.

3. Congress must stop enacting laws that criminalize beliefs that are politically incorrect or unusual but that harm no one, for these are what George Orwell termed 'thought crimes'.

The section of the novel where a police captain is set up and then the government seizes all of his property is especially chilling. This is years before Homeland and The Patriot Act, and now it must be many times more dire for the average citizen.

I loved the book and this might just be my favorite Dean Koontz novel. I wonder what he would say about his predictions today with the Patriot Act and so forth?

Link to wikipedia-

Link to Amazon-

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Finished Tu 10/6/15

This is a library book that I picked up after I read 'Dear Nobody' which was edited by the same authors.  The book is a collection of 'voices' of people who were involved in the scene. They each get a paragraph and sometimes up to a page. A great read and not so much, 'behind the scenes', but reveals the characters as real people.

Dead Boys- A knife fight in NYC sidelined a band member for months and probably knocked the band out of the public awareness. The incident is different in the book; nothing about a fight with a rival punk band. The fight occurs after a run-in with a cab filled with Puerto Ricans.

Johnny Blitz wikipedia-

Dead Boys wikipedia-

Patti Smith fell off the stage at a concert in Florida just as punk was breaking and prevented the band from becoming more well known.

At the top of The Patti Smith Group's fame she decided to become a wife and mother with Fred 'Sonic' Smith, lead guitar for MC5. Another swipe at the band's influence and popularity, but she made it work 'for' her.

Nauseous Nancy- Nancy Spungen

Sid Vicious used 'sex wax' as hair gel. Johnny Rotten said that 'now you can stick your head up someone's ass'.

Johnny Thunders's hands 'like sausages' from shooting heroin. It's suggested that his overdose in New Orleans was caused because dealers gave him massive hits of LSD and he took the heroin and downers to stop the bad trip.

Johnny Thunders wikipedia-

Link to amazon-

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Finished Tu 9/29/15

This is the best novel I've read in ages. So good, in fact, that I ordered a copy from Amazon to add to my collection.
I plan to re-read and try to further appreciate the style because this is the best 'coming of age tale' I've ever experienced.

Link to wikipedia-

I liked this so well that I ordered a copy from Amazon and got it on Tu 10/6/15. The first book to arrive at my new mailbox on 940 Westview Drive.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay

Finished Sa 9/19/15  September selection Contemporary Book Club

Link to author's website-

Friday, September 18, 2015

MAN WALKS INTO A ROOM by Nicole Krauss

Finished early morning, Fr 3/18/15

I learned of this author last week when I watched a documentary about the work of Philip Roth. Nicole Krauss was one of the writers who commented on Roth's body of work, and her work is just as insightful.

The novel begins with a chapter about a group of military men assembled in the desert to experience a test explosion of a nuclear bomb. This was before anyone realized the dangers and the tone is somewhere between 'flagrant disregard' and 'a naive hope' that this would be a safe and reasonable method to gage the effects. Yet, all of the men are deeply traumatized.

Then the major character is introduced. A man is found in the Nevada desert, lost and dirty, with no knowledge of who he is or how he got there. Samson Greene is a professor of English from Columbia, New York City. He is married to Ana.

His last memory was when he was twelve (I think it was when he first kissed a neighborhood girl). He's 36, and he's lost the last 24 years of his memory.
He resents his wife because she knows more about his mother. Also, because Ana remembers their time together, he almost sees this as a 'negative force'; an unfair hold over him.

Sam travels to LA where he meets Dr. Ray, a scientist in the field of memory. This doctor is trying to transplant dynamic memories from one person to another.

Sam is roommates with Donald at the installation, Clearwater. Donald becomes his friend, and he has the memory of the nuclear explosion. This memory is successfully implanted into Sam's brain. Sam's mind is blown and he resents Ray and the whole experience.

Dr. Ray sees this 'blankness' in Sam as an ideal area to put this memory. Kind of 'virgin soil, perfect for new growth, and uncluttered by anything to contaminate the new sensation'.

Sam meets Lana, a young girl who has recently returned from India, searching for self awareness. She's converted to Christianity and Sam meets her on a bus in the desert. She's reading the bible and Sam asks her if it's any good.

They have a platonic relationship. She lives in Los Angeles and is trying to break into the management side of show business. She lives in an apartment with Winn, a computer wiz.

While drunk in Las Vegas Sam meets Luke, a young man with some friends trying to get drunk and laid. They are dressed in gangster suits, I guess, trying to look older than they are.

Sam convinces Luke to go to the lab that stored the tumors that were removed from his brain. These caused the memory loss. Tumor the size of a cherry.

Sam was basically raised by his mother (absent father) and the only male in his life was his great uncle, Max. This man is nearly one hundred and lives in a rest home. Sam 'liberates him' and the final scene is where he takes Sam, in his wheelchair, to the home where Sam lived with his mother. Sam believes that he would have buried his mother under the magnolia tree out back. This is where he buries the slides of his tumor.

The final chapter or Epilogue is seen through Ana's eyes. She remembers how much she loved Sam and how terrified she was if he was ever to leave her. She remembers a trip to a cabin by the lake in the Fall.

Excellent novel, very moving. I want to read more by Nicole Krauss.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

DEAR NOBODY- The True Diary of Mary Rose Edited by Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil

Finished Tu 9/15/15

Gripping tale, but I find it hard to believe that this is an actual girl's journal.....more likely 'based on', and 'edited up' by two amazing authors.

Mary Rose is addicted to alcohol and drugs, and dying of cystic fibrosis (an incurable disease).

Link to Amazon-

Chat with co-editors-

Monday, September 14, 2015


Finished 9/13/15 (Finished THE LONG RUN OF MYLES MAYBERRY the same day)

I loved this one and I was a big Condon fan, many years ago. Now that my collection is more accessible, I plan to read more of his work.

Boy loses his mother at age nine, and his life is forever changed. A Black Comedy that pushes the envelope of hyperbole.  

'gleeful exaggeration and joyful spirits'  'Over-The Top'

amazon link-


Finished 9/13/15   First read and finished Sa 9/9/00
(Finished Richard Condon's THE FINAL ADDICTION the same day)

A review-

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Finished We 9/2/15 (first read and finished Tu 6/4/02)


1) The check is in the mail.

2) I won't come in your mouth.

3) I love you.

Because nearly all of the characters are deluded and are absolute strangers to truth, this rather cleverly twisted bit of morality is important to the story line,  and Alison Poole, the narrator, cannot remember the last 'lie' until the end of the book.
Alison Poole is based on a real person known by the author.

Rebecca- out of control older sister

Carol- youngest sister; lives with mother and is the most sane of the family

Francesca- 'The dessert card stops here'

Jeannie- has known Alison the longest. They rode horses together as children. (Alison's father killed her horse to get the insurance money. This might have happened and Alison feels that this is when things started to go wrong in her life). Jeannie is the only friend of Alison's who has a job

Dean- boyfriend of Alison. Stocks and Bonds trader

Skip- ex boyfriend

Didi- drug addicted friend, yet ravishingly beautiful

This is the kind of novel most people would say doesn't work because none of the characters were so morally reprehensible that it is impossible for the reader to identify. I agree, but I felt people like this really do exist, and I could very easily accept the story and characters as real.

I liked the book and it was an easy and interesting read.  A nice subtext on the Reagan Era. (Greed Is Good, Me First)

Friday, September 4, 2015


Finished Th 9/3/15

This was one of my books, and I thought that it was just an exploitive book of Bowie's career, but it really is a look at Bowie's HUNKY DORY era and his connection to Warhol.

The author was part of MainMan, Tony Defries management company that handled Bowie in the early 70's.

Lee Childers- a photographer at The Factory that met with Bowie when PORK played London.

Cherry Vanilla- (Hi, I'm Cherry Vanilla, and I've got two scoops for ya)- Also with PORK and hooked up with Bowie.

Link to PORK-

Also, the book covers his work with the mime artist, Lindsay Kemp
Link to Kemp-

3/4 of the book is about 'The Warhol Years' and the last quarter is the author's opinions about Bowie's albums up to about 1975 (YOUNG AMERICANS). I read the book in a couple of afternoons.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

PHILIP K. DICK IS DEAD, ALAS by Michael Bishop

Finished Tu 9/1/15

From the author's page at wikipedia-

Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas

Originally published as The Secret Ascension by Tor Books in 1987 (but subsequently reprinted with the author's preferred title), this work is an homage to writer Philip K. Dick, a pastiche of his style, and includes an alternate reality version of Dick as a character. The novel is set in a world in which Richard Milrose Nixon, in his fourth term as president, holds fascistic control over America, and the science fiction works of Philip K. Dick remain unpublished, distributed underground as samizdat, while his realist fiction titles are the ones that are celebrated as masterpieces. Author and reviewer Orson Scott Card writes that "the climax is not just an inward epiphany for a character… [T]he world changes in wonderful strange ways, and the audience can read the book passionately, with sweating fingers, eager to see what happens next, yet reluctant to leave the present moment. Imagine: A writer who is already one of the best, taking risks and finding ways to be better."[45] Card does take Bishop to task for the author's characterization of Richard Nixon, calling it a "caricature" and a "stock character of a madman." Locus reviewer Tom Whitmore calls the book "a masterful pastiche" and "…the closest thing to a classic Dick sf novel anyone has ever done."[46] Gerald Jonas in the New York Times writes "Mr. Bishop is a solid, serious writer whose reach (in his previous work) has always seemed to me to exceed his grasp. Here, he catches some of Dick's fire, especially in the early chapters… Then a lot happens very quickly (as in some of Dick's own novels), and the satire, which should hold things together, turns predictable. But…the ending (starring Philip K. Dick) approaches sublimity."[47] The novel was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1989.

Because I removed all of my books from the shelves at the condo and put them in boxes, and then pulled them from the boxes and reshelved them, I came in full contact with the collection for the first time since I moved into the condo back in 1995. I can't wait to truly settle into the house on Westview, and begin rereading all of the books that I've assembled over the decades. I'm going to drop out of The Classic Book Club this year because I want to reacquaint myself with all of these 'personal' classics. 

I fully enjoyed this novel and read it in just a couple of days. Although I had read this one before, I didn't remember any of it. 

TIME OUT OF JOINT by Philip K. Dick

Finished Fr 8/28/15  (This is the first book completed at 940 Westview)

Link to Amazon-

I read this back in 1999 and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the novel. Like most of Dick's novels, he sets up a killer idea and storyline, yet the progression of the novel and denouement are less than pleasing, but far superior than one might expect. I love all of Dick's novels, but they usually don't deliver a conclusion which is as fine as the initial premise. But, his sights are set so high, that he makes more of an impression than any other SciFi author, hands down.

Books During The Move To Westview

The summer of 2015 was dominated by the move to 940 Westview Dr. and managed to severely cut down on my reading.  I began looking at homes during early June, I closed on the house on July 9th, my official move day with 2 MEN AND A TRUCK was August 10th, and it was another two weeks before the room addition was completed.

During this time I spent time with PAPA JOHN, John Philips autobiography of his time with the Mamas and the Papas.  However, the real focus of this book was his examination of his almost inhuman addiction to drugs. Because of the 'light' nature of his music, I don't think that many in the audience were ever aware of the darker side to this musician. He made Keith Richards look like a weekend dabbler. I had read this book many years before, but it was well worth a second look.

Then I read CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'- THE REAL STORY OF THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS which was Michelle Philips autobiography. Not nearly as lurid or comprehensive as John's book, and it focused on the tangled and crazy relationships between the band members. I was surprised to learn that this most important band of the sixties was really only together for two and a half years, and for six months of that time, Michelle was fired from the band. Part of the reason she was let go was that John learned of her affair with Byrds guitarist, Gene Clark. For as much influence as the band had in that era, I would have thought that they were still together and playing 'oldies' shows to this day.

I also finished about half of another autobiography- WILL THERE REALLY BE A MORNING? by Frances Farmer. This I had also read before and it documented the life of this amazing American actress of the 1930's. She suffered from mental illness and a diabolical mother and spent most of her adult life in various mental institutions in the Northwest. The book demonstrates that care for the severely mentally ill, even into the mid 20th century, was not much better than what was practiced in medieval times.

And, I read the August selection for The Contemporary Book Club- DRY BONES IN THE VALLEY by Tom Bouman. This was a first novel about a small town municipal officer who becomes tangled in three possible murder investigations. The novel is set in Northeast Pennsylvania and the action unfolds against the backdrop of fragging and land grabs by the coal interests. The protagonist, Henry Farrell, is a depressed individual who is mourning the loss of his wife and is forced to deal with a community of people who are so far below the poverty level that they are off the grid.  The Law and contemporary morality mean little to these people and not much has changed since the Whiskey Rebellion of the early 19th century. Two murders are of a young man and another cop who is investigating the murder. A father learns that his son is gay and kills his son's lover, and he also murders the cop when the policeman stumbles upon him attempting to conceal the body. Both killings are not part of the primary storyline, and the reader learns the details second hand. I thought this was a novel way to present the narrative, but most of the book club members felt it made the story too confused and hard to follow. Another body is central to the story and this is the lover of an old man who is suffering from dementia. This old woman was discovered in a grave and she had been interred for decades, and initially, this old man was thought to be a killer.  This novel is the first in a series, and I was about the only member of the group who expressed interest in reading anything else by Mr. Bouman, and, I guess I would only read it if the library bought it. DRY BONES IN THE VALLEY was the first book to be sent to the new house on Westview Dr.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Finished Fr 7/31/15

Another book that I found on the shelves while in the midst of the five week long trek to 940 (some might call 'moving day').

The author was the editor of Harper's magazine.

Harper's Magazine (also called Harper's) is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts. Launched in June 1850, it is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S. (Scientific American is the oldest).

The book was released in 1988, so it's a bit dated, but right on target about the Reagan Revolution. 
Very well written and certainly adds a level of excitement and interest to the subject of economics which is rare. He has a patrician take on Populist issues.

Too bad The Kardashians weren't around for the 80's. Laham would probably have had a trenchant take on the 'celebrity culture' of today. 

Monday, July 27, 2015


Finished Fr 7/24/15

I found this book as I was packing for the move to 940 Westview. This biography came out just before John Phillips book and caused quite a stir back in 1986. I thought his book was much more of a revelation since he was a major supplier and user of prescription drugs, and became addicted to heroin.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' is fairly enjoyable tabloid fare and the biggest revelation is just how short the band was really on the scene- only two and a half years and for one summer, Michelle was fired from the band. They had a slew of classic singles, and I would have thought that they were together for at least a decade.

Papa John and Lou Adler, the manager were instrumental in organizing Monterey Pop.

The Mamas and Papas used voice teachers throughout their career.

The MugWumps was the band that Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty, and John Sebastian were from. Scott Mckenzie was also part of this scene.

Michelle met John when she was seventeen and he convinced her to sing with them and sideline her lucrative career in modeling.

John was an established singer in the folk trio, The Journeymen.  Scott McKenzie also in the band.

Michelle Phillips went on to have a long career in acting and a major role on Knots Landing. I never watched that show.

Michelle's affair with Gene Clark of the Byrds is what caused John to fire her from the band. She had also been romantically involved with Denny Doherty.

John, Denny, and Michelle 'dropped out' to the Virgin Islands in the early sixties. Denny was friends with Cass, and he called her down to try out for the band. This was when many of their hits were written.

They were already best selling recording artists before they ever sang in public.

'Creeque Alley' is a song that documents the formation of the group and 'the scene'...'Nobody Gettin' Fat But Mama Cass'.

The book is nearly thirty years old, and the article in Wikipedia really helped out.

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom

This was the July selection for The Contemporary Book Club- We 7/22/15

It's the story of an Irish indentured slave who lives with a long extended Black family on a plantation in early 19th century Virginia. Lavinia lost her parents in the voyage from Ireland to America and The Captain placed her in the kitchen house when she arrives. She had a brother, Cardigan, who she hopes to find once she acclimates herself to life in her new setting. She can't seem to realize that her skin color is the major factor that separates her from her new Black family.

Belle runs the kitchen and although only ten years older than Lavinia, she becomes like Lavinia's mother. There are many other characters in this family, and Lavinia becomes 'kin' to all of them. Belle's mother, Mae, becomes like her grandmother.

Virginia is the lady of the house, Captain's wife. And she is a reclusive figure who is addicted to opium. Belle is the Captain's daughter out of wedlock and although Virginia realizes this fact, she uses the laudanum to ease the pain.

The prologue is actually the final section of the book, and it is recorded verbatim twice. Kind of strange.

I enjoyed the novel and the premise of a white girl growing up in a Black slave family was something that I have never encountered. I thought that the writer's approach was a little too 'Young Adult' and the good characters were 'really really good' and the bad characters were 'really really bad'. Most of the members fully enjoyed the novel and I would rate it a 'B minus'.

I read this just after I closed on the house on Westview Drive in early July, 2015.

Link from Amazon-

Thursday, July 9, 2015

- THE LED ZEPPELIN SAGA- The Hammer Of The Gods by Stephen Davis

Finished Th 7/9/15 (The day that I closed on the house at 940 Westview. Oddly enough, I also finished the Smith's bio, "A Light That Never Goes Out" the same afternoon.

This wasn't as 'high-brow' as the Smith's bio, but much more on the 'trashy' side. Maybe it's the subject matter. Zep's image and genre were much more lurid and sensational than the Smith's 'thinking man's' approach to popular music.

Both books were exceptional, but this was definitely a lighter read (but, that's not necessarily a bad thing)

Link to Amazon-

A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT The Enduring Saga of The Smiths by Tony Fletcher

Finished Th 7/9/15 (The day I closed on 940 Westview)

The definitive biography of arguably the best band of the 80's, and easily one of the better rock biographies ever written.

I got it in hardback from the library, and although it's over six hundred pages, I was sorry to reach the end.

Steven Patrick Morrissey

Johnny Marr (Maher)

Andy Rourke

Mike Joyce

Morrissey and Marr's families moved from Ireland to Manchester. Their first homes were torn down during the slum clearances of the sixties, and they were relocated to modern and uglier public housing. A major effect on both of the musicians' outlooks

Link at Amazon-

Friday, June 19, 2015

PANAMA by Thomas McGuane

Finished Mo 6/15/15

Semi-autobiographical novel about the author's real-life relationship with Jimmy Buffet's sister, Catherine in the book.

A real flair for language, and although the main character, Chet, is an over-the-hill rock musician, nothing is about music. He refers to his career as 'jumping out of an elephant's ass while dodging baseballs from an automatic pitcher.

Set primarily in the Florida Keys

He has a mental block that his father is dead, but in the final chapter he reappears

Friday, June 12, 2015


Finished Fr 6/12/15 (in a couple of days while reading Phil Lesh's autobiography)

This is one of my books that I first finished on Fr 9/30/94. Nothing was written on the flyleaf and I still agree that it was a nice idea, but forgettably executed.

Rick Hamilton/Richard A. Hamilton are the same man, but from parallel universes.
Rick is married to Anne and they have a young son, Charlie. Harold is Rick's best friend and lawyer.
Richard is Rick in the other universe and he is a slovenly real estate agent married to Anne, but no children. In this universe, she has an affair with Harold.

Emma is a blind therapist in Richard's world, but Charlie's nanny in another world (and, she can see!)

It's not all that difficult to follow, but far less than electrifying.

LInk to Amazon Books-

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Finished Th 6/11/15

I ordered this from Amazon and received it on 6/2. I had recently seen Bob Weir's documentary, THE OTHER ONE- THE LONG STRANGE TRIP OF BOB WEIR on Netflix and I was watching Youtube videos from Lesh's TERRAPIN CROSSING site.

The biography is ten years old, and I was hoping for more of an insight into the drug problems within the band. The Grateful Dead seems to get a pass from any serious scrutiny in that their disastrous history with drugs and alcohol is generally chalked up to experimentation or 60's  'mind expansion', and Lesh glosses over his 'Heineken Years'. The decimation of the band due to addiction is largely ignored, and defended because,  'nobody wanted to be a cop'. Most members of the Grateful Dead Production have fallen to alcohol and drug abuse , but the reader is left with a kind of positive impression that these guys were somehow special. I don't think that the facts bear this out. The depiction of Garcia at his most drug addled and depraved is a tragedy, and nothing was done to help him but to continue to tour and support the massive financial burden of  the 'Dead Entourage'.

And, Jerry Garcia did NOT teach his cat to fetch and retrieve. Of all the Dead Folklore, this is the most unbelievable.

I have read other Dead bio's, and some of Lesh's observations seemed familiar. I know that I have read that Keith tended to 'ape' Garcia's solo work when he was deep into his alcoholic phase, and this was a major irritant to the band, and Lesh repeats this verbatim.

I was kind of aware of Bruce Hornsby's work with the Dead, but I had never heard of Vince Welnick who was a keyboard player in the band during the 90's. He played  for The Tubes and Todd Rundgren.

Link to Amazon-

I'd read almost anything about the Dead, and I'd rate this one about a C Plus.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Finished Sa 6/6/15

This is another of my books that I never got around to reading, but according to the flyleaf it was bought at west branch for a buck on Sa 6/15/07.

Thorn is building a house in the Florida Keys, and his FBI buddy, Gaeton, is murdered by a nitwit named Ozzie. Ozzie kills the agent because he thinks he's the boyfriend of Darcy, the local TV weather personality. But, he wasn't the boyfriend, but the brother. A stupid waste of a life.

Benn, a Nouveau-Rich criminal who is kind of working undercover is offering international criminals new identities (for a hundred grand), and then killing them on his property. The latter part is not sanctioned by his agency.

The novel is a kind of grizzly black comedy. Not bad, and I'd read another by Hall. I wonder if he might revisit some of these characters, I'd like that!

TELL NO ONE by Harlan Coben

Finished We 6/3/15

This was my first experience with Ebooks from the local library. I should have downloaded the novel to my Kindle, but it worked OK as an additional tab on Google Chrome (Galaxy tablet). I talked with one of the librarians and although she couldn't help me with my questions, I did sign up for a class at the library on Thursday, June 25th.

- Can I have a book on more than one device?
- How many of the books are on Kindle and how do I do it.

I streamed the French film the first of June, and I decided to read the book. The film is an excellent adaptation, however the ending is slightly different from the novel.

Dr. David Beck's wife was murdered eight years ago, and suddenly he is getting strange emails from someone who knows details of his life that only his wife would know. Is she still alive?

The mystery turns on a very rich man by the name of Scopes. His son Brandon, was a sexual predator and he was murdered by Dr. Beck when he attacked the doctor's wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth's father devised an elaborate cover-up so that he could protect his daughter and family. When Elizabeth contacts David, the secret is out, and Scope's assassins try to avenge the death of Brandon.

All of Coben's books are worth a look, and I definitely want to use Ebook in the future.

Link to the book at Amazon-

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Finished Sa 5/30/15

I don't know why I didn't read this straight through, but I read a few others at the same time; Part of DR. ZHIVAGO, THE GRIFTERS, and EUPHORIA.

This was one of my books (trade paperback) that I bought at West Branch on Sa 10/1/05 for a buck, and I never read it.

This book really captures the corruption and social oppression of NY city during the last decade of the 19th century.

...the consignment of children to baby farms, banks fraudulently closing without paying their depositors, false breach-of-promise lawsuits, scams based on strangers collecting insurance payments on the lives of slum children, and a real estate scandal involving Manhattan's leading church as a willful slumlord. ....

Amazon books link-

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

EUPHORIA by Lily White

Loved the ebook and finished it several days earlier.

My first E- Book.

Kindle program on my Samsung Galaxy

Meeting 6pm We 5/27/15


Friday, May 22, 2015

THE GRIFTERS by Jim Thompson

Finished Sa 5/16/15

This is the novel that I took with me to Arizona where I spent a week at the La Quinta from Tuesday 5/5 thru Tuesday 5/12/2015.


Roy Dillon- Accomplished young grifter and specializes in the 'short con'. He is actually a smart man, and seems to come to the realization that he really could make it in the straight world. The dark novel is kind of a 'trajectory' of this slowly processed revelation.

Lilly Dillon- Roy's mother, although she had him when she was very young and treated him more as a brother or even lover. This 'queasy' relationship is the heart of the novel and gives it the warped dimension. Her boss is a particularly nasty character, and when Lilly screws up a deal (her job is to infuse lots of mob cash into bets at the horse track), he tortures her by burning a cigarette into her hand.

Moira Langtry- Roy's girlfriend who even looks like Lilly.

Lilly runs money for the mob, but wants out. She devises a scheme in which she kills Moira and makes it look like a suicide. And, makes the phony suicide look like Lilly is the one who took her own life, but she is the one who surprised Moira and shot her in her bed.

In the final scene Lilly visits Roy to steal his stash of cash behind three ugly paintings and ends up killing Roy. Before he's shot, Roy argues that he's trying to make a go of the straight life and that she should give it a try herself. No way-
     "Well, kid, it's only  one throat...."

When Roy was injured after a con (punched in the gut with a club when he tried a grift involving a 'short-change'), Lilly hires a young nurse to take care of him. Carol is a Jew and a survivor of  a Nazi concentration camp. Roy has honest emotional feelings for this girl, but when she tells him of her background, it turns him off. He doesn't want to hear it, and many of his comments seem to make you realize that he is very much an anti semite.

There are plenty of disturbing emotional points to the novel, but I found Roy's aversion to Carol (the love of his life) the most unsettling.

All Jim Thompson novels are worth a look.

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO by Boris Pasternak

This was the May 2015 selection for the Classic Book Club

I was in Arizona for a week (Tu 5/5- Tu 5/12) and I only managed to read half of the book. I was not thrilled with the Russian novel, and this was the last meeting of the book club before summer break, so I decided not to attend the meeting or finish the book.

Maybe some other time....

Friday, May 1, 2015

A CIVIL ACTION by Jonathan Harr

Finished Th 4/30/25

According to the flyleaf I first read and finished this book over the Thanksgiving weekend of 2003, and I only read half and skimmed to the end. This time through, it really grabbed me, and I read it all.

Anyone who is a big fan of 'Free Market Capitalism' should take a look at this book.

It's the story of Woburn, MA, a city about 20 miles to the north of Boston. Children keep coming down with leukemia, and at first nobody notices the 'disease cluster' because nobody in the scientific community really believed that there was such a thing. The families begin to communicate with each other, and it becomes clear that leukemia is running rampant in a few square blocks of the community. A tannery had been operating in the area, and it's up to these people to prove that the tanning operation was releasing toxic materials into the water supply, and that these chemicals were causing the cancer in their children.

The lawyer who championed the cause more or less lost the case. He ended up with much less of a career than he had going when he first took the case. Maybe the moral is that now the man is more fulfilled.

At the end of the book is a fairly comprehensive 'wrap-up' of the major characters in the case.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Finished Mo 4/20/15 (At FitClub South after the Classic Book Club meeting)

Another book from my collection that caught my eye after I learned that Obama seems to have succeeded in normalizing relations with Cuba. Ex-Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur, a.k.a. JoAnne Chesimard escaped from prison and was given political asylum by Cuba. Apparently she lives there to this day, and I was wondering if her status will remain unchanged. We now view Cuba as 'non-terrorist state'.

The book is well written and she definitely has a grasp of history and the uncanny ability to interpret historical events as they truly impact the Black community, and does not fall prey to the usual American (White) cultural and political bromides... "Hard work is all you need", "Racism ended when Blacks got the right to vote", "Discrimination ended in the sixties", and "Jesus will set you free".

She lived part of her childhood in Wilmington, North Carolina and The Bronx, NY. Her grandparents owned a restaurant on a Black beach on the North Carolina shore and she spent her summers there helping out at the family business. And, she went to school in New York City.

Whether or not she actually did the things that she was accused of, it's clear that state and federal authorities destroyed her life. Almost all of the charges were dropped after she spent months and years in prison. She didn't ever receive a clear-cut guilty verdict, but she spent an amazing amount of time behind bars. Obviously there was a concerted effort by the FBI and federal officials to target leaders within the Black community.

She refers to  herself as a '20th century escaped slave'.

wikipedia entry-

Saturday, April 11, 2015

THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler

Finished Sa 4/11/15
April,  2015 selection Classic Book Club

Wikipedia entry-

Watched the Bogart/Bacall film on Th 4/9/15, and thought it was faithful to the novel, but disjointed and confusing. I was shocked to see that William Faulkner co-wrote the screenplay.

Even Chandler couldn't say for sure who killed the chauffeur. And, many of the plot points were just as hazy.

Although I think I liked the novel more than I thought that I would, the original detective work that Marlowe agrees to with General Sternwood is too convoluted and unnecessarily complex, but the murder of Rusty Reagan by Carmen Sternwood kind of makes sense and frames the twisted family dynamic.

I can't say how the book club will view this novel, but I'll bet it will be a 'love it' or 'hate it' situation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHT by Edwidge Danticat

Finished Tu 4/7/15

April, 2015 selection for The Contemporary Book Club

Haunting, eerily evocative
Fairly complex inter-relation of characters and plots, but relatively easy to follow... like a dark fairy tale.

Author's page on wikipedia-



You Tube Interview about this novel-

53" interview with the author on You Tube-

Monday, April 6, 2015

HALF OF PARADISE by James Lee Burke

Finished Sa 4/4/15

This is the author's first novel and was written when Burke was in his twenties. One of my books and I bought it at the library book sale in June of 2012, and this was my first time through it.

The grim and dour tale of three men from Louisiana who come to no good.

Avery Broussard- Dirt poor with royal blood. His father dies and he loses his last acres of cane, and he tries to make a go of it smuggling moonshine. He does prison time, gets out, meets a girl, and seems to make a fresh start, but gets arrested for drunk driving and ends up back in the slammer.

J.P. Winfield- Kind of a low-level C & W singer who gets messed up on drugs, and dies beaten to death and addicted (technically a heart attack).

Toussaint Boudreaux- A black longshoreman/boxer. Breaks his hand in a fight and becomes a driver in a fur theft operation. He's the patsy and serves time with Avery. Toussaint breaks from prison work farm, and is gunned down in  a hail of bullets.

Not a bad novel, but not a single ray of hope for any of the characters.


Avery's girlfriend's last name is Robicheaux.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

SIDEWAYS by Rex Pickett

Finished We 4/1/15

I first finished this book on We 2/23/05 after three hours and 45" of overtime on a twenty pole run to Mt. Vernon.

Miles and Jack on a bachelor party bash week before Jack's wedding

Santa Inez Valley (real place- towns, lodges, and wineries. People apparently actually make the journey that these guys took in the novel). THE HITCHING POST

Out of LA and stop to visit Miles's mom on her birthday. Miles takes two thousand dollars from her

Meet Maya and Terra. Jack falls in love with Terra, much to the dismay of his bride to be, Babs
Miles kind of falls for Maya, but he still carries the torch for his ex wife Virginia. She has recently remarried. His novel has been rejected and he's in an emotional tailspin.

Boar Hunting with Brad. This peckerwood shoots at them when Miles and Jack arrive. Just funnin'.

Jack loses his wallet in a spur of the moment affair with a buxom bar fly. Her husband comes home three hours early and finds Jack having sex with his wife. Jack leaves his wallet and Miles goes back to get it. The husband and wife are having sex and Miles runs in and out with the husband in hot pursuit. They both end up in the scummy pool, and Jack saves the day.

Jack and Miles attend a wine tasting and Miles drains the spit bucket because he was not getting served enough. On the drive out, Brad at the wheel, they stop for a swim, and Miles half-heartedly attempts suicide. Jack saves him.

Miles gets Jack to the wedding on time, but they are both banged up. Jack sustains a broken nose where Miles had punched him when he found that Jack had paid Maya a grand to sleep with Miles and try to get him out of his funk. Jack has scratch marks from Terra when she learned that Jack was soon to be wed. And, he also has a twisted ankle that he injured saving Miles from the sea.

Virginia and her new husband are at the reception and Miles meets them and is able to begin getting his life back together. He invited Maya and she shows up, and they novel ends when Maya tells him, " Come on, let's go, we don't belong here".

I'll put this film near the top of my que.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Finished Sa 3/28/15

 The final push from 3am to 5am early Saturday morning

The book ends as Michael Corleone takes the reigns as the most influential Don in the US

I loved it from start to finish, and will order the film from Netflix later this week.

Entry at wikipedia-

Monday, March 23, 2015


March 2015 selection Classic Book Club


Read about 400 pages, then skimmed  to the end. The Nicole Kidman/John Malkovich film directed by Jane Campion was most helpful.

Nice discussion and the group enjoyed the novel. I liked some of the ideas-

Isabel Archer is given a fortune by her cousin Ralph to keep her from marrying for money, but the quasi-evil Gilbert Osmond marries her for the loot.

The Europeans in the novel were all American expatriates

Isabel spurns a better marriage proposal because she is true to her promise of marriage and feels that her step child needs her more than hypothetical freedom

MRS. HEMINGWAY by Naomi Wood

Finished Mo 3/23/15

March 2015 selection Contemporary Book Club

Told in four sections with the points of view of the four wives.

Hadley Richardson

Pauline Pfeiffer

Martha Gellhorn

Mary Welsh

An easy and entertaining read, and offers an informative insight into the lives of a famous author and his four loves.

Hemingway's entry on wikipedia-

Thursday, March 19, 2015

UBIK by Philip K. Dick

Finished Th 3/19/15

Not the first time with this fave, but each time I glean something else.

This time it struck me more of a Horror novel that just happens to be written in 1969 and set in the 'far off future world' of 1992.

Precogs and telepaths have evolved, but also people who are able to block these abilities.

Set in The North American Confederacy

Glen Runciter's prudence organization, Runciter Associates, is asked to 'disinfect' a company that has been psychically compromised on the moon. He takes twelve of his finest people, including Joe Chip, and they all appear to be blown up and killed after initialing the contact.

Pat Conley, who works for Runciter, has the ability to go back in time, but why doesn't she do something to stop the attack?

Why is the 'half-life' world of the Runciter staff regressing and going back to the year 1939?

What is Ubik and why does it help revive, but only for a small amount of time?

Who is Jory and why did Ela Runciter meet up with him while she was in the half-life state? Is Jory a representation of the devil or evil...perpetually engaged in trying to wear down the power of good?

Why is Joe Chip's face on the coins at the end, and, for that matter, why was Glen Runciter's face on the coins in the first place?

A very strange and thought inspiring novel, and clearly like nothing else.

Link to wikipedia-

Saturday, March 14, 2015

THE WITNESS by W.E.B. Griffin

Finished  Fr 3/13/15

Author's wikipedia entry-

This is one of my paperbacks and the author is know for his series 'Brotherhood of War'. After scanning his page on Wikipedia I see that he has many collections that concern the armed forces, the secret service, and police procedurals. This novel is set in the late 70's in the city of Philadelphia.

Major Plots-

Goldblatt's Furniture store is robbed by a group of Blacks claiming to be members of The Islamic Revolutionary Army. The nightwatchman is killed and only one witness will testify.

Officer Mathew Payne was with a newspaper reporter covering the roundup of the suspects of the furniture store robbery. They are attacked by one of the militants and Payne returns fire and kills the man.

Mathew Payne is very rich. He is a cop, although his family is against the decision because several member of the family have been killed in the line of duty.

The novel concerns the internal politics of the various agencies within the Philadelphia police department.

Payne is also involved with the wife of one of the assistant district attorneys. This man wants to become mayor and is kind of a sleaze.

This is not a bad novel, and if Police Procedural is your thing, this is the book for you. I'd definitely try another by this author, and I would also give his military books a shot.

(When I was at the YMCA a retired officer from The Illinois National Guard noticed that I was reading this book and he said that he loved everything that this author has written). I was surprised to see this man at the Y since he has worked out at Fit Club for many years. He was probably surprised to see me as well)

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Finished Su 3/1/15

This is from my collection and according to the flyleaf I paid $25 on Tu 8/26/97 at Barnes and Noble, and I never read it!

However, it's well worth reading.
The premise is that the Folk Movement of the early 60's maintained a true love for the music and an almost worshipful devotion to authenticity. As popular tastes gravitated to Rock, it became a more commercial medium, and less motivated by Art.

The managers, agents, and producers in the book are more or less responsible for this progression.

Ray Riepen- Boston lawyer who became the first Rock mogul as owner of the Boston Tea Party night club. ULTIMATE SPINACH BEACON STREET STATION EDEN'S CHILDREN- The Bosstown Sound

Albert Grossman- Superstar manager to Dylan

Paul Rothchild- Doors and Janis Joplin

Frank Barsalona- managed the tour bookings to become Rock Kingpin

Mike Appel- Discovered Springsteen, but couldn't pick a winner if his life depended on it

Jon Landau- Record producer to MC5 and Bruce Springsteen. Ultimate 'Power Behind The Throne'.

David Geffen- Non-musician who wanted the glamour of Hollywood. Asylum Records. Multi-multi Millionaire.
Neil Young is the rock star who truly was able to do as he wished. Geffen sues him to 'protect him from himself'.
Dee Anthony- Manager to Humble Pie and Peter Frampton. He pretty much sucked both acts dry.

PEANUT BUTTER CONSPIRACY, LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE- Second stringers from the west coast.

The 'notes' and 'index' at the end of the book provide an excellent recap of the book's major points.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris

Finished Tu 2/24/15

One of my novels and according to the flyleaf, I'd never read it, but I certainly remember the film, MANHUNTER. Tom Noonan was terrific as Francis Dolarhyde and Will Peterson was perfect as the damaged and inciteful agent, Will Graham. I'll never forget the 'killing scene' when Noonan, as Dolarhyde, attacks the blind film developer, Reba McClane (Joan Allen) as The Iron Butterfly's 'InnaGodaDivita' plays on the soundtrack. Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter.

Will Graham- Psychologically and physically damaged FBI profiler is asked by his old boss, Jack Crawford, to come out of semi retirement and help him on The Tooth Fairy Case.

Molly, Graham's wife, Willy, eight year old son. This is Will's second marriage.

The Leeds and The Jacobis- Two families that are slaughtered by Dolarhyde.

Tooth Fairy is a muscular body builder with a tattoo of William Blake's, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun on his back.

Severe hairlip. Raised in a children's home and then by his insane grandmother. She owned an assisted care facility for the elderly. This is where Dolarhyde lives. Located in a suburb of St. Louis. 
Dolarhyde works as a manager at The Gateway Film Laboratory of St. Louis. 

He has a relationship with Reba McClane who works for a sister company of Gateway. She is very attracted to him, but The Red Dragon in him wants him to kill her. He doesn't, or makes it appear that he has taken his own life. Really, he has blown the head off a gas station attendant  who he has killed and kidnapped and taken to his house. This man had insulted Reba when they were getting gas. They guy was looking up her dress when he noticed the white cane and knew that she was blind. 

The suicide was a ruse to kill Will. This occurs at Molly and Will's home in Marathon Florida. Will has trained Molly in the use of firearms and she empties a revolver into The Tooth Fairy after he has seriously stabbed Will in the face. 

the author's page at wikipedia-

RED DRAGON at wikipedia-

Monday, February 23, 2015

DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal

Finished Su 2/22/15

February selection Contemporary Book Club. Meeting We 2/25/15

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

THE EDICT by Max Ehrlich

Finished Tu 2/17/15

I picked  up this hard cover novel at the Salvation Army store on Mo 11/16/98 and finished it in two days. I dropped off a n old microwave, popcorn popper, and a blender. Don't remember any of that.

This was a surprisingly good novel about a dystopian future world that is plagued with overcrowding and pollution. At first the World Government tries euthanasia of anyone over the age of 70, but then settles on Zero Population Growth for thirty years.

All kinds of sexual relationships are encouraged and abortions are given upon conception. If a child is born or a woman is found to be pregnant they are all killed.

So that women can feel maternal urges, the state develops life-like baby dolls that look almost human. They are conditioned to believe that these dolls are real human infants. The men are also given therapeutic treatments to continue the illusion.

'Big Mouth' is a satellite that rotates the earth and beams propaganda and Happy Songs and Homilies to the people of earth.

Edna and George Borden
Carole and Russ Evans

These two couples live in a kind of nature preserve. Everyone else lives below in a teeming metropolis where people live literally on top of each other. Scenes in the novel of people marching shoulder to shoulder throughout the day. There is just no room for privacy.

Carole conceives a child with Russ and they decided to try to keep it. They fix up an ancient bomb shelter in their house for the child, John.

Although Edna has a doll, Peter, she wants a real child and when they discover what the Evans's are concealing, they demand that they have partial ownership. Soon Edna wants it all. They can do this because Edna's parents are rich and well connected, and George is Russ's boss in the preserve and he can have him fired and banished to the teeming slums if they don't go along.

In the end of the novel the Evans take a boat and sail to a forbidden island where ancient nuclear and chemical weapons have been stored. There are other people who have mad the voyage to freedom, and they are happy although they will only survive for a few years.  

This was an easy novel to read, and I really think that it is a kind of Lost Classic. It's a shame that more people are not aware of this author and this book. Max Ehrlich is known for his novel,

THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD. A minor hit movie in the 70's that is unfortunately not available on Netflix.

Friday, February 13, 2015

DOPEFIEND by Donald Goines

Finished Fr 2/14/15

Set in the early 1970's in Detroit's ghetto

Centers on Porky's dope-den (shooting gallery) and his sexually perverse and uncaring ways. He doesn't use heroin and sees his clients as less than human.

He tries to hook women so that he can make them perform sexually with his two large dogs.

The deteriorating love affair between Teddy and Terry is the major subplot of the novel. Teddy has already become less than human due to his addiction, and the novel diagrams Terry's journey into heroin Hell. She begins with a job in a department store, and lives at home with her loving parents, but she loses it all, and becomes a prostitute to pay Porky for her fixes.

She is driven insane by the sight of her friend, Minnie, who is an addict and very pregnant who commits suicide. She hangs herself in their apartment and the baby is partially born while Minnie swings at the end of a rope.

The novel ends with The Wilson's visiting Terry in a mental health facility where she has regressed to her ten year old self to retreat from the psychological horror of Minnie's death.

Teddy is shot and killed by Porky's goons after Teddy and two of his friends ripped off Porky for one thousand dollars. This money was to be paid to pay off the cops on his beat so that he could continue his illegal business. (Payoff)

The writing is pretty superficial and although the plot is horrifying, you really don't feel the desperation of the characters. It comes off as almost a over-the-top melodramatic treatise on the horrors of drug addiction.