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.