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.