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.