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