Thursday, December 29, 2016

BEST BOY by Eli Gottlieb

Finished Mo 12/26/16

This novel was the December selection for the Contemporary Book Club

When I finished the book I didn't like it as much as after attending the meeting, Wednesday 12/28. I skimmed through the book Wednesday and realized that it was really the story told by an unreliable narrator, and these are the kind of books that I like the best.

Todd Aaron is 55 years old and has been in some kind of institutional care for over forty years. He suffers from autism and high anxiety. He is 'best boy' because he prides himself in following all the rules. 'Mr. B' is his encyclopedia which he reads daily and, 'Mr. C' is a PC which he also uses.

'New Idea'- he decides to walk almost 750 miles back to his childhood home in Grable, NY.

Tommy Doon- his roommate that he doesn't like. This man thinks that Todd is lazy and tries to get out of work. Actually, Doon is the lazy one.

Mike The Apron- Vet of Iraq war who works as an orderly. Possibly a sexual predator and takes advantage of Greta Deane. This 28 year old, high functioning patient commits suicide after a sexual encounter with Mike.

Raykene- Todd's favorite staff person. She treats him with respect.

Martine- female patient that befriends Todd. Her mother and father are rich alcoholics. She has punched her eye out with a rock and has stopped her meds. She gets Todd to stop his Risperdal as well.

Nate- Todd's brother, Beth- his wife, Steve and Cam- their two sons. Nate loves his brother but probably stole money from the sale of their mother and father's condominium. Nate is an 'environmentalist accountant'.

One of the best scenes in the book is when Todd meets his brother's family. Beth leaves Todd with the two boys to make a phone call. The boys run into the street and one of them is hit by a car. Todd continues to eat his french fries with ketchup and is oblivious to the mayhem. He is an unreliable narrator.

In the end of the book, Nate invites Todd to live with his family, but it doesn't work. The marriage disintegrates (you don't get the details because it's all through the eyes of Todd).

When he goes back for the last time, Nate takes them to their old home. Ron Salamon and his wife live there now. Todd goes down into the crawl space and finds a box with photos of him and his mother and a letter in which she tells him how much that she loves him.

Masturbation is encouraged by Todd's mother. She uses the euphemism, 'work'

Todd makes a spear. A stick with a nail at the end. He models it after the tool used in trash pickup, but he uses it to get rid of his aggression. It's kind of a red herring because I really thought that something bad would happen. He'd use it as a weapon. Mike breaks it.

When Todd is on the road he has a visitation from a bird. Very strange. The bird tells him, 'home is in your head'.
He goes back to the home because that's his real home.

Developmental/ BI (Brain Injured)
"Give me volts"

"Autism is now sometimes said to be the largest childhood epidemic in history".

page at amazon-

author's page at wikipedia-

First time through, I only felt it was worth a look, but now I really like it and I will recommend it for Janny to read.

Friday, December 23, 2016

BEAUTIFUL SHADOW- A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson

Finished Th 12/22/16

I got this book on the internet on Mo 6/19/06 and I'm sure that I looked through it, but this is the first time that I completed it.

This is a wonderful biography and I definitely want to check out some of the library's selections by Highsmith.

1921-1995 Born in Ft. Worth, Texas
Lived NYC/Mexico/London/Paris/Switzerland

Google Map link to NYC apartment-,+New+York,+NY+10022/@40.7578042,-73.9659743,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c258e6bacf8781:0xe48fc52b2dac41fe!8m2!3d40.7578002!4d-73.9637856!6m1!1e1?hl=en

Her parents divorced ten days before she was born and she didn't meet her real father, Jay Bernard Plagman (Jay B.) until many years later.

Mary Highsmith tried to abort her by drinking turpentine. "Funny how you've always loved the smell of turpentine".

Stanley and Mary were graphic illustrators and left Pat in Ft. Worth with her maternal grandmother, Willie Mae.

After graduating Barnard, Pat worked as a writer of comic books while writing STRANGERS ON THE TRAIN and THE PRICE OF SALT.

Lived for a few months at the Yaddo Colony. She left most of her estate (3 million) to this organization. In the late 19th century a family lived on this estate. They made their money selling shoes to the Northern Army during the Civil War. The woman contracted diphtheria. Her doctor said that she was going to die, but not contagious. He allowed her to see the two children. They contracted the disease and the mother recovered. Wow!

Link to Yaddo-

PRICE OF SALT is based on an incident from her life. She did work in a toy store and did fall madly in love with a woman that came into the store to buy a toy for her child. CAROL is the film made from this novel. I will see this again.

'Preferred the company of animals to that of people and once said, "My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people. Her chronic alcoholism intensified as she grew older.'

Highsmith's link to wikipedia-

Truly a bizarre character; racist and antisemite; primarily lesbian and never really was able to establish a life-long bond with anyone. However, she did have longtime friends, including Saul Bellow and Arthur Koestler (both Jewish).

Monday, December 19, 2016


Finished Su 12/18/16

By The Peoples Bicentennial Commission    

"Tom Paine's Common Sense sparked the American Revolution 200 years ago. This Book sounds the alarm against today's tyrants- The Giant Corporations"

This is one of my paperbacks. The flyleaf doesn't mention when I last read it, but I was shocked to find that my father had written a rather lame summation at the end of the book. Needless to say, he thought that the 'men in the gray suits' were doing a fine job steering our obviously unfair economy. I must have gotten him to take a look at this fine book, and he missed the point entirely.

"Five years after its founding, the People's Bicentennial Commission is using an economic analysis to unify and reform American workers. The Commission was founded in 1970 by Jeremy Rifkin to provide "revolutionary alternatives for the Bicentennial years."Apr 28, 1975".

Jeremy Rifkin's page at wikipedia-

The premise of the book is that there is no earthly reason why corporate charters could be changed so that Fairness and The Common Good could replace Profits as their primary motivation. I think that the authors make the case that most people in colonial times believed that the aristocracy was ordained by god. Today, most people feel that the structure of the contemporary corporation is god given. Both positions are complete fallacy.

And, clearly the treatise makes the case that the American worker is not being properly compensated for the labor provided. The book also shows that if the common worker was given more responsibility and 'free reign' in the work place he'd be even more productive. Thus, most of the corporate hierarchy is completely unnecessary.

This is a very short book and I read it during the 'Amazing Ice Storm of December, 2016', and I think that it should be required reading for high school students. Certainly it provides a strong antidote to the Free Market nonsense that is currently in vogue.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Removed Su 12/18/16

This was 'bathroom reading' from early Fall through mid December 2016

This was one of my paperbacks that I have had since 1993. According to the flyleaf I completed the book Su 3/14/93.

The edition of the book is so old that it contains 'a complete update for the 80's'.

The book documents the blending of psychology and advertising which began in the mid 1950's. After over fifty years of manipulation, no wonder Trump is the president elect.

the author's page at wikipedia-

WASTED YEARS by John Harvey

A Charlie Resnick Mystery

Finished Sa 12/17/16
This was the day of the worst ice storm to hit Springfield in decades. A quarter inch of ice coated Westview and it was nearly impassable. And, late Saturday night a snowstorm dusted the whole mess with a half inch of powdery snow and the temperatures never rose above single digits all day on Sunday.

This was one of my paperbacks that I bought at the main branch in May of 1995, but never read.

The novel is a police procedural set in Nottingham, England and reminded me a lot of the work of Ian Rankin.

Charlie Resnick is a depressed, functioning alcoholic deputy inspector. He regrets his divorce to Elaine. She cheated on him with a realtor. However, he really stopped communicating with her, and he basically forced her out of the relationship.

The novel concerns two criminal activities. The first is about a pair of inept robbers, Keith and Darren. Darran is the leader and most likely psychotic. Keith is just a weak follower and they met in a youth prison and Darren prevented Keith from hanging himself.

They rob a small branch bank and Darren nearly kills an old man with a hammer who steps up to stop the robbery. One of the tellers, Lorna Solomon, is frustrated with her job, and she is a sub-plot in the book. Darren follows her and she goes to the police about his voyeurism and meets a young detective, Kevin Naylor, and they have a brief sexual encounter. But, Kevin goes back to his wife, Debbie, at the end of the novel.

The other criminal enterprise concerns a group of very experienced and well organized robbers. This gang successfully steals from armored cars and large banking concerns. They wear Disney masks. Prior, Churchill, and Rains are the ringleaders.

Prior has just gotten out of prison after a ten year sentence. His wife Ruth, was an established R&B singer. Resnick is a music lover and saw her perform back in the day. He thinks that Prior blames Ruth for his incarceration, and Charlie tries to prevent Prior from getting back at her.

WASTED YEARS is a song that Ruth sings with her combo.

I thought Charlie and Ruth might get together, but it looks like Resnick will try to hookup with Prior's probation officer, Pam Van Allen.

I loved the book and I'll check the library to see if I can read more of this series.

Author's page at wikipedia-

Charlie's page at wikipedia-

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson

Finished We 12/14/16, the day before my colonoscopy at the Springfield Clinic. It probably only took me three sessions to finish the novel and it was my second book from my over-sized paperback, "THE PARANOID FIFTIES- Three Classic Science Fiction Novels by John Wyndham, Richard Matheson and Philip K. Dick".

This is probably the strangest novel about vampires that I've read. The protagonist, Robert Neville, is in the midst of a world-wide vampire epidemic, and although he is not infected, he searches for a cure for the condition. Part of his motivation might be to bring his wife back since she was infected and is not quite dead and buried.

Neville also employs and examines various legends, myths, and superstitions about vampires- such as garlic, mirrors, transmutation, and stakes through the heart. He learns, but does not understand why, some of these phenomena work and some do not.

It doesn't make clear in the novel, but Robert Neville might have had some background in medical science since he doesn't seem out of his element perusing medical texts and trying his hand at advanced microscopes.

The novel is set in Los Angeles, CA

Robert Neville's wife is Virginia and they had a young daughter, Kathy, who was probably between five and eight years old. Kathy succumbs to the disease of vampirism.

Robert guesses that the reason he has not been infected is that when he was stationed in Panama during the war, he was bitten by a vampire  bat and this inoculated him to the condition.

Although he lives in a fortified compound, and is relatively safe from the vampires, he is intensely lonely. One of his friends, Ben Cortman, is a portly vampire and cries out for Robert to 'come out' every night. Cortman reminds Robert of Oliver Hardy.

Near the end of the novel, Robert notices a dog that has not been infected. Apparently, all living creatures have been effected by the virus (or bacteria). He spends several days feeding and trying to approach the dog, and when he finally makes friends, the dog dies.

Then, he meets Ruth. This woman is also very apprehensive of befriending Robert. Soon, it is revealed that she is working for a new race of infected humans that must kill all existing humans.

I wasn't exactly clear to me as to why the humans and the 'proto-humans' could not peaceably co-exist.

But, at Robert's execution he realizes that he, and the humans that he represents, will become a myth or legend to the new race of human beings. That is what he means when he proclaims, "I am legend".

From the Editorial Reviews-

"One of the most influential vampire novels of the 20th century, I Am Legend regularly appears on the "10 Best" lists of numerous critical studies of the horror genre. As Richard Matheson's third novel, it was first marketed as science fiction (for although written in 1954, the story takes place in a future 1976). A terrible plague has decimated the world, and those who were unfortunate enough to survive have been transformed into blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Except, that is, for Robert Neville. He alone appears to be immune to this disease, but the grim irony is that now he is the outsider. He is the legendary monster who must be destroyed because he is different from everyone else. Employing a stark, almost documentary style, Richard Matheson was one of the first writers to convince us that the undead can lurk in a local supermarket freezer as well as a remote Gothic castle. His influence on a generation of bestselling authors--including Stephen King and Dean Koontz--who first read him in their youth is, well, legendary. --Stanley Wiater"

Amazon reviews-

The author's page at wikipedia-

The novel's page at wikipedia-

Monday, December 12, 2016

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SECRET SIX- The Spy Ring that Saved The American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Finished Su 12/11/16

This is a library book that was recommended to me by the guy that works out at FitClub West and is retired from the Presidential Library downtown.

I was surprised that I didn't have to wait on the book because one of the co-authors, Brian Kilmeade, is an anchor at Fox News.

The premise is that the rebels did not win the revolutions so much on the battlefield but that George Washington 'out spied' the British. The spy ring was based out of Long Island and kept a close watch on the British occupation on New York. Manhattan was the second most populated American city, Philadelphia was the first.

The Secret Six were-

Robert Townsend- This man went undetected until 1929. Papers were found that identified his handwriting to manuscripts written by the network.

Abraham Woodhull

Benjamin Tallmadge

Caleb Brewster

Austin Roe

James Rivington- This man was a printer and coffee house owner and his 'cover' was that he was a forceful critic of the revolt.

[Agent 355- This was a woman, probably American 'high society'. Her identity remains unknown.]

Nathan Hale was probably the most famous spy of the revolution, but he was caught and executed. He was only 21 years old and was not part of the Secret Six.

His page at wikipedia-

I really enjoyed the account of John Andre and Benedict Arnold. Andre was the British military leader and spy that 'handled' Arnold's double dealing. Arnold was in charge of West Point and he wanted to deliver this fort to the British (for a cash payment). The deal was stopped, but Arnold escaped to Europe. I want to read more of the lives of both of these fascinating characters.

John Andre's page at wikipedia-

Arnold's page at wikipedia-

I was almost shocked to learn of the British counterfeiting operation. They had the plates and the paper and could have defeated the Americans without having to fire a shot. Simply destroy the monetary system of the colonies. This plot was stopped by the spy ring.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

TIME OUT OF JOINT by Philip K. Dick

Finished Fr 12/9/16
This was part of a trilogy called THE PARANOID FIFTIES which included 3 classic science fiction novels by John Wyndham, Richard Matheson and Philip K. Dick.

I've had this book for many many years and I got it when I belonged to the Quality Paperback Book Club.

From Amazon books page-

""Marvelous, terrifying fun, especially if you’ve ever suspected that the world is an unreal construct built solely to keep you from knowing who you really are. Which it is, of course."—Rolling Stone

Ragle Gumm has a unique job: every day he wins a newspaper contest. And when he isn’t consulting his charts and tables, he enjoys his life in a small town in 1959. At least, that’s what he thinks. But then strange things start happening. He finds a phone book where all the numbers have been disconnected, and a magazine article about a famous starlet he’s never heard of named Marilyn Monroe. Plus, everyday objects are beginning to disappear and are replaced by strips of paper with words written on them like "bowl of flowers" and "soft drink stand." When Ragle skips town to try to find the cause of these bizarre occurrences, his discovery could make him question everything he has ever known.

I read this in three evenings. I loved it.
Rather than Sci Fi, it could almost be seen as an explanation of a paranoid schizophrenic personality.

2 Political Groups-
Lunatics- Believe that Man should explore the galaxies.
One Happy Earth- Man has no business leaving Earth

Amazon Books page-

Friday, December 9, 2016

HOOLIGANS by William Diehl

Finished Sa 12/3/16

I finished this book almost a week ago and it was a slightly better than average organized crime thriller.

From wikipedia entry on William Diehl-

"At 50, Diehl was a successful photographer and journalist, when he began his writing career. His first novel, Sharky's Machine and the 1981 film of the same name is directed and starred Burt Reynolds. Diehl saw it shot on location in and around his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Its cast included Vittorio Gassman, Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Earl Holliman, Rachel Ward, Bernie Casey, Henry Silva and Richard Libertini. It has been the most successful box-office release of a film directed by Reynolds. Diehl relocated to St. Simons Island, Georgia in the early 1980s where he lived for the next 15 years before returning to Atlanta. While living on St. Simons, he completed eight more novels, such as Primal Fear, with the 1996 film adaptation.
He died of an aortic aneurism at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on November 24, 2006, while working on his tenth novel. He was survived by five children from his first marriage (Cathy, Bill, Stan, Melissa, and Temple) from whom he was estranged.
Sharky's Machine (1978)
Chameleon (1981)

Hooligans (1984)

Thai Horse (1987)
The Hunt (1990)
Primal Fear (1993)†
Show of Evil (1995)†
Reign in Hell (1997)†
Eureka (2002)
Seven Ways to Die (2012) with Kenneth John Atchity[1]
†Primal Fear, Show of Evil and Reign in Hell are all part of the Martin Vail series featuring the character Aaron Stampler."

Reviews at Amazon-

Sunday, November 27, 2016

WE WERE THE MULVANEYS by Joyce Carol Oates

Finished Sa 11/26/16

This is a long and sprawling work, and I loved every page.
Another novel (like SACRIFICE) where the action turns on a sexual assault.

Michael Sr.- The Good Republican. Small farmer and business owner who can't 'get respect'. His life unwinds completely, yet his family always remembered his 'better days'.

I'm writing this almost three weeks after finishing the book, but this was one of the best in a long line of good novels from this summer.

The youngest boy is separated by age from his oldest brother by so much that his feelings and observations of 'The Mulvaneys' is much different from his siblings. He almost feels as if he has missed the reality of being a Mulvaney. Makes you try to say exactly when your own family was at its apex.

From the NY times review-

"The Mulvaney family's scruffy Eden, in the fictional town of Mount Ephraim, is called High Point Farm. This peaceable kingdom is under the dominion of parents still so in love that they embarrass their children -- who include a star high school athlete, a popular cheerleader and a class valedictorian. By way of contrast, we also get a Great Bad Place reminiscent of the swamp in ''First Love,'' a lake with water snakes, ''repulsive soft muck like quicksand'' and a resort run by an affable alcoholic eager to drag down the father of the family.

The Mulvaneys' fall from grace begins when Marianne, a pep-squad Clarissa Harlowe, is raped by a local boy and her father's dormant dysfunction wakes up and starts rattling its cage. Esthetically, it's a joy to watch a pro like Ms. Oates take apart this proud, happy and likable family step by inexorable step -- there goes Marianne! here comes the booze! there goes the farm! -- while making you hope all along that she'll spare them. And the modest measure of recompense and reconciliation she eventually hands the survivors doesn't outrage our sense of probability, however our sense of justice may suffer.

''We Were the Mulvaneys'' makes us glad to forgive its trespasses. The brainy son's ongoing agon with Darwinian theory probably fits in thematically -- in what book would it not fit thematically? -- but it sure is ongoing. And Marianne's turn-the-other-cheekiness comes to seem implausible. She's raped, her father exiles her from the family, her mother acquiesces -- yet her anger seems to be so well sublimated that it never makes it onto the page. On the other hand, Ms. Oates honors the novelist's obligation not to play favorites and to let us know how all her characters see things. Corinne Mulvaney is justified in cutting off the dangerous friendship she and Michael once had with the alcoholic resort owner; yet the man is justified in feeling hurt when Corinne insists on paying him for putting them up overnight.

Occasionally Ms. Oates's prose sounds canned and careless (''Abelove irradiated a powerful masculine heat''), but she gives us enough small luminous moments to carry several novels: a nighttime walk where the full moon looks like ''a candled egg''; hairs on a woman's arms lifting ''like filings to a magnet''; the aging, drunken Michael Mulvaney telling his son that he regrets not joining the Marines: '' 'I got married instead, and by the time I was your age I was up to here in it.' Drawing a swift crude forefinger beneath his chin.''

Still, ''We Were the Mulvaneys'' works not simply because of its meticulous details and gestures, or because ''family'' is a hot-button issue these days, or because Ms. Oates has borrowed the primal narrative of Western culture to give her story subliminal oomph. Mere hard work and canny calculation could get a writer that far. What keeps us coming back to Oates Country is something stronger and spookier: her uncanny gift of making the page a window, with something happening on the other side that we'd swear was life itself."

Link at Amazon reviews-

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

THE SACRIFICE by Joyce Carol Oates

The November 2016 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Finished Sa 11/12/16    Meeting on Wed. 11/16

The author's page at wikipedia-

Ernetta Frye- Sybilla's mother
Sybilla Frye- the rape 'victim'
Anis Shutte- Ernetta's husband and Sybilla's step-father
939 3rd St. Pascayne, NJ  No such town, but where the Frye's lived
Ada Furst- the teacher that found Sybilla in the abandoned food factory
Ines Iglesias- the female detective on the case. She was picked because Ernetta wanted a person of color, but Ines is a very light skinned Hispanic.
Pearline Tice- Sybilla's great-grandmother. Ernetta takes Sybilla to her home after the 'rape'. 'Sekewstered'.
Jaycee Handler- Sybilla's boyfriend. Ernetta doesn't know about him and would not approve. He is in a youth facility- Mountainview.

Byron Mudrick- lawyer and twin brother of Reverend Marus Mudrick
Marus is a flashy Black advocate, but probably more concerned about himself. Byron is his weak follower.
Klarinda is Byron's wife and she wants him to cut ties with Marus
Jerold (Jere) Zahn- the 'white cop' that Marus says committed the rape. He didn't, he's just a young man that probably doesn't belong in law enforcement.
Kimba Jacyznek- Jere's girlfriend for a time. She dumps him and he stalks her.
Leopaldo Quarrquan- the muslim leader; also a flashy Black civil rights proponent
Esmeraldo Mason- Black poet and writer. Sybilla and Ernetta live with her. Marus set it up
Julio Ramos- an assistant DA that's also accused of the incident
Feb. 1988 Sybilla converts to Islam and takes the name Aasia Muhamod
p. 266 Sybilla visits Mountainview
p. 79 Martine, Sybilla's friend, questions Sybilla about the incident. How could it have happened if you were seeing your boyfriend the next day?
p. 28o More evidence

I liked the book and the only thing that's missing is that the actual crime is never revealed. At the end, you know that Anis did the act, but the details are left to the imagination of the reader. But, I'm sure that Oates did this purposely because the story is about the 'fallout' and the effect on the characters. The actual event is secondary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dakota Days by John Green

Finished Su 11/6/16

This is a trade paperback that I've owned for many years, but never read. The book was written by the Lennons' tarot card reader.

Yoko seems to be interested in all forms of mystical philosophies. She felt that John Lennon would not respond to her tarot card reader if they shared the same first names, so she said that his name was Charlie (Swan). This is how he's referred to in the book.

John seems less of a true believer, and more of a sceptic.

Yoko had a much larger role in the business aspect of Lennon's life than I thought. She was his legal representative in the Apple company.

I didn't realize that she came from such a powerful and influential family.  They were the first Japanese to enter American politics , first Japanese to graduate from Harvard (who these people were is not mentioned), and her family represented a powerful banking interest in the home country.

John comes across as very depressed during this period. He seems to have given almost all of his power and influence to Yoko.

Yoko's page at wikipedia-

Regardless if it's all true, it certainly paints an interesting portrait of the Lennons at a rather critical point in their lives. John had just returned to Yoko after an affair with May Pang. The book says that this relationship was set up by Yoko. She would rather have John involved with someone that she knew (and could control?).

And, Yoko becomes pregnant and John decides to become the caretaker of Sean. Lennon seems to admit that he's basically just hiding. He says that 'how busy could I be'?... He has nannies and servants to help, so there's no real need to stay at home.

The book at amazon-

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Late October, 2016

This was a 'bathroom read' and I had been chipping away at it since early summer. Reaffirms the fact that not only did Roger have impeccable taste in films, but he was also a terrific writer.

The book was released in 1984, so it's pretty dated, and some of the 'stars' were unknown to me. But a visit to wikipedia and I was onboard.

My favorite entries dealt with John Belushi. Ebert had an uncanny ability to describe both the man, and his crippling addiction. Early in his career, Ebert also suffered from alcoholism. After reading his treatment of Belushi, I found WIRED, his biography by Bob Woodward, in the collection, and I read this one with renewed interest.

The title of the book is taken from the song, 'As Time Goes By'. This piece of music is associated with the classic film, CASABLANCA.

The actors from RUMBLEFISH (Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Vincent Spano) are nearly unknown, at the time and barely out of childhood.  

David Bowie is treated as an 'actor'. His interview took place after he disbanded the Spiders From Mars Band and he claimed that he had left the music industry.

Kirk Douglas struck Ebert as extremely intelligent.

Jerry Lewis said that you can tell a crazy person by watching his eyes.

Charles Bronson was a coal miner.

Brook Shields is a child actor.

Woody Allen actually did prefer the big city of NY and hated the country.

Clint Eastwood sounds sane.

Most of the entries were written for magazines and seemed to be 'just long enough'. The impression created was indelible.

I'd read (watch, see, or taste) read anything by Roger Ebert.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

KINKS KRONIKLES by John Mendelssohn

Finished Sa 11/5/16

This is one of my trade-sized paperbacks that I carried in my work bag for about a week, and finished Th 7/13/16. But, I had owned the book for years.

My impression this time-

Somewhat a biography of the band but dangerously close to a mere collection of reviews of the songs on the record albums. Also, it's pretty dated since it ends in the early 80's, and I wonder what has happened in the last thirty five years.

The last paragraph of the book is the best- "Nobody changes all that much".

The Kinks at wikipedia-

Customer Reviews at amazon-

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

SNOWBOUND by Blake Crouch

Finished Tu 11/1/16

This is a library book that I got because I loved DARK MATTER. This novel is nowhere near as interesting as DARK MATTER, but a very compelling thriller (mabe a bit overblown).

Will Innis and his wife, Rachel, and his five year old daughter, Devlin live near the Mexican border in Arizona. Rachel is a nurse and one night she fails to come home. For no real reason, the police suspect Will, so he runs with Devlin, and they start a new life (one of many plot points that are pretty hard to accept).

One day he is approached by Katlyn Sharp. She claims to be with the FBI and she knows who he is, but is only interested in him because she wants him to identify Javier Estrada. This man belongs to The Alphas, a group of super-commandos who provide protection for the Mexican cartels.

Rachel had been kidnapped by a rich group of men who use women for sex and torture in a lavish secret resort in remote Alaska near the Wolverine Mountains.

Katlyn pretends that she is one of these women to infiltrate the group and allows herself to be transported to this resort. Will and Devlin (this is five years after Rachel's abduction) follow with a tracking laptop.

Wolves run wild near this place and kind of act as security. Katlyn, Will, and Devlin attack the resort, kill all of the rich men. Soon, Javier returns with three other commandos and attempt to retake the resort. They don't. Much mayhem with little or no character development. But, a ripping good read (however, it's one of those things were you kind of hate yourself in the morning).

In the end, it appears that Katlyn and Javier are together, but after their escape from Alaska, they are on a luxury liner heading for South America. Katlyn throws him over the side of the book. Will, Devlin, and Rachel hope that they can live out their lives 'under the radar' of The Alphas'.

This is part of The Fear Trilogy- three distinct and separate stories. Crouch seems to write a lot of series.

I will read more of this author and I'm looking forward to watching his TV series, WAYWARD PINES- Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo.

link to amazon-

link to many reviews at GoodReads-


"A train wreck of a book. Couldn't look away, but thought less of myself because of that"

Monday, October 31, 2016


Finished Su 10/30/16

This is one of my paperbacks and I had never read it before. No notation as to when it was purchased, but I would imagine I've owned it for many, many years.

The title is from a poem by Wallace Stevens. It describes the wake or preparation for the funeral of a woman. Her feet are described as 'horny'. Knobs are missing from a bureau in the room. She was a seamstress? Celebration of life (ice cream) is contrasted with a scene of death. Burly men with cigars churning ice cream.

"Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream."

(In the context of death, an echo of Hamlet's comment to Claudius: “Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots.” Hamlet, act 4, scene 3)

The novel is set at the beginning of WWII. 1939 through April 7-8 1941, The Belfast Blitz

Gavin Burke is the protagonist. He has finished the Irish equivalent of high school, but has put off going to college. His parents want him to finish his education. He has joined the UK Red Cross (ARP- Air Raid Precautions/ FAP- First Aid Party).
His prudish Catholic girlfriend is Sally Shannon. She is a nurse's aid and although she likes Gavin, she dates other people.

Gavin's quasi-military function is to keep an eye out for an air attack and man the stretchers if there are wounded.
At the beginning of the war most people thought that Belfast wouldn't be bombed because it would require the planes to travel over 1,000 miles one way. However, when the Nazis took France, it became very accessible.

Many older Irishmen hated the British more than Hitler.
Gavin's father is a lawyer and he's sympathetic to Germany.

Owen and Kathy are Gavin's siblings. His brother is more accomplished and so is his sister.

Freddy is Gavin's best friend and also in the FAP. He sees himself as an actor. Some scenes involve this acting troupe. Freddy is a socialist. Some of the actors are gay and this is shocking to Gavin.

The best part of the novel is near the end when Belfast is bombed. Freddy and Gavin volunteer for corpse duty. The novel climaxes at The Belfast Blitz. This means that the novel spans 1939-1941, but it seems much shorter. Gavin's experience doesn't seem to be two years.

In the end, Gavin and his father reconcile in the bombed ruins of their Belfast house. The father had left for Dublin with the rest of the family, but he came back for Gavin.  The 'father' becomes the 'son'- life is forever changed.

Belfast Blitz wikipedia-

Author's page at wikipedia-

Wallace Stevens page at wikipedia-

I enjoyed the book. It's mostly a quirky comedy involving the odd characters who are in the ARP and FAP. But, the final part of the book is tragic.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch

Finished Fr 10/28/16

This is a library book that was recommended to me by a guy that works out at FitClub West. He has some connection to the presidential library, and he told me that at one time he was available for private showings of all the Lincoln sites in town- for one thousand dollars a day!!

This novel is really beyond classification, but is marked SciFi, yet it would work just as well for people who hate science fiction.

SCHRODINGER'S CAT- A cat is placed in a sealed box with a nuclear device (I guess any lethal substance would work) that has a fifty percent chance of activating. Until the box is opened and the status of the cat is verified, it is possible that the cat could be alive and dead simultaneously.

Jason Dessen lives in a Logan Square, Chicago neighborhood with his wife, Danielle, and son, Charlie.  He is a professor of physics at a small college and his wife is a housewife. She had abandoned a stellar career as an artist and he was on track to become an internationally known, groundbreaking physicist. Fifteen years earlier, when they learned that Danielle was pregnant, Jason and Danielle decided not to follow their dreams, but to have an ordinary family life. This is the Schrodinger's Cat fulcrum for the novel. Basically, Jason 1 returns from the reality where he has become a world famous physicist and tries to recapture what it might be like if he had not taken this path. Jason 2, the protagonist of the novel, is pitted against his 'alter-self' and fights to keep Danielle and his son, Charlie. By the last part of the novel, he is at war with an infinite number of these 'selves'.

I haven't read anything this fast-paced and thrilling since GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.
A very easy read and it's a pulse-pounding, thought provoking thriller from start to finish.

It really makes you appreciate the vastness of infinity. The novel demonstrates how each and every action by an individual implicates an infinite array of other possible actions and outcomes.

Although Jason 2 is the hero of the book, doesn't Jason 1, who is portrayed as the villain, also have a definite right to his reality. Is it not just as 'heroic' to try and recapture a past that might have been?

Indispensable link to Youtube video where the author explains the book-

Link to amazon books-

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

LILA by Marilynne Robinson

Finished Tu 10/25/16 The October 2016 selection for The Contemporary Book Club

Last month's book, THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! was a sunny read, this month's was mostly cloudy.

Lila is a young woman of the Depression. The book is set in the mid-west (St. Louis, Gilead, Iowa).

Lila is rescued (kidnapped?) from a very poor and dysfunctional family by Doll.

Doll is a member of a 'crew' headed by Doane and Marcella. These people stick together out of survival.

Doll acts as Lila's mother, but will try to leave her when she believes that it might be in Lila's best interest.

Long paragraphs with little dialog.

Timeline can switch in a single paragraph.

The book is the third in a trilogy (THE GILEAD TRILOGY).
 Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004), Home (2008), and Lila (2014)

Reverend John Ames meets Lila and after a strange and distant courtship, they marry. And Lila becomes pregnant.

They have a son, and the novel ends with Lila in an unsettled state. She isn't sure whether her 'wandering youth' might resurface and she might find it irresistible to take her boy and leave.

Reverend Ames wants only what Lila wants and he realizes that since he is old (68) Lila will probably have another husband.

Lila is attracted to Ezekiel, book of the bible

 "a dissenting view," critiquing the Christianity that Robinson writes about as "gospel thin, exiguous, a story slight and wanting, and Flannery isn't here to say so."

I doubt that this novel will have many rabid followers at the book club meeting tonight.

After the meeting-
The members liked this book more than I did, and after thinking about, I guess I liked it more than I thought. A few days later I got GILEAD and am reading it now (Nov 2nd).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

SPEAKEASY by Nathaniel Benchley

Finished Mo 10/17/16

This is a hardback that I owned and it looks as if I bought it at the library sidewalk sale. There is no date of purchase and I have apparently never read it.

The novel is set during Prohibition and it's about the characters and the action at Nick Baldino and his wife, Marie Dubros speakeasy, CIRCE, in downtown NYC.

Roland Butterworth- He's a newspaperman and very straightlaced. He becomes a PR Man and possibly an alcoholic. He has two kids and a wife who live in the suburbs. Although he spends many nights away from his home, his wife still cares for him, but there is a feeling that she might be having an affair.

Frank was a hero in WWI and met Marie while in France. He was recuperating from bullet wounds.

Marie is an accomplished cook and has always wanted a restaurant.

George MacDougall- Also a reporter and Roland rooms with him on the nights that he can't make it back to the suburbs. Also a boyfriend of Dorothy. He was the father of her child which she aborted. Lionel (Puddin), a baby and Nancy, a toddler are George's kids.

Fred McClain is an engineer and Nick allows him to drink and eat for free because he makes changes to the layout of the CIRCE. He's also the boyfriend of Dorothy Peterson. She seems to be based on the character of Dorothy Parker.

Lucky Livorno- He is a gangster in the protection rackets. He tries to shakedown Nick, but he always refuses to pay.

'Circe' was the enchantress represented by Homer as turning the companions of Odysseus into swine by means of a magic drink. A most clever name for the speakeasy and thought of by Marie.

k- EE- r- k- ee    pronunciation of CIRCE

The action is rather bland, but the characters are kind of noble almost to the point of being unbelievable. I guess the author is trying to recreate Robert Benchley's love and admiration of these people.

The book almost seems to pave the way for a sequel as in the last scene Roland Butterworth has become a famous stage actor and leaves for Hollywood to seek fame and fortune. And, his wife Sarah might have taken up with one of their neighbors' husbands, Mark. The kids referred to him as 'Uncle Mark'.  On the other hand, the main focus of the novel is the action in and around CIRCE and he's trying to portay (in a fictional setting) Robert Benchley's time at The Algonquin Table.

From Kirkus-


It's somehow fitting that N. Benchley's last, posthumous novel is a loving, roman à  clef-fy evocation of R. Benchley's 1920s--because, while Benchley Jr. at his best (The Off-Islanders) was a genial entertainer, he never really strode out from under the shadow of his father's comic genius. (Not to mention the commercial success of son Peter.) A fellow awfully reminiscent of the young Robert Benchley, then, is the central figure in this near-plotless ramble: Roland Butterworth--who, with ""a bow tie and an embryonic moustache,"" is seen dabbling in assorted night-crawler careers (reporter, theatrical press agent, actor). . . while his neglected wife, off in the country with the kids, grows increasingly impatient for Roly to settle down. And among Roly's pals and acquaintances in the Manhattan '20s are a slew of real and almost-real Benchley comrades: Humphrey Bogart; Ring Lardner; John Barrymore (""Which part are you going to play?"" asks Roly when Barrymore announces plans for a Hamlet production); Dorothy Peters--a faithful mock-up of Benchley's beloved Parker, complete with rotten love affairs, suicide attempts, wisecracks, and boozing; and Nick Baldino, operator (with WW I war-bride Marie) of a speakeasy/restaurant called the Club Circe. There are dib-dabs of action here--a few prohibition raids, Nick's troubles with the Mob. But, for the most part, Benchley cheerfully mixes bits of '20s history (Sacco-Vanzetti) with lots of theater/newspaper chat, plus agreeable food-and-drink details. And, though some of the quasi-biographical material can get confusing for those in the know (Parker's doomed real-life passion, John McClain, is called MacDougall here, while another lover is called McClain), this is a pleasant Twenties-in-New-York pastiche--and an oblique yet revealing portrait of the Benchley/Parker circle in its early days, in some ways more revealing than N. Benchley's 1955 biography of his father.

Author's page at wikipedia-

Friday, October 14, 2016


Finished Th 10/13/16

This is one of my paperbacks that I first finished on Mo 8/18/97. According to the flyleaf I had just been notified that I would begin a two week suspension on 8/19. Wonder what that was all about? I reread the book again and finished on Su 12/26/04. And after reading it a third time, I can definitely see that, on down the line, I will probably visit this novel again. It's very well written and a true lost gem!

It is a satiric political thriller chock full of delightful characters (with crazy names!). I guess the two principle characters are Morgan Citron and Draper Haere.

The book opens with Morgan serving an undetermined sentence in an African prison. He's being held by a President/Emperor who is a cannibal. Right before he's released he is served a stew that contains the flesh of a child. The Pres/Emp also gives him an uncut diamond.

The complicated plot revolves around a shady deal by US policy makers in Central America. The book was written in 1983, at the height of Reagan's America. A multi million dollar coke deal involving a corrupt general and the CIA and the FBI. If this incident was made public, the current US administration would topple.

Exactly what happened in the central American country of Tucamondo is explained on p. 257

Here's a list of characters-
Morgan Citron
Draper Haere
Velveeta Keats
Drew Meade
Craigie Grey
Gladys Citron
B.S. Keats (Byron/Shelley/Keats)
John Yarn/ Richard Tighe
David Slipper ("Slippery")
Jimmy and Bobby Mineras
Baldwin Leatch ("Baldy")
Colonel General Rafael Carrasco Cortez
Bill MacAdoo

2 Running Gags-
Numerous times in the novel characters ask Morgan if the President/Emperor really was a cannibal.

When Draper is told that someone has died of 'heart failure', he always corrects them by saying that, 'everyone dies of heart failure, the correct term is heart seizure'.

I'd recommend this novel to anyone and it is definitely a cut above. Maybe I'll get more by Thomas.

The author's page at wikipedia-

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Finished Mo 10/10/16 Columbus Day

This is a quality paperback that I purchased on We 12/17/03 at the Target on Bell Road- must have been a Sun City visit. And, I never recorded when I finished it for the first time, but there are some notes on the flyleaf.

key passages- p. 188, p. 251


Rebecca, 53 years old and a widow for many years, begins to feel that she is leading a life that she didn't choose. Maybe if she had followed a different path she would have become the person that she was meant to be. The novel is kind of a journey to her self acceptance.

The Four Daughters- Minerva/Bridget/Patricia/Elinore

Min Foo- (Minerva), Rebecca's natural child by Joe. Min Foo has had three husbands and is presently married to a middle eastern man and they have a new baby. She's already feeling uncomfortable in the marriage.

Biddy- Rebecca's stepdaughter. Her husband died early in her marriage and she has lived for many years with Troy, her dead husband's gay brother, Troy. They are raising Dixon. Biddy is a caterer and an adventurous foodie.

Patch- Rebecca's stepdaughter.  Athletic and married to Jeep who is a gym teacher.

No No- Rebecca's stepdaughter. Barry is her fiance and they marry in the beginning of the book. Peter is Barry's son and one of the most interesting characters in the novel. He is struggling to find friends, but is very smart, yet shy. No No feels she is clairvoyant.

Poppy- is Joe's 99 year old uncle. He lives with Rebecca and celebrates his 100th birthday near the end of the book. He was widowed many years ago and always remembers his wife, Joyce.

Zeb is Joe's younger brother and has always been attracted to Rebecca. At the end of the book Anne Tyler says that in the future he will most likely ask Rebecca to marry him. He is a cardiologist.

Joe was 13 years older than Rebecca when they first met.  She was happily involved with Will Allenby, but always felt that something was missing from that relationship. It seemed 'preordained' and not her true path, but a big theme of the novel is how she tries to reach out to Will and 'try again'. It's a failure. Will is now a professor of physics at Macadam College. This is where they both were in college.

The Open Arms is the row house and the spiritual home of  Davitches.

I loved the book and I've never really been disappointed with anything Anne Tyler.

The author's page at wikipedia-

The novel at wikipedia-

Saturday, October 8, 2016

SAVAGE SEASON by Joe R. Lansdale

This is one of my oversized paperbacks that I had bought at Powell's Books in Portland OR on Tu 8/27/02, and I finished the book on Mo 9/16/02 (in two days).

Refinished Fr 10/7/16

I noticed that this has been made into a series on the Sundance Channel. I checked out a trailer and it seems that they went heavy on the comedy of the book- Completely missed the point. This is a textbook example of Hillbilly Noir, and not that funny at all.

This is the first in a series featuring Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Set in Laborde, East Texas (fictional place).

Hap Collins was a college student during the Vietnam war and decided to Not Serve. He didn't want to take conscientious draft status because he felt that he would have fought in WWI or WWII, but just not in Vietnam. According to the government, you can't cherry pick our wars. He served 18 months in a Texas prison. He was adept at martial arts and was a tough Texan, so he didn't have any problems.

Leonard Pine is a ex-Vietnam vet with conservative leanings, and he's also gay. Very outspoken and extremely cynical.

Storyline/ Characters-

Hap is visited by his ex-wife, Trudy. She was briefly married to Hap, but left him when he went to prison. Both were active in the California hippie scene and she went from man to man, and finally settled with a man named Howard. Both Trudy and Howard have strong ties to the underground violent 60's radical groups (Weathermen, The Mechanics (a group known for making bombs. I don't think this group really existed).
Chub- Fat guy who is in the Movement and deeply into analysis. A wimp and not popular.
Paco- One of the Mechanics and has lived the underground life for many years. Not roots, couch surfer. Badly disfigured in an accidental bomb explosion. Face and ears nearly unrecognizable.

Angel- Musclebound woman, 6 ft tall.
Soldier- Ruthless, porkpie hat, sweats vaseline.

Howard told Trudy of a bank robbery that went bad. Crooks left the bank with the loot, traveled to a boat, but sank it trying to get away. All the robbers died (were shot by the survivor) and this man tells Howard where the boat went down. In a swamp near an Iron Bridge. Trudy wants to get Hap in the gang because he's familiar with this area.

They find the money and Paco sets them up with Angel and Soldier. These two are supposed to sell them guns so that they can give them to 'worth causes'.

There are no guns. Angel and Soldier just want an easy score.

The final fight scene starting at an abandoned drive-in  is great. Everyone is killed except Hap, Leonard, and Soldier. Hap could have killed Soldier, but he couldn't bring himself to kill in cold blood.

Hap finds the money where Trudy had buried it. She anticipated a ripoff. He splits the three hundred grand in three. $100,000 goes to Greenpeace in Trudy's name.

amazon link-

The author's page at wikipedia-

Thursday, October 6, 2016

ALL ABOUT LULU by Jonathan Evison

Finished We 10/5/16

This was a library book that I got because I loved THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! which was also written by Evison.

Another comic/tragedy tied together by a dark sexual secret

The Miller's

Big Bill, Doug, Ross (Alistar), Annie (first wife), Willow, and William (the narrator)

Big Bill is an ex-Haight Street Hippie living with his family near Muscle Beach in Venice, CA.
His firs wife Annie dies of cancer and he takes up with his grief counselor. She has a daughter, Louisa (Lulu).

William is a slight boy and the only male in the family not involved with bodybuilding.
Doug and Ross are twins; Meatheats, Dumb and Dumber. Crude and Rude.

William becomes obsessed with Lulu from the first time he sees her. They become inseparable pals until Lulu turns fourteen.

Troy- one of The Benders- Rich kids from out of the Venice area who live to party; Troy becomes a boyfriend of Lulu- a rival to William

Dan- When Lulu moves to the Seattle area after high school Dan becomes her boyfriend. He is a base player and fairly well known in the Grunge Circuit.

The Great Reveal-

Lulu is NOT just William's step-sister, she is his half-sister. Big Will, Annie, and Willow were all friends in San Francisco and Will had a brief sexual affair with Willow when he first took up with Willow.

When Annie died, he went back to her.

At age fourteen, Lulu went to a cheer leading camp in Maine. It was there that one of the relatives told her who she really was. This is why she changed so dramatically when she returned.

Secrets, Misdirections, and Incest.

William wants a career in radio. He loves baseball, especially the LA Dodgers. He has a great radio voice.

Big Bill wants to become an Olympic champion in bodybuilding, but never makes it.

Big Bill tells William his real relationship to Lulu in The Haight, Golden Gate Park.

Willow and Big Bill don't want William to have any contact with Lulu, but after he learns the truth, he confronts Lulu to tell her he knows.

In the epilogue we learn that later Lulu has two children and William goes on to be a "successful and very happy, but I would be lying about one of the two".

No Pain, No Gain

I loved the book and will read more by this author.

amazon link-

Monday, October 3, 2016

TONY AND SUSAN by Austin Wright

Finished early morning, Mo 10/3/16 (Bo's first birthday party was yesterday afternoon at Brandenburg Stadium near State and Ash)

This is one of my over-sized paperbacks that I probably got when I was a member of Quality Paperback Books in the early 90's. I had not read this novel.

This book was released in 1993 and despite great critical reviews, it did nothing. Then, in the 2010 it gained traction in England and was re released. It's now a film called NOCTURNAL ANIMALS with Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Mike Shannon. I can't wait to see the film although many changes have been made. Tony's story is set in rural Texas instead of along a desolate freeway in Pennsylvania. And Susan runs a prestigious art gallery, and as far as I can tell, there's no mention of her husband, Arnold. The release date for the film is November 23, 2016. Can't wait.

This is a 'story within a story'.

Twenty years later Susan gets a note from her ex husband, Edward. He's finally written a book and he wants her to read it and offer her critique.  His novel is more or less included in it's entirety, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.  This is written in the style of Cormac McCarthy or Donald E. Westlake.
Tony Hastings, wife, Laura, and teenaged daughter, Helen. They are driving all night from Ohio to their summer cabin in Maine.

Edward Sheffield is the author, and nearly 25 years earlier he was married to Susan.

The only contact Susan has had from Edward is the occasional Xmas card that was written by his new wife, Stephanie.

Susan Morrow is married to Arnold Morrow, a heart surgeon. He is at a medical conference for three days and this allows Susan a time to read the novel. Susan has three kids and a dog and cat.

Ray Marcus/Lou Bates/Steve Adams

Leader of the criminal band is Ray. Teeth too big for his mouth, triangular shaped face with a high forehead, and tends toward the sarcastic.

Lou- drives Tony to the fictitious town of Bailey when they separate Tony from his family.

Turk (Steve Adams)- wears glasses and is killed in a robbery. This case allows Detective Bobby Ames an opportunity to gather clues on the murder/abduction case.

In the movie, Bobby Ames is played by Michael Shannon

When he was fifteen, Edward's father died of a heart attack, his step mother didn't want him, so Susan's family, neighbors, took Edward into their home so that he could finish high school. Edward's real mother had been institutionalized.

Arnold's wife, before he connects with Susan, was also institutionalized.

Susan and Edward don't see each other for eight years. They meet in graduate school at the University of Chicago. Susan became a teacher. This job keeps them solvent while Edward tries to become a writer. He had been studying to become a lawyer.

The end of the book is murky, but works-

Ames gets Tony to come with him. "how much would you do to make this thing right"?
Ames shoots Lou in front of two women (one of them is named Susan) the other is named Ingrid. This woman works in the doctor's office where Bobby Ames is being treated for terminal cancer.

Ray escapes, Bobby has left, and Tony has a gun and finds Ray in the cabin where the rape and murders of his family had occurred. Ray goads him into shooting him, but attacks Tony first.

This is where it gets blurry. Tony has shot Ray dead, but something Ray has done to Tony has left him with a deadly injury. And, he crawls from the cabin and probably bleeds to death while the other police are in the area. Tony is blinded. Could he have been stabbed? And, he might have also accidently shot himself while trying to signal the police.

Susan agreed to see Edward and discuss the novel. She wanted to invite him to dinner to discuss the book, but he never returns her call. You never really know why he doesn't contact her. Maybe there was some real reason for not meeting, or maybe he was just being passive/aggressive.  "I'm finally a true author in spite of the fact that you never believed that it was in me"!

I loved the book, although this is not something that I would have thought would be a good subject for a film. Because most of the book is Susan's reflection on her life with Edward in the past, her feelings toward her philandering husband Arnold, and her critique of NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.
Too much of the novel happens between Susan's ears, and this is the biggest strength of the book, but how would you film this?

The film was shown at Cannes and it is one of the most anticipated films of the Fall season.

The author's page at wikipedia-

Amazon Books link-

From an article in THE TELEGRAPH, and English newspaper

"As she reads her ex-husband’s book, Susan “rereads” her own real-life saga, “rewrites” her memory. Austin Wright asks: are readers really writers of the books they interpret for themselves?"

"I’ll tell you the last thing he said to me – which may have been the last thing he said to anybody,” says Katharine. “He wasn’t speaking to anyone – he seemed to be in another place. I said to him: ‘Dad, do you recognise me? Do you know who I am?’ All of a sudden he focused on me. He looked sort of mischievous and mysterious, and he said, with a pause between each word: ‘You. Are. Invented.’ And after that he went back into outer space.”"

Friday, September 30, 2016

PAINFULLY RICH The Outrageous Fortune And Misfortunes Of The Heirs Of J. Paul Getty by John Pearson

This is one of my hard-backed books that I first finished (in the hot tub at the club) on We 4/21/99 and had bought the previous Saturday at the main branch for a dollar.


J Paul's parents, George and Sarah were both religious fanatics. The father was a Christian Scientist and his mother became deaf as the result of an illness. Neither parent ever thought that Paul was up to snuff.

The Sarah Getty Trust was set up by Sarah during the Great Depression. She felt that Paul would squander his fortune, so she invented a tax free haven that would prevent this from happening. However, Paul was correct. When the market is at the lowest is the time to spend, and spend big.

Paul's biggest goal in life (after sex, mostly with very young girls) was the quest for more money. This trust allowed him to get more and more of it, and to keep it safe from the taxman. And by amassing this fortune, it help to prove that his parents were wrong in their low estimation of him.

J Paul claims that he never paid the US government more than 500 dollars of tax in a year.

His Sons-

George, the oldest

Ronald- this boy was cut out of the inheritance because J Paul felt that his grandfather would be able to always pay for Ronald's needs. J Paul was in a bitter divorce with Ronald's mother and he hated his very rich father in law. However, this man lost his fortune not long after.

Paul- A sixties Hippie and drug addict. His wife died under mysterious circumstances and this haunted him all of his life. Decades later he got clean and became a master of old books and sailing. He was knighted and became a major philanthropist.

Gordon- the most business oriented of the sons.

3788 Clay St., San Francisco

Paul's son was the boy that was kidnapped and lost an ear in Italy during the early 70's. Lots of information about this very interesting case.

"I have fourteen grandchildren and if I paid a single ransom, I'd be paying ransom for all of them"
This was the logic as to why J Paul did not want to pay for the release of his grandchild.

A great read and very informative.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


This was the September selection for the Contemporary Book Club. I got a used hard-cover, library copy of the book from Amazon and received it on Tu 9/1/16.

Finished Mo 9/26/16

An easy read, yet a tragic/comic story. The story is told through the eyes of a 78 year old woman, but the story is written by a young man.

I was surprised to learn that this author wrote the novel THE REVISED FUNDAMENTALS OF CAREGIVING. This was made into a film by Netflix and I saw it a few months ago- starred Paul Rudd and Selena Comes. The highlight of the film is when the caregiver facilitates his client to be able to piss standing up (his client has multiple sclerosis).

Harriet is the hero; Skip and Caroline are her adult children
Bernard is Harriet's dead husband and current 'ghost'.

Mildred is Harriet's friend. This woman had a decades long affair with Bernard. Harriet learns of this while she is on an Alaskan cruise that Bernard won before he died. Mildred confesses in a letter that she gives to Harriet.
Dwight is Mildred's adult son. Takes Harriet to meet the boat: Cowboy hat/smokes pot on the drive.

"I'm not a terrorist....I'm an Episcopalian"!!

CTO Carmichael  This is an angel who tries to keep Bernard from visiting Harriet from the afterlife, although 'nothing' will happen.  Chief Technology Officer of Heaven????

Throughout the novel Harriet chastises Mildred Honeycutt's 'weak coffee' and 'unshaved legs'.

Novel is set in Sequim, WA. Near Seattle and in the Banana Belt. Olympic Rain Shadow. Pop. 29,000.

Sunny Acres is the nice nursing home where Mildred lives and Sherwood Arms is the not so nice place where Bernard ends up.

Charlie Fitzsimmons molests Harriet when she was nine and years later, rapes her when Harriet works for him as a legal assistant. Caroline is the result of this sexual encounter. Both secrets are kept by Harriet until the end of her life.

"Welcome to the sexual revolution, Harriet Chance, you won't be staying long"!

I really liked the novel and have his first book, ALL ABOUT LULU on reserve at the library. Most of the group enjoyed the book, but Becky didn't like the 'this is your life' format.

A review of the book-

Author's page at wikipedia-

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

THE HUNTED by Elmore Leonard

Finished Tu 9/20/16

This was one of my paperbacks that was purchased at the library book sale on Fr 6/13/99 and never read. I picked it out to read because I only have a day or so before I must tackle the September selection for the Contemporary Book Club.

Leonard is always a pleasant read; excellent dialog and nearly all of his books belong on the silver screen and THE HUNTED is certainly no exception.

Set in Israel during the seventies; the novel was written in 1977

Al Rosen is a businessman living in the witness protection program. He was vacationing in Israel when a hotel fire happened and he got his picture taken and it was published in the newspaper.
Then, The Bad Guys knew where he was and begin their attack.

Rosen also was in Israel to pick up money from his lawyer. This was $195,000.

A Marine who is about to leave the service helps Rosen during the ensuing mayhem.

Dave Davis- Marine stationed at the American embassy who helps Rosen
Atalia (Tali)- young woman who is Rosen's secretary
Mel Bandy- Rosen's lawyer

Valenzuela (Val)- the boss
Teddy- explosive expert
Rashad- 'Alabama Arab'; converted to Islam in federal prison

Rosen is shot and killed during the final shootout. All the bad guys are killed and Davis takes the money from Mel 'because he can'.  The money belonged to the company and the lawyer doesn't really care (or want to become involved); he did the handoff so he's out of it.

Great read and any Leonard novel is worth a look. The language of the characters is the saving grace- very pithy!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

THE SILENCE by Jim Kraus

Refinished Sa 9/17/16

This is one of my books that I originally finished Sa 1/20/07 and I bought it at the West Branch for a dollar. My comment on the book was 'Claptrap'. However, I liked it much more the second time through.
Jim Kraus is an author from Illinois and he writes Christian books.

Reverend Jerry Moses
The Temple of God's Calling
Stonefort, Il is where the novel is set

Although I liked it better this time, the writing is still only to the level of Young Adult.

Interesting Idea-
Christians in the time of an unprecedented international turmoil and must grapple with the concept of 'end of times'. Probably it was really a very large solar flare that coincided with bad earthquakes all over the globe, but not The Second Coming.

Tom- screenwriter from Malibu, CA
Megan- stock broker from NYC. The breakdown prevented her from being busted for illegal trading.
Peter- small farmer from southern Illinois, a few miles from Stonefort. A true Christian.
Peter and Linda Wilson- daughter, Becca. Linda sings for the temple and 'kidnapped' by Rev Moses. Her voice on the radio is responsible for the hordes that are attracted to The Garden.
William- Catholic priest; brings Megan from NYC
Elijah- Old 'holy man' brings Tom from California
Ernie and Mike- vigilantees from Arizona who follow Tom to Stonefort to rob him of the gold.
Revelations- Tom's dog; originally belonged to Calvin. This was a Christian friend of Tom's before the breakdown. He wants Tom to take his well equipped Hummer to Las Vegas to give a large quantity of gold to his ex wife. He left her badly at the start of his career; he want forgiveness for his act and thinks that the gold will give her a new start. She had become a junkie and a prostitute.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

BEAUTIFUL BOY- A father's journey through his son's addiction

Finished Mo 9/12/16

This is a library book that was mentioned in Pete Townshend's autobiography, WHO I AM. When I found it on the shelf at the library I was shocked to notice that it was next to TWEAK, a book I own. Later I found that TWEAK is written by the author's son, Nic.

The family lives in Inverness, CA. Forty miles north of San Francisco, along the coast. Point Reyes Station is the town. Absolutely beautiful country!

A different look at Codependency. Usually it is taken to mean a person who facilitates another's addiction. Ex. I buy your booze, but you must drink it in the house (so that I can keep an eye on you). Or, When you call for rent money (or whatever) I pay up.
However, this Codependency is different. Will's son, Nic drug the whole family into his addiction, although they clearly allowed it- they thought it was for the overall good. They became part of the problem. The family was so drawn in, Will couldn't even think, feel, or react without first thinking of his son.
In the end, Will (and the family) learn to accept that in the end, it is Nic's life and they must learn to separate from him.

The only possible thing that Will could have done to effect Nic so badly was his divorce from Vicki. Will was a hippie in Berkeley and divorced when he was young. He later married an artist, Karen, and had two children, Jasper and Daisy- Two years apart in age. Of course, millions of young children have divorced parents and do not become addicts.

No easy answers or explanations, It Just Is.

Quote from Kurt Cobain's suicide note that I liked.

"I have a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function."

My take on what this means-
What can you do when you feel like this? Nothing.....It's like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Painful feelings can be good, but only if you can act on them. Sometimes the only sane 'action' is 'inaction' or to do nothing.

I was struck by how close Will was to his children, even Nic. They all listened to Good Music. Jasper and Will share a love for Beck's MIDNITE VULTURES. They surfed, went to beautiful areas of the country, went to the best art galleries and museums, and much more. Their lives seem textbook perfect, yet Will is convinced that 'something is missing'.

How about God? The family are not believers, but there are millions of addicts or all the religions both major and minor,

I would have loved to have had Will as a father, and I think that while reading the book, most people would agree. In spite of this, the book could be seen as Will's search for absolution from a mistake that he made that really didn't even exist.

That's probably the key message of the book. Addiction isn't really 'caused', it just is.

Considering how many millions of people are affected by the disease, it's shocking how little is known of the cause of the treatment. 'Having six kids is no guarantee of being a superior OB/GYN'. After an observation that many of the so called 'experts' only claim to the title is that they were addicts before they stopped using.

Van Morrison- SUMMERTIME IN ENGLAND from Common One

"It ain't Why Why Why.....It just Is"

This song could be the soundtrack for the entire book, or even the family's experience.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

INNOCENT VICTIMS by Scott Whisnant

Finished Sa 9/10/16

This was one of my paperbacks that I first finished on Th 10/21/99. According to the notes- 'after an OT run to Moline ; Four reels on a crane trailer- 2hrs 15".

I didn't remember any of the book, but it was a real page turner.

When I finished the book I checked on the Internet and couldn't believe the fallout from the case.
Tim Hennis was brought out of retirement from the military in 2007 and retried and CONVICTED. DNA evidence at the scene proved that he had sexual intercourse with Katie. He admitted this but claimed that he didn't mention it in the first two trials because he wanted to spare the feelings of Gary, Katie's husband, and Jana, the daughter that lived.

Best wrapup of the case-

The book at amazon (customer comments!!!)

At the military trial Hennis admits to sex with the victim but says that it was consensual. OK, but whose DNA was found under Katie's fingernails? It wasn't his, so isn't it possible that the murders occurred AFTER the sex?

I wish there was a comprehensive follow-up to the case which includes the results of the military trial. Sounds like there was so much evidence in that house that was not analysed. The book claims that the scene was released far to early. The defense team was not even allowed in before the owner was allowed back to paint and cleanup (the home was a rental).

Before I learned of the military retrial and the 'consensual sex', I felt that this book proves how bad eye witness testimony can be. Pat Cone was clearly either lying or delusional, but he was most likely drunk as a skunk. And, the woman at the ATM sounded like her recollection was tainted by the violent and heinous  nature of the crime. She felt that somebody should pay, and Hennis looked like a likely candidate. Both witnesses were only seeing what they wanted to see, and maybe that's the case with many eye witnesses.

And, the case was mostly circumstantial and nothing at the scene really tied Hennis to the crime. Even the DNA only proves that he had sex with the victim. I still think that it's possible that the murders could have been done by somebody else either later that night, or even Friday or Saturday. There seems to have been numerous vans and autos outside the Eastburn house on that Mother's Day Weekend.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WHO I AM by Pete Townshend

Finished Tu 9/6/16

A library book from that very attractive section......

For decades I thought his name was 'Townsend', it ain't.

Had an epiphany in Rolling Meadows Illinois????? Heard the voice of God on a water bed?

I was surprised about how much respect and admiration he had for the other members of the Who.
Pete Butler was 'Dougal' who was Keith Moon's handler. He wrote a great book (that I own) about his life with Moon.

Knew John Entwistle since he was eleven years old. Although they were roughly the same age, Pete always saw John as more of an adult.

"I am the best Keith Moon type drummer in the World"!!!!

His mother and father were involved in Big Band and Swing. Mother a singer and heavy drinker; father a clarinetist and reed man, also alcoholic.

When he was seven, his parents decided to ship him to his maternal grandmother's home. She was losing her mind and they felt that it would be good for Pete and Denny (the grandmother). Really I think that they wanted to get a handle on their deteriorating marriage, but a crazy thing to do. Pete says that the grandmother was cruel and he hints that he might have been sexually abused during that time.

The Grandmother had split from her husband and became a 'kept woman'. This made her daughter (Pete's mother) insecure for the rest of her life.

Townshend is an avid sailor. His house at Twickenham, London is right on the Thames. He can commute to London via the river.

I was taken aback had how big his solo career is and he would have 'been somebody' if there were no Who.

Child pornography issues began when he met a Russian man who was trying to raise money for Soviet orphanages. When Pete tried to locate this guy a few years later, he could not be found. It's possible that this man could have been a front for a human trafficking ring.

Years later, when checking this out on the Internet Pete logged onto a site that dealt with child porn. Although he did not look at the images (he says) the law is written that you are guilty regardless of your intentions.  Sounds like you would have better luck in a Salem Witch Court in Massachusetts.

Most authorities believed him and nothing was found on his computers, but this scandal no doubt damaged his reputation.

Loved the book, but the absolute best rock bio must be Keith Richards book, LIFE.

amazon page-

his page at wikipedia-

Friday, September 2, 2016

I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD- The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon

Finished Th 9/1/16

This is a library book that I had read before. The Lou Reed bio, DIRTY BLVD has gotten me back into that very attractive section of the library.

Name is pronounced   'Zee-von'

Extremely high intelligence and IQ

Crippled with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and very superstitious

Always liked to wear the color gray

Was the musical arranger for The Everly Brothers

In a musical duo in his teens and was on a B side of a Turtle's single

For a time is manager/producer was part of a famous English duo from the sixties, Peter and Gordon.

Friend of the writer Carl Hiaasen.

Played and arranged for the Rock Bottom Remainders

Known for his drug and alcohol excesses, yet he was sober of 17 years.

Fell off the wagon when diagnosed with lung cancer.

Lived to see the birth of his twin granddaughters by his daughter, Ariel.

The book is a compilation of reminiscences by various people that were close to him. It is compiled by his ex-wife, Crystal. However, they retained some semblance of a relationship over and beyond his turbulent years.

David Letterman was a big fan and had him on the show numerous times.

I loved the book and always worth another look.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

DREAMLAND- The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Sa 8/27/16

I heard about this book on Marc Maron's podcast, WTF. He was raving about the book and was trying to get the author on his show. I was shocked to find that the library had the book, so I got it.

This is the best non-fiction I've read in a long, long time. It was a fast read and felt like you were ripping through a thriller.

Portsmouth, Ohio- This is a blue collar town in southern Ohio that was ripped apart by the opiate/heroin epidemic that began in the 1980's and continued for a couple of decades.

In 1929 a pool the size of a football field was installed in the town of Portsmouth. One of the shoe companies put up the money. A couple of generations of the town grew up by this side of this pool. Quinones uses the metaphor of people growing up in a community (around the edges of this pool) and when the epidemic struck, people were in solitude. Locked in bedrooms or cars, nodding on downers.

Xalisco, Mexico; in the state of Nayarit. Not too far from the capitol, Tepic. Black Tar Heroin.

Farm boys that only wanted to get quick cash in America and come back and 'wow' their friends and family at the local Corn Festival.

Loved 501 Levis- They marked successful people and showed that 'they had arrived'.

On salaries of about five hundred a week. They would drive around with several bags of Black Tar heroin in balloons in their mouths. No guns. If caught, they faced nothing more than extradition. As soon as one was busted, many clamored to be next.

They offered sales and even gave free samples. And, strangest of all, they did follow up surveys to find out if the customer was completely satisfied. They did not fight among the 'cells', but they even shared product. They tried to gain market strength by offering the cheapest heroin with the best service- just like a legitimate business.

OxyContin  Oxycodone- This was a drug that was marketed as a painkiller that was an opiate, but did not risk addiction. "The pain would block any chance of addiction".

Absolute nonsense, but accepted as truth.

Herschel Fick did a very small study and said that very, very few became addicted after being prescribed this drug. He observed a very small group that were basically people with no history of any sort of abuse (for example- elderly women recovering from hip surgery). He never intended this to reflect any kind of truth in a wider application of the drug (to the general population).

The drug companies employed over a hundred thousand salespeople to convince doctors that this was a safe drug.

'Pain' was changed to become a 'Vital Sign'.
 Before, Vital Signs were merely "the clinical measurements, specifically pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure, that indicate the state of a patient's essential body functions". But, by the 1980's 'Pain' was now included.

This created a huge market for pain killers.

Pills were up to 80 milligrams; on the black market this equalled about a dollar a milligram.
Oxycontin was pushed and developed by 'Purdue Pharma'.

In the end this company paid billions in restitutions, but it obviously did not offset the damage done.

Pill Mills all over the Rust Belt. After the manufacturing left in the 1940's, the only industry this area got was Prisons, Nuclear Plants, and then, Pill Mills. However, 'Rehab' became big by 2000.

People first became addicted to the pills, and when they became too expensive they substituted the Black Tar Heroin.

The Xalisco Boys drove immaculate, slightly older vehicles (so as not stand out) and would arrange to meet their customers in parking lots or on the street. No turf wars because they were always on the move. Their dispatcher's telephone number was circulated among the clients (junkies).

The best that you can ask of Non-Fiction. To be entertained and enlightened simultaneously!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


August selection for the Contemporary Book Club

The story of Addie Moore and Louis Waters

Cal is Addie's dead husband; Diane is Louis's dead spouse.
Tamara was briefly Louis's lover

Connie and Gene are Addie's children. Connie died in an accident. The two kids were playing with a hose in their front lawn. Gene chased her into the street and she was hit by a car.

Beverly is Gene's wife. They are in the midst of a separation. Their son is Jamie and he comes to live in Holt with Addie and Louis.

Bonnie is the dog that Addie and Louis get for Jamie

Ruth- 82 year old neighbor to both of them

Monday, August 22, 2016

DIRTY BLVD. - The Life and Music of Lou Reed

Finished Sa 8/20/16

This was a library book that I took out when I found that Doug Yule was not included when The Velvet Underground were selected for The Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. I was listening to a tape called, 'Play' by SQUEEZE and I learned that the band's name was taken from the album SQUEEZE. This album had none of the original members of The Velvet Underground and was basically a Doug Yule solo effort. I heard it on YouTube and was not impressed, but shocked that I wasn't aware of its' existence.

HS Band The Jades

Pickwick Records was a musical organization that offered budget prices for bands that were 'just as good' as the top rock acts of the time. "Why pay $4.99 for an album when Pickwick will give you about the same for $2.99"? I was not aware of this and I've never heard music being marketed like this.  Pickwick did have Jay and The Americans. Reed wrote HEROIN while working at Pickwick.

THE PRIMITIVES 'The Ostrich' He first meets John Cale

Bunny, Lou's sister, is five years younger than him. He was always close to her. She maintains that the Reed family dynamic was destroyed after his electroshock treatments at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, Queens NY. Parents, Sidney, accountant; Toby, housewife, she did win a beauty pageant when she was a court stenographer in the 40's.

The Reeds lived in Freeport, NY near Jones Beach on Oakfield Avenue.

Lou ran track and played tennis in High School.

Link to an excellent piece by Lou's sister, Merrill Reed Weiner,  about his early life-

Went to work for his father after The Velvets imploded

Best book to come out about Lou Reed. I own TRANSFORMER and it leaves that book in the shade.

I was surprised to learn of all his work with important jazz and classical musicians. He strived to hire the best in any field for his later works.

This book is probably my second favorite Rock Bio. The first place honor must go to Bob Mould's book, "See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody".

Sunday, August 14, 2016

PAPER WINGS by Marly Swick

Finished Sa 8/13/16

This is a library book that I took out because I loved my copy of  EVENING NEWS.

Set mostly in a suburb of Madison, WS

The Keller Family; narrated by youngest daughter, Suzanne. She's beginning the fifth grade when the story starts. Her sister, Bonnie, is four years older. Father, optician; mother, housewife.

The story begins on the eve of Kennedy's election, and rapidly changes due to his assassination. Suzy's mother, Helen, is enamored by The Kennedy's and his death destroys her life. I guess the novel could be seen as how that single event wiped out the placid Eisenhower Years and ushered in the turbulent 60's.

Cat- Jack
Dog- Jackie
Smoking becomes Helen's raison d'etre.

The move into the Keller's first suburban home is riveting. Product names are spot on and invoke memories if you are of that age.

Deteriorating marriage that's not really anyone's fault. People change and this is rarely seen in literature. Usually there is one to blame or bear the brunt of the breakup.

I loved this novel so much that I'll probably buy it on Amazon (a penny plus postage). I'm surprised this author is not more widely read. She's primarily a short story writer and a teacher of fiction writing.

amazon page-

Friday, August 12, 2016

CIMARRON ROSE by James Lee Burke

Finished Th 8/11/16

According to the flyleaf in the paperback, I first finished on Tu 6/1/99 after taking one 30'- 4 pole to Quincy. Those WERE NOT the days.

This is not a Dave Robicheaux novel, but from the Billy Bob Holland series.

I loved the book. It had an eloquent malevolence. The Bad Guys were so well written- in an almost 19th century style. Reveals the underbelly of Southern/Western Aristocracy.

Garland T. Moon- vicious criminal, sexually abused, more or less raised in prison. Reminded me of a kind of Evil Clown.
Darl Vanzandt- Sociopath and son of one of the community's richest families. Probably suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Lucas Smothers- Illegitimate son of Billy Bob. Holland is  close to this boy. The kid is a gifted musician, guitar. Vernon Smothers is his father (mean redneck).
Deaf Smith- the town. West End- Rich Side. East End- Poor Side
Bunny Vogel- College friend of Darl. Lost his career as a college football player when he got caught cheating for Darl. Slept with Darl's mother, Emma. Involved in the murder of Roseanne, but not really.
Marvin Pomroy- Straight and reasonably honest prosecutor in a town controlled by the Dixie Mafia.
L. Q. Navarro- Federal marshal that died when saving Billy Bob during an illegal raid across the Mexican border. He threw joker cards on his drug mule victims after he killed them.He appears as a ghost visible to Billy Bob throughout the novel.
Felix Ringo- Corrupt Mexican operative. CIA trained torturer.
Roseanne Hazlitt- This girl is the motivator of the story. Her body is found strangled and Lucas is setup as the murderer. Felix did it to cover up for Jack Vanzandt's meth/fake credit card business.
Temple Carrol- PI that works for Billy Bob. She probably ends up with Holland. Friends with the 'smartest little kid in the town' Pete. Holland befriends this young kid. His mother is a wreck and can barely support the boy- Holland steps in.
Brian Wilcox- Corrupt DEA agent. Works with Mary Beth and she dated this man.
Mary Beth Sweeney- Holland meets her as the new deputy in town, but she is working for the DEA trying to sort out the Vanzandt operation.

Sam Holland's diary for the 1890's figures in the novel. Billy Bob reads about his adventures with The Dalton-Doolin Gang in the Oklahoma Territory in 1892. Sam was a born again cowpoke and became a Saddle Preacher. In love with Jennie, the Cimarron Rose who was related to members of this gang. They live like animals in a series of caves by a river.
Virgil Morales- Member of The Purple Hearts motorcycle gang. Friend of Bunny, Darl, and Lucas. Testifies FOR Lucas at the trial. Says he was unconscious when the murder occurred.

Monday, August 8, 2016

THE ADDERALL DIARIES- A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, Murder by Stephen Elliott

Finished Su 8/7/16

I saw the movie starring James Franco and Ed Harris a couple of weeks ago, and found that the library had the book, so I got it.

Set in Rogers Park, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area

Elliott is a college graduate and writer with an extremely troubled past. Runaway, alcohol and drug problems, bizarre history of BDSM sexuality, stripping, prostitution, and a combative and adversarial relationship with his father. The father is also a writer.

The book is about a strange murder trial that Elliott is covering and it forces him to deal with his past.

Stephen grew up in a series of group homes and foster care. He  feels that he was driven out of his house by his abusive father, but the father saw him as a threat and he threw him out for his sanity and the well being of the remaining members of the family.

Kind of an emotional Rashomon; each one plays 'the blame game' but the other sees something radically different.  I liked this aspect the best in the movie, although it wasn't that developed. Stephen's mother died of MS when he was fourteen. Inexplicably, his father blames Stephen for this.

LInk to Hans Reiser murder case on wikipedia-

Writeup at amazon-

"As a writer stymied by past success, writers block, substance abuse, relationship problems and a serious set of father issues, Elliott's cracked-out chronicle of a bizarre murder trial amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Not long into the 2007 trial of programmer Hans Reiser, accused of murdering his wife, the defendant's friend Sean Sturgeon obliquely confessed to several murders (though not the murder of Reiser's wife). Elliott, caught up in the film-ready twist and his tenuous connection to Sturgeon (they share a BDSM social circle), makes a gonzo record of the proceedings. The result is a scattered, self-indulgent romp through the mind of a depressive narcissist obsessed with his insecurities and childhood traumas. Elliott is an undeniably good writer, but his voice has more to do with amphetamines than the author himself or the trial at hand. Elliott's frustration with himself is contagious; any readers expecting a true crime will be bewildered".

Not an easy read because of too many characters and the extreme sexual activity was so far out that it was truly hard to grasp. SadoMasochistic relationships invert the normal Pleasure Drive for sex. If Pain is Pleasure then everything is up for grabs(my humble opinion).

Writing style was interesting; not quite 'Gonzo' (HS Thompson), but like if LEAVING LAS VEGAS dealt obliquely with a True Crime incident.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

EVENING NEWS by Marly Swick

Finished Fr 8/5/16

This is a book that I had bought from the library in 2002. I thought it was excellent then, and I still do. On Saturday, 8/6 I dropped the book over at the Brandenburgs for Janny to read it.

Teddy shots his sister Trina with a handgun. He's next door at his friend's, Eric, house and they are looking at a gun that Eric's father, a commercial pilot, had bought for his mother for protection when he was away. Eric is handing the gun to Teddy, the phone rings, and the gun goes off, shooting Trina through the heart as she is playing in an inflatable wading pool right in front of her mother, Giselle.  Teddy is nine years old, and Trina is not quite two.

The novel is set in California, but Giselle married and grew up in Nebraska. Ed is Teddy's father and she divorced him and went to California to get a degree. She met Dan, her teacher, and fell in love and married him. Trina is his child.

After the shooting, Giselle sees her life in a much different light, and realizes the weaknesses in her relationship with Dan, and sees the strength and good father characteristics of Ed.

"You're lucky you're not my son". This is what Dan says to Teddy right after the accident. I'm not sure what he meant by this (and neither is Giselle), but Dan never recovers from the death of Trina. She was the love of his life, not Giselle, and he understands that he can never forgive (or forget) Teddy's accident. The hurt is just too deep.

I loved the book and plan to read Swick's earlier novel, PAPER WINGS.

page at amazon books-

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I, DOLL Life and Death with the New York Dolls by Arthur "Killer' Kane

Finished Tu 8/2/16

This is a library book that I picked up last week when I returned A MAN CALLED DESTRUCTION, the bio of Alex Chilton. I just looked through it (I had read it before), and watched some youtube videos about the book, Chilton, and the author.

I was actually looking for Marianne Faithfull's autobiography.

Kane's book is an autobiography and he wrote it off and on from 1986 to a year before his death in 2004. His wife Barbara Garrison Kane writes the prologue and epilogue.

This is the only celebrity that I know who was born on my birthday, 2/3/1949.
He also worked for the phone company.
He also liked The Hullabaloos.

Kane was very into fashion- the more outrageous the better. Most of the guys in the dolls seemed to be as good with a needle and thread as they were with their instruments. Especially Billy Doll, the drummer.

Cynthia Foxe was married to David Johansen. She claimed that all of the Dolls great ideas were first spoken by Arthur. Foxe went on to marry Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Kane feels that this is the band that the record company REALLY wanted, and went the Dolls floundered, they went with them rather than giving support to Kane's group.

He went on to work with THE CORPSE GRINDERS. Another band that was way ahead of the curve. Heavy Metal Gore.

Kane makes Johansen the heavy. Reminded me of Elvis's bass player's take on The Singer.

Well written and an interesting bio.
His wife puts him into proper prospective in the epilogue. Seems like he was his own worst enemy. Shocking tales of alcohol abuse and his falling out the window is totally outrageous. Then, he's beaten nearly to death on the streets of LA after attending a Red Hot Chilli's concert. Although, it's not stated, I'll bet he provoked the violence.

Dies less than two weeks after the reunion concert. This reunion was Morrissey's idea.

Worked as a Mormon historian in LA shortly before his death (after he had sobered a certain extent)