from the stacks: December

December 29, 2010 - Leave a Response

 

Books Bought, Got, or Borrowed

 

 

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

-Mark Haddon

 

The Little Book of Economics:

How the Economy Works in the Real World

-Greg Ip*

 

When God Winks At You:

How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence

-Squire Rushnell

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend

-Laura Hillenbrand

 

The Blind Side

-Michael Lewis

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

-Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

 

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir in Books

-Azar Nafisi

 

Books Read

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

-Mark Haddon

The Little Book of Economics:

How the Economy Works in the Real World

-Greg Ip

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend

-Laura Hillenbrand

 

When God Winks At You:

How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence

-Squire Rushnell**

 

I’m certain that there is an explanation for the books that I’ve read this month but I’ve no idea what it might be so I’ll just make something up. The only book on the list of books I got or read this month that I actively sought out was Greg Ip’s, Little Book of Economics. I was reading some magazine or paper and while perusing the book review section read a review of Ip’s work. The review, in effect, said that Ip’s work was easy to read, did not lend itself to partisan-ship and was, well…easy to read. The appeal about that ‘easy’ part should not be understated! My working knowledge of economics  is limited to the basic econ classes and texts I encountered in college and that was some time ago. The subject, by and large, is beyond my depth and the seemingly hysterical diatribes emanating from tv, radio, blogs, bar stools and Facebook regarding the ‘end times being nigh’ as proven by our current economic state has NOT (I repeat, NOT) inspired me to try to engage the subject in any meaningful way. That is, until I read the Ip makes it ‘easy’ review.

It’s worth noting that up until that review and my seeking out the book I had not been able to read for several weeks. I had books. I just couldn’t do it. Twain sits on my nearest shelf gathering dust. I am mildly ashamed of that fact. Still and all though, could not do it. Why then did economics work? The obvious answer, I must assume, is that there was great appeal in engaging a subject that generally leaves me bewildered and irritated (?) with some assurance that I would come out the other side with answers. Actual answers. An explanation for how the world works. I’m in.

 The book is great. I’m still not an economist so I can’t argue the merits of his explanations or the veracity of his arguments. I can say that his breakdowns were logical, they were readable and my head hurts slightly less at the thought of hearing more opinions on the matter of our economic state. Also, and for my purposes probably more important, my head was quiet long enough for me to read a book. Not of the varietal I’m used to, in fact, none of the books I actually read this month would fall into the realm of reads I would ‘normally’ engage. That’s ok. At least I can read something.

 

The day I picked up Ip’s work a friend of mine was with me and being fully apprised of all the ins and outs and  up and downs of my life of late she insisted we go to her house and grab a couple of books I HAD to read. That is how I came to have possession of both the curious case and SeaBiscuit. The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time proved to be a strange little read.  What makes the curious incident unique is it’s perspective. The story is the story of a young autistic boy writing a novel. What worked for me about the read was that the narrators view point is so far removed from my own that it leaves everything about the story and it’s telling unsettled. Literally, I never had to settle down to read it because even if I could, which I couldn’t, it wouldn’t have helped. The perspective is off and odd and so am I.

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend may be one of the most triumphant stories I have ever encountered. Certainly, Hillenbrand’s telling of the story is a triumph. There is nothing about this book that did not move me. From the lazy horse written off as ugly and useless, the greatness inherent in the very average (Tom Smith), if not expendable (Red Pollard), men who ‘sorted’ Biscuit out, too the will of a nation that just wanted to believe in beating the odds, the system, the Depression. Just, believe. I’m in.

* If you’re curious as to the color choices in the titles formatted above? So am I. (???)

**Got When God Winks for Christmas, it is a collection of stories regarding coincidence and I’m moving through them at random.

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The Happy & The Crappy: XIII

December 26, 2010 - Leave a Response

Yeah, about this holiday…not so fucking much. Why won’t this day end?

from the stacks: November

November 24, 2010 - Leave a Response

Books Bought, Got, Borrowed or Read

 

Postcards From the Edge

-Carrie Fisher

Life

-Keith Richards

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1

-Mark Twain

 

Books Read

 

Postcards From the Edge

-Carrie Fisher

 

It’s fitting that the book I started this month with was Postcards as it turns out I’m ending my month sending dispatches from my own edge. Richards and Twain sit on my bookshelf in various stages of begun and I’ve no idea how long that state of affairs will last. My father is dead. As a direct result of that what I have read this month is social security forms, medical forms, VA forms, insurance forms, retirement forms, death certificates, bill notices and messages of condolence.

And then…

November 11, 2010 - One Response

This week has afforded me the opportunity to experience levels of degradation I didn’t even know were possible. I’m tired.

from the stacks:July, August, September & October

October 26, 2010 - Leave a Response

Books Bought, Got, Borrowed or Read

 

  HA! As if I could possibly recall all the books I’ve encountered in the last four months. That said, I’ll just hit the highlights and then be back up to speed. The end of my summer was largely spent reading Steig Larsson’s ‘Girl’ trilogy. If you’ve not read these books, DO. And, no, seeing the movies does not count.

It was not all Girls with tattoos however. Happily, Justin Cronin returned vampires to their long absent eviscerating natures. I am a huge fan of mythology and I am fine with the notion of vampire love, really. The thing is, I am also fine with vampires as the soul sucking scourge of humanity. For so long now it seems we’ve been held rapt with vampire lite stories, it was thoroughly enjoyable to read The Passage! All hail wide scale carnage!

From the polar opposite end of the spectrum, early this Fall I was given Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea to read. Not entirely certain what to say about this book except that it makes me want to be a better person.  It is a carry it with you read beyond any shadow of a doubt.

And, this month I find myself in complete awe of Willie Nelson and Joe Patoski’s Willie Nelson an Epic Life. Wow. Just wow.

 

 

On Radar  

 

Postcards from The Edge

&

Wishful Drinking

-Carrie Fisher

 

 

 

365

October 22, 2010 - 3 Responses

That’s one.

 

 

 

 

 

ThisILove, Pt. 1

July 28, 2010 - One Response

In the interest of staying busy I have picked up a couple of writing prompt books, the scope of the prompts ranges from simple 3 minute free-write exercises to multi-part complex pieces. This particular post is the result of a prompt that in anyone else’s hands would probably fall under a “simple” exercise. The deal was list 10 works of art that you enjoy. Just 10. The list (of 10) that follows has taken weeks to narrow down, spans a huge portion of my life and requires being posted in two parts. The net result however was worth the work, I think. The following are 10 ‘pieces’ of art that have shaped the very core of my being, not to put to fine a point on it. In sharing them I make only the slightest effort at conveying what each piece means to me.

ONE

 

AFD, speaks for itself. Or, it ought to leastways.

Two

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. Growing up, I spent as much time as I could roaming the halls of this place, in complete awe of the weirdness. Weird, I love. 

 

Three

 Chewy. I am a complete Star Wars nerd. Chewy was is and will always be the moral center of that troop of weirdos and I love him still.

Four 

 Black & white. I’m a huge fan of black & white. It seems so simple. In addition, some of the most spectacular experiences of my life have occurred in the outdoors. Last, though certainly not least, I am not much of a photographer but I do love the perspective others manage to take.

 

Five

 

Music, imagination, alternate worlds (with in worlds) what is not to love about Fraggle Rock. Jim Henson was a genius.

from the stacks:June

July 28, 2010 - Leave a Response

Books Bought, Got, or Borrowed

 

Clay

-David Almond

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India & Indonesia

-Elizabeth Gilbert

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

-Jeannette Walls

Fatherland

-Robert Harris

The Hundred Secret Sense

-Amy Tan

To Kill A Mocking Bird

-Harper Lee

 

 

Books Read

Love Is A Mixed Tape: Life and Loss, One Song At A Time

-Rob Sheffield

 Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang

-Chelsea Handler

Tropic of Cancer

-Henry Miller

Pompeii

-Robert Harris

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock n’ roll, and Mental Illness

-Mary Forsberg Weiland w/Larkin Warren

Clay

-David Almond

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

-Jeannette Walls

To Kill A Mocking Bird

-Harper Lee

 

 

‘I’m late, I’m late, I’m late’ these are the words I hear running through my head. And, yet, I am actually not late. Not on this post anyway it is still July so I’ve time to get June posted. And, yet, ‘I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.’ This sense of urgency will undoubtedly shape anything I might have to say about the books above. I will be brief (I think) in the interest of getting to where ever it is that I am going next…

A word on Miller. Tripe. The book was banned relative to decency, okay, I get it. I am against it censorship and so I endorse Miller’s right to write tripe. The book is juvenile (and, yet, not suitable for juveniles!). The point, it would seem, was to reference fucking in as many ways as possible. Yes, I did pick up on all those other words as well but the sum total of all of them amounted to-who cares. I wouldn’t mind having those pages of my life back.

As for pages well spent, it had been a long while since I had read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and I had forgotten that it is one of those books that made me love words. I had forgotten the state of grace that Scout embodies. I’m hoping that keeping the book out front on the shelves will keep this recent reminder fresh in my mind. 

9 Months Later

July 22, 2010 - Leave a Response

Today marks 9 months sober for me.

In an odd turn of events it seems to me that while things have gotten easier by degrees, shit is no less complicated, nor, have things gotten all that pleasant.

Not sure anyone ever said things would get pleasant, come to think of it. It is however, an assumption that I did make.

In the shortest possible recap, in the last 9 months, my longest standing relationships have either ended or been altered so thoroughly they certainly seem to have ended. The oddest part of this occurrence, in at least one instance I am okay with that. In the other, not so much. Turns out though, I don’t get a vote. It is what it is and I’m going to go ahead and assume this like everything else is a part of the master plan. Just the same, I am struck by the knowledge that while some of the terrain in my life looks familiar, I recognize the faces and I know the language…I’ve never been here before.

Absolutely EVERYTHING has changed but only by degrees.

from the stacks: May

July 9, 2010 - 2 Responses

 

Books Bought, Got, or Borrowed

 

Love Is A Mixed Tape: Life and Loss, One Song At A Time

-Rob Sheffield

Ironweed

-William Kennedy

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

&

 Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang

-Chelsea Handler

Modern Baptists

-James Wilcox

Tropic of Cancer

-Henry Miller

Pompeii

-Robert Harris

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock n’ roll, and Mental Illness

-Mary Forsberg Weiland w/Larkin Warren

 

Books Read

 

Bite Me

-Christopher Moore

Ironweed

-William Kennedy

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

-Chelsea Handler

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness

-Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and The Arts (A-D)

-Clive James

Modern Baptists

-James Wilcox

 

Line sitting and state skipping are the contexts in which I engaged two of the readings that I got around to this month. This year’s Cinco de Mayo reading proved to be noteworthy at least in as much as I KNOW that I was reading on Cinco de Mayo. Not gonna lie, as holidays go the 5th of May has never made a huge impression on my life. That is, until this year. My May 5, 2010 was spent for the most part in line waiting for a not so secret Jane’s Addiction show! The band announced the weekend before the show that they would be hosting a surprise gig. Turns out, the show was on the 5th at the Bardot in Hollywood. By and large it was a private show that the band decided to allow 100 fans into as well.  The first 100 fans that is. In order to ensure my entry (You’ve heard Duff is in the band, right?) I arrived by noon on the afternoon of the 5th and brought with me Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia. I did NOT bring sunscreen. Huge. Error.

Cultural Amnesia is James’ endeavor at presenting a kind of autobiography.  The tome (1000 plus pages qualifies the tome status) is a collection of excerpts highlighting the politics, philosophies, arts and ideas of the times they represent, the scope of which runs the course of James’ lifetime.  Though a massive undertaking, James’ approach is so fascinating to me (cultural historian by training) that I could not have been more excited to engage the work.

In the interest of full disclosure this book is being read in pieces. Cut me some slack, it’s huge. And, not for nothing, my experience of his approach thus far is that it has a tendency to send ( me) the reader off into tangents of cultural biography that are distinctly their own. Case in point, I could not help but pause to ruminate on the fact that:

 

(from my reading journal on May 5, 2010)

I’m sitting on Vine, between Hollywood Blvd. and Yucca, reading this book which analyzes (or attempts to anyway) the convergence of voices which shape a man’s life. I am waiting to be one of one hundred fans admitted to the Jane’s Addiction show at The Bardot. This show functions as the public debut of Duff McKagan, my life long hero, as the new bass player for the group. I’m ‘resting’ my ass (Note: I’ve moved it off the concrete.) in the folding lawn chair of a guy I don’t know-who’s gone on a beer run. I’m 6 months and 13 days sober, fyi. What brought all of this to my attention were the tourists who just stopped to photograph the Walk of Fame stars in front of me. My feet have been stretched across Johnny Carson. Talk about a chorus of voices that has shaped THIS woman’s present, day and life. Damn.

It is too early to tell whether or not James will be able to pull off this endeavor as a whole. It is NOT too early to know that it has made me conscious of the spirit(s) of the age in which I dwell. I love that. Not incidentally, the book is beautifully written and James’ mastery of language is reason alone to celebrate this book.

If the aforementioned reading serves as an example of reading the right work in the right place, then my reading of Chelsea Handler’s, Are you there, Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea serves as a stark example of reading the wrong book in the wrong place. At the outset of what was to be another musical adventure late last month I found myself on a very early flight winging my way to NYC. Unable to get back to sleep, I got out Handler’s book and proceeded to lose my shit laughing on the plane. Tears, cramps and derisive glares from my seatmates are what Handler’s book got me. It’s been a while since I have read a book (or in Handler’s case books) that have kept me doubled over laughing, hers did!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Note: It’s July. If I spent another moment thinking about May I just might ‘lose my shit’ on a whole ‘nother level. Ergo, this blog while not done is due. Happy reading!