Monday, December 04, 2023

Monday, Monday

 Did not care much for SALTBURN. It was just too cruel for me although the acting and look of it was good. I did enjoy rewatching MANSFIELD PARK on Paramount. Also started THERAPY by Sebastian Fitzrek on PRIME, continuing with JULIA, FOR ALL MANKIND, FARGO. And about to begin SLOW HORSES. 

So much rain. Should be grateful it's not snow but the fog is scary. 


Not a bad year for TV. Nor for movies. It's books I have been hard pressed to find. I am reading Dwight Garner's book on READ, EAT, EAT READ. 

How about you?

Friday, December 01, 2023

FFB: From 2007


I made this photo extra large because it is hard to read. Soon I will work my way out of my room and into the living room, which has books in much better condition but perhaps not as interesting to you. Anyway HARDBOILED has fabulous stories by Ed Gorman and James Reasoner in it as well as many from other true greats in the crime fiction field. I have read some but not all of them.

LAURA, I read years ago and it is one of my favorite noir movies. I don't think it was this copy I read though because it is very fragile. 

I really love Grace Paley stories. I think I have another collection somewhere.

THE MALTESE FALCON-I saw the film recently on a big screen and wondered again if I had read the book. Not sure. (Maybe I am more of a movie person than a book person) Liked Wilkie Collins' THE WOMAN IN WHITE more, but THE MOONSTONE is the one I own. I read both when Masterpiece Theater did them way back when. They have done them again since.

Love THE THIN MAN and because I saw the movie first, of course, I picture them as William Powell and Myrna Loy. Asta is pretty much the same in either version. You can see what horrible shape this one is in. When they are this bad it is because I saw them in a used bookstore and couldn't resist. I am not that hard on books although I do eat lunch reading so there is often mustard on them.

THREE BY FLANNERY O'CONNOR include WISE BLOOD and THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY but also my two favorite shorts by her: "A Good Man is Hard To Find' and "The River." Have read everything in this collection at least once.

THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY, Charles Willeford. This is my least favorite Willeford and set in the world of art. I think there is a recent film made of it. Not sure why it didn't work for me. Maybe because it wasn't funny like the Hokes or scary like some of the rest.

DREAM STORY is apparently the novel from which Stanley Kubrick drew inspiration for EYES WIDE SHUT. I can't remember if I found that to be true. But since my interest in the work of both Cruise and Kubrick faded, I don't much care now.

I had a friend that loved the works of Orwell and he kept after me until I bought these two books. I am sure they are great but I never read them. But since my friend is gone and I miss  him I feel like I might need to try these some day.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, James Cain. One on my favorites, for sure. Seen both movie versions too, but the book is far and away the best. There is a coldness the movies couldn't capture, I think.

What's on your shelf this week? Which of these have you read?

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Short Story Wednesday "Debarking" from BARK by Lorrie Moore


I listened to this story via Hoopla through my library and it was read by the author. I really like listening to an author read her story because you are more sure of getting the meaning, I think. Another reader can make something sincere seem too sentimental for instance. Or too sarcastic. 

"Debarking" is a very ordinary story but written with such verve and terrific word choices that it made me appreciate a time when stories were easier to understand. Ira is recently divorced and sharing custody of a daughter. He meets a pediatric oncologist with an annoying son or is it her relationship with him that's annoying? Ira is the third wheel on most of their dates and he lands somewhere between thinking he loves her and thinking she is nuts. The invasion of Iraq forms the background for this story, which has everyone on edge. Kinda like now.  

Moore reads it so well that it felt like just the right way to experience her stories was to hear her read them aloud.

There are eight stories in this collection from a decade or so ago. I have read about three of them. Am always amazed at how insightful Moore is and in a clever way. 

Halfway in I am going to amend this a bit. Moore tends to read every story in the same voice I think print might suit these stories better.

Steve Lewis

Kevin Tipple 

Jerry House

George Kelley 


Casual Debris 


Monday, November 27, 2023

Monday, Monday

 After enjoying THE HOLDOVERS so much, I went back and watched a few of Payne's earlier movies. I had seen them before but watching how he puts together a film was fun. 

I think I have seen SIDEWAYS quite a few times but it was probably only my second watching of THE DESCENDANTS, which was just terrific and both films had lots of similarities to the THE HOLDOVERS. I am not sure why Clooney put his film career aside but he brought a lot to this film. 

Watching THE NIGHT MANAGER from a few years back on PRIME. Also OBITUARY (Hulu) which is very amusing, still enjoying FOR ALL MANKIND (Apple), JULIA (MAX) and THE CROWN (NETFLIX), which is pretty heartbreaking and better than Season Five. Funny to see Elizabeth Debicki in THE NIGHT MANAGER and THE CROWN. At 6'3 that has to be the first thing anyone will ever think of about her.  FARGO (HULU) started well.

Reading short stories from BARK by Lorrie Moore and THE FIRE-KEEPERS"S DAUGHTER for my book group. 

Had a nice Thanksgiving. Hope yours was too. Looks like we're going to get a bit of snow today.

GO University of Michigan. Getting worried about the Lions.

What about you?

Friday, November 24, 2023


Stoner, John Williams

John Williams' remarkable 1965 novel has recently been reprinted by The New York Review of Books and is now available to us again.

William Stoner, a farm boy in Missouri, is sent to university by his father, who tells his son it will be helpful to the family for him to learn more modern farming methods. But instead Stoner discovers the great passion of his life—literature and the teaching of it—and he goes on to earn a doctorate in the subject. He meets and marries a local girl, has a child, and teaches at the university for the rest of his life. He is under-appreciated in this and in most things.

This description makes it sound like nothing much happens in this book—and in a sense, it does not. This book is about choices we make, and Stoner’s choice to put his love of literature and teaching on such a high pedestal both makes and destroys him. He is passive when he should be active in nearly every instance in this book. He is so deeply afraid of being deprived of teaching that he loses everything else instead.

This was a marvelous book. Written beautifully and making its points with the utmost subtlety. Williams (1922-94) won the National Book Award for AUGUSTUS in 1973.

If you want to read a book that makes you think about the choices you make, this is a great choice.


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: "The Beauty Contest" Yoka Ogawa


Yoka Ogawa is the author of two novels I greatly enjoyed in the last few years, THE MEMORY POLICE and THE PROFESSOR AND THE HOUSEKEEPER. This short story was in THE NEW YORKER this month.

At eight months of age, our narrator won a beauty contest and since then her mother has retold the story of her victory many times. She signs her up for another contest and she agrees to it with the promise that her mother will buy her an expensive ice cream treat when the contest is over. She meets another girl during the competition and become interested in her story of her dog dying that morning. Neither girl wins. Other story elements include an opal ring of her mother's that she likes to try on and a news article about a family poisoned by mushrooms.

Now both of the novels I read by Ogawa were especially engaging and unusual. But I have to confess I did not get much out of this story. All of her work is in translation so it is possible there was more to the story than I got. Or perhaps she is a better novelist than short story writer. 

Todd Mason

Kevin Tipple

George Kelley 


Jerry House 

Casual Debris