Wednesday, December 12, 2018

First Wednesday Book Club: NEWS OF THE WORLD, Paulette JIles

A retired military man makes his living by riding through Texas and reading the news in small towns after the Civil War. The news he reads tends to lean toward the more entertaining and foreign, something not found in the local gazette. While traveling through one area, he is asked to return a ten-year old girl, taken by the Kiowa Indians, to her family near San Antonio. She has been a captive for five years and has bonded with her Indian family. The novel details their road trip, their adventures, their bonding, and the eventual arrival in San Antonio. My book group really admired the language, the story, the characters, and the sentiments of this fine book. A little like THE SEARCHERS, LONESOME DOVE and other similar stories. A real gem. Especially relevant in light of current immigrant issues.

More reviews at Barrie Summy's place. 

Friday, December 07, 2018

Friday Forgotten Books, December 7, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

Will be hosted by Todd Mason this week.
Hoping I return soon.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Forgotten Books, November 30, 2018

Friday, November 30, 2018

Will be hosted by Todd Mason this week.

Favorite Books Read in 2018

In Pieces Sally Field
Roseanna, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Florida Happens, ed. Greg Herren
November Road, Lou Berney
News of the World, Paulette Jiles
In a Dry Season, Peter Robinson
In the Morning I'll Be Gone, Adrian McKinty
The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman
Sunburn, Laura Lippman
Aftermath, Peter Robinson
Educated, Tara Westover
There, There, Tommy Orange
The Immortalist, Chloe Benjamin
Raindogs, Adrian McKinty
That Kind of Mother, Rumaan Alam
The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, Barbara Vine
The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani
Silence of the Grave, Indridason
American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld
In Sunlight and in Shadow, ed. Lawrence Block
Laidlaw, William McIlvaney
Prairie Fires, The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Monday, November 26, 2018

On Hiatus

Completely exhausted after three ambulance trips to the hospital last week. Think things are resolved but not sure, Phil is still in the ICU. Send him good thoughts. Every week is harder than that last.
I have learned to use uber though.


Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 16, 2018


"Ralph stood on the corner, leaning against the brick wall of Silver's candy store, telling himself to go home and get some sleep."

That's the opening line of The Blonde On The Street Corner, a 1954 novel written by David Goodis. Of course, Ralph doesn't go home. Instead, he spots a blonde across the dark street and gawks at her. She eventually calls him over to light her cigarette, which he does.

Now, at this point, one might expect that Ralph would be irresistibly lured into a tight web spun by this dazzling femme fatale, resulting in his eventual moral destruction, if not death. But Goodis doesn't write that way. In fact, the blonde is fat, sharp-tongued, and lives in the neighborhood. Ralph knows her, and knows that she's married. She propositions him right on the corner, but he rejects her. "I don't mess around with married women," he tells her. Then he goes home.

Much to the reader's surprise, this encounter does not trigger the plot of the novel. In fact, it would be right to say that the novel has no plot, in the usual sense. Ralph returns to his impoverished Philadelphia home, where he lives with his parents, and spends the rest of the book wallowing in misery with his friends, all of whom are in the same boat as he: in their thirties, usually unemployed, and filled with unrealistic dreams. One of his friends says he is a "songwriter", but no one has ever recorded any of his songs. Another wants to be a big-league baseball player, but lasted only a week on a class D minor league team. They spend most of their time leaning up against buildings, wearing only thin coats against the bitter Philadelphia winter, and wishing they had more money. They talk a good deal about going to Florida, where they can get jobs as bellmen in a "big-time hotel", convinced this would jump-start their desperate lives.

The book goes on like this pretty much all the way through, with no moving story line, but it's Goodis' prose that keeps you riveted to the page. No one can paint a picture of a hopeless world better than he can. For Goodis, Philadelphia is a desolate place, whose bleak streets offer little in the way of promise. Many of his novels were set there, and they all shared that common trait. Life in that city is, for him and his characters, usually an exercise in futility. These are people who walk around with twenty or thirty cents in their pockets, who cold-call girls out of the phone book asking for dates, and for whom escape to Florida is always right around the corner. The finale provides the mortal body blow to Ralph, stripping him of the last shred of his dignity.

The Blonde On The Street Corner is a potent novel, filled with the passions and despair of its characters. All through this book, you find yourself longing to run into characters whose lives mean something. Then, you realize there aren't any.

 Mark Baker, CHASING THE DIME, Michael Connelly
Les Blatt, THE LONG DIVORCE, Edmund Crispin
Brian Busby, THE EMPTY SACK, Basil King
Crossexaminingcrime, STAIRWAY TO MURDER, Osmington Mills
Martin Edwards, VANISH IN AN INSTANT, Margaret Millar
Jerry House, SECRET UNDER ANTARTICA, Gordon R. Dickson
George Kelley, A RIVAL FROM THE GRAVE, Seabury Quinn 
Margot Kinberg, THE MURDER OF MY AUNT, Richard Hull
Rob Kitchin, THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS, Jason Arnopp
Evan Lewis, THE MASK OF DR. FU MAN CHU, Wally Wood (and Sax Rohmer)
Steve Lewis, ONE FALSE MOVE, Kelly Roos
Todd Mason, TROUBLE VALLEY, Lee Hoffman
J.F. Norris, THE ROSES OF PICCARDI, Simon Raven
Only Detect, MURDER ON THE LINKS, Agatha Christie
Matt Paust, MISTAKENLY IN MALLORCA, Roderic Jeffries
James Reasoner, BRAND FIRES ON THE RIDGE, Ernest Haycox
Richard Robinson, THE WILL OF THE DEAD, George Mann
Gerard Saylor, THE ZEALOT, Simon Scarrow
TracyK, DEATH ON THE NILE, Agatha Christie