Monthly Archives: July 2013

My 1000th Blog Post – My Sister Wrote a Book

This picture is from Amazon, but the look inside feature will not work in this blog post.
 
 

This post is a milestone for me; it is my 1,000thpost to my blog which has given me the opportunity to think out loud over the past five years. I’m not ready to be done, but I may publish less often. I might take a mini-break, although I enjoy writing and I don’t really want to lose my momentum.

Anyway, for this little personal goalpost on my life’s journey I wanted a special topic and then my sister wrote and e-published a book. Yes my sister, Bonnie Burnatowski wrote a story about a pair of psychic detectives called Death in Sight. Her heroine, Alexandra, wakes up in a hospital after a near death experience; she wakes to the full realization that she has lost her beloved husband, John and that she did not get to go with him, that she must remain in this world and try to make a life without John. Not only has she lost her husband but she is being forced, perhaps by her close brush with death, to accept the psychic experiences, the “seeing” that she has denied as a curse until now. She had a psychic “vision” while still in the hospital which involved her nurse. The nurse, Kimberly, is later found dead.

Her husband, John, had a best friend, Jace, who Alex always found it difficult to be around. Jace also is a psychic and has been helping in police investigations for years. Although Alex would like to avoid Jace she finds that his similar experiences comfort her as she deals with the horrible new viewings she is experiencing. What Alex “sees” are violent deaths and it is, understandably freaking her out. Her own new dining set, purchased at an antique shop, takes her to the most unsettling places if she as much as touches it. And someone is stalking her also, writing disturbing notes to her, leaving little gifts. Danger is all around her, and she wants to prevent whoever murdered her nurse, Kimberly from murdering anyone else, including her. Now that Alex is gaining some distance from John’s death, she is forced to accept that there has always been an attraction between her and Jace that she could not deal with because of her love for John.

Together and with Jace’s partner, Eli, and Alex’s friend, Olivia, these two work to find the murderer who is not only murdering women, but mutilating them. They also have to deal with those in law enforcement who find investigation based on psychic observations unacceptable and even laughable.

My little sister wrote a good book. There were times when I was reading that I forgot the book was written by my little sister because I just got lost in the story. I think my sister is especially good at dialogue, which sounds like real speech and has a nice humor to it when appropriate, and a nice gravity to it when required. So Bonnie, you are the subject of my 1000th blog and I wish you every success with your book. I know you are almost ready to publish another book. Bonnie’s book is available on Amazon.com in a print edition and a Kindle edition.

The Shed Saga, Part 2

I promised that I would keep you posted about the rather long tale of my storage shed. The first shed I purchased was a vinyl shed which would have been perfectly serviceable if it had been installed correctly. If you have ever brought a product at Lowe’s or Home Depot and have contracted with them to have it installed then you know that they do business with outside contractors who probably win the right to take care of installations for these building supply stores based on a bidding process. I have learned that these installers in turn hire employees or subcontractors to meet the need of consumers and as business waxes and wanes their numbers of subcontractors probably varies also. Sometimes the contractor who wins a contract to do business with Home Depot and/or Lowe’s may not even be all that local, in other words the contractor may serve a wide geographic area. So the contractor who built shed #1 hired a new subcontractor and that subcontractor came from about one and one-half hours away. He was a nice guy and he had a helper, but the shed was a bit complex and it was the first one he had built and it needed a platform built to go under it, which required tools the subcontractor did not have. He left the job late in the day as if the job was completed. I noticed six metal “ribs” lying on the ground but he said they were extra and did not go with this shed. However he was wrong, instead they were the posts in a post and beam construction and because they were absent the shed would have fallen in the first snow storm. He also did not finish attaching the roof to the gable. I am sure that this guy, if nurtured in his trade a bit, would eventually make a useful subcontractor and I hope the company gave him another chance. But I could not afford to keep a storage building which would not stand up. If he had not taken the extra parts with him we may have been able to fix the construction flaws but without the parts it was impossible.

Lowe’s stood behind me as a consumer and I appreciate this very much. Because of this I would be more than happy to do business with Lowe’s again, although I may have turned myself into that business horror, the high-maintenance customer. The subcontractor had the opportunity to buy the shed and take it away with them and I am not sure if they did end up with the product or not. I was allowed to purchase a different shed from Heartland Industries, with a longer track record for effective installation, for almost the same price I paid for the original vinyl shed. I had to wait a while for installation because we have had a very rainy summer, but now I have my shed. At first the doors would not open; perhaps affected by humidity and drying paint, but Heartland came immediately and fixed the doors so they now open as they should.

I heart my new Heartland shed and it has become a sort of focal point of my yard. Here’s a few pictures. I will eventually use some landscaping to tie it to the ground around it so it doesn’t look quite so above it all. I have moved items into my cute little shed and my lawn mower is quite happy in its new home. Lowe’s, thanks for backing this satisfied customer.
 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) – Book

 
 

I didn’t really expect to read The Cuckoo’s Calling right away. I saw the notice that this book, put out under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, was really by J. K. Rowling. I heard that she was trying to see how well a book in this new adult genre of detective stories would sell if people did not know that she was the author. The story is that her lawyers somehow “accidentally” leaked this information, although I don’t know if I would want to continue to employ lawyers who “leaked” stuff, accidentally or otherwise. Anyway, I was between books, and when I went to Amazon to get a new book for my Kindle they offered me Rowling’s book for $9.99, so I bought it, downloaded it, and read it obsessively for too short a time and then it was over, devoured, nothing I could do about it. I found it quite delicious.

The detective Cormoran Strike, is a vet wounded in Afghanistan, a Brit with an ill-fitting prosthesis who has just finally managed to discard the “love of his life” who richly deserved it. He had been living in a posh neighborhood and he did not have any back-up digs. He finds himself living in his rather shabby detective office over a night club and his life is a mess. He owes quite a lot of money and even though he is the illegitimate son of an aging rock legend and a groupie, he doesn’t know or even like his dad and cannot rely on him for any financial assistance. In fact he owes his dad money also, and he wants it back.

He wakes up on his first day as the ex-fiancé to the beautiful Charlotte and literally runs into a temporary secretary getting ready to open the door to his office, a temp he manages to rescue from a nasty fall by a painfully misplaced hand, a temp he ordered but now cannot afford. He’s a disaster, and he knows he must tell her the bad news and send her back to the temp agency, but before he can do that a client comes to see him. This young temp knocks on the door to the inner office to which the disheveled Strike has retreated once more and announces his client, and Strike’s life gets better from that very moment. Robin ends up being a very competent secretary and detection partner. She produces cups of tea on trays from thin air and she gives the impression that Strike’s business is far more viable than it is. This client, the wealthy brother of the famous woman who fell to her death in the first pages of this book, John Bristow, offers a fairly large sum to Strike if he will prove that Lula’s death was not a suicide. He provides a sufficient retainer to allow Strike to keep Robin on board and thus he begins his laborious climb out of the sinkhole which has temporarily become his life.

This is a very enjoyable detective novel. Cormoran Strike is a detective we wouldn’t mind reading about again, especially if Robin stays around, but even if Robin disappeared for a story or two, Strike could carry the case alone (not that I want Robin to disappear). If Robin stays she may lose her fiancé Matthew and then what will happen? There is plenty of room here for more cases and more of the relationship, business-like or eventually otherwise, between Robin and Strike. Love all the Brit-speak.  Yes, more Strike please!

The Quartet – Movie on Pay-per-view

 
 
Well now that I have seen the movie Quartet directed by Dustin Hoffman, I want to be an old musician in a beautiful Victorian retirement home in England. I guess I should have stuck with those piano lessons. Or I might have had a great career as a singer if I hadn’t smoked all those cigarettes. And then there is the problem that no one in my family has lived in England in several generations, although my mom’s family may have come from Shoreditch outside of London. So my Quartet fantasies are pretty unrealistic, but I did find the movie quite wonderful. It was full of beautiful music, mostly classical, but also a bit of jazz, a little vaudeville, and even a fun sort of seminar with Reggie Paget (a member of the Quartet) and a group of high school students who share examples of rap, hip hop and opera.  These fortunate musicians, retired from famous careers get to live in a home fit for British aristocrats, in fact the home once belonged to the Beecham family whose wealth came from, embarrassingly, laxatives. They are watched over by a very nice doctor, Dr. Lucy Cogen, played by Sheridan Smith, who reminded me throughout of Martine McCutcheon who played Natalie in Love Actually. And they are encouraged to continue to pursue the activities that always gave meaning to their lives making them seem more vital than most retired persons whose senior years are supposed to be given over to leisure.

Wilf Bond (played by Bill Connolly), Cissy Roson (played by Pauline Collins), and Jean Horton (played by Maggie Smith) (and Reggie Paget played by Tom Courtenay) are the members of this Quartet who sang together in Rigoletto many years ago. Their performance is accepted as the definitive one by the musical world, so they were all famous and had high-powered musical careers with high-powered egos and star level theatrics even in their private lives. Now their voices are no longer reliable for public performances and they are considered too old to be stars. Reggie, Wilf, and Cissie have been in retirement for a while when Jean Horton shows up. The other members of the Quartet don’t realize she is coming. When Reggie finds out about Jean he is really upset and he wants to leave. It turns out that Jean and Reggie were once in love and even were married, very briefly. It’s a long story which I don’t want to spoil for you. The residents have a performance every year on Verdi’s birthday which is a fund raiser for their home and is quite popular. We get to enjoy the rehearsals happening in every room and every corner of this beautiful house and the scenic grounds around it. We get to enjoy the bitchiness of Cedric Livingston (Michael Gambon) who directs the show. Somehow, the members of the Quartet get Jean Horton to agree to participate in this show. It isn’t easy and it is another part of the story I don’t want to reveal.

What I will tell you is that this movie flew by so fast and I was so disappointed when I realized that it was over that I had to rate it as an excellent film. If you can’t stand movies with old people, then don’t watch this. However, if to you old people are still people, or if you are curious about how you would like your senior years to go, then this film is well worth a viewing, especially since it is now on pay-per-view.

I write only my reactions to film. I am by no means a film critic. If you want a review from someone more credentialed, here is a link:

 

 

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho – Book

 
 
Paul Coelho wrote The Alchemist quite a while ago (1988 is the publication date, in fact), but it still gets a lot of buzz and rightfully so. It reads like a fable and a good fable. It is enjoyable to follow the shepherd on his travels. I will not tell you much of anything about this book except that I enjoyed reading it and it has furnished me with much “food for thought”.

The story is not only a fable it is a metaphor for the journey we each take through life. It made me examine my life and think about whether I had a personal goal, whether my life was a treasure hunt. What is the alchemy of my life? What is the lead from which I will produce the gold? I think it is deeper than what do I want to be when I grow up. It is about each person’s purpose on Earth. What will bring me happiness and fulfillment, what will give you happiness and fulfillment?

I had a career and it was not the career I would have chosen, but being from a poor family I had to be practical, which did not come naturally to me. I got a lot of satisfaction from my career and I hope I passed on skills to people which helped them find more success in their own lives. When I left my career behind, I thought that I would be able to pinpoint and pursue that goal that would give my life “quality” and would bring me my treasure. I started off in a number of false directions and then I had to stop dreaming for a while and help with parental care-giving and replenish my finances with some jobs that were just jobs, although I worked with great people and I always get a sense of accomplishment from work. I thought a lot about the things that I did when I was a young child because I believe we choose to do things we really like when we are kids. Finally I stumbled on my future little by little and although I have not yet found the treasure I am looking for I am the closest I have ever been and I get to do things every day that give me a feeling of productivity. Happiness and fulfillment I find to be more elusive, I have had many happy moments and have also felt fulfilled at times. I am not sure we ever live in a constant state of happiness and fulfillment, but I wouldn’t mind having another go at it. I may never find my personal project, my treasure that turns my lead into gold, however, at least I haven’t given up the journey. And Coelho’s story may be all about the journey.

I recommend The Alchemist if you haven’t journeyed with the shepherd yet. See what it makes you think about.

 

The War of the Worlds

 
 
Everyone is so critical of Obama, but I find the things he says very reasonable and I just don’t understand the animosity he arouses (unless it is racist). He gave a speech today about America’s path to a solid economic future which contained nothing in the least objectionable. He believes that America will lose the character and philosophical underpinnings that make America a unique nation if we allow all of the wealth of the nation to become concentrated in the hands of a few Americans while the economic health of the middle class continues to decline. He spoke about how we are a nation that relies on consumerism to thrive and that in order to preserve our place among the nations of the world and continue to be competitive we must have a prosperous middle class. He tried to take the long view and think about what we need to do to keep America at the top of the global economy. He reminds us that the middle class is not necessarily feeling the recent recovery that is happening in other areas of the economy. And he believes that if we don’t do what we need to do to boost the middle class we will end up a backwater nation in the global culture that is coming.

Obama did not tick off any agenda items for America that are in any way bizarre or unusual. If the Republicans were not so determined to hate him they would have to admit that these are the areas that need improvement to guarantee the health of the middle class and of America. It is possible that we could find some ways to make our nation’s success less dependent on consumerism and that this might change the urgency to develop some of these areas but Obama did not suggest any changes in our national values that would turn us into a less consumer-oriented culture. He seems to believe that the consumerism of the middle class is exactly what is needed to keep America ticking along.

He recommended concentrating on education and training (once again mentioning the importance of preschool). He recommended spending on infrastructure. He listed the necessity of continuing to look for alternative energy sources, and the need for businesses to offer higher wages and benefits, especially given recent attacks on labor unions. Not once did Obama mention an urgent need to cut the debt and the deficit or the need to do away with the social safety net or to make government really, really small. He did mention that if we worked together we could find ways to cut programs that are not working and to streamline the social safety net programs so that we would not have to plan to ignore the poor and the disabled. He feels that we will come to value the Affordable Care Act because it ends the absolute control the insurance companies had over health care that allowed them to refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions, and because it offers insurance for young people who often can’t afford it, and it covers people who have been too poor to have insurance.  He reminded us that we have never been an “it’s all about me” nation, but have always believed that we have a duty to lift up those who are less fortunate than us. He did not believe that we would ever want to become that totally “me” focused nation. I just don’t understand how anyone can object to this agenda.

What I hear news commentators saying is that Obama cannot deliver any of these things he is talking about but Obama admitted that he is not running for any other office, and that he is taking a long view. At the end of those 1276 days he will be 44 and he should be set for life. He will still be an American though and as an America he will not want to watch America be satisfied with a place at the edge of the global market place. He is not sure what will be accomplished over the next 1276 days, but he believes that this makes a great long term agenda for America and he hopes that future governments will build on these areas and that the people will help offer creative approaches that allow us to do this.

How will we fight our way out from under the strident insistence of the Right that we need to have all private schools funded by vouchers, we need vouchers for health care, and we need to cut all other social programs, although they do express some distaste at cutting loose old folks (perhaps thinking of their grandparents, you know). They do seem to think that old people are retiring too soon and that they need to work longer, that they are relying on the government to take care of them in their years and are therefore not saving and planning ahead. They really want to cut loose the poor and those who they feel are freeloaders and let them make a greater effort to make something of themselves. They believe that the churches will pitch in and take care of the poor and the disabled and the addicted and the aged as they did (very ineffectively) before we had a social safety net. Many of our churches are limping along as it is and are probably aghast at the prospect of being called on to provide the millions of services we are talking about. It is not realistic.

I do not see the American people gathering together to help restore health to the middle class or to talk about whether they really think voting to repeal health care 38 times and overturning Roe v. Wade and not paying America’s debts and getting rid of labor unions (especially for teachers) and closing the IRS but still collecting taxes are things that will improve the health of America. Even if some people want to repeal health care, end abortions and refuse to pay debts, I assume they are not the highest priority items on their list, and yet they are priorities for Conservatives. Perhaps wealthy Americans plan to take their money out of America and no longer pay any taxes to the nation and they are just preparing us for the inevitable. Can we afford the social safety net without them? We certainly can’t right now given the economic loses the middle class has suffered.  Someone needs to draw a word picture of what America will be like if we follow the agenda of those on the Right. I don’t think that country will in any way resemble the America we know and love.

After watching Rachel Maddow last night I guess we will get a preview, a peek of this Conservative nirvana if we keep an eye on North Carolina, a state with a Republican majority in all branches of its government, a state which is passing some unusual laws such as, all seventh graders will have to be taught that if they have an abortion they will not be able to have any more babies, and all millionaires will receive a $10,000 check. Now just take a moment to roll your eyes and say “what?”

Have We Dipped Our Brushes in Too Many Pots?

 
 
 

Are we fighting on too many fronts, politically I mean, of course? When Jackson Pollack dips his brush in lots of pots it works. But do we want a government that looks like this painting? Chaos does not make good government. We have Obama’s agenda which won him election as our President twice. We have the attacks the Republicans are making on issues already settled into law. They are trying to remake America into a Christian state, I guess, a Christian state that also guarantees total laissez-faire Capitalism. (This could be an experiment similar to the one in China that tries to meld an authoritarian government with Capitalism except we have already had devout Christians who were also entrepreneurs. It was called the Middle Ages.)

 

 

Here are the issues Obama and the American people want to tackle:

Stimulating jobs, lowering unemployment rates

Climate Change and Alternate energy sources

Immigration

Gun Control

Close GITMO

End the war in Afghanistan

Modernize Infrastructure

Gay Rights

Implement the Affordable Care Act

 

Here are the issues that the GOP is pursuing:

Defeat the Affordable Care Act

Overturn Roe v. Wade

Get rid of Affirmative Action

Voter ID and Voter suppression laws

Overturn voter laws which prevent changing voter laws

Lower taxes on Big Business and the wealthy

Get rid of the IRS

Find a pretense that works to impeach the President

Get rid of restrictions on business, banks and markets

Open Keystone and drill everywhere

Cut people loose from the Safety Net – Make government smaller

Roll back restrictive environmental laws

Cut debt and deficits

Get rid of labor unions

Default on public pensions

By considering so many issues at once we are unable to concentrate on any. It’s as if someone is constantly waving his/her arms saying “look over here” or “we need your attention over here”. It is too much so people just tune out and that is definitely a strategy of the Republican Party. They just keep changing the subject and it is quite effective. We have to continuously react instead of acting.

Who has accomplished more of their agenda by pursuing tactics like obstructionism, extreme gerrymandering, using states to win their agenda, stuffing courts with Conservatives and making sure Liberals cannot be appointed to federal courts, using the red states to implement their agenda, even if their agenda disregards the Constitution and federal laws? You know who; the GOP.

The people who elected the President have been unable to accomplish many of the items on our agenda while the Republicans have been busily stealing America from the American people. Their strategies are creative but they lead to dark days for the American people. If the minority party usurps the agenda of America even though they did not win the Presidency, we are in a new era where elections are beside the point and the Constitution can be circumvented.

There is only one way to stop this trend that ignores the Constitution, the laws of the courts and the American political system, and that way is to elect Democrats in 2014 and 2016.

Cliches and Analogies/Hope and Change

 
 
 

Late last week Stuart Stevens, a Conservative, wrote an article criticizing Obama for failing to fulfill the promises of “hope” that he made before his election. Republicans seems to enjoy doing this every once in a while because they apparently “hope” that we will fall for this twisted line of reasoning. They like to blame others for the things they do and their special “whipping boy” is Barack Obama (how racist is that?). We have heard Sarah Palin mock Obama for his inability to fulfill his promise of “hope and change” and Michelle Bachmann has, beyond all sense, made this a key item in her limited repertoire of political tidbits. Now we have this Stevens guy in the Daily Beast going over, once again, in case we missed it the first one hundred and fifty times, his supreme disappointment with Obama’s ineffectiveness .

Of course we know that extreme Republicans killed the “Hope” that Obama promised and now they want to use this argument, which has almost become a cliché, this insistence that Obama has not been able to “change” anything as their message to elect Republicans in 2014 and 2016.  I just don’t think that you get to kick our first African American President to the curb, to force him to try borderline Constitutional strategies in order to get anything done – to basically act like a bunch of white thugs – and then turn the obstructionism on its head and blame the “big empty” that is Washington politics on the person you have hog-tied. The South rises? It’s embarrassing to America and Americans. Notice that Obama did not offer hope and change in his second term. He just grimly raised a flag that insisted Forward (period). So we slog forward, but we would rather be going by high speed rail.

There is an astonishing similarity between what the GOP has done to Obama and what George Zimmerman did to Trayvon. In their hearts, I’m sure, the GOP feels they are just acting in self-defense. I think we can be pretty sure that Obama is defending himself too, but he is also defending the American people.

Don’t vote for bullies – vote for Democrats in 2014 and in 2016.

Here’s the link for that article that sums up Obama’s “failures” in case you want to read about this old, tired subject once again.

 

 

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller – Book

 
 

Now here’s a book I could take to a desert island with me. Here’s a book that tugged at my senses, my heart, and my mind and seduced me to keep reading it until I finished. Once I finished I wished I was still reading it. The book is The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. Mr. Heller is a kayaker, a man who wrote about fly fishing, who wandered the streams, rivers and mountains of the American West and other places where nature calls out to men (and many women also). He has contributed stories to NPR and has written about his treks in periodicals like Outside magazine and National Geographic Adventure. This is his first novel and it’s a story that makes sense in terms of Heller’s life and his previous work.

We have a post-apocalyptic world, this one a result of a pandemic of flu (a mutation of bird flu, perhaps), which is followed in many people with no genetic protection by an affliction of the blood something like AIDS, and passed from person to person in similar ways. The world is also in the midst of its response to decades of global warming and climate change. It is a world of out-of-whack seasons which are wreaking havoc on animals, plants, water (drought) and therefore on mankind. It is a world that is not safe; a world where desperate people wander America and kill anyone with resources that they can consume, or who are infected with some sort of blood lust that leads them to kill and eat the healthy humans they encounter.

Bangley, Hig, and Jasper have banded together near a suburb in Colorado because it used to be home and they have found it expedient. Each seems to have skills that complement those of the other. Actually Bangley is a taciturn, strict survivalist with a huge weapons collection and Hig, once the husband of his beloved, Melissa, is a pilot who lives in the nearby hanger at the small airport, home of private planes, now ruined by wind and weather, except for Hig’s Cesna which he keeps in top condition. There is plenty of gas available and although regular gas has timed out and can no longer be used as fuel, airplane fuel is proving to have a longer viable life span. Jason is Hig’s dog, a dog who helps Bangley and Hig defend their little domain and who helps Hig hunt and fish.

Bangley and Hig have built a tower from which to keep a lookout for intruders, and there are intruders. Bangley insisted they build this tower and he insisted that it be built in a certain way. Hig flies his plane on frequent excursions to get away from the single-minded Bangley and to keep an eye on the “perimeter”, as Bangley demands. He also brings back the occasional cases of soda for himself, Bangley, and for the small Mennonite Community, a community whose member have the blood affliction and are therefore given a wide berth by predators. Bangley hates that Hig visits the Mennonites. He feels that it puts them in danger of attack and of contracting the blood affliction even though they kept a safety zone which Hig never violates.

Bangley is all survivalist, all the time. Hig is never welcome in Bangley’s home or even in his workshop without an appointment, but Bangley likes to act in a mildly threatening manner towards Hig at all times, keeping him unnerved and wary, even popping up behind him in the hangar where he now lives without any warning whatsoever. Bangley stresses the importance of being able to take that “kill” shot without hesitation. He has his work cut out for him with Hig, an ex-contractor who actually wanted to be a poet. Hig does not like to kill first and ask questions later. He likes to give intruders time in order to see if there is any humanity left in them. Bangley assumes that all humans are predators and he believes that Hig will get them killed because he is “soft”. They have an uncertain and somewhat hostile alliance. Bangley is the head and Hig is the heart and the contrast between them works well in the novel. In the world that was, Hig, a social being, had the better survival skills and Bangley would have been the fringe loner. In this post-pandemic world it is unclear whether Hig could survive without Bangley.

The other character in this story is nature, nature which is unspooling into draught and desert through climate change which continues unabated by depopulation. Peter Heller makes us love an America that is so beautiful and which gives us cycles of seasons and bird migrations and fish migrations and insect migrations and water cycles involving snow falling on mountains and then spring melt roaring down to replenish streams, rivers, and lakes. He gives us his memories of trout fishing which haunt him now that the trout are gone. He makes us feel as if we ourselves are in imminent danger of losing all the rare and wonderful beauty of nature as it unfolds in America. And ironically, although not quite as powerfully as for Hig, et al, we are in danger of losing it all. He makes us miss the America we didn’t even lose yet.

There is a lot more to this story. Don’t worry. I didn’t reveal everything. Follow Hig out in his plane when he goes to look for someone he heard on his radio while flying one time. This story gets even better. Peter Heller wrote a very good book.

July, 2013 Booklist, Part 2

It’s a very busy summer for books. Here are the suggestions from Amazon and the independent booksellers which I will try to read someday. I would rather feel snowed under by potential reading material then to be in that place where I have no idea what to read next.

Amazon with the first book as described on Amazon and the rest from the card catalog:

The English Girl by Daniel Silva – “Smart, unpredictable, and packed with history, art, heart, and imagination, this is a page turner to be savored.” –Neal Thompson, Amazon Senior Editor

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – ”A rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.”

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence ­- Alex Woods was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old, leaving scars that marked him for an extraordinary life. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, he hasn’t had the most conventional childhood. When he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …”–From publisher description.

Five Star Billionaire: A Novel by Tash Aw – “An expansive, eye-opening novel that captures the vibrancy of China today.”

Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker – – “Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.”

My Education by Susan Choi – “My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end–if they do–fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.”

Fiend: A Novel by Peter Stenson

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Novel by Adelle Waldman – “Bold, touching, and funny – a debut novel by a brilliant young woman about the coming-of-age of a brilliant young literary man “He was not the kind of guy who disappeared after sleeping with a woman – and certainly not after the condom broke. On the contrary: Nathaniel Piven was a product of a postfeminist 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover, he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience.” –

The Age of Ice; A novel by J. M. Sidorova – Historical, adventure fiction –  “Sidorova’s sprawling debut opens in 1740 on the frozen Russian tundra, where twins Prince Andrei and narrator Prince Alexander Velitzyn are conceived under unusual circumstances. For her amusement, Empress Anna Ioanovna demands a wedding for the twins’ court-jester parents, whose nuptial bed is made of ice. In this novel, Sidorova’s lyrical prose complements her protagonist’s fantastical tale of isolation on his mythic journey.” — PW Tip Sheet

Bookweb.org

The Bat by Jo Nesbo – “The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø’s detective, Harry Hole.   Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case.  Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case.  Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.”

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen – “Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous BadMonkey , who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with …”

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – “Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season. When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.”

The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle – “When Sam’s last adventure in France ended, he thought it’d be a while before he went back, especially with the charms of Elena Morales to keep him in Los Angeles. But when theimmensely wealthy Francis Reboul asks him to take ajob in Marseille, it’s impossible for Sam and Elena to resist the possibility of further excitement, to say nothing of the pleasures of the region. Yet as acompetition over Marseille‘s valuable waterfront grows more hotly disputed, Sam, representing Reboul, finds himself in the middle of an increasingly intrigue-ridden and dangerous real estate grab.”

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler – “the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel. Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.” Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.”

Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith – “The rocking motion of the train as it speeds along, the sound of its wheels on the rails . . . There’s something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation, which is just what happens to the four strangers who meet in Trainsand Lovers  As they journey by rail from Edinburgh to London, the four travelers pass the time by sharing tales of trains that have changed their lives.”

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank – ”funny and poignant tale of one audacious woman’s quest to find thelove she deserves”

The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy – ”The characters in Simon Van Booys The Illusion of Separateness discover at their darkest moments of fear and isolation that they are not alone, that they were never alone, that every human being is a link in a chain we cannot see. This gripping novel–inspired by true events–tells the interwoven stories of a deformed German infantryman; a lonely British film director; a young, blind museum curator; two Jewish American newlyweds separated by war; and a caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. They move through the same world but fail to perceive their connections until, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, a veil is lifted to reveal the vital parts they have played in one anothers lives, and the illusion of their separateness.”

All That Is by James Salter – “An extraordinary literary event, a major new novel by the PEN/Faulkner winner and acclaimed master: a sweeping, seductive, deeply moving story set in the years after World War II. From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. It is a time when publishing is still largely a private affair–a scattered family of small houses here and in Europe–a time of gatherings in fabled apartments and conversations that continue long into the night. In this world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, and finally he meets a woman who enthralls him–before setting him on a course he could never have imagined for himself. Romantic and haunting, All That Is explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change. It is a dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.”

Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker – “A murder on Cape Cod. A rape in Palm Beach. All they have in common is the presence of one of America’s most beloved and influential families. But nobody is asking questions. Not the police. Not the prosecutors. And certainly not George Becket, a young lawyer in the Cape & Islands DA’s office. George wasn’t born to privilege. But now, an investigation brings him deep inside the world of the truly wealthy – and shows him what a perilous place it is.”