« Books and Reading: 2008 | Books and Reading Parent

December 17, 2009

Links With Your Coffee

I've been doing some more reading of Padgett Powell's The Interoggative Mood: A Novel? and came across this question. Are you familiar with the joke that features a female soda jerk asking a boy brandishing two new toy pistols, "Do you want your nuts crushed?" I'm familiar with the joke, are you? Accidents of LifeDarwinian theory was the best idea of all time, but why did it take so long to evolve? And what if we had 16 fingers? If you have overdosed on Darwin this anniversary year, the great man himself is partly to blame: he was inconsiderate enough to publish On the Origin of Species when he was exactly 50. The resulting coincidence of sesquicen tennial with bicentennial was bound to excite the anniversary-tuned antennae of journalists and publishers. Anniversaries are arbitrary, of course, dependent on the accident of our having ten fingers. If we had evolved with eight instead, we would have to suffer centenaries after only 64 (decimal) years, and style gurus would prate about the changing fashions of octaves instead of decades. Weekly Ezine for Democrats Holy God - A Comedy Christmas Carol by Chad Irvine (tip to Chris)...

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December 16, 2009

A Question or Two

Have you ever played jacks, pick-up sticks, or flag football? Would you go into debt to pay for an operation for a cat to prolong its life six months? How about a distant relative, a cousin you haven’t seen for forty years? Have you ever ridden a horse, a cow, a dog? If I say bareback riding do you think of horses? Do you know your own IQ? Do you tell others what it is? Do you exaggerate? Have you ever worked on a farm or delivered a newspaper? What do you think of if I say moving pipes? Have you ever received a call from a collection agency? Did you shoot birds with a bb gun when you were younger? Do you still shoot birds? When you were a child did you know anyone who hung a cat from a clothesline? How did he turn out? Was his name Jeffrey? Have you ever propelled your body through water using your limbs? Have you done it in a canal, a river? Do you even know how to swim? Do you ever wonder where George Bush is at this exact moment? Do you care? Is Barack Obama doing a good job? Do you think Hillary would have done a better job? How about John McCain? Have you ever doused yourself in gasoline and threatened to set yourself alight? Do you ever think about what it would be like to stand on Sarah Palin’s front lawn and look at Russia? Would you buy a used car from Sean Hannity? Would you shack up with Ann Coulter? If you wouldn't buy a used car from Sean Hannity would you buy one from Joe Liebermann or Claire McCaskill? Do you use the phrase “begs the question” when you mean to raise the question? Do you understand the term bad faith as it applies to existentialism? Do you substitute playdough for Plato when speaking of the Greek Philosopher? If I say Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates can you place them in the proper chronological order? Are you tired of all the questions? Do you wonder what prompted this silliness, this interrogative mood?...

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December 13, 2009

A Year in Reading - 2009

The year is almost gone and I've just finished Let The Great World Spin: A Novel by Colum McCann and one of my favorite reads of the year. Other favorites include Lorrie Moore's Collected Stories, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, a collection of stories by Wells Tower, and Deaf Sentence by David Lodge. On the non-fiction side I found A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy worthwhile. I consider Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True the best on the subject I've read. I also learned much from Intelligence and How to Get it by Richard Nisbett. He makes a strong case for the proposition that enviornment plays a greater role in intelligence than was previously thought. In previous years there were always a couple of books that I struggled getting through, this year I pretty much enjoyed everything I read. If you're interested in my other reading you can peruse the rest of this years list here. If you have favorites you'd like to share please do....

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May 12, 2009

One Last Chance

"One Last Chance," is a depression era tale that captures the time with remarkable clarity. It is the story of Artie's coming of age, a boy on the outs who when offered a chance at a new life makes the best of it. The story is both suspenseful and sweet. The author does a good job of bringing his characters to life, particularly the relationship between Artie and Ray. What made the story for me was the way the history of a remarkable automobile, the Dusenberg, was used both as a historical backdrop for the story, and as a symbol for new beginnings. note: The book is written by my good friend and cousin Jerry Borrowman. This is my favorite of his books to date. I say that because it's true and it will undoubtedly get me a free copy of his next book. One Last Chance...

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April 19, 2009

Short Stories

I enjoy listening to short stories when out for a walk or commuting to work. Selected Shorts is one of my favorite sources for stories. You can get their podcasts for free at the iTunes store or from a number of public radio stations that carry the program. Here is a story I quite enjoyed from a recent podcast. It is "The Toys of Peace" by Saki or Hector Hugh Munro if you prefer. E','target','myself','enablejavascript','true'); // --> Audio 6.8 MB | Duration: 13'36 Quicktime 7 required This file is available for download here. Ctrl-Click and 'Download Linked File' (Mac) or Rt-Click and 'Save Target As' (PC) the link above....

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March 25, 2009

A Book For You

Susan Jacoby's book is now available in paperback, and I have an extra copy. Would you like it? The book is The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby And the winner is Kaleena I'll take all requests for the book left in the comments during the next 24 hours or so, and then use a random number generator to determine the winner. I'll then ship the book at my expense to the winner. The offer is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. My apologies to my good friends in other countries but the cost of shipments to other destinations is simply too high. Note: The offer is open only to currently registered commenters others are welcome to register for future giveaways but will not be eligible for this one. Please make it clear if you want to be considered for the book or are just commenting....

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March 7, 2009

Kindle 2 Reads the Classics

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February 25, 2009


The Kindle reads a passage from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the Authors Guild PANICS. I love how the Kindle mocks them, pronouncing dog-eared with a long o sound. Authors Guild president Roy Blount Jr. calls it the Kindle Swindle E','target','myself','enablejavascript','true'); // --> Audio 1.6MB | Duration: 01'44...

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February 24, 2009

Kindle 2

.cc_box a:hover .cc_home{background:url('') !important;}.cc_links a{color:#b9b9b9;text-decoration:none;}.cc_show a{color:#707070;text-decoration:none;}.cc_title a{color:#868686;text-decoration:none;}.cc_links a:hover{color:#67bee2;text-decoration:underline;}The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10cJeff BezosDaily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things With Demetri MartinFunny Political NewsJoke of the Day...

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February 22, 2009

The Ones That Got Away

When the Guardian posted its list of 1000 novels everyone must read they promised to give their readers a chance to supplement the list. So here they are, the ones that got away: Science fiction and fantasy, War and travel, Comedy, Crime, State of the Nation, Family and Self, Love....

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January 27, 2009

January Reading

January is almost over and it's been a month of nothing but fiction, my favorite kind of reading. I do have a non-fiction book on my nightstand and I'm about half way through it, but it is the fiction that has been dominating my time. I thought it would be fun if I explained how I came to read these particular books with the expectation that some of you will share your current reading, and the decision making process that went with it. Here's the list: Just After Sunset by Stephen King The Sea by John Banville Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith The Murders In The Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales by Edgar Allan Poe Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson The Clothes On Their Backs: A Novel by Linda Grant Caught Stealing: A Novel by Charlie Huston I started with Stephen King. I don't particularly care for the horror genre but I like short stories and so decided to give it a go. I was particularly taken by King's use of time in the story The Gingerbread Girl. Last year I read a Christine Falls a novel by Banville writing under the name of Benjamin Black, it's a crime novel thriller that is extremely well written. A review I read mentioned Banville's most notable book The Sea a Booker Prize winner in 2005 and that did it, I was into my second book for the year. An email from a reader noting that Stalin's Ghost was on my to read list, and how much she enjoyed it catapulted it to my next choice. I've read most of Martin Cruz Smith's books and have liked them all. The Edgar Allen Poe was spurred by an article in the Guardian pointing out that it was Poe that was the primary source of the Detective genre. Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping was a choice based on a strong recommendation from John Baker a pretty damn good writer in his own right. I liked his novel Shooting in the Dark Clothes on Their Backs: A Novel was a spur of the moment decision based on a review in one of the book blogs I visit, and the book was well worth the time I took reading it. The final book on the list came as a result of two factors: one It was free on the Kindle. Some authors, wisely I believe, are offering some of their early books for free. The idea, I suppose, is to seek out new readers, and giving away a book or two electronically really costs them nothing and may very well snag some new fans. It was that as well as a pretty good review by Stephen King that hooked me. So there you have it: why I read what I read, and now tell me your story....

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January 18, 2009

The Solipsist

I like short stories, and Tobias Wolff is one of my favorite authors. I don't often reread stories, but I've reread his story "The Liar" numerous times. Here's a taste: "Then again maybe I haven't done anything wrong, I don't know what to think anymore. Nobody does." "I know what to think," Mother said. "So does the solipsist. How can you prove to a solipsist that he's not creating the rest of us?" This was one of Dr. Murphy's favorite riddles, and almost any pretext was sufficient for him to trot it out. He was a child with a card trick. "Send him to bed without dinner," Mother said. "Let him create that." The story is found in numerous anthologies and of course in Wolff's books like Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories, but "American Short Story Masterpieces," edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks is a nice way to get the story. The collection leans towards the realist side of storytelling, and includes stories by many of my favorite authors....

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