Monday, July 31, 2006

Music and odd male behavior

I was going to stay up late and read another book last night but I kept falling asleep so...

My friend's husband and I are going to the Tool concert and the Nickelback/Hinder/Hoobastank/Chevelle concert that are both scheduled for the same weekend. My friend is emphatically not a fan so she elected to stay home even though he really wanted her to go with us. The next day, after he bought the tickets, we realized that:

  1. He will be spending both evenings of one whole weekend with me (with other friends this wouldn't be so odd, but they are one of those couples who are joined at the hip.)
  2. It is his birthday weekend.
  3. They had plans to go to DC.
  4. He completely forgot his birthday!

My friend and I spent a fair amount of time the next day discussing the fact that he forgot his birthday. We finally used the ever useful explanation that "guys are weird" to explain this odd and puzzling behavior.

On that note, here is what I am listening to this week...

  1. Down With The Sickness by Disturbed
  2. Invincible Lyrics by Crossfade
  3. Animals by Nickleback
  4. Cold (But I'm Still Here) by Evans Blue
  5. You And Me And All Of The People by Lighthouse
  6. Always by Saliva
  7. Schism by Tool
  8. Inside Of You by Hoobastank
  9. Vitamin R: (Leading Us Along) by Chevelle
  10. Better Git It In Your Soul by Charles Mingus - for something a little different:)

Chronicler Of The Winds by Henning Mankell

Henning Mankell is a thriller writer (with a very good series for the mystery buffs among us) who has branched out with his latest book and has successfully pulled off a completely different kind of novel. Set in an unknown country in Africa the narrator, a baker, finds what he thinks is a street boy who has been shot. Nelio is so much more however and telling his story changes the life of the baker forever.

Some reviewers will find the occasional dips into magical realism to be a flaw in the novel but for me it was one of the strengths moving the novel from a sad fable about a troubling time and place into a mythic saga that makes meaningful the life to a ten year old child of the streets.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Everyman by Philip Roth

After mowing my lawn this morning I decided it was time to go somewhere very cool and not move for a while so I read Everyman by Philip Roth. One of the mandates of the committee is that we not compare the current submission to previous works by that author but....

I go back and forth with this author, for example I really liked Philip Roth's last book The Plot Against America but I often think his books are a bit slow and weighty. "Plot" was inventive and had a great flow to it. This new novel opens with the burial of a Jewish serial monogamist and shifts back and forth through time reviewing his life. I had difficulty with this novel because I just didn't care that much for or about the protagonist. There was very little that was likeable or admirable about this man and way too much time was spent on his many sexual relationships and not enough on the aspects of dying. This novel has been done before in more interesting ways by this author.

By the way, I went to see Higher Power at the Fringe Festival last night and it was amazing. The actors/actress were great and the story was riviting. This is a outstanding goup of new talent.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Nothing book related!

No books finished today but I am in the middle of The Oracle: The Lost Secrets And Hidden Message Of Ancient Delphi. So far it is interesting and readable, unlike Happiness: A History, that I have been carting around for weeks now.

I put up a picture with the new hair. (Actually, it is my old hair but all fancy now.) She took a quick picture for me, well four really, but I wasn't too happy with most of them. I never like my smile in pictures. She also tried to set me up with "the perfect guy for me", so she is really a full service stylist:)

Three whole weeks off of my part time job. I am so tired that I am afraid I am going to waste this whole weekend sleeping.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage and Michael Mikolowski

This was a very quirky novel about a hopelessly romantic rat (yes, the animal, not a human with personality issues) living in a bookstore, who learns to read by ingesting pages. After he is almost killed by the bookstore owner after trying to communicate via sign language he is taken in by a kindly, drunken sci-fi author. This has been a big hit with a couple of people on the committee. I plan on giving this to a friend to see what she thinks since this seems to be right down her alley.

On a personal note: If you ever need a hairdresser recommendation I have a ton of them. I had sent out a quick email asking for hairdressers and got replies from everyone about their wonderful stylist. I am going start testing them tonight.

Quote of the Day: Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future. - Niels Bohr

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Updates

Every time I think I am getting my book pile whittled down a lovely new shipment of books arrives for me from the publishers. Thought I should put up an newly updated list for you to browse today.

Abel, Jessica - La Perdida
Abulthawa, Susan - Scar of David
Allen, Clare - Poppy Shakespeare
Anaya, Rudolfo – The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories
Angell, Roger - Let Me Finish
Arana, Marie - Cellophane
Armstrong, Karen - Great Transformation
Atkinson - One Good Turn
Atwood, Margaret - Moral Disorder & Other Stories
Auster, Paul - The Brooklyn Follies
Bahr, Howard - Judas Field
Barich, Bill – A Fine Place to Daydream
Barton, Emily - Brookland
Beachy-Quick, Dan - Mulberry
Beaujon, Andrew - Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock
Bechdel, Alison - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Ben Jelloun, Tahar – The Last Friend
Berkowitz, Edward - Something Happened
Bigsby, Christopher - Beautiful Dreamer
Bizony, Piers - Man Who Ran the Moon
Bolano, Robert - Last Evenings on Earth
Bonner, Jeffrey P - Sailing with Noah
Boyle, T. Coraghessan - Talk Talk
Branch, Taylor - At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68
Brinkley, Douglas - Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Broad, William - Oracle: The Lost Secrets And Hidden Messages Of Ancient Delphi
Brookhieser, Richard – The Divided Ground: Indians, Setters, And The Northern Borderland Of The American Revolution
Brown, Frederick - Flaubert: A Biography
Burt, Stephen - Parallel Play
Busch, Frederick - Rescue Missions
Buzbee, Lewis - Yellow Lighted Bookshop:
Caldwell, Gail -A Strong West Wind
Carey, Peter - Theft: A Love Story
Carr, Cynthia - Our Town
Cartwright, Justin - The Promise of Happiness
Cheney, Annie - Body Brokers: Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains
Child, Julia and Alex Prud'Homme - My Life In France
Cuoto, Mia - Sleepwalking Land
Da Chen - Brothers
Dallek, Robert - Let Every Nation Know
D'Ambrosio, Charles - Dead Fish Museum: Stories
de Botton, Alain - Architecture of Happiness
Dean, Debra – The Madonnas of Leningrad
Doig, Ivan – The Whistling Season
Donoghue, Emma - Touchy Subjects: Stories
Donohue, Keith - The Stolen Child
D'Orso, Michael - Eagle Blue
D'Souza, Tony - Whiteman
Dunant, Sarah - In The Company Of The Courtesan
Egan, Jennifer - Keep
Egan, Timothy – The Worst Hard Time
Eisenberg, Deborah - The Twilight of the Superheroes
Eisenberg, John - Great Match Race
Finkel, Caroline - Osman's Dream
Flannery, Tim - The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change
Forbes, Charlotte - Good Works of Avela Linde
Franzen, Jonathan - Discomfort Zone: a Personal History
Freedman, Dave - Natural Selection
Fresan, Rodrigo - Kensington Gardens
Fuentes, Carlos - The Eagle's Throne
Fugard, Lisa - Skinner's Drift
Gallagher, Tess - Dear Ghosts
Gardam, Jane - Old Filth
Getty, Sarah - Bring Me Her Heart
Ghosh, Amitav - Incendiary Circumstances: A Chronicle of the Turmoil of Our Time
Gibbons, Ann – The First Human
Gien, Pamela - Syringa Tree
Gifford, Barry - Stars Above Verazcruz
Glass, Julia – The Whole World Over
Gluck, Louise - Averno: Poems
Godwin, Gail - Queen of the Underworld
Goleman, Daniel - Social Intelligence
Goodman, Allegra - Intuition
Gordimer, Nadine - Get a Life
Gorenberg, Gershom - Accidental Empire, The: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977
Grande, Reyna - Across a Hundred Mountains
Greenaway, Alice - White Ghost Girls
Grenville, Kate - Secret River
Gruen, Sara - Water For Elephants
Grunwald, Michael - Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise, The
Guene Faiza - Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow
Handler, Daniel - Adverbs
Hayes, Terrance - Wind in a Box
Heaney, Seamus - District and Circle
Hellenga, Robert - Philosophy Made Simple
Hempel, Amy - The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Henderson, William Haywood - Augusta Locke
Hendricks, Steve - Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country
Henriquez, Cristina - Come Together, Fall Apart
Hessler, Peter - Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past And Present
Higgins, Aidan - Bornholm Night Ferry
Hirshfield, Jane - After
Hogan, Lawrence D. - Shades of Glory
Holleran, Andrew - Grief
Holloway, Kris - Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali
Homes, A. M. - This Book Will Save Your Life
Horne, Jed - Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City
Hyland, M. J. - Carry Me Down
Jackson, Major - Hoops
Jenson, Liz - My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time
Jentz, Terri - Strange Piece of Paradise
Joseph, Peniel E. - Waiting 'Till the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America
Junger, Sebastian – A Death in Belmont
Kanipe, Jeff - Chasing Hubble's Shadows
Kaplan, Eugene - Sensuous Seas
Karr, Mary - Sinners Welcome
Kelby, N.M. - Whale Season
Kelly, James Patrick - Feeling Very Strange
Kelly, Stuart - Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read
Keret, Edgar - Nimrod Flipout
Khadra, Yasmina – The Attack
Khoury, Elias - Gate Of The Sun
Kindred, Dave - Sound and Fury
King, Ross – The Judgment of Paris
Kinzer, Stephen - Overthrow:America's Century of Regime Change
Knighton, Ryan - Cockeyed: A Memoir of Blindness
Koumantareas, Menes - Koula
Kurlansky, Mark – The Big Oyster
Lansens, Lori – The Girls
Larson, Erik - Thunderstruck
Lavagnino, Alessandra - Librarians of Alexandria
Leavitt, David – The Man Who Knew Too Much
Lindquist, Ulla-Carin - Rowing Without Oars
Lloyd, Seth - Programming the Universe
Lucey, Donna M. - Archie and Amelie
Maguire, James - American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds
Maheu, Layne - Song Of The Crow
Mankell, Henning - Chronicler of the Winds
Martin, Valerie – The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories
Masters, Alexander - Stuart: A Life Backwards
Mazya, Edna - Love Burns
McDermott, Alice - After This
McMahon, Darrin - Happiness: A History
McPhee, John - Uncommon Carriers
McPhee, Martha - L'America
Meek, James - The People's Act of Love
Migol, Agi - Look There: Selected Poems
Mitchell, David - Black Swan Green
Moorehead, Caroline - Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn
Morgan, Ted - My Battle Against Algiers
Morrow, James – The Last Witch Finder
Mosley, Walter - Fortunate Son
Mullane, Mike - Riding Rockets
Murakami, Haruki - Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
Nazario, Sonia - Enrique's Journey
Nemirovsky, Irene - Suite Francaise
Nielsen, John - Condor
Norton, Trevor - Underwater to Get Out of the Rain
Nunez, Sigrid – The Last of Her Kind
Oates, Joyce Carol - High Lonesome: Stories
Ours, Dorothy - Man O'War
Parks, Tim - Rapids
Paz Soldan, Edmundo - Turing's Delirium
Pearce, Fred - When the Rivers Run Dry: Water the Defining Crisis of the 21st Century
Pessl, Marisha - Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Phan Nhien Hao - Night, Fish and Charlie Parker
Philbrick, Nathaniel - Mayflower
Phillips, Julie - James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
Pierre, D.B.C. - Ludmila's Broken English
Pitlor, Heidi - Birthdays
Quammen, David - Reluctant Mr. Darwin
Robbins, James - Last in their Class
Roth, Philip - Everyman
Rozier, Gilles - Mercy Room, The
Rust, Elissa Minor – The Prisoner Pear: Stories
Safina, Carl – The Voyage of the Turtle
Sancton, Tom - Song for my Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White
Saramago, Jose - Seeing
Satterlee, Thom - Burning Wyclif
Saunders, George - In Persuasion Nation
Savage, Sam - Firmin
Schama,Simon - Rough Crossings: Britain the Slaves, and the American Revolution
Seife, Charles - Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from our Brains to Black Holes
Server, Lee - Ava Gardner
Sheehan, Aurelie - History Lesson for Girls
Shteyngart, Gary - Absurdistan
Slavitt, David - William Henry Harrison and Other Poems
Smith, Ali – The Accidental
Smith, Janna Malamud - My Father is a Book
Smith, Scott – The Ruins
Snyder, Scott - Voodoo Heart
Soyinka, Wole - You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir
Spanbauer, Tom - Now Is The Hour
Stargardt, Nicholas - Witnesses Of War: Children's Lives Under The Nazis
Stern, Jan & Michael - Two For The Road: Our Love Affair with American Food
Stewart, Rory - Places in Between
Sullivan, Robert - Cross Country
Tallis, Frank – A Death in Vienna
Tiffany, Carrie - Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living
Tolan, Sandy – The Lemon Tree, An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
Toure - Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays
Toutonghi, Pauls - Red Weather
Troost, J. Maarten - Getting Stoned With Savages: Tripping Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu
Trussoni, Danielle - Falling Through The Earth
Tussing, Justin – The Best People in the World
Umrigar, Thirty – The Space Between Us
Updike, John - Terrorist
Urquhart, Jane – A Map of Glass
Vallgren, Carl Johan - Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, The: His Wonderful Love and His Terrible Hatred
Walton, Jo - Farthing
Waters, Sarah - Night Watch
Weber, Katharine - Triangle: a Novel
White, Richard D. - Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long
Winter, Michael – The Big Why
Wolitzer, Hilma – The Doctor's Daughter
Yamanaka, Lois-Ann - Behold The Many
Yarborough, Steve - End of California
Yehoshua, Abraham - Woman in Jerusalem
Zoellner, Tom – The Heartless Stone

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder

This is one of the best collections of short stories I have read in a long time. Scott Snyder takes seemingly ordinary characters, gives them unique and slightly offbeat voices and then lets their actions transform them. Heartbreaking moments are interspersed with moments of profound transformation to give the collection a completeness that is often missing from short story collections.

I love it when a novel or a story takes me so far outside of myself that I have trouble figuring out where I am or recognizing who I am with when I emerge on the other side.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Mercy Room by Gilles Rozier

This was an interesting and disturbing novel about WWII. Set in France, a German language teacher feels ineffectual in aiding the resistance and spends time thinking about, but not becoming, heroic. Eventually, the teacher takes in a young Jewish man, who is hidden away in the cellar, even as the narrators sister is having an affair with a Nazi soldier upstairs. Eventually the narrator and the Jewish man engage in a passionate affair. To make this more interesting the gender of the narrator is never revealed. This is one of those novels that explores subjects not often visited in Holocaust or WWII novels and does make you think. I am not sure this was an entirely successful effort but did do an excellent job of exploring the psyche of a (at least outwardly) cold and unfeeling individual.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Playlist

Since I haven't finished my latest book I thought I would throw in this week's playlist. I know it's filler but I had company last night and didn't have time to read.

  1. Blister In The Sun - The Violent Femmes
  2. Vacation - The Go-Go's
  3. Touch The Sky - Kanye West
  4. Press On - Mary Blige
  5. You And Me - Lighthouse
  6. Black Horse And The Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
  7. I'll Be - Edwin McCain
  8. Fix You - Coldplay
  9. Wasteland - 10 Years
  10. Guarded - Disturbed
  11. How You Remind Me - Nickleback
  12. Worn Me Down - Rachael Yamagata
  13. All I Wanted - Michelle Branch
  14. In The End - Linkin Park
  15. Wherever You Will Go - The Calling

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fringe Festival

By the way, if you are going to be in Kansas City next weekend be sure to try to catch Higher Power (www.littleredsquare.com) written by the fabulously talented Sam Ryan. They are appearing at the Just Off Broadway Theatre Thursday - Sunday.

If you can't make it to KC try the Minnesota or New York Fringe Festivals in August.

Humor

A friend just forwarded this. Very funny...

Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Koula by Menis Koumandareas

This is an elegant novella by one of the premier authors of Greece. This is the authors first book to be translated into English and so I am unfamiliar with his other work but based on this he deserves his current status. As a young man and an older woman commuting each day they are deeply drawn to each other and enter into an affair. There is nothing remarkable about the story except for the way it is presented. The author doesn't reduce it to a seedy affair (which is essentially what it is) but instead explores how the heart can mysteriously connect with a completely unsuitable person, completely overriding common sense and destroying the self-protective devices that all humans put into place. At the end of the affair, nothing and yet everything has changed for the two people involved.

Monday, July 17, 2006

La Perdida by Jessica Abel

La Perdida by Jessica Abel is an amazing graphic novel about Carla, a biracial American, who travels to Mexico to seek to understand the father she has never met. She ends up becoming disillusioned with her boyfriend and his idea of how to live the expatriate life and leaves him to seek out a more "authentic" experience. Falling in with a crowd of disaffected young men who quickly become petty and not-so-petty criminals, Carla is swept into a lifestyle that becomes more and more uncomfortable until she finally discovers she is in over her head. The author's characterization and dialog are dead on and her artwork is evocative, making this wonderful example of the search for roots a pleasure to read.

I would like to get a few more opinions from those of you who are reading along with me before I recommend this. Contact me at work or post a comment here with your opinions.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Nick Lachey

This has been really bothering me lately and I thought I should put this out there as a question. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Red White And Boom concert here in Kansas City. Yes, I know, it was a teenybopper concert but the tickets were free. Anyway, the headliner was Nick Lachey and Pink opened for him. Granted, the man is almost unnaturally good looking in person (may I just say "Wow!", he looks even better in person if that is possible) but still, does this strike anyone else as wrong? Again, understanding that average age at the concert was 16, I still can't believe that looks once again triumph over talent.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir

In this extremely candid look at his life, journalist Ted Morgan talks about his time spent fighting in the French army during the Algerian War. He speaks candidly about the torture that became an accepted way of dealing with one of the first uses of urban terrorism by the Algerian resistance fighters. Eventually he is assigned a post at a propagandist newspaper and serves most of his tour of duty in this role. The book makes some interesting comparisons to the "war on terrorism" and some deeply personal revelations about his own actions. If you are interested in the time period or that part of the world this is a fascinating but incomplete look at that war.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Reading Non-Notable Books

I am taking a little (very little) break from my notable list. Our Young Friends of the Library book discussion group is reading the book GraceLand by Chris Abani. We are spending this year reading international fiction and meeting at different restaurants around town. The book is from a Nigerian author but we only have Ethiopian restaurants around town but figured that was close enough. As the book discussion leader I thought I should probably read the book.

I also read two books that were paranormal "buffyesque" type books. Lots of fun but not even remote possibilities for my list.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Philosophy Made Simple

Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga is a charming novel about Rudy Harrington, a 60 year old widower who decides to sell his home and buy an avocado grove in Texas. Along the way he meets a eccentric bunch of people (and one elephant) who in some way guide his quest to discover the meaning of life by reading Philosophy Made Simple which explores the history of philosophy, from Plato to Kant. This was a fun read but I have read more complex and skillfully put together novels this year so I won't be recommending it for my list although I will be looking for his other novels to read when I get off of the committee.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Company: A Novel

This book got taken off my list while I was in the middle of it but I enjoyed the book so much that I went ahead and finished it. Company: A Novel by Max Barry is a satirized of big business. "Jones", a newly hired employee, just out of college goes to work for Zepheyr. When he discovers that his job is to sell training packages to other internal departments he quickly realizes that none of his colleagues know what the company does. As his quest picks up speed he quickly realizes that things are even more bizarre than he thought. The humor in this book is immediately recognizable to anyone who has ever worked in an organization with a bureaucracy.

Have a great 4th of July! I need to make something for a 4th of July party tomorrow. I am in the mood to make scones but they don't sound very patriotic. Maybe I should make my famous (or maybe not so famous) squash casserole.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oracle Bones

Ok. Back to the books. Oracle Bones are found in China and are the bones of animals that are cracked open and "inscriptions on shell and bone" are added. In addition to being used for divination these are considered to be the earliest know writing in this part of the world. The quest to discover more about these bones weaves in and out of the stories about the recent past and modern day China. The dramatic events that happened during the time that author, Peter Hessler, lived in China are explored but Hessler's true gift is his ability to get to the human stories and make us care. This is an outstanding non-fiction book, highly readable and informative.