Sunday, April 29, 2007

Non-book related mussings...

Last month I had a little accident with my car (actually it was pulling out of my extremely narrow garage) and took out my side mirror. On Friday I took it in to get an estimate. $273.00 for that little mistake. Sign...between that and the heavy concert schedule this month it's good that I have that part time job back. Next week is intersession though, so I won't be working the part time job for a month. I guess I need to start cutting back on the spending.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I find it interesting how, when something catches your fancy you suddenly see reminders of it everywhere.

One example, the other day I was weeding the arts and crafts section at the library and I found some great books featuring some of my favorite artists. I love art. I love going to art galleries and spending hours pondering art that I like (and that I don't). Anyway, few days ago after that I ran across this great blog and thought I would share it with all of you. Take a peek. It is a great new find

Friday, April 27, 2007

Finn: A Novel by Jon Clinch

This is the story of Finn (the father of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn). This is an unrelentingly dark tale of a violent man and his impact on the world around him. It portrays Huck's father as a racist who lusts after black women and "steals" Huck's mother, keeping her a virtual prisoner, although in truth she has nowhere else to go. All of this is overseen by his family, much to the disgust of his even more racist father, "the Judge" and the sorrow of his brother. Although Finn is the more outwardly repulsive the novel slowly revels that the Judge is the more evil of the two.

After Huck is born, Finn softens briefly but soon slides back into his drunken world. As most stories of this type go, this all ends badly with everything Finn comes in contact with being damaged or destroyed. This is a brilliant novel but very difficult to read. I had to put it down several times. Also, the use of racist profanity throughout the novel was jarring and obscene. This is not a book for everyone but will probably make some best of year lists.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Books for later

Books I want to read when my Notable Year is over....

The Stranger by Albert Camus (Author), Matthew Ward (Translator)
A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (Author)
Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers Series) by Julio Cortazar (Author)
Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin (Author)
The Country Life: A Novel by Rachel Cusk (Author)
Bruce Chatwin: A Biography by Nicholas Shakespeare (Author)
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty (Author)
The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor (Author)
Living To Tell : A Novel by Antonya Nelson
Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (Author)
Being Dead: A Novel by Jim Crace (Author)
Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan by Jason Elliot (Author)
Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters by Robert Gordon (Author)
The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart (Author)
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Author)
By the Lake by John Mcgahern (Author)
The Known World: A Novel by Edward P. Jones (Author)
Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell (Author)
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (Author), Stephen J. Dubner (Author)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (Author)
The Hungry Tide: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh (Author)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (Author)
The Glass Castle : A Memoir (Alex Awards (Awards)) by Jeannette Walls
Madeleine Is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Author)
Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Author)
The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life by Tom Reiss (Author)
How We Live by Sherwin B. Nuland (Author)
How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland (Author)
Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin (Author)
The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter (Author)
Humboldt's Gift (Penguin Classics) by Saul Bellow (Author)
Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (Author)
Pirattitude!: So you Wanna Be a Pirate?: Here's How! by John Baur (Author), et al.
Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell (Author)
Kindred (Bluestreak Black Women Writers) by Octavia E. Butler (Author)
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (Author)
Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness by Marc Ian Barasch (Author)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel by Michael Chabon (Author)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Author)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern Library) by John Irving (Author)
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (Author)
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Author)
Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson (Author)
The Sea by John Banville (Author)
The Woman in White (Enriched Classics) by Wilkie Collins (Author)
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Author)
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street (Everyman's Library) by Naguib Mahfouz (Author), Sabry Hafez (Introduction)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One last reminder about the Darfur events

One day I didn't know anything about this and the next it is all I seem to hear about. The news is full of reports of peacekeepers being killed, atrocities that make me cry when I hear them and statistics on the dead that are beyond my comprehension. My mind cannot seem to accept the reality of it. Darfur is the first genocide that people around the world have been aware of as it is happening. This seems unacceptable to me. If those of us who can stand up and protest don't, we are contributing to the problem.

These weekend, on Sunday, April 29th there will be a rally at the JC Nichols fountain on the Plaza. You can make reservations that show you will be attending at (if you can't make that one there will be one on the Friday night, April 27th). The following week The Format will be giving a benefit concert at the Beaumont club. I will be at the Sunday rally and (hopefully) the concert. I hope to see some of you there. If you can't attend any of it please at the very least, go to the page and sign the petition or contact your elected officals to ask for their support.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Love Is A Mix Tape: Life And Loss, One Song At A Time by Rob Sheffield

In the memoir, Love is a Mix Tape, the author describes listening to music after his wife died, how he kept having to turn of the radio in the first days after but then listened obsessively after that. During the course of the book he listens to different tapes that he and his wife had recorded (mix tapes) and each tape brings forth a different time or aspect of their life together. At it's core, this is a meditation on the ways that music impacts and shapes the lives of music lovers.

I am finding this deeply touching because he spends time talking about his wife, who died, but this is really about how is life is shaped by music. For someone from my generation this was a familiar book. I know this man (or at least someone like him). Outstanding.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Missouri Authors

I recently went to a talk by Missouri authors and was highly entertained by Jim Butcher's talk. His series features Harry Dredsden, a private detective/wizard who solves paranormal crimes. This weekend when I was out running errands I picked up a copy of his first book, Storm Front. It is also a TV series now. When my notable reading is over (or I need a non-literary reading break) I am going to dig it out to read. I am half look forward to, half dreading finding another author I like with a large backlist.

I am already seriously behind on keeping up with many of my favorite authors although a few like Margaret Drabble, Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami have been on my reading lists so I managed to at least keep up with their newest. I joke on my personal blog that I only have to live until I am 921, reading a book a day, to finish my current backlist of must read novels. While that may be an exaggeration, it probably isn't that far off the mark.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Liberty Memorial Tour

On Tuesday, I took my group from India to the Liberty Memorial Museum. The last time I was there was several years ago and I remember Carl taking us around explaining his vision for the museum and showing us huge piles of artifacts. He also told us how much he thought it might cost and so, given how slowly we move in Kansas City, I thought it would be decades before it was done.

I have to admit he pulled it off. It was awesome. If you have any interest at all in history I highly recommend visiting when you are in Kansas City. It is well worth the trip. For a mini tour and more information about the exhibits go to and take a look. WWI was the most historically significant war of our decade and impacted every other war, as well as other major historical events. For history buffs, it is essential to learn more about this war and its impact on our world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pulitzer Prizes

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced Monday.

Pulitzer book winners are:

Fiction: The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf)
General Nonfiction: The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright (Knopf)
History: The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff (Knopf)
Biography: The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate (Doubleday)
Poetry: Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey (Houghton Mifflin)
Drama: Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire (Theatre Communications Group, distributed by Consortium)

For those of you who have been reading a while, what did I say my favorite book was last year? :)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Taking a break

I have read a whole series of books that haven't appealed to me lately so I am taking a short break from my literary gems and reading a romance or chicklit (haven't decided which yet). I do know I want something airy. I tend to think of these as the cheese or bread at a wine tasting, something to cleanse the palate before diving into the next weighty tome.

I have recently started back at my part time job so I won't be going to any more of my favorite wine tasting events with my favorite wine tasting friends. I do have a co-worker that I think will be willing to trade with me a bit more often than was previously possible so who knows? Maybe I will still be able to get out and about every so often.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Newest List

Here is the latest list the committee is reading from for the Notable Book Awards.

Abulhawa, Susan - Scar of David
Alarcon, Daniel - Lost City Radio
Alexie, Sherman - Flight
Ali, Ayaan Hirsi - Infidel
Allende, Isabel - Ines of My Soul
Allison, Will - What You Have Left
Alpert, Stanley - The Birthday Party
Andersen, Kurt - Heyday
Angier, Natalie - The Canon
Anthony, Lawrence & Graham Spence - Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
Armstrong, Jon - Grey
Ashbery, John - A Worldly Country
Avery, Ellis - The Teahouse Fire
Barber, Benjamin - Consumed
Bascomb, Neal - Red Mutiny
Bass, Rick - Lives of Rocks
Belbruno, Edward - Fly Me to the Moon
Benni, Stefano - Margherita Dolce Vita
Black, Benjamin - Christine Falls
Bohjalian, Chris - The Double Bind
Bolano, Roberto and Wimmer, Natasha - The Savage Detectives
Brosman, Catharine - Range of Life
Browne, Janet - Darwin's Origin of Species
Buckley, Christopher - Boomsday
Callan, Liam - All Saints
Chabon, Michael - The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Chandra, Vikram - Sacred Games
Cheever, Susan - American Bloomsbury
Chen, Pauline - Final Exam
Childs, Craig - House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest
Clinch, John - Finn: A Novel
Coyote, Ivan E. - Bow Grip
Crace, Jim - Pesthouse
Crane, Robert - Scott of the Antarctic
Cummins, Ann - Yellowcake
Cusk, Rachael - Arlington Park
Danford, Natalie - Inheritance
Davies, Peter Ho - The Welsh Girl
Davis Jill - Ask Again Later
Doctorow, Cory - Overclocked
Doty, Mark - Dog Years
Drabble, Margaret - The Sea Lady
Drake, Monica - Clown Girl
Drennan, William R. - Death in a Prairie House
Dyson, Freeman J. - The Scientist as Rebel
Edge, Arabella - The God of Spring
Ehrenreich, Barbara - Dancing in the Streets
Eig, Jonathan - Opening Day
Farah, Nuruddin - Knots
Ferris, Joshua - Then We Came To The End
Franklin, Ariana - Mistress of the Art of Death
Frayn, Michael - The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of the Universe
Garcia, Christina - A Handbook To Luck
Garrison, Deborah - The Second Child
Gerber, Dan - A Primer on Parallel Lives
Ginsberg, Debra - Blind Submission
Giovanni, Nikki - Acolytes
Gizzi, Peter - The Outernationale
Glavin, Terry - The Sixth Extinction
Godwin, Peter - When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
Gordon, Lois - Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse,
Gowdy, Barbara - Helpless
Grinberg, Henry - Variations on the Beast
Groopman, Jerome - How Doctors Think
Gutkind, Lee - Almost Human
Hahn, Susan - The Scarlet Ibis
Hamid, Mohsin - The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Hamilton, Masha - The Camel Bookmobile
Harding, Georgia - Solitude of Thomas Cave
Harlin, John - An Eiger Obsession
Harline, Craig - Sunday
Hay, Sheridan - The Secret of Lost Things
Heath, Chip and Dan Heath - Made to Stick: Why Some
Hofstadter, Douglas R - I Am a Strange Loop
Homes, A. M. - The Mistress's Daughter
Houston, James D. - Bird of Another Heaven
Howell, Georgina - Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
Hunt, Lynn - Inventing Human Rights
Igo, Sarah E. - The Averaged American:
Isaacson, Walter - Einstein: His Life and Universe
James, Clive - Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts
Johnston, Wayne - Custodian of Paradise
Judah, Sophie - Dropped From Heaven: Stories
Kadare, Ismail - Agamemnon's Daughter
Kay, Guy Gavriel - Ysabel
Kehlmann, Daniel - Measuring the World
Kennedy, Pagan - The First Man-Made Man
Kriegel, Mark - Pistol
Lear, Linda J. - Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature
Lee, Hermoine - Edith Wharton
Levy, Andrea - Fruit of the Lemon
MacMillan, Margaret - Nixon and Mao
Mankill, Henning - Depths
Manning, Maurice - Bucolics
Margonelli, Lisa - Oil On The Brain
Manning, Sean - The Show I'll Never Forget
Mason, Daniel - A Far Country
Matar, Hisham - In the Country of Men
McCann, Colum - Zoli
McCarthy, Tom - Remainder
Mengestu, Dinaw - The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
Meyers, Morton - Happy Accidents
Miller, Leslie Adrienne - The Resurrection Trade
Monaghan, Nicola - The Killing Jar
Montero, Mayra - Dancing to "Almendra"
Mundy, Liza - Everything Conceivable : How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Men, Women, and the World
Murakami, Haruki - After Dark
Murakami, Ryu - Piercing
Murphy, Cait - Crazy '08
Nadeau, Jean-Benoit - The Story of French
Nguyen, Bich Minh - Stealing Buddha's Dinner
Nusseibeh, Sari -Once Upon A Country
O'Brien, Georffrey G. - Green and Gray
Olmstead, Robert - Coal Black Horse
Pagels, Elaine - Reading Judas
Phillips, Arthur - Angelica
Platt, Donald - My Father Says Grace
Pynchon, Thomas - Against the Day
Raban, Johnathan - Surveillance
Reza, Yasmina - Adam Haberberg
Richmond, Michelle - The Year of Fog
Savage, Jon - Teenage: The creation of Youth
Schama, Simon - The Power of Art
Shawn, Allen - Wish I Could Be There:
Sheck, Laurie - Captivity
Sheffield, Rob - Love is a Mix Tape: Life, Loss, And What I Listened
Shriver, Lionel - The Post-Birthday World
Simpson, Helen - In the Driver's Seat
Smiley, Jane - Ten Days In The Hills
Stewart, Amy - Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful In the Business of Flowers
Stewart, David O. - The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution
Stewart, Ian - Why Beauty is Truth
Stewart, Paul and others - Galapagos
Stone, Robert - Prime Green
Tally, Stephan - Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign
Tammet, Daniel - Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
Teltscher, Kate - The High Road to China
Teo, Hsu-Ming - Behind the Moon
Thomas, Michael - A Man Gone Down
Todd, Kim - Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis
Toibin, Colm - Mothers and Sons: Stories
Tomalin, Claire - Thomas Hardy
Torday, Paul - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Tremlett, Giles - Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and its slent past
Trynka, Paul - Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed
Tyson, Neil - Death by Black Hole
Vollmann, William - Poor People
Wallis, Michael - Billy the Kid: the endless ride
Washington, Harriet - Medical Apartheid
Wilcox, James - Hunk City
Wilkinson, Alec - The Happiest Man in the World: An Account of the Life of Poppa Neutrino
Wilson, David Sloan - Evolution for Everyone
Young, C. Dale - The Second Person
Zimbardo, Philip - The Lucifer Effect

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson

I must be in the wrong frame of mind to read this book because I am giving up. The way this book was described to me was as "a British Philip Roth" which is pretty accurate. Unfortunately, I don't usually like Roth (The Plot Against America was the exception). This also has blurbs on the cover that talk about how funny this book is. I have to say, at no point during the 3/4 of the book that I read did I titter, chuckle or laugh. One other person is reading this one so maybe they will be able to see something I didn't and if so, I will pick this up again but for now I think it is time to put this aside and work on something else.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Travels In The Scriptorium: A Novel by Paul Auster

This is a metaphysical detective story that one reviewer likens to Samuel Beckett. An old man, Mr. Blank, wakes up in a small room and does not know who he is or how he got there. Throughout the day, clues are presented that allow Mr. Blank glimpses into the truth of why he is there.

This was appropriately enough, a claustrophobic reading experience with moments of discomfort and claustrophobia. This is not a style of novel that I enjoy but I can appreciate the the mastery that the author shows. This is not a book I would recommend to any but the most adventurous readers.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Some of you have already seen this on my myspace account but I am trying to spread the word.

Save the Date: Rally for Darfur April 29, 2007 @ Kansas City on the Plaza

Darfurian Refugees Give Testimonials

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

The Bastard of Istanbul was fun to read because I have spent time in Turkey and there was a very Turkish feel to the book. This is a country that works hard to be seen as European and Democratic even as they struggle with their religious roots and so the way the author blended the new thinking with older customs was very nicely done.

This particular book talks about the Armenian genocide and the Turkish role in that piece of history. This was fascinating novelized look at how people deal (or choose not to deal) with an issue that has caused divisiveness within the country. The main character, an Armenian American who grew up with stories of the genocide, travels to Turkey to see if she can find a way to feel more "Armenian". While there, she makes friends with a girl her own age who only believes that the present moment is worth remembering. This was a very nice depiction of the way that these issues were presented to me while I was in Turkey. When I was there some Turkish were very open about this and would discuss it at length and others would completely deny that it had happened at all.

The author was put on trial for this novel because of it's anti-Turkish themes. To learn more, go to,,1827872,00.html