What’s On Your Nightstand?

As many know – I do not believe any of the authors queried in the NYT’s Sunday Review have  read most of those titles on the night table (or the floor or the shelves).   In my opinion anyway.   But I have some good ones at my side when I get in for a read and sleep.  What have I been reading?

In no order, “The Golden Legend”,  “They Cannot Pronounce My Name”, “Righteous” by Joe Ide, parts of the “Whitey/Billy Bulger” saga redux and “Inferno”, that has inspired me to read “The Hot Zone”.  Just began and before all else, Richard Preston can really write!  On Chapter Two and scared but hooked.  Fort Detrick is not a stop on any trip I may take to DC.  I thought bats were cute at one time.  That’s over.  I have never much liked monkeys and now they scare me to death. (chapter two – it is going to get much worse).  Steven Hatch in “Inferno” mentioned this book so often and this was so emphatic I knew it was important.  I will speak about it when I finish.  I finished “The Hot Zone”.

An amazing amount of detail and information written so well you could almost imagine this was a fictional what-if.  It isn’t.  It is about the filoviruses Ebola, Marburg and what they do to a body.  They are  soulless, serial killers, they have means but no motive and – hopefully limited or no opportunity.  And  they resist a cure.   Their vector may be bat blood.  Or not.  Ebola is blood borne – maybe.  I found Marburg to be even scarier but this book concentrated on Ebola andthe U.S. Military, the C.D.C. and  The Reston Level 4 infection zone. .  It allows us to follow the risks taken by very courageous men and women who investigated and contained an Ebola outbreak  in the Reston, VA  “Hot Zone”site.  It was harrowing and fascinating.*  I wish I had read it before “Inferno” – I would have been more scared – but having seen how the heroes in Liberia dealt with an outbreak, tempered my fear.  Sort of.  Robert Preston, the author of “The Hot Zone”  also made a trip to the suspected site of the Ebola virus ; The Kitum Cave, and that was terrifying.  He  also made some salient points in his observations of how the world is playing dangerous games with its ecology and its occupants.  He posited that perhaps these filoviruses are the planet’s own protection from the human destruction of nature.  Trees do not get Ebola, or HIV or Marburg. People and wildlife do – We play fast and loose with our world and continue to ignore our own destructiveness.  Perhaps our planet is aware of us and this is their own response.  I urge you to read “The Hot Zone” and “Inferno” and decide.  Comments are welcome especially on this threat.

What have YOU been reading?  My pick up list at the library is growing – and I am excited and will go up there in a day or two.  I think the NYT’s Review is a tad better and I must say any Times Sunday Review is always improved by the appearance of Marilyn Stasio. She reviews crime and mystery and she is the best.  I still wish that every story was not condensed and printed so the thrill falls away.  And I do write and post on Goodreads – but their site has lost too many of my fantastically written reviews I have stopped.  I am hoping they do get a save button.  I like the site and I like the readers I have met.  It also allows the reader to comment to the author and I find this wonderful. Polymath readers tend to fly far afield in their choice of subjects and this is a way to let an author know how much you enjoyed their book.

Aha. I just opened the library pickups from the tote and Faye Kellerman is top on the about to read list.  See you soon.


*For those who are sensitive to animals and laboratory testing – there are descriptions of  infected monkeys and euthanized  animals that I found sad and horrid.  So did the Army vets.   Just a caveat. And a subject I wish we considered more often.

The Line King. The Hirschfeld Century.

When I was about twelve, I went to live with my father in NYC. One of the Saturday night rituals was walking to Broadway to his favorite newsstand, at midnight, to get the Sunday NYT, hot off the presses!!! Of the many things I learned from my polymath father – He introduced me to Al Hirschfeld on the cover of the Art & Leisure section;   more than the news and reviews within, I was given the gift of this genius and I learned how to find the Ninas. (Mr. H knew this too – I finally sent him a note and his wife replied).  When he laid down his pen and passed at 99 – the Arts & Leisure section still offered me some things of interest – but without him – the sparkle was gone.

I have numerous books with his drawings acquired over the years, and yesterday I opened the mail and found “The Hirschfeld Century” – which I had bought myself as a birthday gift, (after a long search for the best buy).  Oh the Ninas, the actors, the comedians, the stage and screen!!!  The sheer joy of so much of it all, right in my lap!  And it was even better because it brought my father into the picture and, as always I looked for the Ninas,  – to remember both of them.  So my pile of Hirschfeld books grows and the memories are there to be evoked always.

The “Hirschfeld Century” adds a little more because it chronicles the man’s work in order and the biographical detail is just perfect.  David Leopold edited it and wrote the text and was very close to Mr. H for the last 25 years. What a lucky fellow!  To be able to observe the evolution of his style year by year is another stroke of brilliance.  Hirschfeld stayed with what worked and kept working and still does. and there is a consistency that is amazing.

For the lucky folks who also counted the Ninas and couldn’t wait for the Sunday Times;  whose polymath fathers simply knew the right things to know – I join you and hope you will place this title on your shelf of Hirschfeldiana (is that a word?) for the sheer pleasure of the lines he created and  the indelible look he added to every person he drew.

PS  I have a friend who is a Hirschfeld subject and another friend whose wife is.  I was awed and a teeny bit jealous – but mostly awed.  What a wonderful thing to possess!