Holidays . All Over.

 

Added some thoughts to this post, corrections and additions. Also discovered a renewal of interest in the Sunday Times crossword. The loss of the Jerusalem Post Puzzle still grieves me, but I am indeed happy to enjoy the Times again

Lazy over holidays and many posts ran through my mind but never made the cut.  Excuses.  Doesn’t matter.

What have I read?  What am I waiting to read.  And why doesn’t Goodreads have a status of  “trying to read” or “tried but failed”?  Teach your algorithm to sense slow progress and then use it.

I am  slowly reading American Prometheus. The bio allows this and it’s best tasted in small bites.  J. Robert Oppenheimer is a fascinating man who had OCD, spectrum disorder and he understood Quantum Physics – therefore the first don’t matter much.  I can’t say it is slow going – it is interesting going but  lots of it and I expect I will read it in chunks. And I expect it will blow up real good at the end.

Neel Mukherjee is one of my favorite authors.  I finished his new book; A State of Freedom” and he did not fail me as usual.  Five stories tied together that cover the many India’s that carry on and co-exist simultaneously daily.  Five tales that look very astutely into how freedom is defined and how it is perceived.  And how they become a tartan of life in a country that lacks unity.   It is a wonderful piece of fiction but I do believe a love of India and its stories is a good idea for many readers. who haven’t explored this body of fiction.   His writing skill is amazing to me. It moves cautiously throughout and yet delivers on each page.  No spoilers , but I wished a better life for Raju.

I started The Penguin Papers.  I am still trying to decide whether to read it to the end or not.  I read “Wesley”– a hand raised owl and wept so much at the end I still think of him and wish he had simply lived forever.  I have a feeling about Juan Salvado (the penguin question).  I am starting to think beautifully written, true accounts humans and animals should have a caveat about sad endings.  This has always been a problem for me – As a kid – seeing Bambi I wailed in a crowded Boston theatre when Bambi’s mother died and grieved after Fantasia , during the part when the dinosaurs were wiped out.  Across the board, my soft heartedness still exists.  So The Penguin Papers sits – partly read.  I would be very happy if anyone knows about its ending.  Sad or not sad is all I ask.

Fire and Fury is on its way.  Due to snow, deliveries are now delayed but I expect it within another day or so.  I love Michael Wolff and I would like a peep at the bedlam at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  I suspect dementia that is gaining speed, a stroke of some size or tertiary syphilis.   It requires immediate attention and hopefully this book will give that attention momentum.  After reading Blitzed and discovering how Der Fuehrer and his pack of goons and bigots were dosed daily on speed and other narcotics – nothing would surprise me.   (Add to this, the good Dr. Jacobsen of NYC keeping the JFK circles awake.  I bless the fear I have of needles.)  And frankly I love a good tell-all – I pity those who believe they are above it all and smug about it to boot.

And a very quick read – The Prisoner in His Palace ,the last days of Saddam was predictable, fast yet a very astute peek at this maniac.  Are the mental deficiencies of power mad men and occasionally women (Indira m’dear) a result of nature or nurture?    This is why we read everything.  Knowledge madness seems far more enriching.

Back to Oppenheimer and I suspect a cautionary tale within a very long story – not a hard read but slow going. This is illustrates how our alleged bad acts (being a Red back then) disguise brilliance and accomplishments.   American Prometheus is worth the time. Read some more Oppie  last night late. The fatal flaw was of course Marx and Lenin – the late 30’s and 40’s were characterized by many things, but Liberal and Red  urges created lasting woe for many intelligentsia in those days.  Long after the Red Peril And Joe McCarthyism came to a halt; great scientists, writers, actors and many, many others were ostracized, maligned and blacklisted taking remarkable achievements with them denuding in terms of honor.  I suspect as I plod through some more of this huge and complicated bio, I will finally get to the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos. I shall keep reading.

I am losing my pleasure in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review.  It started before the editorial changes, but the pretense has been honed and is so apparent and the cockiness of the writing is very sad.  I do love the best seller list however, a barometer of the crap written, published and then bought.  Meanwhile those eruditiees interviewed, all still have Euripides or the Odyssey on their bedside tables as their favorites.  Get out.

Such loss and sadness – rest in peace Sue Grafton.  Left us in late December 2017.  I loved her.  I loved Kinsey Milhone. Aharon Apfelfeld, a beloved Jewsih voice silenced this week as well.  Life is a trial – death is the loss of those who bring light to it.

Looking forward as the Twelfth Night comes and goes; new pages of Phantom Trades by Lister Martin (part of a new draft) and a much-needed book on the subject of slips and falls and why they must be avoided at all costs. Not just by the aging but everyone.  Until then – stay balanced.  Stay warm. Stay tuned. 

And comment!  Please.

 

 

I Just Can’t Seem to Stop.

Oh I have read and read and read some more. After this last depressing year of being a native born, US citizen and watching that grow scary;  I stayed warm and read til my eyes crossed.  I believe I mentioned my read of Sleeping Beauties and it still is on my mind. Read it.  You may weep; but the Kings kicked some ass.  I read an Alex Cross because I like the character – Patterson – feh.   And then there was The Rooster Bar.  It is not quite his direction and of course was well written but personally I wanted to beat the three main characters like a gong. Mr. Grisham  – I hope you will abandon this type of silliness.  You are better than the Rooster Bar.

I may have mentioned my casual interest in diamonds – when in need of a best friendsthey can work quite well.  I had read a galley of a book on the subject in the early part of the ‘aughts and  it stayed with me.  I found the final edition  recently and oh what a nasty business it is to discover  Greedy, ruthless, competitive and utterly fascinating.  The players are first and foremost deBeers who struggle more to continue to be the biggy.  And the baddy and the monopolists; something that is changing rapidly.

I know quite a lot more than I ever expected to know and it is a fascinating enterprise.  The Oppenheimer’s hold it tightly, wheel and deal and sadly were very instrumental in supporting apartheid for cheap labor and because they could.  The tech end is fascinating and I was so damn fascinated I have another title to expand my ken.  I wear little jewelry – but a bit of sparkle can be enticing and what I do have is a very little sparkler. Diamond by Matt Hart reads like a whodunit.  Check it out.

Between the gems and Grisham , I found a James Ellroy I hadn’t read – ‘Because the Night“.  All the expected L.A. police, bad guys, the grift and the graft – but it was step well away from precious stones.and a good little break .  Ellroy has always been a favorite – a flawed man and a damn good writer. He gets down and dirty because what he writes takes him to some very down and dirty places. I like the opium beds of another era in Chinatown. They showed up a lot in Perfidia.  Just a damn good book to use for a break.

Which brings us to the strangest book I have read in a long time.  My lasting fascination with the Black Dahlia is not a secret and I have read quite a few, well written books of theories and man hunts and of course it is still unsolved. And still fascinating.

Piu Eatwell, another theorist enters with Black Dahlia, Red Rose.  The crime is not a news flash but each author’s take on it fills in gaps that add allure and ideas that are newer or more creative than the last ones  Eatwell has done her homework and gives us lots of information – not exactly new info, but presented well and worth taking it in.  But she does make mistakes, some of which seem to reflect the American idioms she gets wrong.  Irritating minutiae that creates a little itch and a tendency to look for more. This is distracting to me. She may have edited the book herself because a competent editor would indeed have caught them.  None of this would really be bothersome but she has embraced the asterisk and the annotated footnotes passionately and it is truly annoying.  Truly.  One can see ways the info could easily have been part of the text and it is driving me bananas.  She has notes as well and a quick glance at those was not a treat.  But she was published by a reputable house – WW Norton;  but I still would love to know who her editor was.  They need a stern chat.  All this filigree and distraction make the book harder to read, but the entire story is such an interest of mine – I shall go the distance.  If it turns out okay – those of you who like old true noir  should check back.

Christmas and New Year are upon us.  Packages have arrived and I know there will be books.  I can’t wait. I wish all of you who check out this blog a wonderful time in the next week and a better, happier, calmer 2018.I promise my new inventory next week.

I should also mention that very few on the “Best Books of 2017” appealed to me and would not have been on my list. And I am getting less enthusiastic about the NY Sunday Times Book Review – after all these years.  And exception is Marilyn Stasio whom I look forward seeing every two weeks.  She is the crime lady.

Enjoy your holidays and wish for 2018 to be an improvement.  I know I do.

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.