Dictionary of National Biography

When you come across this book, it’s fun to take it down and open it at random and read about some guy.  For instance, Caleb Jeacocke, debater and roll-maker:


Books I got rid of

Pained me to get rid of it.  But look how long it is!

Let’s be reasonable!

I hate giving away books.  I wish I could read them all.

This one I got because I saw John Laurence on Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War

and kind of related to him.  

But I mean, these books’re spilling over into in my kitchen!

The Idiot I read and loved, that is my second, demolished copy on the right.  The Other Paris can stay.

This book is incredible.  The part about the Judge and The Seducer should be its own book.

This one I got because it was recommended someplace.  Again, I regret parting with it and perhaps we’ll meet again.

This book I got because I wanted to track down the origin of JFK’s alleged claim to Macmillan that if he didn’t have a woman every few days he got headaches.  Unfortunately the source appears to be yet another book!  Goodbye, this book.  Macmillan’s life worth a peak into. 

I like Melbourne a lot.  But I did feel this book was attempting to exaggerate the charm somewhat.

For me the best thing to do in Melbourne is take a train to the countryside or drive the Great Ocean Road.  No need to oversell Melbourne, it has some cool buildings.

Flinders Street station is a personal fave.

Discussed in a review by Thomas Ricks.  Pickett’s Charge is interesting, and I was curious as to how you write a whole book about what was pretty much four thousand guys getting blown to pieces.

But then I was like I don’t want to read a whole book about four thousand guys getting blown to pieces.

A page selected at random:

One reason why there are so many statues of Lee is that he really did do some cool shit.  Something like this really did happen:

But whatever.  Remember he did just get four thousand guys blown to pieces.

Phillip Thomas Tucker I believe makes the case that Pickett’s Charge wasn’t as crazy as it later seemed and Lee almost won.

A tough guy detective type book recommended by fellow tough guy detective type writer Don Winslow.  Interested in tough guy detective type books.  But I just didn’t get to this one and it’s probable I won’t ever so best to pass it along to a new home.

Like I say, I am sad to part with any book.

I thank these books for their service!

If you want these they should be at Goodwill on Beverly.

TWIST:

Two books got a last minute reprieve!

 

 

 

 

 


Critics on critics on critics

This review in the New York Times, by Vivan Gornick of Adam Gopnik’s “At The Strangers’ Gate” caught my attention.

Critics have taken aim on Adam Gopnik before.  To which New Yorker editor David Remnick says:

‘The day any of these people write anything even remotely as fine and intelligent as Adam Gopnik will be a cold day in hell.'”

The key to this memoir might be when the author reveals he graduated high school at age fourteen.  He’s a boy genius.

This is kind of Young Sheldon the book.

The book has some good stories in it.  Adam Gopnik tells about how a guy who came to one of his lectures on Van Gogh.  This guy had an axe to grind and it was this: why did Vincent never paint his brother Theo?

My favorite part of the book was Gopnik’s discussion of Jeff Koons.  Gopnik is illuminating on the topic of Jeff Koons.  Here is Koons talking to Gopnik at a party.

(I added the potato because while it may not be strictly legal to electronically reproduce pages of books, if I include them in an original work of art, that’s gotta be allowed, right?)


His sporting blood turned to horsepiss

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This interview with Charles Portis, on his days a young reporter, for an oral history project about the Arkansas Gazette newspaper is so wonderful.

Lady stringers:

lady-stringers

On Tom Wolfe and Malcolm X:

portis-on-tom-wolfe-andmalcom-x

They made movies out of several Portis books:

is one and

is another.

What does Charles Portis make of all this I wonder?

mofa

Click on this link for an amazing picture of William Woodruff sailing up the Mississippi with his printing presses.


F Minus

I don’t like to give bad reviews to books on Helytimes.  Why call limited attention to bad books?  However I must condemn this book.

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Let me admit that I didn’t read it.

I oppose it because:

1) I was not consulted on it and didn’t hear about it until it was published

2) I was not included in it

3) many geniuses were not included in it, and the selections don’t represent anything like a best of.   

Impossible in an anthology to please everyone.   But I suspect anyone familiar with the Lampoon will find the table of contents to be the funniest part.

(That’s the only part I read.)

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4) No art?

The Lampoon is full of beautiful art that makes the words tolerable.

Example I happened to find here.

Example I happened to find here.

A mistake to print an all words anthology.

5)  the whole point of the Lampoon is you can write and “publish” dumb bad practice material that no one will ever see.

On the other hand: I was lucky and was given issues of the Lampoon by my cousin when I was a senior in high school.   That gift changed my life.  So maybe this book will do that for someone.

Still, I must grade it an F minus and recommend that you not purchase it on Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  For example The Harvard Book Store:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

found on the website of Dr. Barbara Long

Here’s a funny review by one Helen Andrews of Sydney, Australia in the Weekly Standard.  (Shoutout to Chris McKenna who I guess reads The Weekly Standard?)

I think you’ll get more value for your book dollar in:

treee

available at Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  You’ll enjoy it.


Diary Of An Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

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  • this book was recommended to me in a cool way
  • 5% chance it was recommended to me by the author
  • 8% chance the author was present at the recommending
  • it’s the right length for a book
  • it’s the right size for a book
  • it’s compelling
  • there’s a coolness to it

and

  • it did send a chill down my spine.

Reminded me of another dark and mysterious book:

perfume-story-of-a-murderer

 

The first page of DoaOT gives a good sense of where we’re headed:

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Intrigued by this article about the author’s campaign to promote the book which he originally self-published in Amsterdam in 2006:

Intent on building underground buzz for the book, the author focused on promotional efforts that would make people google the book’s title. From his limited sales in bookshops he felt confident that he could land readers by getting the book’s cover (which features a picture of a snowman whose carrot nose has been repositioned to look like a penis) seen, and its title shared.

With this in mind, the author went out into the streets of New York and put up posters. Some featured profane statements and the book’s title; others simply displayed the book’s cover. The posters of the book’s cover were placed side by side on scaffolding, in the wheat-pasting tradition, to mimic ads promoting bands and albums that often dot urban landscapes. To draw readers in another way, the author created a fake profile on a popular dating website—he declined to say which one—with photos of a beautiful woman. The profile directed potential suitors to read a book called Diary of an Oxygen Thief. “I gave the impression that, if they were to read this book, they might have more of an amorous chance with me,” he said. Again, as with the posters, the goal was to get people to plug the book’s title into their Web browsers.

Now I’ve done my part.


Wonder Trail reviewers’ guide

books in box

Books arrived!

The main character of my last book had some rough things to say about book reviewers.  That was part of the joke.  Me?  I’ve always rooted for book reviewers.  They have a tough job.  Newspapers shrinking, etc.  I am on the book reviewers side.  This site is largely amateur book reviewing.  It’s easy (and cheap) to write a bad review.  Hard to write a good one.

Let me make things as easy as possible for anyone reviewing of my book.

If you’ve been assigned the job, or if you want to pitch it and take it on freelance (her0), let me help you with this handy reviewers’ kit to The Wonder Trail:

orig

If you’re brave enough to volunteer?  At your local publication?  God bless.  (Happy to answer your interview questions, write me.)

Print that helpful guide out.  Download it.  All those phrases are free to use.

Start each paragraph on one and you’ll be done in no time!

* this one from actual human reader Margot B. who I don’t know but who very kindly wrote in after winning a copy in the Great Debates Newsletter contest.  

Thanks, and good luck!