Category: books

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller

Tell a better story.  A nice simple concept, not bad; life as a scriptwriter’s fodder.  Ok, God too, but not so much that it’s only that. “the same principles that make a good story also make a good life.”  Curious, have seen some criticism of his faith that it’s more deist than, well, than what it should be.  You know, like that radical deist Jefferson that Texas has just removed from their history books.  Now there’s a good story…

Feb 28

The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver

As always a careful storyteller, although this one is not one of my favorite, a bit of a stretch.  Frida! Diego! Leon Trotsky! Maybe better as a parable for fearful times. “Dios habla por el que calla”.  The again, her story, Trotsky, McCarthy and HUAC – the condemnation of Gitmo pro-bono lawyers rings all too familiar today.

Feb 27

This Will Change Everything, ed. John Brockman

Another collection of science essays by a typical assortment of brilliant people.  Good index of authors:  “brains work as adaptive self-organizing systems and designing artificial intelligence systems along these lines” – read this: “artificial creativity.”  Most interesting thing I’ve read about music composition in forever.

Feb 20

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon

Alternate history/detective noir/end of times novel.  One of those. Great writer, terrific characters; a little too many threads, and one too easy to guess – the Hebrew savior is gay!  Can’t think of another writer succeeding in so many different Gentlemen of the Road, aka “Jews with Swords” (honest, the original working title).

Feb 15

The Lost City of Z, David Grann

Adventure story of Percy Fawcett, last of the great Brit explorers.  Compelling, many connections to 1491 & the lost Beni culture.  “Their monuments were horizontal, not vertical.”  Has a new book out about Sherlock Holmes, presumably not with Robert Downey Jr on the cover…

Feb 14

The Memory of Old Jack, Wendell Berry

Gorgeous, sad, slow, sweet.  Another beautiful Port William story; old Jack and the end of life.  “We’ll take no trophies, no souvenirs. Let it fall like a leaf.”  Can’t help but think we’ll look back on this era and see Wendell Berry as one of the giants of American literature.

Feb 11

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

Dresden AND 9/11 – not sure if that’s a resourceful parallel, or too much piling on for one story. Oskar’s story is sweet, funny, sad; grandparents’ a distraction (like some of Illuminated). Stephen Hawking’s letter to Oskar is lovely.

Feb 1

Antproof Case, Mark Helprin

Re-read.  Not so good as I remembered; Ayn Rand in better togs (sometimes).  Out damned coffee!  Winter’s Tale was better, more wistful, less heroic.  Helprin is the guy who writes fantasy fiction (lately) and also wrote Bob Dole’s best speech in his presidential campaign.  More troubling, has argued that “intellectual property rights should be assigned to an author or artist as far as Congress could practically extend it”.  Say goodbye to improv, remixing, and “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Jan 16