Recovering Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

One of my sometime hobbies is bookbinding. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at it thanks to many courses at the San Francisco Center for the Book, Kevin Smith’s many volumes on non-adhesive book binding and lots of practice. Last year, one of the instructors at SFCB mentioned that paperback books published in the 1960s and 1970’s were often sewn together rather than … Continue reading Recovering Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s nice to have a fun read, with strong characters in an interesting location. A slow-burning plot that takes off in unexpected directions doesn’t hurt either. But I have nothing more to say about it.  Nothing profound. I was entertained; I expect most readers intrigued by the premise will be, too. The narrator and main character Apollo is a long-time … Continue reading The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Augustown by Kei Miller

Look this isn’t magic realism.  This is not another story about superstitious island people and their primitive beliefs. No. You don’t get off that easy. This is a story about people as real as you are, and as real as I once was before I  became a bodiless thing floating up here in the sky. You may as well stop to consider a more urgent … Continue reading Augustown by Kei Miller

Smile by Roddy Doyle

I’ve been reading Roddy Doyle for several decades now. That’s kind of nice. He and I have grown up and begun to grow old together. For the past few years he has been writing little scenes for Facebook, sponsored by Guinness.  These are just the “good parts,” the dialogue Mr. Doyle writes so well. Funny vignettes featuring two blokes in a bar yammering about something … Continue reading Smile by Roddy Doyle

Jane Austen Read All-a-long Book 4: Emma

I gave up. Full confession. I tried, I really did. I even broke down and got an audio version to listen to during my commute to and from work. But I just couldn’t take it. I think it in part an effect of this little reading challenge project I set for myself. This was the fourth Jane Austen book in as many months for me. … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All-a-long Book 4: Emma

The Nix by Nathan Hill

It’s good. I enjoyed it. It’d didn’t exactly knock my socks off, but I was entertained. A couple of points…. First, have you noticed, lately, the prevalence of the two plot structure I call What’s Happening/What Happened? In this structure there are two plots, one that is happening in the novel’s present and one that has already happened in the novel’s past.  The two plot … Continue reading The Nix by Nathan Hill

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

My current passion for cool cover art led me to this book while browsing at Book Town Books in Grass Valley. The pulpy nature of the story is countered by the classy sophistication of the cover art.  But what does the art here have to do with anything? The book is about a hardened criminal released from a post-apocalyptic prison so he can drive a … Continue reading Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Sunday Salon: The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Edition

It’s been a very strange week. I woke Monday morning to the news that highway 37, my usual route to work, was completely closed due to a fire. That was the first I’d heard of it. My reclusive neighbor, who rarely leaves his house, soon showed up at the front door to make sure I knew what was going on, complaining about the smoke and … Continue reading Sunday Salon: The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Edition

The Zero by Jess Walter

Jess Walter’s novel The Zero takes place in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.  The hero is a policeman assigned to the disaster site in the months following the building’s destruction.  When the novel opens, he has the job of taking V.I.P.’s on private tours of Ground Zero or The Zero.  Soon, he is involved in a clandestine investigation into the disaster itself … Continue reading The Zero by Jess Walter

Jane Austen Read All A-long: Mansfield Park

This is a “two-gasp” Jane Austen novel. While reading it, I gasped twice. Jane Austen has this way of suddenly throwing her reader for a loop with just a tiny slip of narrative so affecting it makes this reader gasp out loud. She is a master of plotting. My gasping came during the novel’s first half.  First when young Fanny Price is forgotten by her … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All A-long: Mansfield Park