People keep asking me, “B-rock, what should I read? What are you reading?”
From here on out, I’m gonna direct ’em to this here blog post.
These are the books I’ve read since I got home to NY on May 15th or so. A little blurb follows each; the ones I recommend get stars.
They’re in chronological order, because that’s how I remember them.
T.C. Boyle: Budding Prospects.** It’s a fun book about a couple of guys who go up NorCal way to grow a big bumper crop of weed. Cheeky, smart. Tons of fun.
Steve Lopez: The Sunday Macaroni Club. Meh. A fun read if you’re familiar with Philly; otherwise, it’s skippable. The guy did write The Soloist, though.
Carson McCullers: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. What’s all the fuss about? It starts with a bang, ends with a whimper. Like Steinbrenner used to say about Dave Winfield.
Sara Gruen: Water For Elephants.** An oldster in a nursing home reminisces about his youth, which he spent working for a traveling circus. Lots of tension. Very fun.
Jason Epstein: Book Business: Publishing. Past, Present and Future. Worth reading the first 50 pages if you want to learn about the book business. After that, a not-too-engaging memoir emerges.
Denbeaux and Hafetz: Guantanamo Lawyers.** A non-fic book that tells about not only the trials and tribulations of Gitmo detainees, but the life experiences of the lawyers who risked alienation and death threats in their efforts to defend those unseen men, declaimed by the US Gov’t as terrorists. Amazing.
David Sedaris: Holidays on Ice. A humorous holiday stories memoir collection. At times it was grand. Generally, it was fine – nothing better.
David Benioff: City of Thieves.** A story about two nearly-dead men caught in the Nazi siege of St. Petersburg in the winter of 1942 and their incredible, farcical quest. Best book of the summer.
Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451. A story that reads less well than the promise of its premise.
Scott Snyder: Voodoo Heart.** A short story collection by a young writer. A little uneven at times (the lead story, for instance, is weak), but on the whole very, very good.
Dave Eggers: What is the What. Good premise. Very slow read. A little less whimsical than I want my Eggers, when I want Eggers, though. I am nonetheless excited for Away We Go.
Yvonne Thompson, MD: Ditchdigger’s Daughter. A non-fic memoir about the six daughters of one black ditch-digger in the post-war era, and how they all worked hard to become successful. Surprisingly, given the compelling subject, it’s a little dry.
David Foster Wallace: Consider the Lobster. A series of essays. Some good. I kinda liked it. But no more than kinda.
Andrew Gottlieb: Drink, Play, F@#k. Uneven. Funny at times. Too bad that it’s fiction. As a true memoir, would have been stronger. For some, worth a read, but I wouldn’t go out on a limb for it.
William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying. Hard to follow at times, what with all the character-jumping and internal monologue, but still worth a read on a solitary sunny day. Tells the tale of the death of a family matriarch in the poor, rural south. I debated whether or not to give this one stars, as it’s a slog and I sometimes hate it. But there’s value there, too.
Bernard Otterman: Black Grass.** A collection of fictionalized Holocaust short stories, written by a Holocaust survivor. Damn good. Actually, 4 of the first 5 are damn good. After that, the potency seeps out. I nonetheless recommend this book.
John Knowles: A Separate Peace.** Well, slap me around and call me Shirley. One of the best books I’ve ever read to come out of the 50’s. The light Catcher In The Rye shed on disaffected northeastern prep school kids one decade later, this book does for the WWII coming-of-agers. Really, a masterful book. I would happily praise it to anyone.
Damn. Seventeen books in two months. ….. I am a book nerd.