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east bay revisited

journal #10 - East Bay basement REVISITED - Aug. 19 to Sep. 30, 2011
        also: journal #7 - #8 - #9 - #11  

The big differences when I don't own, or work in a bookstore—is where I get my books. I keep up on what's out through many print and online sources. But the number of ARCs in my life goes way down and I'm out there buying books at all these other bookstores. Civilian life.

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crowingbook to crow about    not the best or the worst    special type of book special creative design    p no enjoyment, but no warts




american boytoo much magicmountain view cemeteryboxer beetlethe landedarthur & george

crowing American Boy by Larry Watson (F/246p) 9.30.11

Montana 1948 and Justice were both fine reads, so when I caught wind that Larry had a new book coming out...I had my eyes open for it...and grabbed it ASAP. This was a really fine coming-of-age story that was told in a very straight-forward and simple style, but one that pulled you in and got you involved quickly. On a superficial level—it has wonderful cover and all together is a great looking book!

Another beautiful printed book that will be reduced to cold electronic letters and sentences on some e-reader...for those inclined towards technology and cheapness, before art and pleasure.


  Too Much Magic: Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech by Jason Benlevi (NF/373p) 9.29.11

We got a chance to hear the author at Book Inc. and he certainly has his opinions and some very valid points when it comes to the tech effects of our modern lifestyle.


  Mountain View Cemetery by Dennis Evanosky (NF/112p) 9.28.11

This has become one of my favorite cemeteries and when we went for one of their many guided tours and saw they had a book on Mountain View Cemetery—I was sold.


Boxer Beetle by Julian Barnes (F/246p 9.24.11
Why yes, the plot does involve beetles and boxers. And the plot goes here and the plot goes there.


The Landed by Tim Pears (F/230p) 9.21.11

A very interesting book structure: police accident (report with pictures), counselor's thoughts, prosthetic fitter's thoughts, Owen's remembrances, and that long, hallucinatory trip to death...or was it?


Arthur & George by Julian Barnes (F/445p) 9.19.11

How can you go wrong with Julian Barnes? Certainly not with this novel.

the other walkthe leftoverspulsetrain dreamsteslathe wild trees

The Other Walk: Essays by Sven Birkerts (NF/175p) 9.16.11

I read a fine review, I found myself at a bookstore, I saw it, I bought it, I'm enjoying.

"Birkerts on reading fiction is like M.F.K. Fisher on eating or Norman Maclean on fly casting. He makes you want to do it." - Jonathan Franzen


The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (F/355p) 9.14.11

Where did all these people go?


Pulse: Stories by Julian Barnes (F/227p) 9.9.11

This was a truly fine collection of short stories.


crowing Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (F/116p) 9.6.11

This was great fun. It's Denis Johnson's newest, a novella that reads like a dream—the way a car drives like a dream. The ride was too short, but the writer's engine was purring on all cylinders.
...more soon


Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney (NF/354p) 9.5.11

I felt the need for more Tesla...and I found it. This is a reprint of a title from 1981, but it worked for me. I' got to read the familiar story, when, as a bed-ridden child, he asks his father if he got well, could he study engineering, and not the clergy. His dad says, Yes, and Tesla recovers, and spends the rest of his life following his love of science. This man could be the model for the classic mad scientist.


The Wild Trees by Richard Preston (NF/294p) 8.31.11

A fear of heights and a desire for earthly safety have kept me out trees over 350 feet tall all my life. Reading the opening chapter of The Wild Trees gave me such a fright, in the same way several of the high-climbing parts of Into Thin Air got me. Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating.



rebel booksellerstrange case of edward goreythet called me madsense of an endinghouse of holesthe astouding, the amazing,and the unknown


Rebel Bookseller - Why Indie Businesses Represent Everything You Want to Fight For, From Free Speech to Buying Local To Building Communities by Andrew Laties (NF/313p) 8.29.11

Maybe not the book for every reader, but I charged through this revised edition of a fascinating look at independent bookselling and the American retail landscape. I don't agree with some of the conclusions made here, but the writers have hit the mark on much of what makes up this look at the book industry. I will have much more to say on this once I collect my thoughts...they do need some serious collecting. 


special type of book The Strange Case of Edward Gorey by Alexander Theroux (NF/166p) 8.25.11

I'm a huge fan of the late, great Edward Gorey and this is a fine source for much about the man, as well as many photos and illustrations of his work. The structure of the book and the writing aren't completely to my liking, but I'm learning a great deal of Gorey detail, from a man who knew him for over thirty years. The book has a beautiful look, feel, and smell about it.


They Called Me Mad by John Monahan (NF/289p) 8.24.11

One thing leads to another.

One book leads to another.

Reading the recent novel The Astounding, The Amazing, and the Unknown, got me interested again in science, and specifically, Nikola Tesla. He is featured in They Called Me Mad. I get my Tesla fix, and so much more. The book's subtitle is, Genius, Madness, and the Scientists Who Pushed the Outer Limits of Knowledge, says so much. Beware those happy with the norm and the known, MAD Scientists can change it all.

Within this fine book, you get:

• ancient Archimedes and his Eureka I've Found it! moment and his many other discoveries

• the massive discoveries of the world's first great scientist, Isaac Newton

• learn about the beginnings of surgery with John Hunter and the grave robbers that supplied his subjects

• my man, Nikola Tesla, and his work on energy, the beginnings of robots, florescent tubes, and what lead to a particle beam weapon

• learn about massive discrimination dealing with Marie Curie and her personally deadly, groundbreaking work with radioactivity   

• who pops into most minds when they think genius—Albert Einstein and his amazing abilities to explain the unexplainable with a scarp of paper and his truly unique mind, an example of a man at a boring job changing the world

• Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project

• Germany to US transplant (fascinating store in itself) Wernher von Braun with his V2 and Saturn rockets, that killed thousands and took man to the surface of the moon.

The author is a science teacher in Baltimore, and while that puts the excitement for science front and center, the book doesn't explore (as much as I would have liked) into the effects of these scientists upon their society and the entire world. Yet, there is much that I really enjoyed about this book. I feel that it was a concise and compelling look at the mad scientists who have so changed our world. It's by no means just science facts and figures  regurgitated on the page, these giant figures are rounded out nicely into brilliant, loving, troubled and flawed people. Take a walk on the MAD side.


crowing special type of book The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (F/150p) 8.21.11

This is a British import that I picked up at Walden Pond Books...they are so good at getting them, especially if they happen to be on the long list for the Man Booker prize. The people at Walden do a great job of getting and promoting the Booker books. The book is a small, special little book. It has a smaller format, is only 150 pages long, has a great cover, and, as a special little touch, the page edges are black...striking effect. Most of the book is a look back on a life by a an elderly man. He finds out some major news about something that happen decades ago, something that had a profound effect on him, and the news shakes his present. This is definitely one of those books that I see myself rereading soon.


House of Holes by Nicholson Baker (F/262p) 8.20.11

Here's the book that's taking up so much of the oxygen in the world of book reviewing. Everyone has to write about the wild sex talk, the wild sex action, all those inventive terms for genitalia, but it's the humor and the creative imagination that entertained me. My mind keep thinking of Kurt Vonnegut's innocent sense of humor and John Updike's fixation on sex. Baker has shown his strong fascination with Updike in his book, U and I. The book is not erotic or titillating, and there is no violent taking...all the sex, and sex play, is consensual. Yes, a man IS willing to gives up his right arm for a huge penis—the procedure doesn't hurt, isn't permanent, and all bodies and body parts have a great, old time. Some of his unique terminology for genitalia, I found hilarious, some rather stupid, but always inventive. There is frightfully little in the way of plotlines that anyone is going to think they've read before. But, as for plot line, they're isn't much that connects this series of short chapters together, other than subject. There are some reoccurring characters, and some characters search out each other to get their genitalia returned, or for love, or for whatever, but the parts of the book mostly screw around constantly, but in isolation from others in the book. I found this a very funny and creative book, one that approached sex in a unique way, and I'm still pondering Baker's reasons and motives. What may he be getting at?


The Astounding, The Amazing, and the Unknown by Paul Malmont (F/416p) 8.19.11wardenclyffe

I'm still thinking about this very interesting novel. It was a page turner. The book's title is simply a combination of some of the major science fiction pulp magazine of the day: Astounding Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, and Unknown. You can't help but have fun when a clever book has the government bringing together (codename - Kamikaze Group) the major science fiction writers of the time, to use their stellar imaginations to create death rays, or whatever genius weapon, for the war effort during WW II. Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Sprague de Camp, and the hilarious L. Ron Hubbard (thrown out of the Navy for attacking Mexico), are the core of the group. The novel is based on facts, but I don't know how far reality and fiction parallel each other...could still be classified for what I know. There is plenty going on here: professional rivalries, enormous battling egos, battling spouses, all those explosions, spies, underground mysteries, travel adventures, disappearing warships, lab experiments, and the major role of Nikola Tesla's powerful work with wireless electrical transmission at his Wardenclyffe Tower...can we say DEATH RAY!? It's all a kick. The writing is a perfect reflection of the times and the world of pulp fiction that these characters, these writers, come from.




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