home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore traveler | book awards     24books.org
east bay basement
journal #3 East Bay basement August 30, 2009 to February 20, 2010

Our last bookstore closes and we're looking for work as we explored the bookstores of the East Bay. These are some mighty fine stores and were finding plenty to read between the very newest titles on their shelves AND all those books we have in all our boxes. We never travel light - just ask anyone who has ever helped us move.

   more book journals
what's John reading NOW?      Vicky's Page

crowing  a book to crow about—a stand out book      not the best or the worst    p   this just didn't do much for me—but no warts


solarcity of thievesapparation & late fictionsnoah's compassdarwin slept hereday out of days

Solar by Ian McEwan (F) 2.20.10


City of Thieves by David Benioff (F) 2.13.10


Apparition & Late Fictions by Thomas Lynch (F) 2.6.10


Noah's Compass by Anne Taylor (F) 2.2.10


Darwin Slept Here by Eric Simons (NF) 1.31.10


Day Out of Days by Sam Shepard (F) 1.23.10

in the wake  braided creekthe anthologisthomes of the master wood artisansthe farmer's daughter

In the Wake by Per Petterson (F) 1.15.10


Braided Creek by Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser (P) 1.12.10


The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (F) 1.8.10


Homes of the Master Wood Artisans by Tina Skinner & Steven Paul Whitsitt (NF) 1.5.10


The Farmer's Daughter by Jim Harrison (F) 1.2.10



End of 2009 - Book Journal Numbers
69 books read / 41 works of Fiction &  28 works of Nonfiction
Let's see, I have more numbers from my journal - a total of 17,577 pages read - average book 255 pages long.
It was a low book read - too many late nights and not enough reading time.

look at the birdieher fearful symmetrylast night in twisted river a sack of teeth    talking to the dead    the writing life      


Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut (F) 12.29.09


Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (F) 11.20.09


Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving (F) 11.8.09


A Sack of Te eth by Grant Buday (F) 10.30.09


Talking to the Dead by Helen Dunmore (F) 10.28.09


little crow The Writing Life edited by Marie Arana (NF) 10.26.09


            loving frank    out stealing horses  secret historynogfallen founder   wonderland   

  Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (F) 10.23.09


little crow  Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (F) 10.17.09 


book The Secret History by Donna Tartt (F) 10.15.09 


book Nog by Rudolph Wurlitzer (F) 10.12.09 

Yes, he's one of those Wurlitzers - this is a reissued novel from the 1960's - it lead Thomas Pynchon to blurb it with ... "The Novel of Bullshit is dead."


book Fallen Founder - The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg (NF) 10.10.09


book Wonderland - The Zen of Alice by Daniel Doen Silberberg (NF) 10.5.09 - intriguing


 sister  little stranger wearing dad's head  slothhomer & langley     socialism      

  The Sister by Poppy Adams (F) 10.3.09


little crow The Little Stanger by Sarah Waters (F) 10.1.09 - splendid

Wearing Dad's Hat
by Barry Yourgrau
(F) 9.28.09  
This is a re-reading of this very bizarre and unique group of short, short stories and while it may not have wowed me as it has in the past, it's still a special collection that will take the reader wide and far. Many of these pieces are only a page or two long, but Yourgrau can fit a lot of strange in a very small space. So many of the stories involve his parents that I wonder if he has some issues with them. The author is a performance artist and filmmaker as well and has a website at www.yourgrau.com. I would read them again in a few years. They did get me motivated to write a few shorts of my own. Some day I may share some of mine.


The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage (F) 9.26.09


little crow Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow (F) 9.23.09

I simply loved this book! I finished it a little after midnight one night and thought to myself "Man that was GOOD - I think I will read it all over again." So I did, and finished it the next day. This is such a fine novel based on the two extremely eccentric brothers who lived in a stately NYC mansion, a rather rundown mansion, a rather rundown and stuffed full of newspapers, books, and over 100 tons of other 'stuff' mansion. All these tons of 'collectables' were gathered over the decades by the one brother, Langley,  who ventured out into the city. His brother, Homer, was blind and lived for music - in the novel. Vicky had read My Brother's Keeper, a much older novel on the same brothers years ago and loved that book. I remember reading about them in New Yorker magazine years ago, as well. Doctorow has taken some liberties with the facts, like which brother is older, what were their aliments, and when did they pass on. E.L. keeps them alive through the Vietnam War, hippies and more, but it all works so well. There is quite a bit of self-reflection about whether if one or maybe both of them have lost their minds, but they keep on keeping on. The level of paranoia climbs. The once wealthy family is found to still have some money, yet are far behind in their debts to the power company, grocers, the mortgage and more. You may remember the Collyer brothers for the way they died - Langley buried (because of his own booby-trap) under the huge piles of newspapers and books that reached the ceiling and Homer starved to death, waiting for Langley to arrive with his next meal. I find the true story oh so fascinating, and in the hands of a master like Doctorow, the novel is wonderfully written. He creates such a wonderful atmosphere of the different time periods, the brothers' serious introspection, and the amazing bizarre lives they end up living. The ending is superb and reading Joyce Carol Oates New Yorker review of the book was most annoying because she repeated it word for word!! Why spill it out there? Let people savor it all for themselves, unwarned and let play out as a novel should - as they reach the final words themselves.? This novel is a rare treat.


little crow Socialism - A Very Short Introduction by Michael Newman (NF) 9.17.09

uncle karlThis is one volume of a very large collections of titles on a seemingly endless list of subjects. If the rest are as good as this one - run out a buy whatever subject interests you, because they're incredibly well done. Since high school (just a while back) I have read a long, long list of books on politics, especially on communism and socialism, and this small volume put it all together so well. He covered all the major figures, movements, motivations, factions in a very even handed and complete manner. If you are knowledgeable on the subject you'll be impressed by its completeness, and if you're a novice, be prepared for a good education. His two case studies on the politics of Cuba and Sweden are wonderful contrasts and very illuminating. Newman brings in John Maynard Keynes, FDR, contrasts socialism and the ever-evolving Social Democrats of Europe, and shows how Marx, Engel, Lenin, Mao, Trotsky, Stalin, Castro and so many more figures, all had their followers around the globe. I felt that he clearly showed how like the words of the Bible, so many different brands of politics can rise from the original words of Marx. Believers find what they are searching for in Karl's words.

hatchet jobs   sag harbor   king dork


  Hatchet Jobs by Dale Peck (F) 9.15.09

If you're looking for someone who loves to skewer writers, to stick a fork in them and TWIST - this could be a great book for you. I found reading it cover to cover to be too much negativity. Why yes, he makes some very valuable points on his subjects, he also seem to contradict himself within the same piece - just for the pleasure to attack an author from both sides. He writes of taking these writers on because they have disappointed him, because he expects so much from them. He only has positive things to say about Vonnegut, Mailer, Updike, Roth and Rebecca West, but comes back at them a other times. I'm aware that no writing is 'perfect' but come on. Apt title.



  Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead (F) 9.12.09
This was a better than average novel that brought me to a fresh place. That place was the Hamptons with a whole group of black families that came out from NYC for their summers. Some of these teenage boys had a lot of freedom as their parents sometimes only came out on the weekends. Every time that I started to think of an Updike, or a Russo novel on the sand of Cape Cod, I was back these black kids having their fun on different sand. Most of the book is a look back at the summer that Benji is fifteen and has his adventures with his friends, but my interest lagged many times and the writing didn't seem as strong as other titles of his that I've read.

King Dork by Frank Portman (F) 9.4.09

The angst of high school fills this YA novel. That could be just too much distant for my mind to cross, but this book didn't really cut it for me. Nerds and outsiders that spend a great deal of time thinking up names for their band that has never played a gig don't seem much entertainment. The style seemed flat and bored in study hall somewhere. It does get a little more interesting when we start to explore a little into his dad's death as a cop. There's a little detective work going towards the end of the novel, but not a lot of findings. The cover and the contents of King Dork are fixated on Catch in the Rye and how ever teacher our main character has wants to assign it again and again. An amusement to me, was that when he was given one of those tests to find a possible profession, it came up priest, and that got him the nickname Chi-Mo - for child molester. Now that seemed like high school. But please no more lists of band names.



   home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore traveler | book awards | to the top