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book Adventures in a TV Nation
by Michael Moore
Even if you missed some or all of the television shows, Moore's stories will still bring you many smiles and laughs. True to the humorous yet real spirit of his film Roger & Me, he continues to focus on the effects that our "booming" economy has on the non-upper classes.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner . . . title list


book America's Lost Treasure
by Tommy Thompson
For readers of the fine book Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, this is the perfect companion because it gives the reader some great visual treats to go with this incredible story of disaster and discovery. Wonderful period paintings and photographs of the people, the ship, and its sinking are combined with modern photographs of the wreck as it sits on the bottom, as well as the many artifacts that have been removed from that deep blue sea. This richly illustrated book is simply a stunning addition to the story of the tragic loss of the S.S. Central America.
 - John - bookstore founder/owner (4/99)  . . . title list


book ...And the Horse He Rode in On: The People V. Kenneth Starr
by James Carville
Carville probably won't change anyone's opinion, but he does point out many disturbing facts in our $40 million "bargain of entertainment value" the Starr Report. Whatever your feelings are on any of this mess, you just have to laugh at Carville's "subtle" wit.

- John
- bookstore founder/owner . . . title list


book The Art of Happiness
by The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler
The Art of Happiness combines the calm words of the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet with the trained observations of an American psychiatrist. Howard Cutler relays conversations, stories, and meditations in such a way that he brings an understanding analysis of Tibetan Buddhism and its leader to the reader without clinically removing its peaceful soul. The enduring image of the Dalai Lama is that of his beautiful smile. This Nobel Peace Prize winner's smile lights up his entire faceand it quickly appears on the faces of those around him. The book's subtitle, A Handbook for Living, is apt for a book that tells of the purpose of lifehappiness. The Dalai Lama has the ability to connect easily with most everyone with whom he comes in contact, to focus not on the differences that separate us, but to see what it is that we all share. One story that has stayed with me is that of a hotel maid who runs into the Dalai Lama on his way to a meeting, but he stops and takes the time to speak to her. Each day that follows, as the spiritual leader is being lead to other meetings, the maid waits in the same location, but, each day, she bring more and more of her fellow maids to meet this busy man. And, each day, the Dalai Lama takes the time to bow and speak with each of the maids, including many who can' t speak the same language. He's made a spiritual connection with these people as important as any that he will make that day. The Dali Lama's smile and laugh are very contagious.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list


book Ay, Cuba!
by Andrei Codrescu
In Ay, Cuca!, Romania-born author and NPR personality Andrei Codrescu tells about a twelve-day trip to Cuba, but he doesn't write about hotels, restaurants, and sites to see. The trip was on the eve of Pope John Paul's historic visit to Cuba and his famous meeting with Castro, but he doesn't write much about that either. He has concentrated this book more on the lives of the Cuban people. Ay, Cuba! is more a very humorous telling of a fascinating journey through politics, culture, religion, eroticism, and, seemingly, time. Codrescu's past familiarity with another struggling communist government (Romania) and his present stature as a commentator give the reader a look through an eye that doesn't blink at the special world that is Cuba in the 1990's. It's a world were the Cubans want aspirin and American T-shirts almost as much as the tourists crave Cuban cigars.

Andrei Codrescu has a great way of getting involved in situations that make for interesting reading. In an attempt to learn about the women on the streets, he befriends a woman, and, while he doesn't have the expected sexual experience (because she becomes ill), he does learn something. Comforting the ill, naked woman, Codrescu tells her how beautiful and sensual he finds heras he does most Cuban women. He's told that most American men feel that way. She coldly explains that it' s because, in this struggling country, most Cubans eat so poorly that they're near starvationand, sadly, Americans find this look sexy on women. Another adventure is when he looks into Santeria and a confused and stripped-down Codrescu finds himself being beaten with a live chicken in a religious ceremony. There are some great pictures, by David Graham, of the people, the buildings, and the great old American cars that not only still run, but they've evolved into some strange new Cuban art form. These images are a colorful compliment to a book that is an interesting and humorous look into a society officially closed to Americans.
- John - bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list


book Beer-Can Chicken
by Steven Raichlen

I’m not especially into cooking books, but this summer I found a great one: Beer-Can Chicken. In this masterpiece, grilling genius and author of the Barbecue Bible series, Steven Raichlen unveils his greatest culinary triumph, the fabulous Beer-Can Chicken. This foolproof recipe will have even the world’s worst cooks slow-roasting chicken to perfection on their own backyard barbecues. With a host of other recipes, all based on this simple idea, this book will keep you going for months. Simply place the chicken on the beer can, set your timer and get ready to taste some of the best chicken you’ve ever had--no joke!!! (Hint: you can do beer-can turkey too
.)
-
Jed
- a former bookseller (8/02) . . . title list


book Berryman's Shakespeare
by John Berryman
I have always been fond of John Berryman, the wonderful poet of Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, those archaic sonnets, and, of course, the glorious Dream Songs. There is a lovely, lonely sadness in Berryman: you feel it underlying his poetry; you see it in his eyes, especially in the later photographs. Even at his greatest success, he carries the overwhelming weight of his failure. Berryman is also the writer of what might have been, and the newly collected critical work, Berryman's Shakespeare, is a great example of lost promise.

John Haffenden, one of Berryman's finest biographers, has assembled Berryman's writings on Shakespeare -- the plays, the poems, and the man, all of which Berryman considers inseparable. To call the poet an astute critic is a vast understatement: Berryman's ear alone is incredibly impressive, his attention to language extraordinary. He is a critic of nuance and subtlety, who has no qualms defending not just line readings, but extended readings of a single word, often a single word found in a quarto but missing from the folio. He is passionate, intelligent, daring in his willingness to follow and disprove his own theories, and maddeningly incomplete.

Berryman worked on his various Shakespeare projects throughout his life, but he never completed any of them. The rigors of teaching, writing his own poetry, and trying to pull and keep his life together made everything he did an interruption of everything else. He hoped to make Shakespeare accessible to everyone by producing a work as strong as his mentor's Mark Van Doren (whom he surpasses) and as lucid and complete as Harold Goddard (whose work Berryman approaches but does not match because the texts remain painfully incomplete). Berryman's Shakespeare reminds us of the great intelligence of this wonderful poet and teacher but, once again, leaves us sighing and musing about what could have been.
- Michael
- a former bookseller (6/99) . . . title list


book Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew
No longer an untold story, this history of our country's submarine war of espionage against the former Soviet Union has been brought to the surface. At first, a certain amount of disbelief haunted this reader about these massive nuclear subs being used as spooks to spy, invade territorial waters, and so much more. But, as you realize the incredible amount of research, study, and interviews of former American, British, and Soviet Union military and specialized civilian personnel that went into this book, you know it's got to be true; but it's still unbelievable. Not only is it unbelievable that our military was doing these things, but that they got away with doing them.
The submariners were driven to the edge of their abilities executing some of these amazing missions. They were trailing the noisier Soviet subs for days, undetected and separated by just a few inky dark feet of deep ocean water. More incredibly, these subs were finding and tapping into military communication cables buried deep under the inner coastal waters of the Soviet Union. And, until their plans we re discovered, they had planned to tap another cable and run their own undersea cable all the way to Greenland, so we could listen in on the military secrets of our former cold war enemy.

The naval base at Mare Island, the wild times releasing tension at the Horse and Cow bar (that former landmark beside Interstate 80), and the short time with their families were the only diversions some of these men had from these nerve racking missions. Once, one of our subs had to hold its position near a huge Soviet naval base (at extreme risk of detection) while the leaders of our two countries held talks on major nuclear disarmament. Those talks proved inconclusive, and, within minutes, our sub was ordered to invade the base's waters and attach another bug to an underwater cable. The war of espionage war continued.

One interesting literary sidebar was when Tom Clancy checked with the Navy to make sure he wasn' t giving away too many military secrets in his book The Hunt for Red October. It turned out that Clancy had given the military more capabilities than it possessed - so they happily approved the book so as to give the Soviets even more misinformation and worry.

Politics is a large part of this story. Without the fall of the Soviet Union, it would have been impossible to write much of this book - the access to military records (U.S. and Soviet) changed along with the geopolitical situation. Blind Man's Bluff is a fascinating history of a "cold war" that could have turned very "hot," very quickly, because of the extreme chances our subs were taking for some very questionable reasons.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list


book Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future
by Jason Epstein

I was reading a book (Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future by Jason Epstein) the other day (a daily habit that is rumored to keep the doctor away) and came across the following passage that seemed to fit this time and place.

"Nonetheless, a civilization without retail booksellers is unimaginable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader. But to compete with the World Wide Web, bookstores of the future will be different from the mass-oriented superstores that now dominate the retail marketplace. Tomorrow’s stores will have to be what the web cannot be: tangible, intimate, and local; communal shrines, perhaps with coffee bars offering pleasure and wisdom in the company of others who share one’s interests, where the book one wants can always be found and surprises and temptations spring from every shelf."

This is a fascinating look at the last 50 years of American publishing from a major figure in the history of Random House and Doubleday. While I find some of his glorification of the future potential of e-books rather inflated and improbable, his knowledge of the business of publishing and the bookselling marketplace is wide-ranging and most interesting. Book Business is a short and thought provoking book on books.

- John
- bookstore founder/owner (3/01) . . . title list


book Business @ the Speed of Light
by Bill Gates
Yes, I read Bill Gates! It was a cover-to-cover experience in which I learned some things and was disgusted by others. There are some insights about our society mixed in with all the details about establishing an efficient "digital nervous system" for businesses and organizations.

Gates may be no Hemingway, but his co-writer,
Collins Hemingway, certainly can claim to be one.
YOU SEE, RIGHT THERE, that bad joke must be
some residual geekiness left over from this exposure to Bill Gates.
My wife would say noI 'm simply a dweeb. Now, we'll return to this review.

All the money and power that comes into Bill's hands is because he's someone who is able to take full advantage of our society at this particular point in time. If information is power, and the person with the most organized information wins, no wonder people listen to Bill Gates. Business @ the Speed of Light is centered on converting all information into a digital form so that it can be easily collected, analyzed, used, and shared. The concept of sharing becomes interesting when Gates/Hemingway write about profiting from this information. Aren't many profits made because of an advantage, one created by not sharing information? Oh, sorry, my innocence was showing. Throughout the book, there are examples of successful businesses using this technology. Microsoft, as should be expected, is often the example. While there is some obvious face-saving by Gates for some of Microsoft's mistakes, and he doesn't mention the federal government's antitrust suit, as a computer/business book, there is much to learn here.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner (6/99) . . . title list


book Custom of the Sea
by Neil Hanson
Like the last scrap of food in a leaking lifeboat on an empty sea, this book is just dying to be devoured at once. The setting is the Victorian England of 1884, and the heart of the story concerns how this civilized society chooses to deal with one of its unspoken taboos. What Captain Tom Dudley and his three remaining crew members did in their small boat, after 24 days adrift with only two small tins of turnips and no fresh water, was not talked about, but it certainly wasn't unheard of either. What they did was kill and eat the weakest member of their small crew.

It all happened off the coast of Africa, after the ship that they were to have delivered to England from Australia went down in a terrifying storm. The significance of this survivors' tale is that these sailors were made the scapegoats of their timeused as examples of why a new law was needed to "clean up" this "messy" behavior. They were dragged through the courts and thrown into prison. The last scrape of history, and a key piece of evidence, that I'll reveal about this "trial of the century" (OJ for the 1800's)is that they didn't draw straws. Captain Dudley decided that a sick young man already close to death would be the one to keep his surviving mates alive. Hanson has put together an absolutely devastating book, containing a gripping story of cruel seas and rough men, and a society show trial that attempts to shove even further under the carpet the harsh realities of what desperate men at death's door are capable of doing to stay alive.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner (5/01) . . . title list


book Direct From Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry
by Michael Dell
How would a short history of Michael Dell read? In 1983, he was a freshman at the University of Texas, in the premed track, but fascinated with computers. Presently, he's the CEO of Dell Computer Corporation, the $18 billion second largest manufacturer and marketer of computers in the world. A driven man, he drove himself to college in his own BMW, bought with his earnings from selling newspaper subscriptions. He soon realized that his passion, future, and fortune were in computers.

The book's title is apt for his company. First, using a phone center and, then, an Internet website, Dell skipped over the middlemen (the retail arena) and went direct to the customer. Del's website now sells more than $12 million of computers daily, but, more important to this business model, the website gathers and elicits millions of pieces of information about what his customers want or don't want in their next computer and how they want to shop for it. Dell uses this information to grow his business. This is that Information Age that I remember reading about in my Weekly Reader in grade school. The book is interesting, the man clearly driven, the growth unbelievable, but the business model is very foreign to me, an independent bookstore owner in the 1990's.
- John - bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list


book Double Fold: Libraries And The Assault On Paper
by Nicholson Baker
In this fascinating work of nonfiction, Baker shows how American libraries have been neglecting to perform their primary function: to preserve paper. In this passionate expose on the practice of replacing newspaper archives with microfilm, Baker makes a brilliantly persuasive argument. Double Fold is a National Book Critics Circle Award winner
.
- Jed - a former bookseller (8/02) . . . title list


book The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
by Caroline Alexander

Shackleton himself has told his version of his expedition to be the first (in an era when it seemed that everyone was striving to be the FIRST explorer to accomplish something) to cross the Antarctic continent. Maybe the distance in time that Caroline Alexander brings to the story of this failed attempt in her book, The Endurance, is what makes it even more powerful. She doesn't have to worry about anyone's ego or politics when she tells this story now.

Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, never even got to land, but was trapped in the ice and then crushed by the brutal force of that ice flow that carried the ship and its men hundreds of miles away from their destination. His brave men lived for almost two years, from December of 1914 to August of 1916, either on the ship, trapped on the moving ice, in small lifeboats, or on an uninhabited island.
Their captain certainly made many mistakes, but nobody could ever fault him for how much he cared for his crew. Shackleton's unbelievable 800 mile journey in one of the ship's small boats through some of the world's worst weather, in order to save his men, is still regarded as one of the greatest navigational feats ever.

The Endurance is also very striking to the eye because of the many haunting black and white pictures that were taken by the expedition's photographer, Frank Hurley. His photos were to help pay for so me of the huge expenses that were incurred. This has been a very popular book here at the Next Chapter ... take a look.
- John -
bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list


book Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

In Flow, University of Chicago Professor of Pyschology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi outlines his revolutionary concept of a mental state he calls Flow: a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity. He aims to prove that the way to happiness is not in mindless entertainment but in the active, mindful state of Flow.
- Jed
- a former bookseller (8/02) . . . title list


book Greene & Greene Time
If you love architecture, take a look at these two major books out on the brothers Greene. Charles and Henry Greene only worked together from the turn of the century to the 1920's, but their designs have become legendary. The beautiful woods, the superb craftsmanship, the Japanese influences, the lines of the stained glass, and their incredible attention to detail all gave a unified look and feel to their designs. Their style was truly art as architecture and architecture as art. The author of GREENE & GREENE MASTERWORKS, Bruce Smith, is an expert on the Arts and Crafts style, and he does a fine job telling the history and other significant details about the 25 masterpieces of architecture that are featured in the book's photographs by Alexander Vertikoff. With this book, it's the first time that any photographs of several of these homes have been shown. The book also showcases natural woodwork that has been liberated from the many coats of white paint that were applied in the 40's and 50's. Smith does an excellent job of defining and describing the elements that make up what is central to a Greene & Greene design. Randel Makinson has written several of the major books on the Greenes, but, with GREENE & GREENE: THE PASSION AND THE LEGACY, he has truly outdone himself. This book is stunning to look at and contains such a mass of interesting information that a Greene & Greene fan couldn't be disappointed.
My advice is to buy both books.
- John - bookstore founder/owner . . . title list


book Harvest Son
by David Mas Masumoto
From David Mas Masumoto, the farming author of the wonderful book Epitaph for a Peach, comes Harvest Son, another fine book that most aptly has the subtitle Planting Roots in America. His writing is grounded, as is his life, in his farming lifestyle, his Japanese-American heritage, and his family history.

Back in October 1995, The Next Chapter was thrilled to host David "Moss" Masumoto for a talk and book signing for Epitaph for a Peach, and he was so very charming. He had brought his daughter, and they gave just the farmers in the crowd some peach preserves - because Moss felt that any farmer deserved a gift for just continuing to be a farmer.

The eighty acres of peaches and grapes on their Del Rey, California, farm have witnessed Moss's father return from the internment camps of World War II and later Moss's return after his last year of college in Berkeley. His father returned to continue the farming traditions that he had always known, but Moss brought back some different, more organic thoughts. Groundcover and wildflowers now grow between the peach trees, and the soil is cared for with more natural materials than the previous heavy chemical/pesticide/herbicide mix. If you have read Epitaph for a Peach, you know about Moss's struggle to grow and market an old-fashioned peach because of the simple fact that they taste so much better than our modern transport-friendly peaches.

The Masumoto world of fragrant ripe peaches hanging on trees and grapes slowly drying into raisins on paper trays between the rows of vines is always at risk. The threat could come from a disastrous hailstorm, society's prejudices, changes in the Japanese-American community, or that standard and well-known dilemma - a lack of money . But Moss and his family are still all working together, and, because of his mixture of farming and writing, we readers gain a fine writer with a unique voice. The real beauty of Harvest Son is how it shows how much the son values his family's connection to the land.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list


book Home Town
by Tracy Kidder
Home Town takes the reader to Northampton, Massachusetts, to see a small town through the eyes of one of its own -- police sergeant Tommy O'Connor. The heart of Home Town is the honest simplicity of the author's words. Kidder describes real people as they meet on the streets; he doesn't create some overblown sociological case study of "small town America." His writing makes you feel like you're sitting right there at the counter of the local diner listening to the people who come to life in this book.

This small town, like most places, is a community of characters who greet each other with a mix of friendly hellos, threatening glances, social snubs, warm handshakes, and, occasionally, some violence. Tommy O'Connor talks to everyone in such a way that it's clear he's looking out for them. Tommy gives the members of the community options that they can live with when they have a problem with the law.

At one telling point in the book, Tommy figures that he and one other resident literally know everyone in town. He also estimates that he has arrested about 10% of his high school classmates. Tommy is constantly thinking about breaking free and attempting to get into the FBI. But, while he is comfortable and confident in Northampton, he isn't at all sure about the changes that would come with leaving town.

The straightforward style of this book makes me feel that I've actually spent some time in Northampton. I want to go back to see how these people are doing now. You should go for a visit to Tracy Kidder's Home Townit may remind you of your own.
- John
- bookstore founder/owner (6/99) . . . title list


book Isaac's Storm
by Erik Larson
This true story of the most deadly hurricane to ever hit the United States makes for some fascinating reading, much along the lines of The Perfect Storm and parts of Ship of Gold. The details of the storm and the "science" of weather predictions of that period are most interesting. It was September of the year 1900 and the fledgling U.S. Weather Bureau's station in Galveston, Texas, knew a storm was coming - they just didn't know how devastating a storm it would be for the low-lying island. This was a time when man was feeling pretty cocky about how he had "conquered" nature and any mention of serious damage to the city was "an absurd delusion" because of the massive manmade breakwater that protected it. The same heat wave that had lured more than 6,000 people to the city's beach combined with waves of atmospheric turbulence to create an incredible storm that came in from the coast of Africa. It would be the weather predictors in Cuba that would be the first to realize the storm's destructive potential. Isaac Cline and the rest of the Galveston bureau were more concerned with keeping the populace calm than cautious. By the time that they realized that this storm would rival the destruction of the infamous Johnstown Flood and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, it was too late to warn most of the population. The descriptions of an entire lighthouse being pulled off its foundation, an orphanage full of nuns and children being pulled apart are powerful enough, but they weren't the worst. Because the entire island lay so low, once the waters crested and started to destroy the many beautiful homes and businesses, it pushed them as one huge wave of debris across most of the citylike some enormous natural bulldozer getting revenge on its "conquerors." This book created vivid mental image after vivid mental image. Looking back, I remember thinking that some photos would have been great, but the images painted by Larson's words are still as clear to me as anything Kodak could develop.

- John
- bookstore founder/owner (5/01) . . . title list


book James Joyce
by
Edna O'Brien
With James Joyce, Edna O'Brien has written a literary biography that takes a reader quickly and perhaps forever into the center of Joyce's life and work. To be truly involved, of course, one must read Joyce himself, but Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake live on the bookshelf where they can reprove but not intimidate an actual reader. O'Brien's little book may
change that relationship.

She tells us what he was attempting through the years he worked on Ulysses and how he went about his research and his writing. There was endless talk. Lots of collecting stories, even writing home to Aunt Josephine for recollections and for penny songbooks and other authentic materials of daily life. Lots of minute observations of the city of Dublin, much of it stored in his memory and recalled as he lived and wrote in Trieste and Paris. Lots of drinking. And endless poverty and borrowing and moving house.

He drank every night, all the while taking notes on bits of paper; he wrote every day. He never left Nora, the country girl who somehow survived her life with him; and he was devoted to Giorgio and Lucia, their children.

O'Brien uses Joyce's own words, and other quotes, weaving them into her narrative. She absolutely avoids words like obsession or alcoholism that would be medical and judgmental, and causes a reader to wonder how close to the brink Joyce was principally when she writes about Lucia and her madness. Throughout, O'Brien writes as though none of this were over and done with. She is discovering and then magically revealing the best glimpses she can find of the writer's daily struggles, his working life and his works.

What is clearly not over and done with is Ulysses. It's at the top of most lists of 100 best books of the century. But it is the mesmerized reader of O'Brien's biography who will not be able to let James Joyce go: Ulysses will have to come down from the bookshelf.
- Marilyn - customer  (1/00) . . . title list


book King of the World
by David Remnick
David Remnick has centered his new book on Muhammad Ali, King of the World, around the title fight between Ali and Sonny Liston. The reader is given a short history of the fight game and the ways it had been promoted and fought. Organized crime was a major player throughout boxing and was involved with Liston from an early age. The story of Sonny Liston's upbringing was a tough one. He was one of twenty-five children from a very abusive father. Sonny had just a very few years of schooling and quickly became a bully, a thug, and a criminal.

When Cassius Clay entered the fight game, he did things differently. His childhood was often spent near a Bible, he didn't smoke or drink, and, as a very young boxer, he was backed by a group of white businessmen. The fun-loving Clay became Muhammad Ali only after he had the title belt, but the influence of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and the Black Muslims had been in his corner for some time.

David Remnick does an excellent job of showing how much Ali was a reflection of a turbulent time. It was a time when change was so common in America that the word revolution was in use constantly. This new fighter not only fought differently, but he certainly talked differently. His opinions and beliefs were no secrets. His poetry was bad, but, with his words and his pretty face, he perfected an entirely new way to promote his fights, his beliefs, and himself. The mob, the United States government, racism, nothing seemed to be able to contain Ali, to restrain this boxer, this entertainer, the most recognized face in the world the - "King Of The World."
- John
-
bookstore founder/owner (4/99) . . . title list

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