This week we have some Northern Mexico, Maine, Tennessee, Chicago, LA and New York.
There is no Paris, there is no WWII, and there are no Nazis. There are no home repair updates, nor are there any egg trees.
Yes, you are reading You Are What You Read.
No. I don’t know how this happened. But I am oddly comforted by the two references to substance abuse issues.
Let us begin!
John is dedicated this week! “I’m reading a rather strange and interesting book: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño. It was the last novel he wrote before his death in 2003 and it is a tale of four critics in search of a missing novelist in northern Mexico. They cross paths with some very memorable characters and soon come to realize that something dark and sinister is going on. This is an epic tome and it has taken me about 200 pages to get into it, but now that I am, there will be no stopping until the end. It is brilliantly written and utterly absorbing. This novel is considered to be a masterpiece and Bolaño's magnum opus by critics.”
Sweet Ann is reading Lifesaving Lessons: Notes from an Accidental Mother by Linda Greenlaw. “I loved this memoir and the writing style of Ms. Greenlaw. Linda Greenlaw, an avid fisherman, on the Isle au Haut off the coast of Maine, becomes the legal guardian of 15-year-old Mariah. She has never been a mother and assumed that was not in the cards for her. Mariah has come to the island with her ‘uncle’ after fleeing a difficult life in Tennessee. It turns out that her uncle is not a good guy and is doing inappropriate things with his ‘niece’. Mariah needs a place to go and ends up with Linda. Linda's experience with Mariah’s angst is quite humorous but there is tremendous heart in this book. Although Linda is not sure this is the life she wants, she will fight for Mariah and teach her the life lessons she needs. Mariah is unsure about accepting Linda's love and help but eventually she lets her guard down. This book will truly have you cheering for the love of ‘family’. I plan on reading other books written by Ms. Greenlaw.”
Jeanne, of course, two things at once. No need to discuss. It is what it is. “In the car I am listening to Sum It Up by Pat Head Summitt with Sally Jenkins, also the excellent narrator. Pat, the legendary head coach of the University of Tennessee's Lady Vols has recently retired because of the onset of Alzheimer's. Her 38-year coaching career won thousands of victories, a Silver Olympic medal and made an immeasurable difference in the evolution of womens sports. As I write this, we are on our way to Knoxville to join our son, Justin as he graduated from UT! Go Vols! Everywhere else I am reading Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy by David Sheff who first wrote Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. In the first book he searches for answers to how his charming, fun- loving child become a trembling meth addict. In Clean, Sheff offers counsel to parents and loved ones experiencing the tragedy of addiction. This makes for very interesting reading. “
Stephanie is enjoying the offering from our most recent author visit. “After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey looks like a book, but it is so fast and absorbing that you will swear it is a magazine feature. (As Hainey is the deputy editor of GQ, this makes sense.) Hainey’s father, a newspaperman’s newspaperman in Chicago, died when he was 6; the circumstances were vague, bothering Hainey more and more as he grew up. In this book, he sets out on a quest for clarity, starting with an unlikely line in an obituary and spiraling out into the past and present. Think Mike Royko meets John Jeremiah Sullivan, with a truly satisfying ending.”
Pat S. is channeling some California Dreaming and is working on Life at the Marmont by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten. “ Life at the Marmont, written by two men who owned the iconic Hollywood landmark from 1975-1991, is nothing short of a love letter to a revered idol.
Raymond Sarlot and Fred Basten bought the Chateau Marmont after becoming seduced by its' fabled history. Built in 1929, the Chateau Marmont started life above Sunset Boulevard. as a luxury apartment building. Yet the depression soon made that a losing prospect, and it soon became a hotel, which it has remained ever since. In the 90 years plus since opening, it has housed every 'name' actor, writer, director and producer involved in the movie industry. Charlie Chaplin, Robert Benchley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Laurence Olivier, Errol Flynn, Bea Lillie, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Buck Henry . . .the list goes on. But Sarlot and Basten have also followed the lives of the long-time employees who knew where all the bodies were buried-literally and figuratively! In addition to presenting a snapshot of cinema history at any given point in the last century, the life of the hotel also mirrors the socio/political times of 20th c. America-all in all, a most interesting read-and just in time for the Aaron Sorkin mini-series by the same title.”
At the urging of an ardent patron I have started James Salter’s All that Is. This has been touted as his masterpiece and at first I was less than charmed by his writing style but now that I am about 60 pages in I am finding myself sinking into it. Phillip Bowman has just returned from serving our country in World War II and finds himself navigating what was once the WASPish world of publishing in New York. What sold me on this? Salter really knows what he is writing about. These characters are your friends and neighbors if this is your world. So far not a false note has sounded. Even down to the faded beauty that has to repair herself to Silver Hill every couple of years. And you all know how I love institutions like Silver Hill, McClean and Frank Campbell in my books.