Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So Long Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman, author of the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee Navajo Tribal Police crime novels died today in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hillerman was 83 years old. Hágoónee' Tony, my friend.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Review Blog Carnival #3

is up and running at Books, Books and More Books. My review of Michael Kinsley's "Please Don't Remain Calm is included in the carnival along with a boat load of other reviews from many other bloggers. Go take a look!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Please Don't Remain Calm

Provocations and Commentaries
Michael Kinsley

Back in the dark ages of the 1990s, Michael Kinsley was Pat Buchanan's punching bag on the CNN news-talk program Crossfire. The show was so archaic in it's format that the two adversaries would often be seen to smile at one another and shook hands publicly on many occasions.

Kinsley left Crossfire to become the editor of a newfangled magazine on your screen called Slate, something invented by Microsoft. He has since written for real newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and even Time magazine.

Please Don't Remain Calm is a collection of some of Kinsley's writings for all of these various publications dating from 1995 up until 2007. I would guess that another collection won't be appearing until some time in 2020. This will give you plenty of time to work your way through this one.

Many of the early pieces are quite clever and stand the test of time better than a stained blue dress. It is interesting to look back and remember how worked up we all were over issues that seem, frankly, to be trivial by today's standards. Midway through the book we are introduced to the misadventures of George W Bush. Things I would rather forget are on almost every page from that point on.

The book's title is derived from a piece written in 2006, reflecting on the actions of the passengers on United Flight 93 on September 11th 2001. Kinsley concludes that, unlike those passengers, he would have followed instructions and stayed in his seat. I'm not so sure. Those were a random group of ordinary people and hey acted as they did. Why not any other random group, even one including a journalist and bon vivant.

Generally I don't consider these collections of editorials as real books, and this is no exception. It was a bit like reading an out of date blog, except for the anachronistic use of paper as a medium of expression. And no YouTube videos.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book Review Blog Carnival Second Edition

Novel Bloggers

The second edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival was posted this morning at Novel Bloggers. My review of Suze Rotelo's "A Freewheelin' Time" is part of the carnival, along with a plethora of other reviews. Go take a look. Your books to read list will grow.

The next edition will be on Books Books and More Books on October 26th. If you would like to participate, submit your book review at http://blogcarnival.com/bc/cprof_5161.html.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Award Winning Blog

Early this morning I was startled from a deep sleep by a phone call from Sweden . . .

Not really, but Ruthie, at Books Books and More Books,
aka Ruthie's Book Reviews, gave me this nice "I love your blog" award.

Now I'm supposed to pass the award on to some other blogs. I'm going to give it to all the blogs that have volunteered, to date, to host the Book Review Blog Carnival, which I started on a whim about a month ago, and which is taking off like a literary Sopwith Camel. The next edition, only the second to be published, will be featured on the homepage of blogcarnival.com.

That famous, October 12th, edition will be hosted by Novel Blogers, an online book club, hosted by Military Wife. She posts her reviews a chapter at a time and readers discuss the books in the comments section, just like a non-virtual book club, except without the tea and cookies.

Ruthie, at Books Books and More Books is going to host the carnival on October 26th. How awkward of me to be passing the same award right back to her. Ruthie is hereby excused from passing it along, again, to another set of blogs.

Joana's The Symposium will be the host on November 9th. Joana is noted for her brutal honesty. I get enough of that at home, generally, but I enjoy reading her reviews.

Age 30+ A Lifetime of Books
is written by Heather J. She will host the carnival on November 23rd. Heather says that she started to blog in order to have a record of all the books she read during her 31st year on Earth. I sort of got started the same way back in the last millennium. Of course, I had to use a quill pen and parchment, not a nice Macintosh, to record my thoughts.

Imaginary Lands written by Liz, will host the Pearl Harbor edition of the carnival on Dec. 7th. Liz reviews books and movies for a national newspaper in Malaysia. Nice work if you can get it.

Maw Books will host the Dec. 21st, solstice edition carnival. Natasha looks terribly young in he photo, for someone who writes so well.

Bloody-Kisses.org will host on January 4th. Charli apparently likes romance and crime, especially if they are under the same covers, so to speak.

NathanKP at Inkweaver Review has offered to host but it looks to me as if I have neglected to answer him. Whereas I have neglected my duties, therefore by this post, I hereby offer Nathan the opportunity to host on January 18th.

If you write book reviews on your blog, you can join the carnival at http://blogcarnival.com/bc/cprof_5161. If you would like to host the carnival some time in 2009, shoot me an email at the address in the sidebar. I'll try not to lose it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Freewheelin' Time

A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Suze Rotolo

The photo on the cover of this book is instantly recognizable, to persons of a certain age, as the cover photo on the 1963 Colombia Records album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." The author is in fact the young girl shown clinging to the arm of the soon to be famous singer-songwriter. Susan "Suze" Rotolo was a seventeen year old emancipated minor, house sitting a friend's apartment in New York's Greenwich Village when, in 1961, Robert Zimmerman arrived from Minnesota and began to invent the mythical character we know as Bob Dylan.

Rotolo's memoir gives an interesting insight into the process and into the mind of the developing artist that became Bob Dylan. Memory being a tricky thing, however, she begins the book with a disclaimer:

Secrets remain. Their traces go deep, and with all due respect I keep them with my own. The only claim I make for writing a memoir of that time is that it may not be factual, but it is true.

Keeps them with her own what? Dylan like she doesn't say. Like a poet, like Dylan himself, Rotolo's language sometime eludes understanding. This book was definitely not ghost written. I bears the marks of a non-professional, veering from one subject to another unexpectedly, leaving the reader wondering what just happened. Fragmented sentences and abandoned thoughts pepper the narrative. In a perverse way, this is perfect for a memoir about a time spent with this master of evasion and misdirection.

Rotolo was a red diaper baby. The passages that deal with her own family, her involvement with radical politics in the 1960s and her visit to Cuba, as a test of the travel ban imposed on American citizens, could have been expanded into a book themselves, if she had never met Bob Dylan. Another book certainly could be written about the folksingers, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Phil Ochs, Mary Travers, Ian & Sylvia, who wander in and out of her Dylan centered story. The story of her work in the avant-guarde off off Broadway theater could make a third. Perhaps a career as a memoirist is being born here.

What this memoir is, though, is an impression, looking back 40 years in memory, of a time when a young man and a young woman were embroiled in a moment of extreme pressure and confusion and the way that they tried, with difficulty to deal with it. Some things are glossed over and some things are left unsaid.