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Author Topic: 2013 books in 2013  (Read 11981 times)

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Bubba McBubba

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2013 books in 2013
« on: January 01, 2013, 12:43:55 PM »

Aim high, I say.

1: "BFI Film Classics: Chinatown" by Michael Eaton

Bought this at Half-Price Books at the same time I bought the BFI entry on "The Big Sleep".  I was greatly let-down by the other book, but found more merit in the entry on "Chinatown".

Eaton has considerable knowledge of both the film's production and the real-life "water wars" of Southern California in the early 20th century that inspired the screenplay.  The author also points out some curious visual "rhymes" (to use his verbiage) throughout the movie that I never noticed before, such as how the bullet that kills Evelyn takes out the eye that she earlier pointed out has a flaw in it.  Or how Jake's encounter with the sudden rush of water released one night makes him lose a shoe--just like Mulray appears when he is found dead on the beach.

Admittedly, the insights found here are nothing startling, but these minor insights do provide some additional illumination on aspects of the movie that are otherwise easy to overlook.  The author's prose leans towards the dry and academic, but I think nothing less is expected from the British Film Institute.

Recommended?  Yes
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 12:45:44 PM by Bubba McBubba »
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MissKitty

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2013, 09:12:21 PM »

1. Friends Like These - Danny Wallace

Danny Wallace is turning 30 and mildly freaking out about it. He discovers an old address book in a box of things sent to him by his folks, and embarks on a soul seeking journey to reconnect with the twelve mates listed in the book. His search leads him all over England, as well as several far-flung countries - all for friends he hasn't seen in 15-25 years. He has a lot of fun and good laughs along the way, and we are lucky to be able to enjoy the ride. A great read to kick off the new year.

2. A Lucky Child - Thomas Buergenthal

I couldn't remember if I'd read this or not, so went ahead and downloaded it from the library. As it turns out, yes, I had read it before, but it was worth rereading. The author was only 10 years old when he and his parents were sent to Auschwitz. He and his father were able to stick together for awhile, and his father protected him as best he could, but eventually they were separated during a surprise SS "selection." He never saw his father again. After eluding death on several occasions - including as a participant in the Auschwitz Death March, where he developed severe frostbite to his feet - he was finally liberated from Sachsenhausen concentration camp by Russian soldiers. An amazing story.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 07:42:30 PM by MissKitty »
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c-lando

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 08:57:05 AM »

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Cockney Rebel

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 01:02:38 PM »

1 • Bodhi Oser - Fuck This Book
Christmas stocking book of photos where contributors have stuck the word "fuck" over other words on signs. Funny for a few pages then I began to lose the will to live as the photographs didn't even try to be funny.
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cyclone

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2013, 10:54:08 PM »

1. How Music Works by David Byrne

Hard to categorize what this book was, exactly.  A very straightforward part memoir, part random thoughts about musical creativity/industry from a pseudo-historical context.  I thought it was going to be a rather long read from the beginning chapters in which the writing style was expectantly almost disingenuous at times, but it picked up.  If I wasn't a huge Talking Heads fan I'm not sure that would have been the case for the casual reader, and it was hard to be engaged a lot of the time.  I think such a book focusing more on Byrne's life as a performer (rather than being delegated to a few select chapters early on) might have been a better strategy and ultimately a lot more satisfying in this context -- but the book tries to paint too broad in being revolutionary covering everything, leading to wacky chapters like a brief history of the phonograph record and it's relation to today's technological advancement and the like.  Obviously to the former point, Byrne doesn't strike me as the type to pen the trite, stereotypical "aging musician" biography, but I think the approach he took was just too broad to really capture the momentum he was hoping for.  For big Heads fans like myself this is obviously highly recommended, the anecdotes about the creation of albums like Remain in Light, the working with Brian Eno and even the early formation of the band was obviously a thrilling read.  For the opposite reader, not so much.  The philosophizing about the industry ultimately seemed to fall pretty flat to me and I would imagine it coming off rather self absorbed and bland to a lot of people.

2. Junkie by William S. Burroughs
3. Queer by William S. Burroughs
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Jen

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 09:48:40 AM »

1. The House of Velvet and Glass-Katherine Howe

I read Howe's first book last year, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The beginning of The House of Velvet and Glass started off a bit slow but as Howe started adding more characters, I quickly became engrossed. The story centers around Sybil, a 28-year-old woman who society has written off as a spinster, living in Boston in 1915. Her mother and sister died on a voyage back from Europe on the Titanic where her mother had taken her younger sister (who had come out into society) on The Grand Tour. Sybil went from being an adventurous, if practical young woman, into someone very serious after the event. She suffers from a great deal of grief and guilt and starts attending seances on the anniversary of the event of the Titanic in hopes of communicating with her mother or sister. She is given a scrying glass in which you can see events of the past (or future).

The story also interweaves events of her brother's dissolute life after being kicked out of Harvard as well as her father who is a retired shipping owner/captain. There are two interlude story plots that occur in between present day which gives you an idea of her father on his first ship voyage from home and a visit to Shanghai as well as the final night of her mother and sister's life on the Titanic. It was these interludes that originally kept me drawn into the plot because Sybil was a bit uninteresting. She grew on me though; I always felt sympathy but she was a bit boring.

Opium dens, Boston pre-WWI, society, seances...this book has it all. ;)

One thing I found interesting, in the afterward, the author mentions how much a first-class ticket on the Titanic cost: $4,350 (1912) or $90K (today).  :o

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trixi

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2013, 11:19:47 PM »

1.  Son--Lois Lowry
2.  A Street Cat Named Bob--James Bowen
3.  Beyond Courage:  the untold story of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust--Doreen Rappaport
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c-lando

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2013, 09:12:30 AM »

1. "Killing Floor" - Lee Child - my first Jack Reacher book - sometimes I felt smarter than the book, but I still learned quite a bit and was definitely entertained until the finale. I thought the ending just sunk the book.
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Kwyjibo

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2013, 09:51:55 AM »

Definitely not as satisfying as a Scudder novel, was it?  I've read a few of the Reacher books and I like them, but I'd like them more if I hadn't discovered Scudder first.
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c-lando

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2013, 10:07:09 AM »

Definitely not as satisfying as a Scudder novel, was it?  I've read a few of the Reacher books and I like them, but I'd like them more if I hadn't discovered Scudder first.
I think that is definitely the problem. Block has already written the perfect character. But, I did like Reacher's army skills.
On the bright side, I finally bought myself a copy of A STAB IN THE DARK. This will be my last Matt Scudder book (I'm out of order because my library didn't carry this one). I'm looking forward to reading it, but I'm also dreading it. It might sit on the shelf for a while.
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Dan

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 02:02:27 PM »

1. Austin Grossman - Soon I Will Be Invincible


A fun book that is basically a comic book but in novel form. I really enjoyed it even though I have almost zero background in comics. The cover praise said that it hits on every possible comic book cliche, and although I didn't know what they meant when I started the book, I quickly figured it out. It's really a fun read and I recommend it to anyone who remotely enjoys comics.
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MissKitty

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 08:45:10 PM »

1. Friends Like These - Danny Wallace
2. A Lucky Child - Thomas Buergenthal
3. Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography - Danny Baker

A romping read from my husband's favorite British DJ. Baker has led a charmed life (at least in this, the first of his three autobiographical offerings), and I think what is most likeable about him is that he comes across as completely nonplussed and unaffected by his celebrity, and by the number of celebrity encounters he's had. This book spans the first 25 years of his life, which includes a stint working in the grooviest record shop in London, where it was no big thing to sell albums to the likes of Marc Bolan and Elton John. His shop boss gets headhunted By Seymour Stein and goes to work for Sire, where he sends Danny an acetate of his newest signing : The Ramones! The book rollicks on in this fashion, with Danny taking Debbie Harry shoe shopping in London, helping comedian Peter Cook get discounted porn, and winding up writing for NME, quite by default. From there, he's on the road with Ian Dury, rescued from certain death by Kevin Rowland, and getting legless in bars across the country with Mark E. Smith. Oh, and heart be still, he goes to Germany with The Jam.

I anxiously await Book II.

4. Breathitt County - Stephen D. Bowling M.A.

This is one of those Arcadia Press books, supposed to give an historical account while being chock full of photos. Well, it does have some interesting photos, but our loftily degreed writer (sorry, but unless you are writing a thesis or something, there's no reason to stick your degree onto the end of your name. Sure you're allowed, but usually it just signifies you're a wanker) fails miserably to tell any sort of a story about his subject. It's possibly the most disjointed book I've ever read. Bowling touches on several meaty items - such as a prominent "African American" family (his description) who look for all the world like Melungeons and probably were, but since he never touches on their lineage or how or why they were a prominent family, readers are left guessing. Then there are the many references to a big fire on Halloween 1913, which is never fully explained and offers exactly zero newspaper stories or first-hand accounts. It's like the author automatically assumes that everyone reading this book already knows everything that ever happened in Breathitt County. There is no excuse for such an appalling lack of research, especially when many of the photos were courtesy of the Breathitt Co. Historic Society and public library. After reading this book, I did a quick search and found a first-hand account of the Halloween fire on the Breathitt Co. Historic society's website. The account was written in 1953, so there is no reason the author would not have had access to it.

If I was a college professor grading this book as a thesis: F.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2013, 06:31:39 AM by MissKitty »
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daytime drinking

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2013, 06:58:46 PM »

1.  you shall know our velocity!- dave eggers.  good travel book.  didn't care too much for the story itself, but it was entertaining.  could pick it up after a hiatus and not miss a beat
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c-lando

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 02:58:07 PM »

1. "Killing Floor" - Lee Child
2. "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" - Lemony Snicket - this is my first Lemony book. I heard Terry Gross' interview with the author and found him to be very entertaining. He discussed his new "mystery" series during the interview, so I thought I'd check it out. It had it's moments, but the ending is very unsatisfying. I've read many series but none that have ended with such an annoying cliffhanger. Nothing was resolved. ANNOYED.
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cyclone

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2013, 05:52:03 PM »

1. How Music Works by David Byrne
2. Junkie by William S. Burroughs
3. Queer by William S. Burroughs

4. Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970 by Richard Brautigan

I had read some Brautigan years ago and had remembered enjoying In Watermelon Sugar.  There are a ton of (very) short surreal stories here, and the ones that are good I tended to love to death (such as my personal favorite, "Pacific Radio Fire"), the others not so much - mostly because they come off more as just fragments and the prose and wit can be so whimsical elsewhere that it can come off as flat rather easily.  I definitely enjoyed it, and the original cover is really outstanding to boot. 
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