Friday, November 05, 2010

An old friend visits

The work of James Thurber has meant a great deal to me since I paid a quarter for a copy of The Thurber Carnival at a thrift store almost 25 years ago. Most people had to read "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" or "The Catbird Seat" as part of a college collection or as an assignment in high school. Maybe that's all the Thurber most people need but his work spoke to me immediately and with immediacy. It was smart and funny and literate and snobby and drunken and sad--all qualities to which I aspired. For many years, I would bore most anyone who would listen to me go on (and on and on) about James Thurber. His work turned me on to Perelman, Runyon, Benchley and the rest of the Harold Ross/New Yorker set and changed how I read.

The other night, for the first time in several years, I picked up The Thurber Carnival and am delighted to report it is STILL smart and funny and literate and snobby and drunken and sad. Certainly it is dated and some of the pieces have little in common with our present world nor how humor has evolved since but the writing holds up as truly classic American literature.

The selections, especially those from The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze, knocked me out all over again: Elliot Vereker from "Something To Say", Barney Haller's accented speech and Thurber's fear of 'grotches' from "The Black Magic of Barney Haller", Charlie Deshler 'coming out of the anesthetic' of his wife's charms from "The Curb In the Sky". Still funny, still clever, still beautifully written. I was also quite moved by the longing and loneliness in both The Evening's At Seven and One Is A Wanderer. Thurber is remembered as a writer of humor but he was a hell of a writer, period.

I could go on (and usually do) but instead suggest you, too, dig out your old copy of The Thurber Carnival and give it a read. Or should you come across a copy in a thrift store, spend the quarter.
My guess is you will be rewarded and delighted.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two Coming of Age Tales

Coming of age.

The best
and worst of times, though only in hindsight. Pure Id: everything is the happiest or saddest or most fun or most boring thing ever. Carbonated glands and nowhere to go with them, in my case, at least.

Though some might question my level of maturity--puckishness, my dears, and an irrepressible boyish charm!--I’m fairly certain I came of age years ago. Years and years ago. So why am I still reading about it? Is there a point when I’ll be too old to read and relate to coming of age novels? Is it a timeless genre or is it telling the same story over and over AND OVER again, in different hands with a slightly different perspective? Holden and Huck, Scout and Siddartha. The eventual outcome--isn’t it the same? Losing the child for the adult. The lifelong look back. Loneliness, lewdness (if you’re lucky), liberty.

To wit, two books--one fiction, one non-- that have me thinking about all this. Neither is great, but both are pretty good.

First, Cardboard G-ds: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards by Josh Wilker. Snapshot: small urban 70's family, artsy Mom, ineffectual Dad, beloved older brother. Mom takes on a boyfriend who moves in with the family. Family moves to Vermont to get 'back to the land' and then finds it neither easy nor very rewarding. Big brother tries to grow up, parents and boyfriend fall apart, kid clings to his baseball cards as the only constant in his life.

This is a very sentimental memoir and had I not grown up at the same time collecting the very same cards, I would never have gotten through the book but there was something I could appreciate despite the fact that my own circumstances were nothing like his. My family never divorced, my mother never took on a boyfriend, etc. At the time, I did find a certain sanctity in baseball cards. I traded and flipped with friends. We lusted after cards we needed to complete our teams and speculated how our teams would do and we memorized stats and recited them as we shagged fly balls and played catch for hours in the side yard.

Then something happened. Cards were less important and were replaced by music. Baseball, which had been our social currency, took a backseat to rock, especially punk rock. The Grand Old Game versus Young, Loud and Snotty.

Which brings us to Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned. I was just crazy about Meno’s novel, The Boy Detective Fails about which I gushed in a horrible run-on sentence of a post ( Hairstyles is actually the book before Boy Detective. Truth is, it's a pretty stock coming-of-age tale: Brian, an unremarkable adolescent boy, 'in love' with his best friend, a punk chick who fistfights other girls and parents whose marriage is falling apart around him. Punk rock becomes his life preserver.

However, it succeeds because Meno has a tremendous sense of what, in Yiddish, is called rachmones. (It’s pronounced rachMOness. It doesn’t rhyme with Ramones.) While it defies a literal definition, I’ve always thought of it as where empathy and sympathy meet. Meno gets the sadness inside his characters, the scars they have and their inability to verbalize them despite wanting to scream, “help me! I hurt!” For that alone, I love his work.

I graduated from baseball cards to punk rock, too, so these works struck me between the ears.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Straight Man by Richard Russo

Simply, Straight Man is superb.

To wit, a few examples that left me breathless. Then I will leave you to get your keys, drive to the bookstore (an indie, please), purchase your own copy and get down to reading a brilliant, funny, sad and rewarding work.

This, from page sixteen (!) from a novel almost four hundred pages long about a minor character:

"Looking at Gracie now, you had a hard time remembering the effect of her hiring twenty years ago. She had been like one of those dancers in black fishnet stockings and tails and a top hat, being passed from hand to sweaty hand over the heads of an otherwise all-male revue. As Jacob Rose, then our chair and now our dean, was fond of observing, every man in the college wanted to fuck her, except Finny, who wanted to be her. That was then. I doubt we could hoist her over our heads now. We're not the men we used to be, and Gracie is twice the woman. The sad thing is that anybody has only to look at Gracie (or, in my case, catch a whiff of that perfume) to know she still wants to be that woman. And, hell, we understand. We'd like to be those men."

Four pages later he writes this:
"I had not intended to belittle Gracie. At least not until I got started, after which it felt like the natural thing to do, though I no longer remember why. I don't dislike Gracie. At least I don't dislike here when I think about her. When I'm in one place and she's in another. It's when she's near enough to backhand that backhanding her always seems like a good idea."

I had forgotten what a masterful writer Russo is and I hope I never do again.

Now, go find your keys.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

Some authors write beautifully. Others write sparingly or in a flowery fashion or have a style you can't quite name. Howard Norman writes simply and it works well for his latest, What Is Left the Daughter.

Set in a small Nova Scotia town during World War II, What Is Left the Daughter is really two love triangles laid atop each other and peopled with a small cast of odd but likable characters (the always-blunt Cornelia McTell was my favorite). The author could have written a 'village' novel, one in which we get to know and love the quirky characters of some little town along with their faults, foibles and families, their hopes and heartbreaks.
To his credit, he didn't. What he wrote was a story of murder, obsession, and suicide that is engaging, sad, and funny. It's a story of how people get lost and how they find themselves again.

There were times where it was a little hard to believe--the main character's occupation near the end and the series of coincidences that help shape events were a little too coincidental. Still, this is small beer because the story works. I will be certain to read Howard Norman again.

Favorite line:
"I could write a book--if I could write a book"

Sunday, May 09, 2010

James Beard, Sid the Kid, and Damon Wayans walk into a bar and order a pastrami sandwich...

*A great big mazel tov to author David Sax whose delightful book, Save the Deli, won a James Beard award.  Here's his acceptance speech:  
My two cents, or two cents plain, as it were, can be found here:
Besides, any author who checks the email on his website and then actually replies is okay with me.

*With all the talk about Ipad, Kindle, e-books and their effect on book publishing, let's not forget Google. I thought this informative article gives an idea what's just ahead:
Despite my deep disdain for Messrs Bezos and Jobs, I'm okay with Google taking over the world.  Google founders Larry & Sergey just seem less bloodthirsty.  Maybe I'm a sucker.

*Got a wonderful care package from my friend, Jen, filled with books about hockey and baseball.  Especially since my team, the brilliant Pittsburgh Penguins, are one game away from clinching the second round of the playoffs, I'm all over the hockey titles (More about the baseball books in another post):

First off, a novel by Bill Gaston entitled The Good Body, due out in August from House of Anansi Press.  Hockey-themed and well-blurbed, I'm looking forward to starting it.

Hockey Night in Canada has put out two absolute beauties: By The Numbers: From 00 to 99 and My Greatest Day: 50 People, 50 Great Moments, both by Scott Morrison.  These are fantastic, four-color books loaded with photos, facts, trivia and opinion.  My hockey knowledge increases with each trip to the bathroom.

The Year of the Penguins by Andrew Podnieks is a chronicle of, you guessed it, the winning season that led to their Stanley Cup Championship.  This is a game-by-game analysis of all eighty-two regular season games, as well as a look at the entirely-too-long playoffs and finals.

The capper is My Day With the Cup by Sidney Crosby, captain of the Pens and arguably the greatest hockey player on the planet.  After a team wins, the members of the team get to "take the Cup home", and this is a photo chronicle of Sid the Kid's return to his hometown, Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.  I can honestly say what should have taken 20 minutes to page through took me three days because I kept getting so choked up with emotion.  There is something about Crosby and the team and their incredible season that just gets me right in the ganektagazoink.  Reed Next?  Sentimental?  Who knew?

Go Pens! 

*I leave you with an item of deep concern.  Could this be the fourth horseman of the apocalypse?  If not, it's gotta be damn close:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Books and Bands

If you're like me, and I know I am, I love the rock 'n' roll so here's a marriage of two of my favorite things--the music and the books:

Tuesdays With Morrisey!
The Ben Folds Five People You Meet In Heaven!
HA!  And those are just Mitch Albom titles.   

Got this from my dear friend, the real Joe Pope, fans of Ferris, and thought I'd pass it along.  May you larf long and hard.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Reed Next Round Up

Greetings all.  I took a couple of weeks off as Mrs. Next was on Spring Break and we spent considerable quality time together.  Lovely, of course, but I'm behind so a couple of quick hits before I post on Howard Norman's upcoming What Is Left the Daughter.

* I Tweeted this just the other day but just love the idea of Keef being at the library.  He would certainly bring a bit of swagger to any collection

* Sherman Alexie won the PEN/Faulker aware for War Dances, his last book for Grove, against some serious competition (  As an avid Alexie admirer, I enjoyed it though it was obvious he was moving on to another house.  The short stories collected alongside his poems and lists seemed a mix of contractual obligation and permission to "let the kid do as he pleased" as though this was his last summer at home before leaving for school.  Still, that's not to say I didn't love parts.  He can still a turn a phrase and tell a story with the best of them and his ability to create and flesh out little vignettes of human desperation reminds me of Carver, if Carver were funny. 

* Went to a used bookstore for the first time in what seemed like ages.  I had almost forgotten how enjoyable it was to roam the aisles with no real agenda and just allow the books to present themselves.  While I could have spent far more time and money, I was stingy with both and left with Joe Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned, and two Richard Russo titles, Straight Man and Nobody's Fool.

* Happy to report that Reporting At Wit's End is a delight.  St. Clair McKelway's collection of New Yorker pieces from the 1930's through the 1960's show their age at times but the stories are of a time and place we'll never see again told in a way that captures the spirit, soot and savvy of a New York about which we can only smile and reminisce.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dreaming Deeply with Richard Russo

Just got back from a lovely little affair: a discussion with Pulitzer prize-winning author Richard Russo.   The school where Mrs. Next teaches assigned the brilliant Empire Falls to the eleventh grade and then had him at the school to speak to the kids.  Sadly, I missed his presentation but was able to attend a lunch attended by eight faculty/staff types and Mr. Russo.  While he was peppered with questions, the esteemed author ate a turkey on wheat and pasta salad. 

A few high notes: 

*He just finished editing the next edition of Best American Short Stories.  He spoke highly of work by Wells Tower, Steve Almond, Lauren Groff and Brendan Mathews.

*Work on his next novel begins soon.  That said, it could take him anywhere from a year and a half to six years until it's completed if his track record is examined.

*His daughter is a bookseller at an indie bookstore.  I wish I could explain why this makes me so happy.

*He never pictured Paul Newman as Sully in the HBO adaptation of Empire Falls but as soon as Newman walked toward him on the set, limping in character, he knew it would work out well. 

*A Kindle is a likely purchase for him in the near future.  He's never read a book on one but thinks the ability to have all the books, magazines and papers he reads with him on an upcoming trip to Italy makes sense. 

*After our discussion, he was headed to a local NPR station to be interviewed by Bob Edwards whose featured topic this week is The Future of the Book.

*Favorite quote du jour: "When I read, I want to dream deeply."  

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

I was but a young bookseller when I was given a copy of High Fidelity and was sold immediately on the author's talents.  There have been some peaks and valleys since but I am happy to say Juliet, Naked is my favorite Hornby book since About a Boy

Hornby has always been adept at, and has become expert in, portraying his characters with depth despite their shallowness, honesty despite their self-deceit and the ability to change after hitting bottom.  He has a way of imbuing his characters with a marvelous sense of humanity while also keeping them normal and real and even mundane.  I believe it is this sense of the mundane that makes them so readily identifiable.  Not only do I know Rob from High Fidelity or About a Boy's Will, I am Rob, I have been Will and, in this instance, Duncan and Tucker AND Annie.  (here's a question I've always had: does Hornby write women well?  After all these years, I still can't decide.)

So, to Juliet:  in short, Duncan, a university teacher, worships an obscure American singer/songwriter named Tucker Crowe, whose retirement from music is shrouded in rumor and innuendo, much of it fueled and speculated on by Duncan and his like-minded Internet cohorts.  Duncan and girlfriend Annie long ago lost sight of each other and muddle through life as DuncanandAnnie, a sort of loveless blob, together more by habit than affection.  When Annie strikes up an unusual email correspondence with the reclusive Crowe, everything comes unglued though it doesn't become the sitcom it could in less capable hands.  Fortunately for the reader, Hornby tells a story that is entertaining and emotionally honest and is filled with warmth, growth and humor.

Remember all the hubbub about Hapworth?

Here's how it happened: 

This fantastic piece from New York magazine tells how a small publisher caught the biggest fish of all, J. D. Salinger, and, despite his best efforts, somehow still managed to let him get away. 

Heartbreaking but true to form, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Awards, award-winners, hockey

Just a couple of quickies before I go laptop shopping so I can blog on the back deck or in coffee shops or in the middle of a forest or wherever the kids blog these days.  Got to stay hip, you know.

--Save the Deli author David Sax sent me a very kind note about my recent posting on his book.  It's nice to know authors actually check their own websites.  Thank you again, David.

--The National Book Critics Circle award winners were announced.  Fiction award goes to Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall.  If memory serves, when the book won another award a few months ago, I posted that I needed to read her.  I've still no idea who she is but I had better get on it. 

Finally, had you told me I'd ever utter a phrase with 'Margaret Atwood' and 'goalie' in it, I'd have never believed you.  Check out this absolutely delightful video of the Man Booker prize winner in the crease:

(While I'm at it, check this vid from America's favorite all hockey rock 'n' roll band, the Zambonis:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Save the Deli by David Sax

The other day, I caught the end of Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose.  If you haven't seen it or don't remember, it's a bunch of comedians sitting around the Carnegie Deli recalling stories of talent agent, Danny Rose, and the lengths he would go to for his roster of marginally talented performers, among them a stuttering ventriloquist and a blind xylophone player.

The film was one of my father's faves and he and I watched it together a number of times and recalling that made me happy. Too, the Carnegie Deli makes me happy and giant deli sandwiches make me happy, as does the idea of old comics sitting around telling stories in the Carnegie Deli over giant sandwiches.  So I burst into tears.  Deep sobs, actually.  That day was my father's birthday.  He's been gone since 2006 and I miss him.  My father had an appreciation of those things and passed that appreciation on to me.  Bless him.

After reading Save the Deli, I think author David Sax would understand the sobs.  He treats the topic with a lot of love and respect and while I have no idea if his father is alive and well (I certainly hope so), he gets the idea that deli is just kind of in your blood.  As Ken Kesey said, you're either on the bus or off the bus and I'm on the bus.  So much so, that I was hell-bent on visiting Schwartz's in Indianapolis on a recent weekend trip--they didn't disappoint--and I've been looking into flights to Montreal since Sax' description of a smoked meat sandwich has me more than intrigued.  Pair that with a recent Calvin Trillin New Yorker piece on a dish called poutine, said also to be born of Montreal, and I've got a weekend in the works.

Sax gives readers a history of the deli, really an American culinary and cultural phenomenon heavily influenced by Eastern European Jews, the current state of the delicatessen and a glimpse of the future for the deli.  What was once a thriving food culture has struggled for some time and tastes have changed a great deal but he leaves the reader with the hope the cuisine may be poised for a comeback.  However, without some reinvention and real love, it could just as easily go the way of the dodo.  Eating at a deli isn't meant to be a nostalgia trip or a tourist stop.  It's an experience that should be shared, perhaps over a very large pastrami on rye with some Guldens brown mustard and a Dr. Brown's soda.  Save the Deli captures that feeling very, very well. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What Is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

Some authors write beautifully. Others write sparingly or in a flowery fashion or have a style you can't quite name. Howard Norman writes simply and it works well for his latest, What Is Left the Daughter.

Set in a small Nova Scotia town during World War II, What Is Left the Daughter is really two love triangles laid atop each other and peopled with a small cast of odd but likable characters (the always-blunt Cornelia McTell was my favorite). The author could have written a 'village' novel, one in which we get to know and love the quirky characters of some little town along with their faults, foibles and families, their hopes and heartbreaks.
To his credit, he didn't. What he wrote was a story of murder, obsession, and suicide that is engaging, sad, and funny. It's a story of how people get lost and how they find themselves again.

There were times where it was a little hard to believe--the main character's occupation near the end and the series of coincidences that help shape events were a little too coincidental. Still, this is small beer because the story works. I will be certain to read Howard Norman again.

Favorite line:
"I could write a book--if I could write a book"

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien

The author, a biologist, was given the opportunity to look after a barn owl with wing damage that had been found by hikers and could not return to live in the wild.  She named him Wesley, nursed him back to health, and they lived together for an astonishing nineteen years.  

There are some wonderful behavioral anecdotes and information about owls.  Wesley seems to have had a considerably broader emotional range than scientists had believed and, in that respect, O'Brien contributes valuable scientific info to the on-going study of owls.  There were also a wealth of Disneyesque feel-good moments where you say 'awwwwwwww'.  

While I did admire her near complete dedication to Wesley,  it gets a little icky at times.  Her infantilization of the bird made me wince more than once.  By the end, she's trying telepathy with Wesley and is convinced it might be working. 

Still, she gave the bird a far better life than he might have had and was rewarded with affection and an insiders view of the life of a remarkable bird.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Many thanks

I really appreciate the feedback about the look of the blog.  It has been very positive and quite helpful.  I've made a few more tweaks per your suggestions and think I might be done tinkering for now.
Also, I'd like to thank the nice folks at Bloomsbury USA for the copy of Reporting at Wit's End, a collection of pieces by St. Clair McKelway.  I've just started it and am taken back to an old New York and an old New Yorker.  The intro is by Adam Gopnik so the right tone is set right away.  At just over 600 pages, it'll take a while but I look forward to posting my thoughts about it.  The book just came out

Another big thanks to my friend at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a recent care package.  I've finished Save the Deli by David Sax (just completed a draft of my forthcoming post) and am fifty pages deep in Howard Norman's upcoming novel, What Is Left the Daughter.  I've never read him but have always heard good things and am happy to report I'm most intrigued so far.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A few changes and a new post

After messing with it for a month or so, I've changed the layout again.  I found the last template hard to read and believe this is easier.  I'd ask for input but with no one actually reading this, I'm all about satisfying my own whims and fancies.

Also added a box on the right about what I'm reading now in hopes that it spurs me on to follow through more with my own posts. 

Just in case you missed it, there is also a new post below about the former Mr. Zimmerman and his memoir, volume one.  

Chronicles by Bob Dylan

The first volume of Bob Dylan's recollections is an interesting read. 
He names a lot of names, some well-known in relation to his career, others, less so; still more, forgotten. I had hoped it would be more linear but it skips around from early Dylan as reluctant Messiah to late/current Dylan as elder statesman then back a bit.

He paints a picture of America, and New York City, especially, that is of a different era; a world that was bigger and smaller at the same time.  A slower world that relied on paying your dues in coffeehouses and, unlike today's American Idol-imposed instant fame, a leg up from record industry men. 

That said, his way of describing things, a way that might be described as Dylanesque were it someone else's memoir, gets caught in a certain rhythm and that certain rhythm got caught in my ear.  If you've heard his radio show on Sirius/XM, it's actually kind of fun in short bursts but, over the course of several hundred pages, I found it tiring. Still, I kept reading because it's Bob Freakin' Dylan.  The man, his music, and his mystique all made history and knowing your history is easily overlooked these days. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A woman I barely know gave me a copy of this when I helped her put a case of wine in her trunk (No. That is not a filthy euphemism. I really did load wine in the trunk of her car). When I saw the book and asked if she'd read it, she neither raved nor railed about it but simply told me to take it and enjoy.

I cannot recall the last time I was so utterly charmed by a novel (maybe
Water for Elephants?) and I am so glad I read this little gem.

An epistolary novel that reminded me a little of
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, Guernsey is peopled with an array of characters I grew to like, then love, in the short span of the book and evoked a time and place in history that made me want to learn more.

Like most good Americans, I know next to nothing about the Channel Islands: I'd heard of Guernsey because of their cows and Jersey because of the attractive sportswear. Otherwise, bupkis. Shaffer and Barrows make the place seem idyllic despite the post-World War II time frame and the attendant hardships. An eye-opener, historically speaking: Britain simply stopped defending the archipelago, allowing the Nazis to hold it for five years. Nazis being Nazis, it was a nasty business.

The book reads quickly, the story is a pleasure to wrap oneself in, and it is a long afternoon well-spent. And thank you, Sondra.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle

Due out in May, The Dead Republic is the final installment of the Henry Smart trilogy that began ten years ago. Unfortunately, it is an uneven blend of the first two books, with only a few examples of the fine storytelling from A Star Called Henry and entirely too much of the intellectual laziness that marred Oh, Play That Thing.

Readers of this blog know my love of the authors' work so it pains me to say I found this third episode a gigantic disappointment. So obligated to the author and the work to see this through, even my self-imposed 50-page rule went ignored.

Irish rebel Henry Smart has become a flat, uninteresting character of two dimensions, capable of only two emotions--love and anger. The number of times Smart meets someone and declares "I could have killed him. In the old days, I would have" would make for a spirited drinking game; one which would render the players shit-faced. As well, it appears that by book three, Henry has become to stupid that he can't even recognize his own long-lost wife, the dangerous and delightful Miss O'Shea, despite sleeping next to her for many years. She is equally clueless but gets to spend most of the book in a literal coma. Would that we were all so lucky.

How and why Doyle expects us to believe what he puts forth is unimaginable. The situations are preposterous, the timeline is grueling and Henry just won't die. It can only be hoped Doyle got this character and this looooong saga out of his system and is back to more worthy novels.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's been a long time, sorry I left you

I won't begin the new year by apologizing or begging forgiveness but I will try to post more often as we move forward.

You'll also notice a new template for the blog that I think I like well enough to keep. We shall see.

Not long ago, I came across the list that eventually begat this blog. In 1999, I was working at a bookstore and decided to see how many books I read in a calendar year. That list, (see below) lead to making a few notes on titles, then to 'reviews', if you want to call them that, and then, annually, e-mailing the list to some friends.

Some 1999 literary highlights:

  • Remnick's Muhammad Ali bio
  • the criminally forgotten Eureka Street
  • Thom Jones best collection
  • my introduction to Brendan O'Carroll
  • Melissa Bank
  • McDonald's All Souls
  • the last time we heard from Lewis Nordan (come home, Buddy. I miss you.)
  • Blackhawk Down
  • Paco Underhill
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • AND Tony Hawk's 'Round Ireland With A Fridge.
There were a lot of forgettable books, too. Some authors just faded away, authors I wonder what happened to, and a few titles I couldn't tell you a thing about now.

Trends & observations:
Irish fiction was booming; two Elvis Costello bios is silly; books by comedians don't hold up very well;
despite Y2K anxieties, I read a ton.

Coolest coincidence? I started the third book of the Henry Smart trilogy by Roddy Doyle just the other night but it began with A Star Called Henry over ten years ago.

The Mother -In-Law Diaries by Carol Dawson

Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell

King by John Berger

King of the World by David Remnick

Yes I Can by Sammy Davis, Jr.

Why Not Me? by Al Franken

Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson

Blackhawk Down by Mark Bowden

UFO’s, JFK, & Elvis by Richard Belzer

Feel This Book by Ben Stiller & Janeane Garofalo

The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover by Kinky Friedman

Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine by Thom Jones

It’s The Stupidity, Stupid by Harry Shearer

My Life as a List by Linda Rosenkrantz

The Mammy by Brendan O’Carroll

For Kings and Planets by Ethan Canin

Sinatraland by Sam Kashner

Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley

Syrup by Maxx Barry

44: Dublin Made Me by Peter Sheridan

Elvis Costello by Tony Clayton-Lea

Tales From the Ballpark by Mike Shannon

Tough Jews by Rich Cohen

Cinderella Story by Bill Murray

Why We Buy by Paco Underhill

A Nixon Man by Michael Cahill

Pigskin Rabbi by Willard Manus

Popcorn by Ben Elton

All Souls: A Story of Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald

Congress of Wonders by Ed McLanahan

Loose Balls, No Strikes by Joe Morgan

Girls Guide to Hunting & Fishing by Melissa Bank

Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland

A Cure For Gravity by Joe Jackson

The Descent by Jeff Long

Hadrian’s Walls by Robert Draper

The Talk of the Town by Ardal O’Hanlon

Out of This World by Graham Swift

Bunker Man by Duncan McLean

The Thumbsucker by Walter Kirn

Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle

Boy With Loaded Gun by Lewis Nordan

Molly by Nancy J. Jones

The Chisellers by Brendan O’Carroll

Let Them All Talk: The Music of Elvis Costello by Brian Hinton

Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks

Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell

Show Me the Magic by Paul Mazursky

G-d Is My Broker by Christopher Buckley

Life Is So Good by George Dawson

No Mans Land by Greg Rucka