Just Above Sunset
October 24, 2004 - A book reviewer's Christmas season bonanza ...

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Book Wrangler


By Bob Patterson


Recently we traveled to Westwood for the Mystery Book Store’s October birthday celebration - because it is always a fun event and we get access to various interesting authors who work in the genre that is featured at that store.


[Note:  Sheldon and his sales crew throw numerous excellent book signing events, which provide this columnist with opportunities to talk to many authors and get material for columns and reviews, hence we are shameless in plugging (with a link) that particular book store.]


We arrived and quickly found ourselves in a conversation with Andrew Klavan, about the underlying philosophy of the mystery genre.  We expanded the discussion and soon we were talking about the politics of the choice for the November election.


I elaborated on my views and the scope of the conversation expanded.  I found that I was elaborating on my theory that George W. Bush would be running for a third term in 2008.  I added the information that I have made some attempts to make a wager about that possibility with Hunter S. Thompson, who has not responded to my letters.  Efforts to get New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd to act as Hunter’s proxy and make the bet in his stead have also been futile.  Klavan, immediately agreed to represent the writing community and accept the challenge.  He doesn’t think George W. will go for what sports fans call the threepeat.


If Kerry is successful next month, I’ll immediately owe Klavin a few dollars, but if George W. wins reelection, then I will have to wait and see how things work out in 2008, before I can collect any loot from the mystery writer.


Shotgun Alley, by Andrew Klavan ($24.95 Forge Books, published Oct. 1, 2004), is set in San Francisco and tells the story of a P. I. who sets out to find the missing daughter of a Senator.  She ran away with a motorcycle gang leader and things get more complicated when the detective….  Maybe we will have to do a review of this one just to see what happens next.


Since this staff writer for Just Above Sunset online magazine lived in San Francisco for a while, the prospects of reading and reviewing this particular book are appealing.  There are however, several other strong contenders vying for time and attention as the Christmas book giving/reviewing season approaches.


(If time travel is ever perfected, we highly recommend San Francisco in 1968.  To the best of our ability to judge, being in “Baghdad by the Bay” that year must have been quite comparable to being in Paris in 1928.)


Weird U.S. by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman ($19.95 Barnes & Nobel Publishing.  [Don’t make any assumptions when you see who published the book; it is available from Amazon.]  It will be published on October 31, 2004) is the kind of collection of unusual locations in the USA and is the sequel to Weird New Jersey, which is about oddities in that one state.  Does that mean that it took all the rest of the USA to match the Garden State’s level or bizarre quotient?  To hear the media types in New York City tell it, those two writers should have found enough eccentric people, places, and things in the county of Los Angeles to fill their second book.  It took the whole country to match New Jersey?  What does that tell you about the state that Hoboken calls home?


This week’s new book for fans of Jack Kerouac is Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947 -1954, written by Jack Kerouac and edited by Douglas Brinkley.


When we read the article by Janet Maslin in the New York Times, which mentioned The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft by Lawrence Grobel ($14.95 paperback - Three Rivers Press, published August 31, 2004), we thought it might be clever to jump on the Santa Monica Number 12 Big Blue Bus and go up to the University and interview the author who teaches a course on the art of conducting a journalist’s interview at UCLA.  Then, we had a very scary thought.  What if, when the interview is finished, he gives you a grade on your efforts?  What if he hands you an “F” for all that work?  How would you explain that to the boss back at the office?


The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore ($14.95 0 William Morrow)…  No one does whimsical horror novels better than Christopher Moore when his is, as the baseball commentators put it, on his game.  (It’s difficult to say who else does whimsical horror, let alone name someone who can do it better than Moore.)  We read every word of Fluke: Or, I Know why the Winged Whale Sings and it was good, but it did not become my favorite of the ones he has written.  Thus we were delighted to learn that he has returned to Pine Cove and resurrected some memorable characters from previous books.  We are going to read The Stupidest Angel for our own enjoyment, so when that’s done, we might just as well write a review to impress the aforementioned boss.


'Scuse Me While I Whip This Out: Reflections on Country Singers, Presidents, and Other Troublemakers by Kinky Friedman ($22.95 - William Morrow, published September 28, 2004.) - Friedman is a former winner of the Male Chauvinist of the Year award, a popular singer and songwriter, and has written eighteen mystery novels.  His wordplay is superb, his sense of humor is excellent, and this guy is an example of a true modern Renaissance Man.  This autobiography should be a pleasure to read.  Maybe the Santa Monica Public Library will get a copy of it.  That way, we’ll get to the reviewing chore before Christmas.


When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin ($23.95 - Hyperion, published October 12, 2004.)  - George Carlin is a living American cultural treasure.  His humor is timeless.  Some of his one-liners will still be funny a hundred years from now, because some subjects (such as the battle of the sexes) will never become outdated.  If you haven’t been a fan of Carlin’s since John Lindsay became the mayor of New York City, you could start now with this book and read his others afterward.


Male readers have, over the years, had a plethora of books trying to explain women, but what about the flip side of the battle of the sexes?  Well, women may be interested in The Male Thing Explained by Edward Lee Goldstein MA, MS, RPT ($21.95 Litas Heart Publications.)  Over the years, we’ve met some women who are fascinated by the subject.  Maybe some even qualify as connoisseurs?  Perhaps we will ask one of those ladies to act as our proxy when it comes time to review this new book.


So, why are you sitting there looking at a computer screen?  Get thee to a bookstore, spend some money and get the economic recovery underway.

Copyright 2004 – Robert Patterson


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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