22 June 2022

Reading List, October - December 2021

 Tessa Bailey, It Happened One Summer. NH: HarperCollins, 2021.

When party princess Piper is exiled from LA, she learns more than the value of money.

Alexa Martin, Intercepted. NY: Jove, 2018.

Marlee has been with her high-school boyfriend, NFL receiver Chris, for ten years -- except a break he wanted four years ago. And it’s fine, until the guy she slept with during that break becomes Chris’s new quarterback.

   Fumbled. NY: Jove, 2019.

TK didn’t know that Poppy was pregnant when he left for college, and ten years later she didn’t know that he played for her local NFL team, so their reunion surprises both. Years of head trauma have changed TK, though, so the life they all want may no longer be possible.

Greg Behrenadt and Liz Tuccillo, He’s Just Not That into You. NY: Simon Spotlight, 2004.

In a nutshell: a partner who doesn’t make an effort to be your partner probably shouldn’t be your partner, because you deserve better.

Joe Posnanski, Baseball 100. NY: Avid Reader, 2021.

    see review here

Keith Ammann, Live to Tell the Tale. NY: Saga, 2020.

With its Fifth edition, the Dungeons and Dragons franchise streamlined the game and introduced role-playing to a new generation. This volume (following The Monsters Know What They’re Doing) strives to show how various character traits and skills can be applied, actions stacked, and combinations primed for others to complete with maximum damage. It’s a handy demonstration of battle tactics, as well, and even a good bit of fun. Wish I’d had it when building my last character.

Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard. NY: Delacorte, 1987.

“And what is literature, Rabo,” he said, “but an insider’s newsletter about affairs relating to molecules, of no importance to anything in the Universe but a few molecules who have the disease called ‘thought’.”

I loved this book when I first read it, not long after publication; I was in high school then. The autobiography of a minor character from Breakfast of Champions, a failed painter responsible for Abstract Expressionism’s surviving long enough to make NHC the art capital of the world, it combines memory and the act of writing as vehicle for some of Vonnegut’s most directly accessible moral instruction. It’s Uncle Kurt. He’s not preaching, he’s just telling a story.

Walter Mosley, Fear Itself. NY: Little, Brown, 2003.

Paris and Fearless get involved to solve a kidnapping, find people throwing money at them, and eventually sort out a mess involving real estate, murder, and a volume of family history continuously recorded since their arrival from Africa in the 1700s.

Kevin Hearne, Hounded. Hexed. Hammered. NY: Del Rey, 2011.

This three-volume omnibus introduction to the Iron Druid chronicles gives us Atticus, a twenty-one (hundred) year old bookstore owner in Arizona, the last alive to possess Airmid’s knowledge of herbs and bound to protect the earth by his tattoos. In this story arc, he takes on his first new apprentice in hundreds of years, kills the Irish god of love, dispatches a hoard of demons that god had released, and then visits Asgard to challenge Thor.

Helen Hoang, The Heart Principle. NY: Jove, 2021.

Anna is an accidentally-famous violinist preparing for her debut album when her boyfriend announces that he wants an open relationship, in which they (meaning he) can see other people. He even laughs at the thought she might meet someone else.

But she does. Then her father dies, and everything falls apart.

Jean Toomer, Cane. NY: Harper & Row, 1969.

Short stories? A novel -- yes, it is novel. Songs, scenes, incidents, character sketches... Cane is the jumble of memory, the fragments of a life strung together like pearls, each beautiful and independent but, obviously, from the same source.

Farrah Rochon, The Boyfriend Project. NY: Forever, 2020.

When Samiah -- and her new besties Taylor and London -- go viral for simultaneously dumping their mutual cheating “boyfriend”, they become fast friends and swear off men to focus on self-improvement. Then a new guy starts a work. Will he ruin all her plans?

Thomas Gilbert, How Baseball Happened. Boston: David Godine, 2020.

In another exploration of the early game, Gilbert focuses on the Amateur Era, roughly 1850 - 1870, and identifies three key elements in its growth: ambition, gambling, and spectators. The railroad was also important, but no moreso than other transportation advances, like the New York canals. First, ambition. The men who played the New York game were young professionals, many of them doctors, who sought to establish a national sport as means of advancing physical fitness. Their games, unexpectedly, drew an audience willing to wager, which brought attention from others, eventually leading to enclosed grounds, paid admissions, and paid players. It was no accident, then, and no surprise that baseball succeeded where boxing and horse racing, both more spectator than participatory activities, had failed to take hold.

Lawrence Osborne, Only to Sleep. NY: Hogarth, 2018.

Philip Marlow got old. That happens when you don’t die, but the rest of us forget you once the stories stop. Retire to a house on the cliffs in Mexico and before anyone knows it, you’re 72. And 72 is probably too old for a gumshoe: no-one even knows what that is anymore. But Marlow got old, and he needs the money, so he’ll take the job -- and we’ll enjoy following along.