Thursday, March 31, 2011

39 years of Short-Term Memory Loss by Tom Davis

This is the most messed-up person I’ve ever read about. Tom Davis was the writing partner of Al Franken as the two buddies from Minnesota somehow got their comedy act recognized by the producers of Saturday Night Live. I loved Saturday Night Live in those early years with Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, Laraine Newman, etc., but I never really thought any of the sketches with Franken and Davis were funny. They were either too understated or just too crude and cruel.
In this memoir narrated by Davis, the author recounts in anecdotes the many celebrities with whom he took drugs and goofed off. This man doesn’t seem to have ever done anything responsible and has made no real contributions to the world other than to demean others and supply his friends with drugs. It sounds as though he was a rebellious hippie who never grew up.
I admit that it was fun hearing some of the anecdotes about celebrities, so the book was not a total waste of time. I was able to listen while I was getting other things done and if I was more pre-occupied with what I was doing than listening, it really didn’t matter. I guess that mirrors Tom’s life – kind of fun, and maybe not a total waste.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
This is the first book in a fairly popular young adult series by Patterson. I thought I’d read it to see what the fuss is about. I can see why the premise is appealing to young people – six kids ages 6-14 are on their own, have super-powers and have the ability to fly. However there are so many holes in the logic of the narrative that I am not very interested in reading further in the series. For example, Max (the female protagonist) is 14 and has only had about 4 years of worldly experience and yet is able to be mother to her ‘flock’ and seems knowledgeable in the ways of the wider world. Previous to those four years she was locked up in a cage as an animal. Second, these ‘bird-children’ are described as having very light bones so they are able to fly. But every time the bad guys come after them they have fights in which they are punched in the face, gut, etc. Do they suffer crippling injuries? Heavens no – they get up and are just fine the next day. It reminds me of t.v. cartoons. This isn’t written nearly as cleverly as the Harry Potter series. At least Rowling worked out a solution in her fantasy world for the protagonists to recover from their injuries: Madame Pomfrey was able to wave her wand to provide medical miracles of healing.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Danger Box is the title of Blue Balliett’s most recent book for kids. This time the protagonist is Zoomy, a 12-year old boy with pathological myopia who lives with his grandparents in a rural town in Michigan. Since he is legally blind, Zoomy sticks close to home and has no friends his own age. Then his world is turned upside down by the sudden appearance of his alchoholic father, a stolen treasure, and a girl who becomes his first friend.
As with Balliett’s other juvenile fiction, the children are bright and eager students, but face some hurdles in their personal lives. I want my oldest grandson to read this book because he is very bright but also has some eyesight difficulty and faces hurdles in relationships with his peers. Maybe if I get it from the library on audio, he can listen to it before bedtime.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon

I forgot to write about the latest Jan Karon novel! How could that happen? Probably because I was so much in love with Ireland after finishing this book that I jumped immediately into Delaney’s “Ireland”. (See previous post)

If you haven’t already read about Father Tim and Cynthia I am not sure you could appreciate this story as do those of us who are fans of these characters. This is the second in the ‘Father Tim’ series, but Karon first wrote nine books in the Mitford series which introduces the characters and sets them up for their adventures in Ireland.

This newest novel finds Tim and Cynthia anticipating a glorious vacation as tourists in Tim’s ancestral homeland, Ireland. A small accident in their first location, however, leaves them bound to that site throughout the entire month and they find themselves intimately involved with the locals and their troubles. This is the nature of Tim and Cynthia, though. They get involved because they are not just friendly, but truly good Christians who take their call to love others quite seriously. The reason Karon’s readers (like me) can stand this ‘goodness’ is because she explains their (very human) reluctance to get involved. I really like them!

Keep on writing about them, Ms. Karon!

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Ireland by Frank Delaney

This is the history of Ireland - so beautifully told in the manner of storytelling as opposed to straight historical documentary. In fact, Delaney incorporates a roving storyteller as one of the main characters in this novel. The way his stories are woven together with legend and personal memories of all those met along the road leads both the reader (and the protagonist, Ronan O’Mara) on a search for more.

One reviewer says “At first glance, this book is in the tradition of such James Michener blockbusters as “Hawaii” and “Chesapeake,” but Delaney wraps the history and geology and politics in a much warmer and more character-driven narrative than the Michener books.” (Connecticut Post, Feb 27, 2005)

If only all history could be written this way, students would be much more likely to feel that it (history) was fascinating – not dull!

I have to quote the end of the book, for I know it is true…
“The story is the teller… and the teller is the story. And stories unite us.”

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Basilica – The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter’s by R.A. Scotti

Confession - I did something which I very seldom do: I did not finish this book! I can only remember starting one other book I did not finish, and so it pains me to stop when halfway through. Perhaps one day I will go back to it, but probably only when and if I ever get to see St. Peter’s and have a more personal interest in reading this part of history. I’m not a Roman Catholic and the stories of popes and cardinals, although interesting, is not intriguing for me. I love historical fiction, but this is written as straight history.

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