Thursday, May 08, 2008
From the back cover:
"One cold December morning, Dori Hadar- DJ by night, criminal investigator by day- was digging through crates of records at a Washington, D.C., flea market. There he unknowingly stumbled into the elaborate world of Mingering Mike- a soul superstar of the 1960 and 1970s who released an astonishing fifty albums and at least as many singles in just ten years. But Hadar had never heard of him, and he realized why on closer inspection: every album in the crate- as well as the records themselves- were made of cardboard. Each package was intricately crafted, complete with gatefold interiors, extensive liner notes, and grooves drawn into the "vinyl"- some albums were even covered in shrinkwrap, as if purchased at real record stores.
Hadar put his detective skills to work and soon found himself at the door of Mingering Mike. Their friendship blossomed and Mike revealed the story of his life and the mythology of his many albums, hit singles, and movie soundtracks. A solitary boy raised by his brothers, sisters, and cousins, Mike lost himself in a world of his own imaginary superstardom, basing songs and albums on his and his family's experiences. Early teenage songs obsessed with love and heartache soon gave way to social themes surrounding the turbulent era of civil rights protests and political upheaval- brought even closer to home when Mike himself went underground, dodging the government for years after going AWOL from basic training.
In Mingering Mike, Hadar recounts the heartfelt story of Mike's life and collects the best of his albums and 45s, presented in full color, finally bringing to the star the adoring audience he always imagined he had."
Want to know more about the legend of Mingering Mike?
His Myspace Page: http://www.myspace.com/mingeringmike
The Official Fan Site: http://www.mingeringmike.com/
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
How's that for a title that grabs your attention? At times, the ideas championed in this book seemed terribly impractical and even ludicrous. At times, I found myself imagining a life of mini-retirements, vacationing in Europe, learning to play the Flamenco guitar, all while my $50 product is selling like hotcakes online. I'm just not sure how comfortable I am about hiring a personal assistant that lives in India and letting my employee make any decision that doesn't involve at least $500 without consulting me first. The book does have its share of valid points, if you're willing to "think outside the box", and I would agree that any automation of my current order processing would benefit me tremendously. It might take a few readings of this one before I am converted, but I have resolved to stop checking my email Inbox several hundred times a day. BTW, Ferris' life story/autobiography is worth reading on its own. Is he the guy who wrote the college application essay about making minute rice in fifteen seconds that got him into Princeton?
9. Thirteen Moons: A Novel by Charles Frazier
The eagerly anticipated follow up to his National Book Award Winning debut novel, Cold Mountain. Here are two entirely different perspectives:
from Publishers Weekly
"A decade later, the good news is that Frazier's storytelling prowess doesn't falter in this sophomore effort, a bountiful literary panorama again set primarily in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains. The story takes place mostly before the Civil War this time, and it is epic in scope. With pristine prose that's often wry, Frazier brings a rough-and-tumble pioneer past magnificently to life, indicts America with painful bluntness for the betrayal of its native people and recounts a romance rife with sadness...After the Civil War, Will fritters away a fortune through wanderlust, neglect and unquenched longing for his one true love, Claire, a girl he won in a card game when they were both 12, wooed for two erotic summers in his teen years and found again several decades later. In the novel's wistful coda, recalling Claire's voice inflicts "flesh wounds of memory, painful but inconclusive"—a voice that an uncertain old Will hears in the static hiss when he answers his newfangled phone in the book's opening pages. The history that Frazier hauntingly unwinds through Will is as melodic as it is melancholy, but the sublime love story is the narrative's true heart."
Here's another opinion, from The Washington Post (an excerpt from a scathing, but well-thought out, review)
"Charles Frazier is an intelligent, occasionally witty author who writes incredibly long-winded, sentimental, soporific novels. His first, Cold Mountain, published nine years ago, was the most unlikely bestseller since Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1989), by his fellow North Carolinian Allan Gurganus, and the most improbable National Book Award winner since John O'Hara's Ten North Frederick half a century ago. Now Frazier weighs in with Thirteen Moons, which manages to be even longer and even duller than Cold Mountain. No doubt it too will be a huge bestseller...Will readers flock to Thirteen Moons as they did to Cold Mountain? Who knows? Frazier's new publisher has a ton of money invested in him and will be pulling out all the stops. One thing is certain: Thirteen Moons is going to be putting a whole bunch of people to sleep."
Ouch. I liked it. The Washington Post also goes on to say "Reading Frazier is like sitting by the cracker barrel for hour after hour and listening to an amiable but impossibly gassy guy who talks real slow, says "I reckon" a whole lot and never shuts up. His novels have little structure and not much in the way of plot". Let me just tell you that Reading Frazier also makes me hungrier than reading anyone else, his descriptions of food, meals, and feasts are some of the best in the business. I also tend to get entranced in his romantic sensibilities and reverence for history. I was talking to a working class gentleman at my booth in the Andover Antique Mall who said it plainly: "Reading Frazier just made me feel like I was there. I didn't know much about how people lived back then, but his writing made it clear as day."Now available brand new in hardcover at the bargain price of $7.99 from Amazon:
8. Extraordinary Exhibitions: The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, The Whimsiphusicon & Death to the Savage Unitarians (Broadsides from the Collection ... from the Collection of Ricky Jay) by Ricky Jay
The most notable addition to my bizarre book collection this year, from actor, collector, author, sleight-of-hand expert, Renaissance man, and magician extraordinaire Ricky Jay. I now have as much respect for this man as a collector of books, prints and ephemera as I do of his ability to slice someone's head off with a playing card. Among other things, the book features broadsides advertising the exhibition of a one-of-a-kind type of entertainer, including: an armless dulcimer player, a ghost showman, a singing mouse, a chess-playing automaton, a cannon ball juggler, an African hermaphrodite, a chicken incubator, a rabbi with prodigious memory, a ventriloquist, a spirit medium, a glass blower, a woman magician, a speaking machine, a mermaid, a bullet catcher, a flea circus, and an equestrian bee keeper.
7. The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter: A Rare Bookman in Search of American History by Charles P. Everitt
Full of anecdotes about the good-old days when you could walk into bookstores and purchase rare Americana items for 20 cents and resell them for hundreds of dollars (which, of course, would be thousands today). Makes me wonder if those days of book scouting are long gone, or if I'm just not looking hard enough. Charles is definitely a bit of a book snob, but with his knowledge of titles, subject matters, bibliographic points, etc., he certainly has a right to be. He also strikes me as an honest fellow, and someone to emulate when it comes to negotiating the price of a collection. At times, there is not much order or logic to the sequence of his rantings, but for a book nut like me, this book is a treasure in itself, and will occupy a permanent and prominent space on my bookshelf.
6. Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor
One of the most enjoyable and accessible poetry anthologies I have come across, these poems are meant to be read aloud, shared and savored.
from School Library Journal:
"Keillor, host of the PBS radio show A Prairie Home Companion, has put together a collection of close to 300 poems he has read during yet another PBS broadcast, The Writer's Almanac. In an amusing introduction, he shares his thoughts on what makes a good poem. It's no big surprise that he purports to dislike literary works that, to him, smack of pretentiousness. Poems are arranged by 19 general themes, such as "Snow," "Failure," and "A Good Life." Authors range from well-known oldies like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to unknowns like C.K. Williams, who "played college basketball and lived for many years in Philadelphia." Keillor's choices lean heavily toward works that tell a good story or paint a tangible picture. Alongside poems with bucolic scenery are plenty of selections about everyday emotions and relationships. An outstanding feature of this collection is that the selections are all so accessible-even folks who say they don't like poetry can find something here to enjoy."
5. Slim Aarons' Photography Collections
"At 18 years old, Aarons enlisted in the U.S. Army, working as a photographer at West Point and later serving as a combat photographer in WWII and earning a Purple Heart. Aarons said that combat had taught him that the only beach worth landing on was "decorated with beautiful, seminude girls tanning in a tranquil sun."
After the war, Aarons moved to California and began photographing celebrities. In California, he shot his most praised photo, Kings of Hollywood, a 1957 New's Year's Eve photograph depicting Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart relaxing at a bar in full formal wear. Aaron's work appeared in Life, Town & Country and Holiday magazines.
Aarons never used a stylist, a makeup artist or anything but natural light for his photographs.
Aarons made his career out of what he called "photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places."
4. The Double Bind: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
This book inspired me to begin reading and collecting Bohjalian's entire back catalogue, except of course for his self-proclaimed, "worst debut novel ever written, and thankfully out-of-print." I bought a few copies, just in case.
3. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller/Power Through Constructive Thinking by Emmet Fox/The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino/Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Looking for a spiritually uplifting book that does not preach, but teaches you how to practice. Look no further.
2. Booked to Die by John Dunning
I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading this one. I'm not typically a big murder mystery reader, but any hardnosed detective/cop turned antiquarian bookseller is automatically a hero in my book. Cliff Janeway is the Chuck Norris of the book world. The dialogue is right on, the book references are accurate and well-researched (Dunning himself is a bookseller), and the plot moves along at one of those gotta-keep reading this until I'm done speeds. When are the movie rights being sold?
1. The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems: 1972-2007 by Albert Goldbarth/February 2007 Poetry Journal (Valentine's Issue) featuring "To Be Read in 500 Years" by Albert Goldbarth
from Publishers Weekly:
"Starred Review. Few books of poems have sported more apt titles: in 29 earlier books, the almost implausibly prolific Goldbarth has mentioned almost every poetic topic, many that no poet before him has tried. Sometimes encyclopedic, sometimes chatty, given always to digressions, Goldbarth has written his long-lined free verse about ancient Near Eastern crockery, collectible figurines from the '40s, Jewish mysticism, "the cookbook used by Madame Curie," "a spirit from the quantum (and therefore invisible) universe," cancer, bereavement, sex, lust, underwear, "native gourds" and "meteor rubble," Keats, coin collecting and "the first of the many McDonald's Happy Meal toys/ that Jeremy received with his McNuggets." Goldbarth's breathless trivia is an end in itself, but it also becomes a means to simpler obsessions, shared with older sorts of lyric poetry. Why do we fall in love, and how can we stay in love? What do children owe their parents, and what, if anything, does America mean? Goldbarth (who has won two National Book Critics Circle awards) badly needed a new selected (his last one came in 1983); this long collection is just right for this poet of excess and enthusiasm, always hoping to show, and often showing, how "the world// not only works but networks."
I must add that this collection includes a poem called "Library," one of my top 10 favorite poems of all time.The reading highlight of the year for me was when my February 2007 Valentine's issue of "Poetry" arrived in the mail with Albert Goldbarth's "To Be Read in 500 Years" came in the mail. Beginning with quotes from Whitman and Van Morrison, this epic poem begins talking about space travel (I must admit I enjoy Goldbarth the least when he talks about Science or Science Fiction), finds himself singing the blues:
"let's not forget Heartbreak Hotel, let's not eschew its transient cast
of cinders-and-ashes clientele, but also the songs of tra-la-la
and marital abidingness, of how sometimes a body fits a body
as indivisibly as waves (or it could be particles) fit light, the poems
address this too of course, the let me count the ways, the roses
in their fragrant and meaty botanical abundance, and the doves,
let's not forget the doves, the old thou art a summer's day
and thy breasts are of wheaten beauty..."
and ends the poem with the most climactic, passionate, seemingly stream of consciousness ending to any poem I have ever read, almost like the poem ends in an act of intercourse. You'll just have to wait for his forthcoming collection, in which the poem will be included, to believe me. Here's another excerpt of his genius:
"in the centuries forthcoming they will never know
this honeycomb of confusion and its confected delight, it happens
in the jazz bar, at the casbah, in the synagogue, under the sheets,
she lift me higher, she be my desire, she build me, she give me,
in the sand dunes, hot hot summer, on the roof, yes here, now here,
a little lower, she feed me, she give me, she lift me, she need me,
the sound of the continents as they first tore aprat and the surge of
the music of that, the songs especially but also the poems, she take me...
she lift me, she take me, she bring me love
love love love crazy love."