Adrian Mole: the Cappuccino Years

Townsend, Sue. Adrian Mole: the Cappuccino Years. New York: Soho, 1999.

Reason read: Mother’s Day is May 13th and Pearl included this in her chapter about “Mothers and Sons.”

Adrian Mole: the Cappuccino Years could be seen as a cautionary tale for men in their 30s: do not get too dependent on mama. Adrian, at this stage in his life, is divorced, lusting after a former flame while being the father (a decent one, I might add) to two boys, and yes, still living with mother. As he tells his journal, he is frequently constipated and suffers from bad breath and ill penis health.
This was a silly read. I almost gave up on it a few times, especially when it became over the top ridiculous. Case in point, Townsend seemed to be poking fun at the Food Network with the creation of “Ping with Singh,” a cooking show aimed at microwave users. The show becomes popular enough to create a stage adaptation to satisfy the masses. Adrian’s own show “Offally Good” produces a book deal (which his mother ultimately ends up ghost writing, go figure).
The best parts were the current events of the times: Tony Blair’s election, Lady Di’s love affair with Dodi and Bill Clinton’s Monica scandal. The latter got a chuckle out of me.

The one line I laughed at, “‘Your money, Mr Mole, is an abstraction wafting in the air between financial institutions, at the mercy of inflation and interest rates, dependent on the health of the global economy'” (p 151). That, sadly, is banking in a nutshell.

Author fact: Townsend wrote a whole series of Adrian Mole books. I felt a little lost jumping in when Adrian is thirty years old. I imagine it’s like coming in late to a really wild party. Everyone is too drunk to talk to you and you can’t get drunk fast enough to catch up.

Book trivia: The entire story is Adrian’s journal.

Nancy said: Nothing. It is listed as a “Mothers and Sons” book.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Mothers and Sons” (p 160).


Martin Sloane

Redhill, Michael. Martin Sloane. Back Bay Books, 2002. http://archive.org/martinsloanenove00redh

Redhill, Michael. Martin Sloane. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001.

Reason read: May is known as missing child month in some parts of the world. Choosing this book for recognition of missing child month was a little tongue in cheek because it’s actually an adult who goes missing, but his childhood plays a big part of the story. In a way, he has been missing since childhood.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I love that song.) I had to feel sorry for Jolene. At the tender age of 19 she becomes a pen pal to a man 35 years her senior. At 21 she becomes his lover and loses her virginity to him. Think about that for a second. He’s old enough to be her father. She dedicates her young life to a man 35 years older than her, teaching him how to drive and caring for him like a husband, all because she fell in love with his artistry at first sight. Little object-filled boxes of life. His life. They intrigued her, then captivated her.
Irish born artist, Martin Samuel Joseph Sloane is a conundrum. When he suddenly leaves his and Jolene’s home in the middle of the night, Jolene is left with his little boxes and a million questions. What follows is a quest for love. The themes of loss and forgiveness are unmistakable but what bubbles to the surface in the end is maturation and grace.

Quotes to catch my attention (and there were a lot of them to chose from), “I’d had my share of exquisite humiliations before, but never with someone I actually liked (p 27), “And we continued to learn the other like explorers expanding their maps of the known world” (p 34), “I learned to live with this spectacle of concealment” (p 52), and my favorite, “Love provokes all kinds of behaviour and in retrospect it all seems warranted: you have to allow for passions” (p 93).

As an aside: I think I have said it before, but I like it when a book introduces me to new music. This time it’s new old music, “When Day is Done.” I found a really sultry version sung by Clint Walker on YouTube.
Another aside: I had never been to Watkin’s Glen, New York before meeting my husband. Redhill inserts a minor character from Watkin’s Glen living in Ireland.

Author fact: Redhill wrote many other novels, some under the pseudonym Inger Ash Wolfe, but I only read Martin Sloane for the Challenge.

Book trivia: Martin Sloane is Redhill’s first novel and it nominated for the Giller Prize.

Nancy said: Pearl called Redhill’s book Michael Sloane instead of Martin Sloane. It’s indexed that way as well.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Maiden Voyages” (p ).


Landfall

Shute, Nevil. Landfall: a Channel Story. London: Heron, 1969.

Reason read: the movie version of Landfall was released in May of 1949.

Roderick “Jerry” Chambers is a young and ambitious officer in the Royal Air Force. The story opens with Jerry meeting sweet Mona Stevens at a dance. This chance encounter proves to be a blessing in disguise for Jerry later in the story.
The early stages of World War II serves as the backdrop for Landfall. Jerry has been conducting air patrols off the southern coast of England. He’s a good pilot and on one mission he skillfully sinks what he thinks to be a German submarine, only to find all evidence points to it actually being British. While Chambers ultimately escapes disciplinary action, he shamefully retreats to a post as far away as possible from the disaster in northern England. Meanwhile, Mona has been eavesdropping on officers in the snack bar where she works. Despite the black mark on Jerry’s career Mona has stuck by him. Pretty soon she is able to discern what really happened with Jerry regarding the British submarine business. Only, it might be too late to clear his name. Jerry has been seriously wounded in an bombing experiment and rumor has it he may not make it through the night.

As an aside, all of Shute’s women (So far On the Beach and Landfall) are easy going and thoughtful with a keen sense of humor.

Best quote, “So let them pass, small people of no great significance, caught up and swept together like dead leaves in the great whirlwind of the war” (p 499).

Author fact: Shute had a stammer that hindered him from joining the Royal Flying Corps.

Book trivia: My borrowed copy had illustrations by Charles Keeping. They were cool.

Nancy said: nothing.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the obvious chapter called, “Nevil Shute: Too Good To Miss” (p 199).


Bogey Man

Plimpton, George. The Bogey Man: A Month on the PGA Tour.

Reason read: the Professional Golf Association tour usually ends in April. This year it ended on April 1st but there are other tournaments still going.

George Plimton was a journalist who liked to get into the thick of things when writing about his subjects. When composing articles for Sports Illustrated he played tennis, boxed with, and swam with professionals. Later he found himself pitching with the Yankees and throwing the football with the Detroit Lions. His involvement with professional golfers was no different when writing Bogey Man. He played as a participating amateur in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, the Lucky International, and the Bob Hope Desert Classic for a month. During that time he absorbed stories about the professional golf circuit, from the caddies to the fans and, the professional golfers and the game, of course.

Author fact: The perception I have of George Plimpton is that he had quite the ego. For starter, many of the photographs in Bogey Man are of Plimpton. Then, there is the author information. Most authors chose a short paragraph to be inserted on the back flap of a book. Plimpton’s takes up the entire back cover.

Book trivia: There are a smattering of photographs in Bogey Man mostly of Plimpton looking wistfully after an ill-struck ball.

Nancy said: Pearl said she would buy Bogey Man for “David” who eats, sleeps, and dreams golf (p 117).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the catch-all chapter called “A Holiday Shopping List” (p 115).


“Wild Geese”

Oliver, Mary. “Wild Geese.” Wild Geese: Selected Poems. Bloodaxe, 2004.

Reason read: April is National Poetry Month

The title poem “Wild Geese” is a small slice of heaven in words. Taking just a little over a minute to read, it sends a mighty message. It’s all about hope, inspiration and self worth in the grand scheme of things. Nature is all around us and we are a part of it. We belong in the universe.

Author fact: YouTube has great videos of Mary Oliver reading “Wild Geese.” They are amazing. Check them out.

Poem trivia: I think everyone likes to quote “Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.”

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry Pleasers” (p 187). As an aside, this is a the last poem I had to read for the chapter. As soon as I read Perrine’s Sound and Sense I will be finished with the entire chapter.


Slide Rule

Shute, Nevil. Slide Rule: the Autobiography of an Engineer. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1954.

Reason read: William Oughtred, the inventor of the slide rule, was born in March. Read in his honor.
Confessional: my father, being a man in love with boats and the ocean and nautical charts, taught me how to use a slide rule for navigation when I was really young. It was such a long time ago I doubt I could plot a course these days, though.

This is supposed to be Nevil Shute’s autobiography but I would say it is more a memoir about his career in aviation. He doesn’t delve into his personal life too deeply. There is nothing about his childhood, his marriage, becoming a father, or much of his writing career, for example. You don’t know much about his family life/childhood, how he met his wife, when he had children, or even how he became a writer in the first place. Slide Rule is more about Shute’s life in aviation; how he became a calculator for the firm of DeHavilland when they were designing rigid airships. What’s fascinating is his company was in competition with the government to build airbuses. After an airbus disaster Shute founded the company Airspeed, Ltd and had lukewarm success being profitable building private planes. At the start of World War II the nature of the business changed and Shute slowly started to withdraw emotionally from Airspeed. The memoir ends with him leaving Airspeed after being voted out by the board. Meanwhile, his career as an author was just starting to take flight.

Quotes I liked, “The happily married man with a large family is the test
pilot for me” (p 67), and “A man’s own experiences determine his opinions, of necessity” (p 140).
Author fact: Nevil’s full name is Nevil Shute Norway. He explains his reasons for using his Christian names alone in Slide Rule.

Book trivia: Slide Rule has a small sections of photographs, including a couple of the author.

Nancy said: Shute thought of himself as more of an engineer than a writer, according to Pearl.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the obvious chapter called “Nevil Shute: Too Good To Miss” (p 198).


Two Plays and a Premise

Dennis, Nigel. Two Plays and a Premise: Cards of Identity and The Making of Moo. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1958.

Reason read: March is National Read month. I’m reading this just because.

The entire story centers around the Identity Club, a group of psychoanalysts who come together once a year to discuss phony identity cases which don’t involve real patients. At the same time, the local townspeople are being brainwashed into believing they are servants for the psychologists. They lose their identities in order to serve the whims of the shrinks. The end of the story, which I never got to, involves a Shakespearean play. For me, the plot disintegrated midway through the story and I gave up. It started off great. The slow brain washing was sinister in places. Miss Paradise’s brother goes missing and she doesn’t recognize him as the therapists’s servant. Or calling the doctor by different names in order to confuse him. Both scenarios were funny and evil and brilliant.

Confessional: I was supposed to read the full length novel of the same title but I ordered the play instead. By the time I noticed my mistake it was too late. I never would have been able to finish the 300+ page novel in time so I stuck with the play.

Line I liked, “Many a man’s life has been thrown away through the mumbling of his survivors” (p 61).

Author fact: Nigel wrote a smattering of other books but this is the only one I am supposed to read for the Challenge.

Book trivia: Card of Identity is both a novel and a play. For the latter it becomes a play within a play.

Nancy said: Nancy listed Cards of Identity as one of her faves (p 33).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the odd chapter called “The Book Lust of Others” (p 33). Cards of Identity was discovered in Writer’s Choice: A Library of Rediscoveries compiled by Linda Sternberg Katz and Bill Katz.