Wishbones

Perrotta, Tom. The Wishbones. New York: Berkely Books, 1998.

Reason read: The movie starring Adam Sandler, “the Wedding Singer” was released in February.

Dave Raymond is thirty-one years old and still living with his parents in suburban New Jersey, but then again, so is his on and off girlfriend of fifteen years, Julie. They find living with their parents a drag, especially when they need to sneak around to have sex but given the circumstances, who wouldn’t at that age? For Julie, living with the ‘rents is a matter of convenience but for Dave it is a necessity in order to be a New York City courier by day and a wedding band musician on the weekends. The courier job is just to get him by. Playing guitar with the Wishbones is all he has ever known. So what is it that makes him upset this whole little world by announcing to Julie one night “let’s get married”? Immediately he wants to stuff the words back in his mouth and pretend no such pronouncement passed his lips. Maybe that’s why he starts an affair with an edgy Brooklyn poet named Gretchen. As the wedding draws near Dave is at a crossroad in his life and for the first time ever, he needs to make a mature decision.

As an aside, I found it curious that the band didn’t have a lead guitar player. Bass, sax, drummer, accordion, keyboards… I guess Dave was supposed to act as lead along with backing vocals?

Silly humor to quote, “Margaret was a formally pleasant person whose personality had been ruined by constant dieting” (p 61).

Author fact: Perrotta knows his music. I loved all the references to different bands. Especially this one, “You couldn’t really imagine Chrissie Hynde or Natalie Merchant dancing around in twelve different hats” (p 34).

Book trivia: this could have been a movie.

Nancy said: Pearl lists The Wishbones as a first novel she was delighted to have read (Book Lust p 88) and she just describes the plot in More Book Lust.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “First Novels” (p 88). Also, in More Book Lust in the chapter called “Jersey Guys and Gals” (p 130).


Changing It Up January

A new year deserves new things; new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. Here is the list I promised in December. Instead of separating the list into “finished” and “still to go”, I thought for this go-round I would just cross off the titles I finished. This system will force me to stay on top of the books I add, but we’ll see…Just testing something…

As an aside, I gave up completely on Robert Jordan. Sorry.

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB)
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis (DNF)
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. ADDED: A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. ADDED: Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. ADDED: Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. ADDED: Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. ADDED: Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER)
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose (Jan)
  18. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (Jan)
  19. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London (Jan)
  20. ADDED: Alma Mater by P.F Kluge (Jan)
  21. Good Life by Ben Bradlee (Feb)
  22. Underworld by Don DeLillo (Feb)
  23. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban (Feb)
  24. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton ((Feb)
  25. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan (Feb)
  26. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce (Feb)
  27. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Feb)
  28. Polish Officer by Alan Furst (Feb)
  29. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (Mar)
  30. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle (Mar)
  31. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (Mar)
  32. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe (Mar)
  33. Lives of the Muse by Francine Prose (Mar)
  34. Broom of the System (David Wallace (Mar)
  35. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  36. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson (Apr)
  37. Royal Flash by George Fraser (Apr)
  38. Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr)
  39. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur (Apr)
  40. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  41. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (May)
  42. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
  43. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
  44. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
  45. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
  46. Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
  47. Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
  48. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (May)
  49. Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (May)
  50. Castles in the Air by Judt Corbett (Jun)
  51. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
  52. Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
  53. Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
  54. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (Jun)
  55. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (Jul)
  56. Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
  57. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
  58. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
  59. Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
  60. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
  61. Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
  62. Ararchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
  63. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
  64. Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
  65. In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
  66. What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
  67. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
  68. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
  69. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
  70. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
  71. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
  72. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
  73. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
  74. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
  75. Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
  76. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
  77. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
  78. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  79. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
  80. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  81. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  82. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish;AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review

So, right off the bat I see something I don’t like. When I add new books they don’t get their “day in the sun” so to speak. I add them to the list and then cross them off immediately. That doesn’t seem fair.


Portnoy’s Complaint

Roth, Philip. Novels, 1967-1972. New York: The Library of America, 2005.

I always garnered eyebrow raises and smirking lips whenever I mentioned reading Philip Roth. What I didn’t realize at the time was whenever I mentioned Philip Roth everyone’s minds immediately went to “Portnoy’s Complaint.” Having never read this particular novel I didn’t get the joke. Okay. I get it now.

To put it quite simply, Portnoy’s Complaint is the monologue of Alex Portnoy, a psychoanalyst’s patient, as he recounts his childhood, coming of age years and his insatiable appetite for sex (starting with masturbation) that has dominated all his life. The setting of a therapist’s office is brilliant. Where else are you allowed to be candid to the point of shocking? Where else are you encouraged to reveal your deepest and darkest, most vile desires without judgement or arrest? Roth couldn’t have his character admit these activities in any other setting without the admissions becoming pornographic and the one doing the admitting, ridiculously perverted. Alex doesn’t just admit sexual desires, though. He rants about religion, culture, World War II, education, parenting, relationships – all with comic and sarcastic ability.

There were probably over a dozen different sentences that were evocative and startling, but here are two of my favorites involving eating:
“You could even eat off her bathroom floor, if that should ever become necessary” (p 285), “But I don’t want the food from her mouth. I don’t even want the food from my plate – that is the point” (p 287).

BookLust Twist: First, from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Jewish-American Experience” (p 132), and again in More Book Lust in the chapter called “Jersey Guys and Dolls” (p 130).


December ’10 was…

Where the hell did December go? I really can’t believe the month went by so freakin’ fast. It’s as if I slept through most of it. In a nightmare state. Of course, work had a lot to do with missing the month. Staff reviews while trying to hire and trying not to fire while trying to work on my own resume was really surreal. Then there are the three family illnesses that have worried to distraction. Not to mention having two new very unpredictable cats!
Here’s what it was for books:

  • Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress ~ in honor of Alabama becoming a state in December. I can’t imagine what kind of movie this would make. One side of the story is so serious while the other is so silly!
  • Made in America by Bill Bryson ~ in honor of Bryson’s birth month. This was a little tedious after a little while.
  • The Comedians by Graham Greene ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit the Caribbean (fiction). This was also a movie, I think.
  • Apology by Plato ~ in honor of the first Chief Justice being appointed in December. A classic I clearly don’t remember reading!
  • Best Nightmare on Earth: a Life in Haiti by Herbert Gold ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit the Caribbean (nonfiction). I am really glad I read this with The Comedians because they went really, really well together.
  • Night Before Christmas aka A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore~ in honor of, well, Christmas! I have to wonder just how many variations of this story/poem are out there!
  • The Palace Thief by Ethan Canin ~ in honor of Iowa becoming a state in December. The Palace Thief has nothing to do with Iowa but Canin is a member of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
  • Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth ~ in honor of New Jersey becoming a state and Philip Roth knows New Jersey oh so well.
  • In the Gloaming: Stories by Alice Elliott Dark ~ in honor of Dark’s birth month. This was a little dour for the last book of 2010. Oh well.

For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program: I thoroughly thought I would enjoy My Nine Lives by Leon Fleisher and Anne Midgette. Instead I only tolerated it. Oh well.


Goodbye, Columbus

Roth, Philip. “Goodbye, Columbus.” Novels and Stories. 1959 – 1962. Ed. Ross Miller. New York: The Library of America, 2005. 7 – 108.

Neil Klugman is a 23 year old man living with his self martyred aunt and uncle in Newark, New Jersey while his asthmatic parents convalesce in Arizona. “Goodbye, Columbus” is told from his point of view and could be seen as a Jewish American coming-of-age story about Neil’s summer romance with wealthy, snobbish Brenda Patimkins. It is closer to the truth to say “Goodbye, Columbus” is a commentary on class. Neil and Brenda’s socioeconomic differences create subtle tensions between the couple until they discover their relationship is built on lust rather than love. This is most apparent when Neil says, “Actually we did not have the feelings we said we had until we spoke them – at least I didn’t, to phrase them was to invent them and own them” (p 19). I have to admit it took me a while to figure out where the title of the story came from. Turns out, Brenda’s brother would listen to what Neil referred to as the “Columbus record” before bed – a recording of his Ohio State sports career. Neil could hear a moaning of the words, “Goodbye, Columbus” over and over again.

Favorite lines: “…it was disturbing to Aunt Gladys to think that anything she served might pass through a gullet, stomach, and bowel just for the pleasure of the trip” (p 9)., and “Ther proposed toasts…Brenda smiled at them with her eyeteeth and I brought up a cheery look from some fraudulent auricle of my heart” (p 88).

Author fact: Philip Roth is so popular that in Texas there is an organization called the Philip Roth Society and it for the scholarly study and general appreciation of Roth’s work.

Book Trivia: Goodbye Columbus was made into a movie starring Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw. I was stunned by how many different actresses turned down the role of Brenda before Ali came along. Yet again, another movie I haven’t seen.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in two different chapters. First, in the chapter called “Jersey Guys and Dolls” (p 130), then in the chapter called “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” (p 238). This last admission cracks me up because MY cover of “Goodbye, Columbus” is a photograph of Philip Roth’s face!