One of my all time favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs is “The Painted Desert” off the album, Our Time in Eden. If you have never heard it, the premise is simple. A couple is trying to have a long distance relationship. Or…one of them is anyway…While one is off in the Southwest, the other waits patiently for the time when he? she? can join the other. But, soon the patience tarnishes and the one left behind find themselves pleading, “I wanted to be there by May at the latest time. Isn’t that the plan we had or have you changed your mind? I haven’t heard a word from you since Phoenix or Tuscon. April is over. Can you tell how long before I can be there?” The underlying poison is that the partner has moved on and the answer to the question is “never.” How ironic.
Having said all that, April IS over. As far as the run is concerned, I begrudgingly ran a half mara and a 10k and despite not training for either, I am pleased with both races.
And I read a fair amount of books:
- Amber Beach by Elizabeth Lowell
- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
- The Corner: a Year in the life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Edward Burns
- The Evolution of Everyday Objects by Henry Petroski
- Bogey Man by George Plimpton
- To the Is-Land: an Autobiography by Janet Frame
- Charmed by Nora Roberts
- The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor
- “Unexplorer” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- “Travel” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- “Wild Geese” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz
- Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied by Amanda Happe
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).
Yes, it is now April 4th and I am just getting to this. April is slowly becoming one of those coulda, woulda months. I was supposed to run nine miles on Sunday. Instead, I had Easter dinner with the family and chilled out. I could have run on Monday but it snowed and I had Cairo. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, didn’t. April is supposed to he a half marathon (and you can see how well the training is going) and a 10k one week later. Here are the books:
- Amber Beach by Elizabeth Lowell – in honor of Lowell’s birth month being in April.
- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers – in honor of April being the month Louisiana was founded.
- Bogey Man by George Plimpton – in honor of the PGA tour.
- Corner by David Simon – in honor of Maryland becoming a state in April.
- Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petroski – in honor of April being Math, Science, and Technology month.
- Venus Throw by Steven Saylor – to continue the series started in March for Saylor’s birth month.
- Charmed by Nora Roberts – to continue the series started in February for Valentine’s Day.
- New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz – to continue honoring Poetry Month
- A Few Figs From Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay – see above.
- “Wild Geese” by Edna St. Vincent Millay – see above.
If there is time:
- To the Is-Land by Janet Frame – in honor of Anzac Day in New Zealand.
- Jargoon Pard by Andre Norton (I had to request this one through interlibrary loan so I’m not sure it will be read in time to be in the April category.
Here’s the singular thing I love, love, love about March: the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race in Holyoke, MA. I adore running this race. Runner’s World magazine has mentioned it more than once, calling it the mini Boston Marathon for it’s toughness. I PR’ed this year! But what I am more excited about is that this time I was only five seconds away from breaking an hour. Unlike last year (1:07:and something seconds) I was 1 hour and a measly four seconds. But, enough about running! Here are the books finished for March, 2017:
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB +EB)*
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (AB + print)
- Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy*
- Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe*
- Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam (DNF)
- Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph and Nina Shevchuk-Murray (EB)
- No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin (AB)
- Red Bones by Ann Cleeves
- Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith (DNF)
- Endymion by Dan Simmons
Early Review “won”:
- Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leone (received and finished)
- My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul (This has arrived & I have started it)
*Short enough to read in one day.
Halberstam, David. The Breaks of the Game. New York: Hyperion, 2009.
Reason read: March Madness is well, in March. Everyone has heard of March Madness before. Read in honor of college hoops time.
This is an interesting topic for a book. Halberstam follows the 1979-1980 sad season of Portland, Oregon’s basketball team, the Trailblazers. Not their winning year. Interestingly enough, they had won the championship the year before. They bombed the year after. Maybe that’s what Halberstam found so interesting. After Bill Walton left the team they simply imploded. Halberstam could have called his book The Wreckage Walton Left Behind.
According to Breaks of the Game between 1970 and 1979 the Portland Trailblazers won 322 games and lost 416 and yet their fan attendance went from a paltry 1,095 to a cap of 11,500 by 1979. The One to Watch was Bill Walton, a first round draft choice. After he joined the team season ticket holders jumped from 2,971 to 6,218.
True to Halberstam form, Breaks of the Game looks at every angle of the sport of basketball from the coaches to the players, from the referees to the sponsors, from the owners to the fans and everyone in between. If you like basketball, this is the book for you. If you love the Portland Trailblazers no matter their record, this is a must read.
As an aside, I have seen Dead concerts “with” Bill Walton. He and I are huge fans. He’s often in the front row (or close to it) while I’m in the nosebleed seats.
Author fact: I probably mentioned this before but Halberstam was tragically killed in an auto accident on his way to an interview. I still can’t get over that.
Book trivia: Breaks of the Game contains no photographs whatsoever (not even of Bill Walton) & is not indexed.
Nancy said: Nancy connects Breaks in the Game with another sports book, The Punch, since Kermit Washington was traded to the Portland Trailblazers following the infamous punch (p 226).
BookLust Twist: from both Book Lust and More Book Lust. From Book Lust in the obvious chapter called “Sports and Games” (p 225) and from More Book Lust in the even more obvious chapter called “David Halberstam: Too Good To Miss” (p 112).
I’m really looking forward to spring. The chance to run outside (sorry, New Guinea) & a little more green in my life. Here are the books planned:
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel ~ in honor of the best time to visit Mexico (AB). I think this will only take a few days to read so I’m adding:
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB) as a backup ~ in honor of the Oscars (even though they just happened, embarrassingly so).
- Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy ~ in honor of the time Niagara Falls stopped flowing, and,
- Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe ~ in honor of Nigeria’s president as of 2015.
Both of these fictions are short-short so I should be able to read them in a day or two each.
- Breaks in the Game by David Halberstam ~ in honor of March Madness (basketball)
- The Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph ~ in honor of Nebraska becoming a state in March.
- Red Bones by Ann Cleeves ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Up Helly Aa.
- Endymion by Dan Simmons ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Science Fiction month. This sucker is 600 pages long. Not sure I’ll finish it in time…
- Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith ~ to continue the series started in February in honor of Exploration month. This is an ILL and it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure I will finish it in time.
Early Review for LibraryThing:
- Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leonne ~ maybe. I “won” it in February but it hasn’t arrived yet.
- EDITED to ADD: I just got word I also “won” My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul. It isn’t expected to arrive for awhile so this is really an April book.
Bowden, Mark. The Best Game Ever: Giants Vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008.
Reason read: Football season starts in September. Even though Brady is out for the month I have confidence the Patriots will do well. In fact, they won their first game without Brady AND Gronk. Edited to add: 3 out of 4 without Brady isn’t too shabby.
This is the story of a football game, but not just any football game. It’s the nail biting, down-to-the-wire play by play of the December 28th, 1958 NFL World Championship Game (now known as the Superbowl) between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. I’ll pause to let that sink it…the Baltimore Colts…not the ravens nor in Denver. Anyway, Bowden takes the reader through the late 1950s and football’s growing popularity. He builds each team with mini biographies of team owners, coaches and star acquisition athletes like Frank Gifford and John Unitas. He sets the scene for their historic match-up, all the while outlining how the game has changed over the years. It isn’t until chapter six (out of eight, not including the epilogue) that Bowden gets to the night before the big game. 75 pages out of 239 are dedicated to the Best Game Ever. But, if you are a football fan of any kind, you will appreciate those 75 pages! Bowden has the ability to capture the excitement.
Author fact: Bowden also wrote Black Hawk Down (not on my list, but made into a movie). What are on my list are these two: Killing Pablo and Guests of the Ayatollah.
Book trivia: This is not unique to this book, but I really like the photos included up front: Bert Bell, the Giants in mid action, and coaches Tom Landry and Weeb Ewbank. There are other pictures but they are in the typical location, throughout the center of the book.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Baltimore” (p 34). I don’t necessarily agree with the inclusion of this book in the Baltimore chapter, but Nancy says it definitely belongs.