If you received a gift card for Christmas or a birthday and you’re looking for something to spend it on, might I suggest you consider the new Penguin Book of the British Short Story edited by Philip Hensher. These two volumes provide a great survey of British short stories. Volume One takes you from Defoe to Buchan. Volume Two takes you from P.G. Wodehouse to Zadie Smith. These books would make a wonderful gift…to yourself! Check out the stories below. See any of your favorites? GRADE: A
General Introduction
Daniel Defoe: A True Relation of the Apparition of Mrs Veal
Jonathan Swift: Directions to the Footman
Henry Fielding: The Female Husband
Hannah More: Betty Brown, the St Giles’s Orange Girl: with Some Account of Mrs Sponge, the Money Lender
Mary Lamb: The Farm House
James Hogg: John Gray o’Middleholm
John Galt: The Howdie
Frederick Marryat: South West and by West three-quarters West
William Thackeray: A Little Dinner at Timmins’s
Elizabeth Gaskell: Six Weeks at Heppenheim
Anthony Trollope: An Unprotected Female at the Pyramids
Wilkie Collins: Mrs Badgery
Charles Dickens: Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings
Thomas Hardy: The Three Strangers
Margaret Oliphant: The Library Window
Robert Louis Stevenson: The Body Snatcher
Arthur Conan Doyle: Silver Blaze
Arthur Morrison: Behind the Shade
“Mrs Ernest Leverson”: Suggestion
Evelyn Sharp: In Dull Brown
T. Baron Russell: A Guardian of the Poor
Joseph Conrad: Amy Foster
H. G. Wells: The Magic Shop
M. R. James: The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral
˜Saki™: The Unrest-Cure
G. K. Chesterton: The Honour of Israel Gow
Max Beerbohm: Enoch Soames
Arnold Bennett: The Matador of the Five Towns
D. H. Lawrence: Daughters of the Vicar
Rudyard Kipling: The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat
Stacy Aumonier: The Great Unimpressionable
Viola Meynell: The Letter
A. E. Coppard: Olive and Camilla
E. M. Delafield: Holiday Group
Dorothy Edwards: A Country House
John Buchan: The King of Ypres
Author Biographies
General Introduction
P. G. Wodehouse: Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court
‘Malachi” Whitaker: Courage
Jack Common: Nineteen
Elizabeth Bowen: The Dancing-Mistress
Evelyn Waugh: Cruise
James Hanley: The German Prisoner
T. H. White: The Point of Thirty Miles
Julian Maclaren-Ross: Death of a Comrade
Alum Lewis: Private Jones
“Henry Green’: The Lull
Sylvia Townsend Warner: The Trumpet Shall Sound
W. Somerset Maugham: Winter Cruise
Roald Dahl: Someone Like You
L. A. G. Strong: The Rook
T. f. Powys: The Key to the Field
Graham Green: The Hint of Explanation
G. F. Green: A Wedding
Angus Wilson: The Wrong Set
Rhys Davies: The Human Condition
Francis King: The Mouse
William Sansom: A Contest of Ladies
Samuel Selvon: Knock on Wood
Muriel Spark: Bang-Bang You’re Dead
Robert Aickman: Bind Your Hair
V. S. Naipaul: The Perfect Tenants
J. G. Ballard: The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D
Christine Brooke-Rose: Red Rubber Gloves
Elizabeth Taylor: In and Out of the Houses
Kingsley Amis: Mason’s Life
Alan Sillitoe: Mimic
V. S. Pritchett: The Camberwell Beauty
“Jean Rhys”: Pioneers, Oh, Pioneers
Ian McEwan: Pornography
Angela Carter: The Courtship of Mr. Lyon
Doris Lessing: Notes for a Case History
Penelope Fitzgerald: The Means of Escape
Alasdair Gray: Five Letters from an Eastern Empire
Bernard MacLaverty: Phonefun Limited
Shena MacKay: Cardboard City
Beryl Bainbridge: The Longstop
Douglas Dunn: Bobby’s Room
Georgina Hammick: Grist
Adam Marz-Jones: Baby Church
George MacKay Brown: Three Old Men
A. S. Byatt: Racine and the Tablecloth
Martin Amis: Career Move
Candia McWilliam: The Only Only
Janice Galloway: last thing
Ali Smith: miracle survivors
Tessa Hadley: Buckets of Blood
Adam Marek: The 40-Litre Monkey
Jon McGregor: The Remains
Zadie Smith: The Embassy of Cambodia
Author Biographies


Jeff Meyerson mentioned The Commitments in one of his comments yesterday and I decided to watch this wonderful 1991 movie again. Alan Paker directs this story of Irish musicans in the Eighties who are looking for their break to play soul music. The plot revolves around their plan to meet Wilson Pickett who is touring Ireland. One of the great parts of The Commitments is the great music from that era. Just check out the songs on The Commitments soundtrack:
Mustang Sally 4:02
Take Me To The River 3:36
Chain Of Fools 2:58
The Dark End Of The Street 2:34
Destination Anywhere 3:08
I Can’t Stand The Rain 3:12
Try A Little Tenderness 4:31
Treat Her Right 3:35
Do Right Woman Do Right Man 3:15
Mr. Pitiful 2:07
I Never Loved A Man 3:09
In The Midnight Hour 2:21
Bye Bye Baby 3:21
Slip Away 4:27

Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul By James McBride

James McBride takes on an almost impossible quest in Kill’Em and Leave. Soul singer James Brown was a secretive person who didn’t leave much behind when he died. Oh, except that $100 million dollars that the lawyers and the courts are eating up like the estate of Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. McBride provides the rough outlines of James Brown’s life, his rise to the top and his slide to the bottom. James Brown’s marriages provide part of the reason Brown became an PCP addict. There’s plenty of sadness in Kill ‘Em and Leave. But during the mid-Sixties and early Seventies, McBride argues that James Brown challenged Motown for soul supremacy. After reading this book, I want to go back and listen to some of those old James Brown albums. Do you have a favorite James Brown song? GRADE: B


The Buffalo Bills went into the 2016 NFL Draft needing one of everything. Mostly, the Bills need help shoring up their porous defense. Their first three picks were defensive players. The big surprise was the choice of Ohio State quartback Cardale Jones, a long-term “project.” How did your favorite NFL team do in the Draft?
1-19: Shaq Lawson, ER, Clemson
Moments after drafting the 6’3″, 269-pound pass rusher and reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, general manager Doug Whaley announced that Lawson would start for the Bills in 2016, running opposite fellow edge rusher Jerry Hughes.
2-41: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
The Bills traded a fourth-round pick this year, plus a fourth-round pick next year, to move up eight spots to land Ragland, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He’ll also start for the team in 2016, next to Preston Brown.
3-80: Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State
A versatile 6’3″, 300-plus pound interior defensive lineman with polished pass rush ability, Washington has effort and consistency issues to work through, but should factor into the defensive line rotation heavily as a rookie.
4-139: Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Buffalo rolled the dice on the big-name, big-talent Buckeye in the fourth round, but tempered immediate expectations by saying that he’ll spend the 2016 as the No. 3 quarterback behind starter Tyrod Taylor and backup EJ Manuel.
5-156: Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas
He missed the entire 2015 season with a foot injury, but that reportedly will not prevent him from missing time as a rookie. Williams is a light-footed 220-pound back with solid production and special teams capabilities as a potential third back.
6-192: Kolby Listenbee, WR, TCU
The Bills have been looking for a speed receiver to line up opposite Sammy Watkins, and the four-time All-American sprinter from TCU, Listenbee, is their latest attempt at finding that player. He’s very raw, but has potential.
6-218: Kevon Seymour, CB, USC
If you’re rolling the dice on a late-round pick, why not do so on a talented athlete? Seymour underwhelmed at USC, but near-6’0″ cornerbacks with 4.39-second 40-yard dash speed are not exactly easy to find.


“The United States currently imprisons five to nine times more people than Western European nations, and significantly more than China and Russia.” Alice Goffman says 3% of the adults in our nation are now under “corrective supervision.” That translates to 2.2 million people in prisons and Jails. An additional 4.8 million are on probation or parole. Goffman lived (more like embedded) with a series of fugitives in urban communities. She shows how lives are impaired by selective enforcement and lack of education. The system is stacked against this population segment and Goffman follows their lives to some heart-breaking conclusions. If you have any interest in what is happening in our cities and why a whole generation of young people in America’s underclass seems to be losing their way, On the Run documents the downward progress. GRADE: A
1. The 6th Street Boys and Their Legal Entanglements
2. The Art of Running
3. When the Police Knock Your Door In
4. Turning Legal Troubles Into Personal Resources
5. The Social Life of Criminalized Young People
6. The Market in Protections and Privileges
7. Clean People
Conclusion: A Fugitive Community
Epilogue: Leaving 6th Street
Appendix: A Methodological Note


Saliva Tree2
As Steve pointed out in a comment to last week’s FFB, The Color Out of Time by Michael Shea, Brian Aldiss wrote a version of H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space.” The Aldiss story is set in England where a meteor falls into a pond and strange occurrences follow. Like the Lovecraft story, the farmer and his family all under the strange spell of the aliens. Unlike the Loveraft story, Aldiss provides a variant ending. If you haven’t read The Saliva Tree you’re missing one of Brian Aldiss’s best stories.


do wah diddy
Jeff Meyerson mentioned the classic hits of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, another wonderful couple who worked in the Brill Building churning out great songs. Like Gerry Goffen and Carole King, like Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Ellie Greenwhich and Jeff Barry had their own original style. Who else could have come up with the smash “Do-Wah-Diddy” by the Exciters back in 1963? Other classics like “River Deep–Mountain High” appeared in 1967. Check out the list of songs below. I’m sure you’ll remember the tunes you grew up with! What’s your favorite?

1 I Can Hear Music The Beach Boys 2:37
2 I’ll Take You Where the Music’s Playing The Drifters 2:37
3 Out in the Streets The Shangri-Las 2:47
4 Maybe I Know Lesley Gore 2:36
5 He Ain’t No Angel The Ad Libs 2:28
6 I Have a Boyfriend The Chiffons 2:06
7 Baby Be Mine The Jelly Beans 3:13
8 Do-Wah-Diddy The Exciters 2:26
9 Everybody Come Clap Your Hands Moody & The Deltas 2:47
10 Nobody But You The Tokens 2:25
11 Here She Comes The Darlettes 2:19
12 Hold on Baby Sam Hawkins 2:44
13 You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me The Dixie-Cups 2:30
14 Good Night Babys The Butterflys 2:52
15 I Hear You Say (I Love You) Andy Kim 2:17
16 Little Boy Karen Verros 2:51
17 I Want You for My Sweetheart Bobby Sheen 2:55
18 That Boy Is Messin’ Up My Mind The Orchids 2:50
19 Hanky Panky The Summits 2:08
20 What Have You Been Doin’ The Majors 2:24
21 Every Little Beat The Fleetwoods 2:16
22 I Won’t Be Me Anymore Vic Donna 2:49
23 True True True Tony Pass 2:07
24 River Deep – Mountain High Harry Nilsson 3:57


Donald Trump swept last night’s Primaries in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, and Maryland. Hillary won Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware. As far as I’m concerned it’s Game Over. Hillary’s delegate count is insurmountable by Bernie Sanders. He should stay in the campaign but turn his jabs at Trump. The Cruz-Kasich “alliance” is too little, too late. Trump should be able to win the 1237 delegates he needs for the Republican nomination. Bring on the Conventions in Cleveland and Philly! What do you think?


escape from alcatraz
“DON SIEGEL’S “Escape From Alcatraz” is not a great film or an especially memorable one, but there is more evident skill and knowledge of movie making in any one frame of it than there are in most other American films around at the moment. It’s the kind of movie that could be more profitably studied in film courses than all of the works of Bergman and Fellini combined. That’s not to say that Mr. Siegel (“Dirty Harry,” “The Beguilded,” “Riot in Cell Block 11,” etc.) outweighs those masters but that film students have a way of leaping into the art while still ignorant of the craft. Craft is something that a Siegel film demonstrates without half trying.”

Vincent Canby, the great critic of the New York times, wrote the above words back in 1979 when Escape From Alcatraz opened. I saw this Clint Eastwood film way back when and hadn’t seen it since until this new Blu-ray version came out. Canby is right: Don Siegel, one of my favorite directors, demonstrates facile film-making in this thriller. The suspense is slowly ratcheted up. Eastwood underplays his character to perfection. If you haven’t seen Esacape From Alcatraz, you’re missing a well-made thriller. GRADE: A

THE JUNGLE BOOK By Rudyard Kipling

the jungle book
I plan to see the new Disney version of The Jungle Book so I reread The Jungle Book. I first read The Jungle Book as a kid and had some vague memories of Mowgli, the baby raised by wolves. I did remember my favorite character in these stories: Kaa the python (the star of my favorite story in this collection, “Kaa’s Hunting:). If you’re a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan tales, you’ll see where ERB might have gotten his inspiration in these stories. Have you read The Jungle Book?
Table of Contents:
•Mowgli’s brothers
• Hunting song of the Seeonee Pack
• Kaa’s hunting
• Road song of the bandard-log
• How fear came
• The law of the jungle
• “Tiger-Tiger!”
• Mowglie’s song
• Letting in the jungle
• Mowglie’s song gainst people
• The king’s ankus
• THe song of the little hunter – Red dog
• Chil’s song
• The spring running
• The outsong
• “Rikki-tikki-tavi”
• Darzee’s chant.