FORGOTTEN BOOKS #291: GUN GLORY FOR TEXANS By Marshall McCoy

gun glory for texans
“Marshall McCoy” was a pseudonym of Australian writer Leonard Frank Meares who published over 700 books in his career. He wrote plenty of adventures about “Larry & Streak,” a pair of cowboy knights-errant. In Gun Glory for Texans (1968) the pair defend the Lone Star state against slander. Plenty of vivid gunplay results! One reason the Marshall McCoy series published by Bantam Books was so popular was the covers done by James Bama (yes, the same James Bama that did the cover artwork for the Doc Savage series). These Marshall McCoy paperbacks have become very collectible, but if you run across a copy you’ll find some fine action writing, too!

BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE By Angela Hewitt

BACH ART OF FUGUE
Angela Hewitt, in her notes to this CD, says Bach’s The Art of Fugue challenged her much more than Bach’s Goldberg Variations and other works. In the short video clip below, Hewitt talks about her decision to record this late work of Bach. I have several recordings of The Art of Fugue, but Angela Hewitt’s new CD is on heavy rotation at the Kelley house. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this moving music, here’s your chance! GRADE: A

THE SENSE OF STYLE: THE THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO WRITING IN THE 21ST CENTURY By Steven Pinker

the sense of style
Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style explores contemporary grammar and writing. I really liked Pinker’s analysis of the difference of writing style between John Keegan’s classic A History of Warfare with John Mueller’s incisive The Remnants of War (pages 171-183). Such detailed explanations show just how writing can be improved. If you’re interested in giving your writing style a boost, Pinker’s lucid book will help. There are insights on every page! GRADE: B+

Table of Contents:
Prologue
Chapter 1: Good Writing
Chapter 2: A Window Onto the World
Chapter 3: The Curse of Knowledge
Chapter 4: The Web, The Tree, and The String
Chapter 5: Arcs of Coherence
Chapter 6: Tell Right From Wrong
Achknowledgments
Glossary
Notes
References
Index

THE DAMNED UNITED [Blu-ray]

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I’m not a big soccer fan, but I enjoyed this bio-pic about Brian Clough, one of England’s greatest soccer managers. If you’re interested in coaching styles, Clough’s is unique. Michael Sheen’s performance is astonishing! The screenplay was written by Peter Morgan (The Queen and Frost/Nixon). Director Tom Hooper captures the team dynamics and the essence of leadership. The cast is strong–Timothy Spall (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen), and Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)–and there are plenty of dramatic scenes. Most sports movies are ho-hum. Not this one! GRADE: A

WHY I’M NOT WATCHING GOTHAM ANYMORE

gotham
Dull, dull, dull. I had high hopes for Gotham, the Batman prequel on FOX. But after four sluggish episodes I’m bailing out. Gotham is a corrupt city. James Gordon is the only honest cop on the Gotham police force. Bruce Wayne is a 12-year-old kid. Catwoman is a 13-year-old living on the streets. The Penguin is washing dishes in a gangster’s restaurant. This is not quite what I expected. Are you still watching Gotham? What programs from this new season have you given up on?

MINNESOTA VIKINGS VS. BUFFALO BILLS

minnesota vikings vs. buffalo bills
After the 37-22 beat-down that the New England Patriots put on the Bills last Sunday, the Bills suddenly find themselves facing a team they might be able to defeat. The Minnesota Vikings don’t have suspended All-World running back, Adrian Peterson, and are playing a rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. The Bills need a win badly: they’re already two games behind the Patriots in the AFC East standings. How will your favorite NFL team do today?

HOW TO SPEAK MONEY By John Lanchester

how to speak money
Back in 1996, John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure burst on the mystery scene. It’s a wicked novel. Lanchester went on to write three more novels and a handful of non-fiction books. John Lanchester’s latest non-fiction book, How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say–And What It Really Means explains complicated financial concepts like credit default swaps in clear, simple terms. I’m considering using How to Speak Money in my INVESTMENTS class next semester. We all need to know more about how money works. This book does a terrific job in making the complex understandable. GRADE: A

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #290: HEAVY PLANET By Hal Clement

HEAVY PLANET
Heavy Planet includes Hal Clement’s famous science fiction novel, Mission of Gravity and its lesser known sequel, Star Light. The premise of Mission of Gravity is a mission to recover a scientific probe on the super-jovan planet of Mesklin where the surface gravity varies from 3 Earth gravities at the the equator to 700 Earth gravities at the poles. On this high-gravity planet, a “day” is 18 minutes! And yet, Mesklin has life in the form of intelligent, centipede-like creatures. Mission of Gravity was published in 1953 and Star Light was published in 1973. If you haven’t read these wonderful science fiction novels, you’re in for plenty of delight! Highly recommended!

ACCEPTANCE By Jeff Vandermeer

acceptance
I reviewed the first two books of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy here. Basically, a region of the United States has an alien infestation. The military call it “Area X.” They maintain a blockade around the area. Teams of scientists are sent into Area X, but they either die, disappear, or return deranged. I liked the first book in the series, Annihilation, best. I think Jeff Vandermeer needed to read some J. G. Ballard who also wrote about alien infestion, but much more effectively. Vandermeer’s constant flashbacks and second-person narration annoyed me. I can’t really recommend this trilogy. GRADE: C-

HUNTED/SHATTERED By Kevin Hearne

hunted keven hearne
shattered kevin hearne

Book Six of the IRON DRUID series, Hunted (2013), features a flight across Europe with vampires and some new monsters in pursuit. The Druid’s activities in Asgard still haunt him as Diana and Artemis use their powers to track him across the continent. Loki, and his evil daughter Hel, join forces to bring Ragnarok (the Final Battle to end the Universe). Hunted also includes a bonus novelette, “Two Ravens and One Crow,” which tells the story of how the Druid returns Odin’s spear to the ruler of Asgard.

Book Seven, Shattered (2014), is the first hardcover in the IRON DRUID series. The Druid gets an unlikely ally and manages to forge an alliance with Odin which will come into effect when Ragnarok begins (and it seems like it’s going to happen in the next few books of this series). Kevin Hearne introduces us to the pantheons of gods in India and Japan. The story expands and the identity of the secret adversary of the Druid is revealed. I’m all caught up on this series now. But, when the next volume is published in 2015, I’ll read it. GRADE: B (for both)