Author Archives: george

A VERY STABLE GENIUS: DONALD J. TRUMP’S TESTING OF AMERICA By Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig


What better way to celebrate PRESIDENTS’ DAY than to read a book about our current President, Donald J. Trump. And who better to report on the chaos in the White House than Washington Post national investigative reporter Carol Leonnig and White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, both Pulitzer Prize winners. Beyond the daily chaos of scandal, investigation, Impeachment, and constant lies, Rucker and Leonnig present a President bent on perpetuation of his own power, even when it means imperiling our Democracy.

From the early days of the Trump Administration through the Mueller Investigation to the run-up to Impeachment, A Very Stable Genius delivers a portrait of a man unhinged–the very opposite of a very stable genius. Readers of this book will come away with a wealth of inside information–Rucker and Leonnig somehow accessed key insiders who are terrified about what Trump might do next–and insight into the plans for the 2020 Election. Could our country survive another four years of this madness? Will Trump win again? Check out the Presidential ad below. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Authors’ Note xi
Prologue — 1
PART ONE
1. Building blocks — 11
2. Paranoia and pandemonium — 25
3. The road to obstruction — 19
4. A fateful firing — 52
5. The G-Man cometh — 66
PART TWO
6. Suiting up for battle — 81
7. Impeding justice — 95
8. A cover-up — 109
9. Shocking the conscience — 129
10. Unhinged — 147
11. Winging it — 162
PART THREE
12. Spygate — 183
13. Breakdown — 198
14. One-man firing squad — 211
15. Congratulating Putin — 225
16. A chilling raid — 236
PART FOUR
17. Hand grenade diplomacy — 257
18. The resistance within — 278
19. Scare-a-thon — 294
20. An ornery diplomat — 316
21. Gut over brains — 328
PART FIVE
22. Axis of enablers — 349
23. Loyalty and truth — 366
24. The report — 380
25. The show goes on — 395
EPILOGUE 412
Acknowledgements 419
Notes 427
Index 443

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: 50th Anniversary Tour


I saw Jesus Christ Superstar back in the early 1970s. It was regarded as “cutting edge” and “avant-gard” at the time. Jesus Christ Superstar was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics).

My favorite song in the musical is a moving ballad sung by the character of Mary Magdalene who in Jesus Christ Superstar is presented as dealing with an unrequited love for the title character. Mary Magdalene sings “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” to express her conflicted feelings. “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” is unique for having two versions concurrently in the Top 30 of the Hot 100 chart at the time in Billboard magazine by Helen Reddy and Yvonne Elliman. But, below is my preferred version sung by Sarah Brightman. Today, Diane and I travel down to Shea’s Performing Arts Center to see Jesus Christ Superstar. Have you seen Jesus Christ Superstar? Do you have a favorite song from this musical?
MUSICAL NUMBERS:
Act One
“Overture” – Orchestra
“Heaven on Their Minds” – Judas
“What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying” – Jesus, Judas, Mary and Apostles
“Then We are Decided” – Caiaphas, Annas, Priests
“Everything’s Alright” – Mary, Judas, Jesus, Women, Apostles
“This Jesus Must Die” – Caiaphas, Annas, Priests
“Hosanna” – Jesus, Caiaphas and Company
“Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem” – Jesus, Simon and Company
“Pilate’s Dream” – Pilate
“The Temple” – Jesus, Ensemble
“Everything’s Alright (reprise)” – Mary, Jesus
“I Don’t Know How to Love Him” – Mary
“Damned For All Time/Blood Money” – Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Choir
Act Two
“The Last Supper” – Jesus, Judas, Apostles
“Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)” – Jesus
“The Arrest” – Judas, Jesus, Peter, Apostles, Annas, Caiaphas, Ensemble
“Peter’s Denial” – Maid by the Fire, Peter, Soldier, Old Man, Mary
“Pilate and Christ” – Pilate, Soldier, Jesus, Ensemble
“King Herod’s Song” – Herod and Company
“Could We Start Again Please?” – Mary and Peter
“Judas’ Death” – Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Ensemble
“Trial Before Pilate” – Pilate, Caiaphas, Jesus, Ensemble
“Superstar” – Judas, Soul Sisters, Angels
“The Crucifixion” – Jesus, Ensemble
“John Nineteen: Forty-One” – Orchestra

RUSSELL BAKER’S BOOK OF AMERICAN HUMOR


Russell Baker’s Book of American Humor (1993) collects plenty of funny writing that will make you smile…and laugh out loud. Russell Baker wanted to give a historical flavor to this book so you’ll see pieces by Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, and Abraham Lincoln. Robert Benchley is well represented as is H. L. Mencken. The usual suspects are here: O. Henry, Damon Runyon, James Thurber, and Ring Lardner. But Russell Baker includes some unusual choices like Chester Himes and Mae West.

Cast your eyes on the Table of Contents and you’ll see some familiar pieces, but there’s plenty of humorous writing that I was unfamiliar with in this 598 page tome. Copies are available on-line at affordable prices. Do you have a favorite humor writer? Are they included in this anthology? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction p. 15
SECTION ONE: Comical-Tragical Tales 15
“Clothes Make the Man” — Nunnally Johnson p. 29
“Jack Schmidt, Arts Administrator” — Garrison Keillor p. 41
“Ex Parte” — Ring Lardner p. 48
“Confessions of a Humorist” — O. Henry p. 57
“The Mourner” — Bruce Jay Friedman p. 64
“The Death of Julius Caesar”– Leo Rosten p. 70
“Broadway Complex” — Damon Runyon p. 78
SECTION TWO: Shameless Frivolity 89
“Contributors to This Issue” — Robert Benchley p. 93
“Hymn to Ham” — Roy Blount, Jr. p. 94
“Song to Bacon” — Roy Blount, Jr. p. 96
“Song to Grease” –Roy Blount, Jr. p. 97
“A Look at Organized Crime”– Woody Allen p. 98
“There Ain’t No Justice” — Chester Himes p. 101
“Wally Ballou Visits Sturdley House” — Bob & Ray p. 103
“Exam Time” — Robert Benchley p. 108
“Reader’s Digest Threatened . . .” — Bill Vaughan p. 110
“Captain Blood” — Donald Barthelme p. 111
“The Retort Transcendental” — E. B. White p. 115
“More Songs for Meller” — Robert Benchley p. 117
“A Strange Story” — O. Henry p. 119
“The Prisoner of Zembla” –O. Henry p. 120
The Horace Greeley Story — Mark Twain p. 122
“Maxims from the Chinese” — Robert Benchley p. 125
SECTION THREE: The Human Muddle 127
Briefly Speaking — Finley Peter Dunne p. 131
“Tain’t So” — Langston Hughes p. 131
“The Busy-Body, No. 4” — Benjamin Franklin p. 135
“The Drinker’s Dictionary” — Benjamin Franklin p. 138
“Add Hot Water; Serves Fourteen Million” — Thomas Meehan p. 143
“A Comedy in Rubber” — O. Henry p. 148
“How to Tell a Fine Old Wine” — James Thurber p. 152
“Fake French in Nine (Neuf) Easy Lessons”– P. J. O’Rourke p. 155
Briefly Speaking — Finley Peter Dunne p. 158
“Bye-Bye, Silver Bullets” — Russell Baker p. 158
Duke and Douphin Excerpt from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain p. 161
Emmeline Excerpt from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain p. 166
Briefly Speaking — Finley Peter Dunne p. 170
SECTION FOUR: This Sex Problem 171
A Perplexing Question — Fannie Flagg p. 175
Briefly Speaking — Mae West p. 177
“Fate Keeps On Happening” — Anita Loos p. 177
“How Much Should a Woman Eat?” — H. L. Mencken p. 185
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” — James Thurber p. 187
“What Did We Do Wrong?” –Garrison Keillor p. 191
Three Letters — Abraham Lincoln p. 198
“Old Mistresses Apologue” — Benjamin Franklin p. 203
“Somewhere a Roscoe . . .” — S. J. Perelman p. 204
SECTION FIVE: Parody, Burlesque, Criticism, and Pain 209
“What He Told Me” — Frank Gannon p. 213
“Pornocopia” — Michael O’Donoghue p. 216
“Cloudland Revisited: Roll On, Thou Deep and Dark Scenario, Roll” — S. J. Perelman p. 222
“A Talkative Jerk” — A. J. Liebling p. 227
“The Correspondent-School Linguist” — Robert Benchley p. 233
“How Love Came to General Grant” — Donald Ogden Stewart p. 234
“My Cat Book Won’t Come” — Roy Blunt, Jr. p. 242
“Sitting on a Seesaw” — Roy Blunt, Jr. p. 245
“Muck-a-Muck” — Bret Harte p. 249
“A Book Review” — Finley Peter Dunne p. 254
“The Making of Theodore H. White” — Nora Ephron p. 257
“From There to Infinity” — Peter DeVries p. 261
Briefly Speaking — Kin Hubbard p. 265
SECTION SIX: Family Life 267
“Society Wedding: A Swinging Social Soiree” — William Geist p. 271
“To Irving Hoffman” — Groucho Marx p. 274
Briefly Speaking — Finley Peter Dunne p. 275
Excerpt from Vital Parts — Thomas Berger p. 276
“How to Eat an Ice-Cream Cone” — L. Rust Hills p. 290
“A Hard Case” — Artemus Ward p. 295
“Stop Ironing the Diapers” — Barbara Ehrenreich p. 296
Four Dialogues — Erma Bombeck p. 299
“Ode to Thanksgiving”– Michael Arlen p. 304
Excerpt from Portnoy’s Complaint — Philip Roth p. 307
“To Harry Kurnitz” — Groucho Marx p. 310
SECTION SEVEN: Geographical Sneers 311
Briefly Speaking — Fred Allen p. 315
“The Hazards of Journalism…” — Billy Vaughan p. 315
“Can New York Save Itself?” — Dave Barry p. 317
“The Foolish Woman” — Ambrose Bierce p. 326
“A Nation of Shopkeepers Loses Three of Them through Contact with a Nation of Violence” — Calvin Trillin p. 327
“The Capital of a Great Republic” — H. L. Mecken p. 333
“Third World Driving Hints and Tips” — P. J. O’Rourke p. 334
Briefly Speaking — Fred Allen p. 338
“Texas Observed” — Molly Ivins p. 338
SECTION EIGHT: Politics and Patriots 343
“Man and Lightning” — Ambrose Bierce p. 347
Lieutenant Scheisskopf — Joseph Heller p. 347
“How Old Abe Received the News of His Nomination”– Artemus Ward p. 358
“A Romance – William Barker, the Young Patriot” –Artemus Ward p. 359
“The Draft in Baldinsville” — Artemus Ward p. 360
“Nasby Shows Why He Should Not Be Drafted” — David Ross Locke p. 363
“Nasby Writes His Flock from a Union Jail” — David Ross Locke p. 364
Cables from the White House — Abraham Lincoln p. 366
“Two Letters, Both Open” — E. B. White p. 368
“Woman Suffrage” — Finley Peter Dunne p. 372
“Salmagundi No. XI” — Washington Irving p. 374
“Coolidge” — H. L. Mencken p. 379
“Call This a Govment!” Excerpt from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain p. 382
“Backwacking: A Plea to the Senator” — Ralph Ellison p. 384
“The Great Starch Debate” –Roger Angell p. 389
Briefly Speaking — Finley Peter Dunne p. 394
SECTION NINE: Media 395
“The Years with Navasky” — Calvin Trillin p. 399
“The XI P.M. Report” — Russell Baker p. 403
“Journalese, or Why English Is the Second Language of the Fourth Estate” — John Leo p. 405
“The Lowell-Hawthorne Incident” — Eugene Field p. 414
“Informed Opinion, the Lifeblood of Our Way of Life — Bill Vaughan p. 416
“Partners” — Veronica Geng p. 418
“Press Relations” — Art Buchwald p. 420
“A Matter of Style” — Larry L. King p. 425
“The Cape Codder” — Fred Allen p. 429
“Drill for a Rookie” — H. L. Mencken p. 431
SECTION TEN: Fable, Lore, and Fantasy 439
“The Patient Toiler Who Got It in the Usual Place” — George Ade p. 443
“The Fable of How the Fool-Killer Backed Out of a Contract” — George Ade p. 444
“The Fable of the Slim Girl Who Tried to Keep a Date That Was Never Made” — George Ade p. 445
“The Fable of the Copper and the Jovial Undergrads” — George Ade p. 446
“The Two Turkeys” — James Thurber p. 448
“The Tiger Who Understood People” — James Thurber p. 449
“The Lion Who Wanted to Zoom” — James Thurber p. 450
“The Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing” — James Thurber p. 451
“The Tortoise and the Hare” — James Thurber p. 452
Talking Mule Story — Zora Heale Hurston p. 453
Competition for a Girl –Zora Heale Hurston p. 454
Woman’s Strength Story –Zora Heale Hurston p. 455
Squinch Owl Story — Zora Heale Hurston p. 458
“the coming of archy” — Don Marquis p. 459
“mehitabel was once Cleopatra” — Don Marquis p. 461
“mehitabel and her kittens” –Don Marquis p. 462
“mehitabel dances with boreas” — Don Marquis p. 466
“How to Tell a True Princess” — Ring Lardner p. 470
“A Bedtime Story” — Ring Lardner p. 471
God Visits Hell — Stanley Elkin p. 474
Ten Primer Lessons — Eugene Field p. 477
“The Angel of the Odd” — Edgar Allan Poe p. 483
SECTION ELEVEN: Looking Back 491
“Uncle Dockery and the Independent Bull” –Joseph Mitchell p. 495
“Reunion in Gehenna” — S. J. Perelman p. 500
Uncle Harold — Russell Baker p. 505
“My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award” — Jean Shepard p. 511
“The Night the Old Nostalgia Burned Down” — Frank Sullivan p. 523
“Father and His Pet Rug” –Clarence Day p. 527
“The Night the Ghost Got In” — James Thurber p. 531
SECTION TWELVE: A Gnashing of Humorists 537
“Sauce for the Gander” — S. J. Perlman p. 541
Letter to John J. McCarthy — Fred Allen p. 545
“The Fundamentals of Contemporary Courtesy” — P. J. O’Rourke p. 546
Excerpts from The Devil’s Dictionary — Ambrose Bierce p. 552
“Fear of Flying Isn’t Groundless” — Mike Royko p. 554
“Manners” — Fran Lebowitz p. 556
“The Joggers’ Prayer” — Tom Wolfe p. 559
“The Waiting Game” — Arthur Hoppe p. 560
“Political Economy” — Mark Twain p. 561
“My Watch” —Mark Twain p. 566
“A Little Flight Music” — William K. Zinsser p. 568
“Uncle Edith’s Ghost Story” — Robert Benchley p. 571
Notes on the Contributors p. 575
Copyright Acknowledgments p. 587
Index p. 595

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #580: FIGHTERS OF FEAR: OCCULT DETECTIVE STORIES Edited By Mike Ashley


Mike Ashley’s entertaining and informative introductions to these 31 stories are worth the price of admission! The genre of Occult Detectives dates back to 1869 with Le Fanu’s “Green Tea.” Ashley arranges the stories in chronological order so readers can see how the genre developed. Many of the stories Ashley includes in Fighters of Fear feature obscure stories by forgotten writers, but Ashley’s introductions both put the writer in context and includes suggestions where more of the writer’s work can be found.

My favorite stories in Fighters of Fear are Sax Rohmer’s “The Ivory Statue” (Moris Klaw), Seabury Quinn’s “The Jest of Warburg Tantavul” (Jules de Grandin), Manly Wade Wellman’s “The Shonokins” (John Thunstone), and Joseph Payne Brennan’s “The Dead of Winter Apparition” (Lucius Leffing). If you have any interest in Occult Detectives, Fighters of Fear is a must-buy. Weighing in at 615 pages, this book is a bargain! GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction, Mike Ashley v
“Green Tea,” Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu 1
“The Shining Pyramid,” Arthur Machen 34
“The Haunted Child,” Arabella Kenealy 58
“The Mystery of the Felwyn Tunnel,” L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace 70
‘The Story of Yand Manor House,” E. & H. Heron 90
“The Tapping on the Wainscott,” Allan Upward 104
“Samaris,” Robert W. Chambers 117
“The Whistling Room,” William Hope Hodgson 147
“The Woman with the Crooked Nose,” Victor Rousseau 165
“The Sorcerer of Arjuzanx,” Max Rittenberg 178
“The Ivory Statue,” Sax Rohmer 193
“The Stranger,” Claude & Alice Askew 211
“The Swaying Vision,” Jessie Douglas Kerruish 227
“The Sanatorium,” F. Tennyson Jesse 243
“The Villa on the Borderive Road,” Rose Champion de Crespigny 263
“The Room of Fear,” Ella Scrymsour 281
“The Seven Fires,” Philippa Forest 296
“The Subletting of the Mansion,” Dion Fortune 311
“The Jest of Warburg Tantavul,” Seabury Quinn 332
“The Soldier,” A. M. Burrage 361
“The Horror of the Height,” Sydney Horler 373
“The Mystery of Iniquity,” L. Adams Beck 387
“The Thought-Monster,” Amelia Reynold Long 427
“The Shut Room,” Henry S. Whitehead 439
“Dr. Muncing, Exorcist,” Gordon MacCreagh 464
“The Case of the Haunted Cathedral,” Margery Lawrence 489
“The Shonokins,” Manly Wade Wellman 520
“The Dead of Winter Apparition,” Joseph Payne Brennan 534
“The Garden of Paris,” Eric Williams 557
“St. Michael and All Angels,” Mark Valentine 576
“Jeremiah,” Jessica Amanda Salmonson 595
Copyright Acknowledgements and Story Sources 611
About the Editor 612

THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY By A. C. Grayling


Yes, The History of Philosophy is 682 pages of insightful writing about dozens of philosophers. This is the best one-volume history of the subject that I’m aware of. Grayling writes clear, concise descriptions of each philosopher’s thought. If you’re interested in this subject, this is the go-to book. Do you have a favorite philosopher? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Preface xi
Acknowledgements xii
Introduction xv
PART ONE: ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Philosophy Before Plato 3
The Presocratic Philosophers 9
Thales 9
Anaximander 14
Pythagoras 16
Xenophanes 18
Heraclitus 24
Parmenides 27
Zeno of Elea 31
Empedocles 35
Anaxagoras 39
Leucippus and Democritus 43
The Sophists 47
Socrates 51
Plato 58
Aristotle 80
Greek and Roman Philosophy After Aristotle 98
Cynicism 100
Epicureanism 103
Stoicism 108
Skepticism 115
Neoplatonism 123
PART TWO: MEDIEVAL AND RENASISSANCE PHILOSOPHY
Philosophy of Medieval Times 137
Augustine 137
Boethius 142
Anselm 145
Abelard 148
Aquinas 150
Roger Bacon 158
Duns Scotus 161
William of Ockham 164
Philosophy of the Renaissance 168
Renaissance Platonism 171
Renaissance Humanism 175
Renaissance Political Thought 185
PART THREE: MODERN PHILOSOPHY
The Rise of Modern Thought 195
Francis Bacon 197
Descartes 200
Hobbes 209
Spinoza 211
Locke 217
Berkley 226
Leibniz 232
Hume 240
Rousseau 250
Kant 256
The Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment 268
Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century 279
Bentham 280
Hegel 287
Schopenhauer 297
Positivism 302
Mill 303
Marx 307
Nietzsche 314
Idealism 320
Pragmatism 328
PART FOUR: PHILOSOPHY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Analytic Philosophy 339
Russell 344
Frege 357
Moore 365
Wittgenstein: The Early Philosophy 370
Logical Positivism 377
Carnap 386
Quine 388
Popper 395
Wittgenstein: The Later Philosophy 400
Ordinary Language Philopshy 405
Ryle
Austin
Strawson
Philosophy of Language 417
Davidson
Dummett
Kripke
Philosophy of Mind 433
Ethics 444
Stevenson
Hare
Mackie
Virtue Ethics
Political Philosophy 457
Rawls
Nozick
Feminist Philosophy 466
Continental Philosophy 471
Husserl 473
Heidegger 476
Merleau-Ponty 484
Sartre 485
Gadamer 492
Ricoeur 497
Deleuze 500
Derrida 504
Continental Thought: Un Salon des Refuses 506
PART FIVE: INDIAN, CHINESE, ARABIC-PERSIAN, AND AFRICIAN PHILOSOPHY
Indian Philosophy 519
Vedas and Upanishads
Samkhya
Nyaya-Vaisheckika
Buddism
Jainism
Carvaka-Lokayata
Chinese Philosophy 534
Confusianism
Confusius
Menius
Xunzi
Mohism
Daoism
Daodejing
Yijing
Arabic-Persiam Philosophy 554
Falsafa and Kalam
Al-Kindi
Al-Farabi
Ibn Sina (Avicenna)
Al-Ghazali
Ibn Rushd (Averroes)
African Philosophy 579
Concluding Remarks 583
Appendix: A Sketch of Logic 585
Fallacies of Informal Logic 593
Timeline of Philosophers 596
Bibliogrpahy 599
Index 611

ESSAYS ONE By Lydia Davis


Essays One certainly qualifies as a Big Fat Book, weighing in at 512 pages. Lydia Davis, in her “Preface,” states she wanted to collect her non-fiction articles in one or two volumes. When she saw the amount of material that she had written, Davis decided on two volumes. The second volume of essays is scheduled to be published on November 17, 2020 (probably another 500+ page volume). Lydia Davis is a translator and writer. I have a copy of Davis’s celebrated translation of Proust’s Swann’s Way on my shelf waiting to be read this year. But Davis is also a professor who teaches writing so some of the essays in this volume deal with the writing process.

I enjoyed Davis’s essay, “Revising One Sentence,” where she illustrates the revision process. After reading “Thirty Recommendations for Good Writing Habits” I hope to adopt a couple of Davis’s suggestions myself. “Be sure to read poetry, regularly, whether you are a poet or a writer of prose.” (p. 248) and “Cutting can be effective: it quickens the pace and involves more happening in a shorter space. But this does not mean that everything has to be short. You can write three thousand pages (as Proust did in In Search of Lost Time) and still be economical. In this case, economical simply means not saying more than you need to.” (p. 253)

Lydia Davis recommends books she likes or finds useful. She’s a fan of Flaubert (she also translated Madame Bovary) and Edward Dahlberg. Davis reads a lot of European writers and works I’m not that familiar with, but I’m now motived to track down. If you’re interested in reading intelligent, thought-provoking literary essays, I highly recommend Lydia Davis’s Essays One. I look forward to reading Essays Two. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Preface ix
THE PRACTICE OF WRITING
A Beloved Duck Gets Cooked: Forms and Influences I 3
Commentary on One Very Short Story (“In a House Besieged”) 28
From Raw Material to Finished Work: Forms and Influences II 31
A Note on the Word Gubernatorial 64
VISUAL ARTISTS: JOAN MITCHELL
Joan Mitchell and Les Bluets, 1973 69
WRITERS
John Ashbery’s Translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations 77
Young Pynchon 85
The Story Is the Thing: Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women 90
A Close Look at Two Books by Rae Armantrout 104
Small but Perfectly Formed: Five Favorite Short Stories 121
VISUAL ARTISTS: JOSEPH CORNELL
The Impetus Was Delight: A Response by Analogy to the Work of Joseph Cornell 125
THE PRACTICE OF WRITING (2)
Sources, Revision, Order, and Endings: Forms and Influences III 141
Revising One Sentence 169
Found Material, Syntax, Brevity, and the Beauty of Awkward Prose: Forms and Influences IV 177
Fragmentary or Unfinished: Barthes, Joubert, Hölderlin, Mallarmé, Flaubert 204
Thirty Recommendations for Good Writing Habits 226
VISUAL ARTISTS: ALAN COTE
Energy in Color: Alan Cote’s Recent Paintings 265
WRITERS (2)
“Emmy Moore’s Journal” by Jane Bowles 281
Osama Alomar’s Very Short Tales in Fullblood Arabian 285
Haunting the Flea Market: Roger Lewinter’s The Attraction of Things 291
Red Mittens: Anselm Hollo’s Translation from the Cheremiss 296
In Search of Difficult Edward Dahlberg 300
Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary 321
VISUAL ARTISTS: EARLY TOURIST PHOTOGRAPHS
Dutch Scenes: A Portfolio of Early Twentieth-Century Tourist Photographs 345
WRITERS (3)
The Problem of Plot Summary in Blanchot’s Fiction 367
Stendhal’s Alter Ego: The Life of Henry Brulard 371
Maurice Blanchot Absent 380
A Farewell to Michel Butor 385
Michel Leiris’s Fibrils, Volume 3 of The Rules of the Game 391
THE BIBLE, MEMORY, AND THE PASSAGE OF TIME
As I Was Reading 405
Meeting Abraham Lincoln 425
“Paring Off the Amphibologisms”: Jesus Recovered by the Jesus Seminar 443
A Reading of the Shepherd’s Psalm 464
Remember the Van Wagenens 475
Acknowledgments and Notes 503

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (2-CD Set)


Just as there are Big Fat Books, there are also Big Fat Movies. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) is a 165-minute (2 hours and 45 minutes) epic Spaghetti Western co-written and directed by Sergio Leone. Once Upon a Time in the West stars Henry Fonda as the villain. After Clint Eastwood turned down the role, Charles Bronson was cast as the protagonist. Claudia Cardinale plays a newly widowed homesteader and Jason Robards plays a bandit.

If you love Spaghetti Westerns, you’ll love this one. Vengeance powers this film as grievances get resolved at the barrel of a gun. While Once Upon a Time in the West was a box office hit in Europe, it flopped in the U.S. Some critics at the time complained about the film’s length. Are you a Sergio Leone fan? Do you like long movies? GRADE: A

ECHOES: THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF GHOST STORIES Edited by Ellen Datlow


Welcome to Big, Fat Book Week! I’ve been reading 500+ page books lately so it seemed the right time to dedicate a whole week to them. Let’s start with a new, massive (795 pages!) short story anthology. I’m not a big ghost story fan, but Ellen Datlow’s new anthology casts a wide net over the entire genre. There are mostly new stories and a few older stories include between these covers.

My favorite story is Alice Hoffman’s “The Other Woman.” Hoffman introduces us to someone familiar with ghosts and someone who explains how ghosts operate. Sadly, many of the stories in Echo are very sketchy about ghosts and that vagueness does not enhance their work. I also liked Seanan McGuire’s chilling “Must Be This Tall to Ride” about a carnival ride with ghostly aspects. Aliette de Bodard’s story of a sister trying to save her sister’s unborn child from ghosts is very gripping. And Jeffrey Ford’s “The Jeweled Wren,” a story about a retired couple who decide to explore a haunted house, shows the consequences of their grave mistake. Of the older short stories, I liked F. Marion Crawford’s spooky tale, “The Upper Berth,” from 1886. If you’re in the mood for a ghostly Smörgåsbord of stories, Echo is the book for you. GRADE: B
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction Ellen Datlow xii
“Ice Cold Lemonade 25ȼ Haunted House Tour: 1 Per Person,” by Paul Tremblay 1
“Linger Longer,” by Vincent J. Masterson 29
“Whimper Beg,” by Lee Thomas 53
“The July Girls,” by Alison Littlewood 85
“About the O’Dells,” by Pat Cadigan 107
“A Hinterlands Haunting,” by Richard Kadrey 141
“The Number of Things You Remember,” by M. L. Siemienowicz 155
“Must Be This Tall to Ride,” by Seanan McGuire 181
“The Surviving Child,” by Joyce Carol Oates 191
“The Medium’s End,” by Ford Madox Ford 247
“A Shade of Dusk,” by Indrapramit Das 256
“Icarus Rising,” by Richard Bowes 286
“The Puppet Motel,” by Gemma Files 300
“Air Valve Semilunar Astern,” by Nick Mamatas 340
“The Unwrapping,” by Terry Dowling 348
“The Upper Berth,” by F. Marion Crawford 376
“A Burning Sword for Her Cradle,” by Aliette de Bodard 403
“Precipice,” by Dale Bailey 428
“The Shooter,” by M. Rickert 457
“The Tree of Self-Knowledge,” by Stephen Graham Jones 468
“The Other Woman,” by Alice Hoffman 500
“The Loneliness of Not Being Haunted,” by Bracken MacLeod 505
“Mee-Ow,” by Garth Nix 525
“Jasper Dodd’s Handbook of Spirits and Manifestations,” by Nathan Ballingrud 542
“His Haunting,” by Brian Evenson 570
“The Jeweled Wren,” by Jeffrey Ford 588
“The Air, the Ocean, the Earth, the Deep,” by Siobhan Carroll 608
“The Ghost Sequences,” by A. C. Wise 627
“Deep, Fast, Green,” by Carole Johnstone 653
“Natalia, Queen of the Hungry Dogs,” by John Langan 691
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS 783

THE OSCARS 2020


I’m not sure we will even watch THE OSCARS tonight. The whole event lasts too long. There’s not much drama (or comedy). It all seems tedious and unexciting. But, here are my choices for the major categories. I wouldn’t consider 2019 a strong year for movies. My favorite movie, Ford Vs. Ferrari, probably won’t win anything. I have no special knowledge, so here goes nothing. Who do you think will win tonight?
BEST ACTRESS: Scarlett Johansson
BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Laura Dern
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Brad Pitt
BEST PICTURE: 1917
BEST DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes

MISS NELSON IS MISSING: THE MUSICAL (Adapted by Jeffery Hatcher)



When Diane was teaching Second and Third Grades in elementary school, one of her favorite books to read aloud to her classes was Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard and illustrated by James Marshall. Miss Nelson, a wonderful teacher, has the worst class in the school. No matter what she tries, the students misbehave. One day, Miss Nelson doesn’t report for work. The class is elated…until the substitute teacher shows up: mean Viola Swamp. Viola Swamp cracks the whip and the students find themselves with extra homework and none of the fun activities they enjoyed with Miss Nelson. So the class decides to find Miss Nelson and beg her to return to their classroom.

The musical version of Miss Nelson Is Missing follows the plot. I especially enjoyed the performances of Lily Jones (Miss Nelson/Viola Swamp). Her Viola Swamp was very intimidating! This musical was held at the Theater of Youth (TOY) organization in downtown Buffalo. Most of the audience was kids (with parents and grandparents sprinkled in). There was a Q&A session after the one-hour musical and kids could take pictures with their favorite actors on the stage. A fun outing for all. Do you have a favorite kids book? GRADE: B+