Author Archives: george

DIANE AND I CELEBRATE OUR 7OTH BIRTHDAYS!


Today is Diane’s 70th Birthday. She is no longer the Younger Woman in my Life (I turned 70 in June). Patrick and Katie came home last week to celebrate our joint Birthdays over the Fourth of July weekend. Diane hosted her family mini-reunion and Birthday Bash on Friday and my family showed up on Saturday for more Birthday festivities. Katie, our resident baker, made a Birthday carrot cake for me and an apple pie for Diane. Yes, we reluctantly shared them with our families. Yummy!

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #537: REDHEADS DIE QUICKLY AND OTHER STORIES EXPANDED EDITION By Gil Brewer


In 2012, the University Press of Florida published the first edition of Redheads Die Quickly (you can read my review here), a collection of Gil Brewer’s short stories from the 1950s mostly set in Florida. Gil Brewer was a talented writer and produced wonderful novels and stories, but his many problems crippled his writing career. David Rachels’ excellent introduction provides the details of Brewer’s complicated life.

This new, expanded edition of Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories includes five stories not included in the original volume: “Sauce for the Goose” (Pursuit, January 1956), “They’ll Find Us” (Accused, January 1956), “Whiskey” (Pursuit, November 1956), “Kill Crazy” (Posse, April 1957), and “Meet Me in the Dark” (Manhunt, February 1958). If you’re looking for suspenseful noir, psychological thrills, and chilling tales, Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories Expanded Edition delivers 30 intense chronicles the terrors on the dark edges of life. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
A Note on the Expanded Edition/Introduction to the First Edition 1
Bibliography of Gil Brewer’s Short Fiction 12
A Note on the Texts/About the Author 16
1. “With this Gun–” 17
2. “It’s Always Too Late” 25
3. “Moonshine” 33
4. “My Lady is a Tramp” 40
5. “Red Twilight” 50
6. “Don’t Do That” 53
7. “Die, Darling, Die” 59
8. “Sauce for the Goose” 75
9. “They’ll Find Us” 85
10. “The Black Suitcase” 93
11. “Shot” 104
12. “The Gesture”
13. “Home” 111
14. “Home Again Blues” 116
15. “Mow the Green Grass” 141
16. “Come Across” 136
17. “Cut Bait” 144
18. “Matinee” 150
19. “Whiskey” 157
20. “The Ax Is Ready” 169
21. “On a Sunday Afternoon” 177
22. “Kill Crazy” 188
23. “Prowler!” 195
24. “Bothered” 199
25. “Smelling Like a Rose” 204
26. “Meet Me in the Dark” 209
27. “Death of a Prowler” 227
28. “Getaway Money” 233
29. “Redheads Die Quickly” 238
30. “Harlot House” 245

OCTAVIA GONE By Jack McDevitt


I’ve read all the Alex Benedict novels by Jack McDevitt. My far and away favorite is Seeker, which won an Nebula Award for Best SF Novel of 2005. I sent a copy of Seeker to Bill Crider and his review can be found here. This new volume in the Alex Benedict series, Octavia Gone, involves the mysterious disappearance of a space station that was studying a black hole and looking for worm holes. Alex Benedict deals in finding artifacts and selling them. Benedict’s pilot and assistant, Chase Kopath, narrates the novel which is basically a Science Fiction mystery story. Benedict and Kopath follow the clues and discover a number of stunning facts.

If you’re in the mood for a twisty SF mystery novel, Octavia Gone will keep the pages turning while you’re enjoying the beach. If you want to read a terrific SF mystery novel, give Seeker a try. I like the earlier books in this series better than the later ones (which are still fun). You can
read my review of Echo here and Coming Home here. GRADE: B

Alex Benedict Series:
A Talent for War (1989) (also published as part of Hello Out There)
Polaris (2004), ISBN 0-441-01202-7
Seeker (2005) – winner of Nebula Award for Best Novel, ISBN 0-441-01329-5
The Devil’s Eye (2008), ISBN 0-441-01635-9
Echo (2010), ISBN 0-441-01924-2
Firebird (November 1, 2011), ISBN 0-441-02073-9
Coming Home (November 4, 2014), ISBN 0-425-26087-9
Octavia Gone (May 7, 2019), ISBN 0-481-49797-8

MY FIRST SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK!


Okay, I didn’t actually get a snail mail Social Security check, Social Security direct-deposited my benefit amount in my bank account. Now that I’ve turned 70, my Spousal Benefits came to an end, but my Social Security benefits maxed out. Diane decided to collect her Social Security when she turned 66 (full benefit). Many of our friends started collecting Social Security as soon as they hit 62 (partial benefit). Since we didn’t need the money, I decided to wait until I was 70 to collect. Social Security offers an incentive to wait: an 8% per year increase in benefits. Do you know of many investments that GUARANTEE an 8% return on your money? I don’t. So I took advantage of the Social Security increases for four years and now the money rolls in! How are you and Social Security getting along?

TITANSHADE By Dan Stout


Dan Stout’s SF police procedural Titanshade begins with the murder of a Squib, an alien envoy. He may have been entertaining a “candy” (aka, prostitute). But then a police Divination Officer shows up at the crime scene and uses the victim’s blood to get the Spirit of the murdered Squib to speak. Magic on top of this quirky world was a bridge too far for me. I finished reading Titanshade but my opinion of the novel didn’t change. Dan Stout shoved too many themes into this book instead of focusing on the actual crime. I knew whodunit within the first 50 pages. Then I had to slog through Titanshade’s 407 pages to learn I was right. Carter, the Dirty-Harry detective who narrates the novel, takes a lot of punishment. But, I’m guessing Dan Stout is busy writing a sequel. GRADE: C

BATMAN: BAD BLOOD [Blu-ray]


Batman disappears and Gotham City panics with the absence of its hero. Bat-Woman decides to search for the Dark Knight and finds Nightwing and Robin on the same mission. Later, Batwing joins the search party. As you might suspect, I’m a fan of these DC animated movies. Batman: Bad Blood is one of the darker films in the series, but the action is lively and the plotting is intense. Just the adventure for a hot Summer night of TV watching! GRADE: B+

SIEGE: TRUMP UNDER FIRE By Michael Wolff


Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury chronicled the first chaotic year of the Trump Administration (you can read my review here). SIEGE:TRUMP UNDER FIRE shows how the second year of the Trump Administration was even more whacked-out than the first year. Wolff interviews dozens of former Trump Administration officials who were either fired or left their White House jobs because of Trump’s volcanic rages. The staff around Trump withhold information that they know will set off a Trump tirade. Trump is only given limited options because he hates anything that he has to read or anything too complicated.

Wolff explores the specter of the Mueller Report on Trump and his actions in Year Two. One by one, many of Trump’s confidants–Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort–face prison time. Trump was convinced the Republicans would hold the House in the 2018 elections and mocked any reports to the contrary. One of my favorite chapters concerned the hearings on Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Trump vacillated in support of Kavanaugh. That episode emboldened Trump to shut down the Government over The Wall funding.

Your head will literally be spinning by the end of SIEGE: TRUMP UNDER FIRE. What a tragic mess for our country! GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Author’s Note xi
1 Bullseye 1
2 The Do-Over 21
3 Lawyers 38
4 Home Alone 50
5 Robert Mueller 60
6 Michael Cohen 75
7 The Women 88
8 Michael Flynn 99
9 Midterms 113
10 Kushner 125
11 Hannity 143
12 Trump Abroad 156
13 Trump and Putin 169
14 100 Days 185
15 Manafort 196
16 Pecker, Cohen, Weisselberg 209
17 McCain, Woodward, Anonymous 223
18 Kavanaugh 234
19 Khashoggi 246
20 October Surprises 257
21 November 6 268
22 Shutdown 282
23 The Wall 295
Epilogue: The Report 309
Acknowledgments 317
Index 319

NEW FRIGIDAIRE REFRIGERATOR


After the new Frigidaire range, Frigidaire microwave, and Bosch dishwasher arrived, Diane started giving our 22-year-old General Electric refrigerator some hard looks. The GE fridge was still working, no real problems, but Diane decided she wanted a new Fridgaire refrigerator to go with the new range and microwave. Like the other new appliances that we’re getting used to, the new refrigerator is a lot more quiet than the unit it replaced. The installers told us that this new Frigidaire refrigerator should use less power than our old GE fridge. Are you happy with your refrigerator?

WHERE I’M READING FROM: THE CHANGING WORLD OF BOOKS By Tim Park


Tim Park writes about Dickens, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, and more contemporary writers like Alice Munro. In these 37 short essays, Tim Park writes about the market forces that are changing what books get published and which don’t. Park explores the vanishing literary styles and the unintended effects of translation. A generation ago, literary criticism was a powerful force in determining reading tastes. Today, Park argues, literary criticism is a dying art form. Few people read literary criticism today, and fewer are affected by critical pronouncements–positive or negative. It’s all marketing in the publishing industry now. If you’re interested in serious fiction, Where I’m Reading From provides an accurate and disheartening picture of the literary landscape. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
ACKNOWLEGEMENTS vii
INTRODUCTION ix
Part I: The World Around the Book 1
1. Do We Need Stories? 3
2. Why Finish Books? 9
3. E-books are for Grown-ups 15
4. Does Copyright Matter? 19
5. The Dull New Global Novel 25
6. Reading It Wrong 29
7. Why Readers Disagree 35
8. Where I’m Reading From 41
Part II: The Book in the World 47
1. What’s Wrong with the Nobel? 49
2. A Game without Rules 55
3. Most Favored Nations 61
4. Writing Adrift in the World 67
5. Art That Stays Home 73
6. Writing without Style 81
7. Literature and Bureaucracy 89
8. In the Chloroformed Sanctuary 95
9. Writers into Saints 101
Part III: The Writer’s World 107
1. The Writer’s Job 109
2. Writing to Win 117
3. Does Money Make Us Write Better? 123
4. Fear and Courage 129
5. To Tell and Not to Tell 137

1. Stupid Questions 143
2. The Chattering Mind 149
3. Trapped inside the Novel 155
4. Changing Our Stories 161
5. Writing to Death 167
Part IV: Writing across worlds 173
1. ‘Are You the Tim Parks Who…?’ 175
2. Ugly Americans Abroad 181
3. Your English Is Showing 189
4. Learning to Speak American 195
5. In Praise of the Language Police 201
6. Translating in the Dark 207
7. Listening for the Jabberwock 213
8. In the Wilds of Leopardi 219
9. Echoes from the Gloom 227
10. My Novel, Their Culture 233

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #536: NO LAW AGAINST ANGELS, DOLL FOR THE BIG HOUSE, & CHORINE MAKES A KILLING By Carter Brown


This is the third omnibus edition of Al Wheeler mysteries, Numbers 7-9, that Stark House has published. Like the previous volumes (you can read my reviews here and here), these novels come from the mid-1950s when Alan Geoffrey Yates (aka, “carter brown”) was churning out mystery novels for his Australian publisher, Horwitz, on a monthly basis. A couple years later, the Al Wheeler books migrated to a U.S. publisher.

The seventh Al Wheeler mystery, No Law Against Angels(1957; revised U.S. edition, The Body, Signet 1958), involves Wheeler in the murders of two young girls with snake tattoos. The snake tattoos are required by the largest call-girl ring on the West Coast. Wheeler confronts a millionaire who wants to build a casino and almost dies as a result of the encounter. Later, a murderous meeting in a funeral home brings Wheeler to the brink of death again. No Law Against Angels delivers more than the average quota of dead bodies and plot surprises for a Carter Brown novel. GRADE: A-

Doll For the Big House (1957; revised U.S. edition, The Bombshell, Signet 1960), starts out with Al Wheeler searching for a missing rich girl and leading to a number of deaths as Al Wheeler works outside the Police bureaucracy to expose a massive corruption scheme. GRADE: B+

Chorine Makes a Killing (1957) features a change of pace when Al Wheeler leaves the Police Department to work for the law firm of Hammond, Irvine, and Snooks. Wheeler has to clear one of their clients from a murder charge. In exchange, Wheeler will get a new sports car. With his usual unorthodox tactics, Al Wheeler peels back all the lies and deceptions to get to the root of the crime. GRADE: B

These early Al Wheeler mysteries crackle with humor and violence and clever plots. And, like potato chips, you just can’t stop at one!