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+
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


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?


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+
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


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!


Tom Holland returns as teenager Peter Parker (aka, Spider-Man) in this 23rd movie set in the MARVEL Universe. Dealing with the aftermath of the events in THE AVENGERS: ENDGAME, Peter Park needs to get away and reflect on events. A class trip to Europe seems to provide the perfect solution. Also, Peter is interested in M.J. (Zendaya), but another student, Brad Davis (Remy His) competes for M.J.’s affection.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a MARVEL movie without some cool battle scenes with Bad Guys–in this case powerful Elementals. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Quintin Beck (aka, Mysterio), who is more than he appears to be. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury to complicate Spider-Man’s life. If you’re looking for a fun Summer movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home is your ticket to action-movie entertainment! GRADE: A-


Director Ron Howard is not known for his documentaries. But Pavarotti manages to capture the essence of the flamboyant opera singer. I’m not a huge fan of opera, but I have a couple dozen CDs of various operas (mostly Mozart) and opera singers (mostly Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and Renee Fleming). Ron Howard manages to interview Pavarotti’s ex-wife, his daughters (one of whom had completely broken with her father), various managers, some of Pavarotti’s mistresses, and friends. Yes, there’s plenty of music in Pavarotti but Ron Howard is more interested in exploring Pavarotti’s life instead of his opera performances.

For all of Pavarotti’s flaws, he clearly had a good heart. When his friend, Jose Carreras, wanted to return to the stage after a year of cancer treatments Pavarotti joined with Placid Domingo and Carreras to become The Three Tenors. Their concert was historic and the CD became the best selling opera recording ever. Over his career, Pavarotti’s recordings sold 100 million copies. He was on the cover of TIME and even starred in TV commercials. Pavarotti became the most well-known opera figure of his time. And, of course, Pavarotti’s voice was one of the best of the 20th Century. Luciano Pavarotti was a complicated man (even though he called himself a “simple peasant”) and Ron Howard’s documentary shows many aspects of his multi-faceted personality. Highly recommended! Are you an opera fan? Do you like Pavarotti’s music? GRADE: A


FX Network is pulling the plug on Legion after these 8 episodes air. Legion features Dan Stevens as David, a powerful mutant who has been treated as a patient with schizophrenia when in fact he was possessed by an alien. This final season blend psychedelic aspects with Alice-in-Wonderland references. This MARVEL series specializes in quirky characters–a woman who can switch bodies just by touching you, a time traveller, and two mutants who share a body, etc. Episode One started off with an assault on David’s cult by the strike team of Division 3 (the organization responsible for dealing with mutant threats). David dies, but time travel saves him. More incredible plot twists ahead! If you’re in the mood for something very, very different, I recommend Legion. GRADE: B+

CITY ON A HILL [Showtime]

Kevin Bacon plays a bent FBI agent, Jackie Rohr, who teams up with an African-American District Attorney, Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge), to solve a series of armored car robberies. If this has the look and feel of Homicide: Life on the Street, the explanation is the show-runner for City on a Hill is Tom Fontana–the guy who created Homicide: Life on the Street. Fontana grew up in Buffalo so there’s a local connection. Although it’s supposed to be set in Boston in 1993, City on a Hill is shot in Brooklyn with scenes from Boston weaved in. I like the roguish demeanor of Keven Bacon’s character. I like the earnestness of Aldis Hodge’s character as a rising star in a racist bureaucracy. Plenty of cop shows reside on cable and the Networks, but I’ve found after just a couple of episodes City On a Hill is a cut above the rest. GRADE: B+


Yesterday begins with Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling musical performer, getting hit by a bus just as the world is plunged into darkness during a weird electrical shutdown. Jack wakes up in a hospital with bumps and bruises and missing a couple of teeth. But in a short time, Jack realizes he’s the only person who remembers The Beatles. Everyone else has no idea who The Beatles were. They’ve been erased.

Yesterday is a high concept movie and either you buy into this alternate reality or you’ll not like this movie. Jack’s manager, school teacher Ellie Appleton, is the only person who believes in Jack’s dream of becoming a successful musician. Of course, Ellie is in love with Jack but for a decade Jack has only focused on his seemingly dead-end music career. But now that Jack is the only one who remembers The Beatles and their great songs, he decides to sing “Yesterday,” “Hey, Jude,” and “Eleanor Rigby” online. Suddenly, Ed Sheeran shows up at Jack’s door offering him a gig as Sheeran’s opening act. And, as you can expect, Jack’s songs fire up the crowd and stardom beckons. But as the crowds grow and Jack’s songs rocket up the charts, Jack becomes more unhappy. He’s guilty because he’s “stealing” The Beatles songs. And Jack finally realizes he loves Ellie. At its heart, Yesterday is an old fashioned love story. Danny Boyle juggles all the high concepts and Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love, Actually) provides a clever script. And, of course, if you’re a fan of The Beatles’ music, you’ll enjoy Yesterday. Are you a Beatles fan? Do you have a favorite Beatles song? GRADE: B