The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson, I learned from reading the back flap of my cherished First Edition of The Orphan Master’s Son, is a professor and lives in San Francisco. I got chills–genius is always so close and yet so far, right? I feel a stupid sort of pride in the fact that the author of such a great book lives in my neck of the woods.

I originally read this book right after it came out. I had just joined a book club and it was the very first book I read with that club; unfortunately it and maybe a couple of others were the only few books I thoroughly enjoyed over three years in the club (which in part led to the formation of the SBC). I reread The Orphan Master’s son last week and it was every bit as good as I remembered with the added oomph being that I now know so much more about North Korea (thanks, Donald Trump) than I did in 2011, and that made it all the more impressive and intriguing. Continue reading “The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson”

On Nature, Lucretius

I haven’t read philosophy since my 20s. Without a classmates and a teacher to be accountable to, philosophy is just behind math, science and cook books on my snore setting. But a girlfriend wanted to read it so I agreed to temporarily form a book club of two and let my selfish guard down slightly. She better not flake out and not read it because it’s pretty fucking tedious. But gold mining is tedious too, and occasionally the odd nugget makes the process completely worthwhile. Continue reading “On Nature, Lucretius”

1984 by George Orwell

The 80s are back and I can hardly believe it. There is a female editor (again, post Tina) at Vanity Fair, ridiculous volume in clothing, and a familiar new wave sound on the Sirius XMU channel, and they are giving me flashbacks. I never thought I’d worry about shoulder pads and nuclear war again, but here we are. Big Brother is one thing, but the return of Big Hair would be a real tragedy.

The news of the day, with themes of surveillance, white nationalism and American exceptionalism make it a perfect time to revisit George Orwell’s 1984. I sure hope they are still reading it in high school, although from the sound of the Parkland student speeches and youthful activism of the moment, maybe they don’t need to. 1984 made me quake in my jelly sandals in the 80s;  I’m glad to see the kids of 2018 have the courage to speak truth to power. Continue reading “1984 by George Orwell”

Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson

How do you write a report on a book by Hunter S. Thompson without sounding like a total asshole? I’m glad he’s not alive to google his name and find this blog entry (not that he would, but one of his minions might). I picture him in his prime, driving to my house, tumbler of whiskey in one hand, skull-head pipe in the other, just a finger or two on the wheel, making it from Aspen outskirts to unincorporated Calistoga in a bleary 15 hours so he could shoot out my lights personally with a lovingly polished 45 magnum. Continue reading “Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson”

Art of the San Francisco Bay Area (1945-1980), by Thomas Albright

It happened again: one of my heroes died before I even knew about him. First it was Chris Whitley, a musician and amazing song writer I first became aware of in 1991 when his song “Big Sky Country” was the sexiest, most memorable and poetic thing I’d heard on the radio in years and I bought the album. He was in his 30s then I think, and I thought I had plenty of time to hear him live, even though I never go to live concerts and didn’t even really think about it until I bought two more of his albums, Dirt Floor and Soft Dangerous Shores, the latter released in 2005, the year he died of lung cancer at age 45. By the time I fell in love with Soft Dangerous Shores he was dead.  Continue reading “Art of the San Francisco Bay Area (1945-1980), by Thomas Albright”

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris

May you live in interesting times. The old unattributed Chinese curse has a stranglehold on the country and something interesting/disturbing/terrifying has been happening almost every day. The 2016 election, the hurricanes, the shooting in Las Vegas, more hurricanes, more Trump, the wildfires in California, the Russia investigation, the terrorist bike path attack in New York…
Continue reading “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris”

Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was a busy, busy man. As I lay in bed watching Episode 23 of Parks and Recreation Season Two as if it were my job, I reflected on TR’s strenuous life and constant contributions and guilted myself into getting up and getting a new post started. By following the biography of his early years, Mornings on Horseback, with a selection of his own writing I thought I would stay engaged with one of our most energetic historical figures, but these writings focus on how to kill as many animals as possible, mostly for food. Yes, I eat meat, wear leather goods and have more animal skins scattered around my house than the average person, but I find myself wondering, “so when does the conservation part begin?”
Continue reading “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, Theodore Roosevelt”