Books Read in June 2008

A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
Burroughs is every boy – just wants the love his father. Unfortunately we know this family from Running with Scissors and the love ain’t there kiddo. Besides a wacko Mother, he’s strapped to a philosophy professor father who has alcoholic rages, and stays in his downstairs bedroom most the time. Mooning for a Dad (any Dad) he crafts a ‘surrogate’ with pillows and discarded clothing. Sad-sad-sad.
This is another jaw-dropping Burroughs memoir – sans the signature humor – but it has way too much wining. One can only hope this book is a healing balm for Burroughs and he starts to explore his creativity and expand his repertoire. Enough of the family.

Earth: The Sequel by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn
Finally -- a book that gives us a little hope! American entrepreneurs work best when unfettered and with a big pay-off looming, so why not give those smart folks some incentive?? Lot’s of people around the globe are working on innovative technologies that will help solve the energy/pollution/global warming crisis.

Playing For Pizza by John Grisham
What does an NFL quarterback, aka “has-been,” who single-handedly loses the game that will take his team to the Super Bowl do? If you’re Rick Dockery, recently out of work and fodder for late-night jokes, you take the first job your agent finds. In this case that’s playing for the Parma Panthers in Italy. Definitely not the same standard as the NFL, but slowly Rick understands he’s not the same snob who left the good old USA either.
Great descriptions of Italian villages and trattorias. Fast read, and even though I’m not a huge football fan it was a decent read.

River God by Wilbur Smith
Oh, goodie – historical fiction. Set against the backdrop of the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, this is a story of war and love circa 1780 BC. Be prepared to fall in love with Taita -- inventor, artist and keeper of Lady Lostris, a beauty who becomes Queen of Egypt even though her true love (and the Father of he child) is NOT the Pharaoh.
This is an old-old book but I loved it years ago and loved it just as much this time around! Smith has written thirty novels, all extraordinarily researched, and he’s a master story-teller.

River of Heaven by Lee Martin
Sammy Brady's quiet life revolves around his basset hound, Stump. All that changes when the next door neighbor, becomes a widower and manages to weddle himself into Sammy's world. Soon they’re building a ship-shaped dog house, and attending cooking classes. Things are good until a reporter shows up to write a story about the dog-house. Alas! The reporter is related to Dewey Finn, Sammy's childhood friend who mysteriously died on a railroad track. Like any good reporter he dives into the un-solved mystery and things get complicated. Not enough? Enter the orphaned grandchild, wayward brother, and sleazy antique dealer.
I’m not a fan of this one. The characters are going in too many directions, people die off and/or disappear for no apparent reason. Maybe I’m getting cynical in my old reading age, but is there anything out there that’s great?? HELP!

The Man Who Fell In Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
This tale of love and loss is told by Shed, a half-breed bisexual Indian, and son of a prostitute, who, at age 12 is raped at gunpoint by the man who then murders his mother. He’s raised by Ida Richilieu—proprietress of the local whorehouse and mayor of Excellent, Idaho.
I read this book when it was first published back in 1992 and it was bizarre. These many years later I find it’s still bizarre, but poetic in a weird sort of way and I can almost guarantee this book is unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Weird sex, strange family connections, weird racial interactions. It’s a captivating, and be warned, bizarre book, but one you won’t be able to put down.

The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman
Dickie Sinfield is 52, and, well that’s the time you look back on your childhood and realize it was crappier than you care to remember. At age seven, Dickie’s family moves from the suburbs and she’s forced to become a cowgirl. At 18, she takes off, becomes a Salt Lake City newspaper reporter and hardly looks back. But when her brother is killed by poison gas at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Grounds, she comes home for the funeral -- where she faces her father's anger, her mother's infidelity, her best friend's betrayal, and her long-lost love, Stumpy Nelson.
What should have been a great book was a huge disappointment. The story had so much potential but Richman delivered a whiny memoir contrasted with a hard look at the government’s handling of chemical accidents. Read The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle instead.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see your'e back on the book bandwagen. Spaunbauer was a classmate at ISU, I wonder if he's still writing?

dancingbee said...

Good question -- I'll see what I can turn up.

belinda said...

O.K. here's the scoop. Spanbauer's latest book is Now Is The Hour, and was named one of the top 100 books of 2006. He's still kickin' and in fact just last weekend led a writers workshop on Dangerous Writing for the San Diego Writers, Ink. I love this Pocatello boy esp. since I was a Pocatello girl...