BOOK REVIEWS/BOOK NEWS from AZPHM Staff
also see BOOKS2 for Press releases submitted by authors/agents/publishers
My friend Bob asked me if it makes a difference and I said no. But studies show there is a difference.
Kindle readers are "significantly" worse at recalling plot compared to paperback readers, according to a new Europe-wide study. The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month, showed that Kindle readers "performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order", researcher Anne Mangen of Norway's Stavanger University told the Guardian," having tested 50 readers on an Elizabeth George short story."When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right," she said. "You have the tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual ... [The differences for Kindle readers] might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story, is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you're reading. Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader's sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story."
SHOW BIZ Voice & Talent Work Anywhere
SHOW BIZ Voice & Talent Work Anywhere is the hot new book Sandy Gibbons shares his experience in Movies, Television and Commercials.
HOW NOT TO ACT LIKE AN ASSHOLE AT WORK
Book review by LeeAnn Sharpe
by LeeAnn Sharpe
This is the book club pick for me and it was hard getting through. It’s not that the story wasn’t interesting, it was. I guess I would call it dense in that it was packed so full of interesting characters, odd scenarios, and various philosophies, I had to take it slow. It was like a really rich chocolate caramel, so sweet it makes your head spin. Most books I read I fly through in a day or two. They’re like a salad with a delicious dressing but very light. But this one I could only handle in small doses. So it sat on my nightstand for about three weeks, like a box of chocolates, and each night before I went to sleep I could handle a few to about 30 pages. So those 386 pages took a while.
I must admit as the story progressed, I did become more attached to some of the characters. Alobar starts out pretty rough and crude and evolves. But then he has plenty of time in which to evolve. I really credit Kudra for most of his transformation. This is a story that makes you think about a lot of things. Maybe that’s why it took so long to digest. There is a sort of genius in his writing.
I’m curious about Tom Robbins and his other books: Another Roadside Attraction 1971, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues 1976, (which was made into a movie) and Still Life With A Woodpecker 1980, all written before Jitterbug Perfume in 1984. After he wrote Skinny Legs And All 1990, Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas 1994, Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates 2000 and Villa Incognito 2003. They all sound rather intriguing.
When Robbins was asked to explain his "gift" for storytelling in 2002, he replied: “I'm descended from a long line of preachers and policemen. Now, it's common knowledge that cops are congenital liars, and evangelists spend their lives telling fantastic tales in such a way as to convince otherwise rational people that they're factual. So, I guess I come by my narrative inclinations naturally.”
Can’t you just hear that Virginia accent? Seems like one of those dishes at the buffet that you just take a little bite of and know you want more but it’s so rich. My own father it was a gifted storyteller was also descended from a long line of preachers and policemen. And here I always thought it was just the bourbon that lubricated his tongue.
In 2000, Robbins was named one of the 100 Best Writers of the 20th Century by Writer's Digest magazine. Robbins also spent time with Timothy Leary and the author has said that one of the protagonists in Jitterbug Perfume (Wiggs Dannyboy) exhibited certain characteristics of Leary's personality; Robbins has admitted to using LSD with Leary. Even before I had finished the book I could’ve told you that! I think it was even brought up at the book club meeting that he had to have been on LSD when he wrote the book! And where it makes the story hard to follow sometimes, it certainly doesn’t detract from the richness and delicious flavor. I know I will be reading more of Mr. Tom Robbins.
The Choir Boy: Why I Turned to a Life of Crime With the Whitey Bulger Gang After Being Raped By My Scoutmaster
Eric Schneider life of crime began
after he was one of the young victims in the notorious
Boy Scout sexual abuse case that rocked Boston in the
mid-1980s. Most of the victims committed suicide. It’s a
tragic fact that sex abuse instills such self-loathing
many do not survive. It was big news
all over the country at the time. But then the news
moves on and the victims lead lives
with long-term psychological effects of childhood sex
abuse. Eric was no different.
His book covers everything he went
through from sex abuse to drugs to every kind of crime
you can imagine. He writes as if he were sitting there
telling you the story first hand. Sometimes it’s hard to
imagine he experienced everything he writes. But his
criminal record is verification enough. And it will make
you sad, then make you mad that this could happen.
This is an interesting read and speaks to the issue of child sex abuse and how it impacts an entire life.
I received this book on Feb 28th, 2014 for review. Mike Martin is a friend from the Wallace Lunch Group, so I see him most Friday's for lunch. He has always told the most fascinating stories and has traveled the world. I am reading the book today and will post my review when completed.
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure
This is an exciting story with life lessons that will shock and surprise.
Order here CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4061344
Elmore John Leonard, Jr. was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, ... Wikipedia
Born: October 11, 1925, New Orleans, LA
Died: August 20, 2013, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Movies and TV shows: Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, More
Spouse: Christine Kent (m. 1993–2011)
Awards: Cartier Diamond Dagger, Hammett Prize, Martin Beck Award, Michigan Author Award, Edgar Award for Best Novel, Edgar Grand Master Award, Grand Prix de Littérature Policière - International Category
Many of Leonard's books and short stories were adapted to films. Those books include Get Shorty, The Big Bounce and Rum Punch, which became the Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. His short story "Fire in the Hole" was the basis for the FX TV series Justified.
Two Kinds of Color by Deborah Kennedy (2010, Paperback)
Book Review by LeeAnn Sharpe of Nightfighter: Radar Intercept Killer
Nightfighter is the true story of a legendary aviation commander, Marion Milton Magruder, USMC, better known as Black Mac Magruder. This biography of an American hero, the author’s father, explores the intricacies of night fighting during World War II and the specialized training involved. The author captures the excitement of death defying combat stories of the night fighters in breathtaking detail.
I met Mark at a luncheon recently. His stories about his Dad are filled with enthusiasm and pride that flows out of this book. You can’t help but get caught up in the nail biting excitement.
The inside flap of the book reads, “During World War II, the job of a nightfighter was akin to a deadly game of hide-and-seek in a pitch-black sky. Each pilot's life literally depended on his radio link to support personnel on the ground. Electrical failures could be catastrophic and engine trouble usually proved fatal. Unlike other fighter pilots, these men had zero visual perspective. Alone in a cockpit, it was easy for their minds to play tricks on them, but for night fighters, a few moments of vertigo was a death sentence.”
It never fails to amaze me how men are willing to do these assignments and Lt. Col. Marion Milton "Black Mac" Magruder seemed to inspire men to follow him into his highly classified training program required each of his "scrappers". They had to identify every part of the cockpit environment by sound, smell, and touch. He led his men to the Okinawa Campaign, in the longest over-water flight of single-engine fighters in the Pacific Theatre, just to get into the fight. During their time on Okinawa and Engebi, VMF(N)533, also known as Black Mac's Killers, experienced the worst typhoon season the island had seen in several hundred years.
Still his squad became the target of the Giretsu, when the ruthless Japanese suicide warriors attacked Yontan Air Field, the only attack of its kind during the war. They held the record for all radar-intercept kills and set many records and earned many distinctions during the war, including the Presidential Unit Citation.
This military biography includes never-before-released information from the colonel's private files, VMF(N)533 Squadron war diaries, After-Action Reports, and secret communiqués.
In an online review an aviator says, “As a retired Naval Aviator the author's description of night and instrument flight were right on.” Another comments, “A study of a man and those around him who arose to the "occasion" when called upon. War, like no other venture, separates the men from the boys. These "Nightfighters" definitely fit into the men category.”
My own reading left me amazed at what one man can survive. A well written exciting story will especially appeal to aviators and war historians who enjoy getting into the detail of combat. It could have used a bit of proofing to fix minor problems. But that’s just the editor in me being picky. It seems the family life was nearly forgotten. I feel sorry for Mrs. Magruder, who I learned from Mark was quite a woman. She pretty much was a war widow while her husband flew those near death missions every day. I will share this book with my book club as a possible selection. Anyone would be inspired by the bravery and sacrifice these men made in the name of freedom!
The author, Mark A. Magruder, is the third of Col. Marion Milton Magruder's five "devil pups."
The hardcover book is 304 pages, Pelican Publishing (February 7, 2012), ISBN-10: 1455615315 - ISBN-13: 978-1455615315.
Sexual Harassment and Bullying:
A Guide to Keeping Kids Safe and Holding Schools Accountable
by Dr. Susan L. Strauss
So how do you keep your child safe?
In her book, Sexual Harassment and Bullying: A Guide to
Keeping Kids Safe and Holding Schools Accountable, by
Dr. Susan L. Strauss suggests the solution requires a
multidisciplinary approach that includes not only the schools
and government, but also faith based communities, public health
and parents and the students. It’s all a network of
interdependence in which we live. What did Hillary say, “It
takes a village…” Protecting our family is part of protecting
our community. With societal issues dredging up the worst in
behavior in those attempting to control others, we all need to
step up and protect each other from inappropriate actions before
they become destructive. Dr. Strauss does an admirable job of
identifying the problems encountered in schools and online. She
discusses the laws and how schools should be accountable and
when action should be taken. Her research delves into the
results of a male dominated society and how sexual harassment
results in their control. This book is an interesting read for
anyone dealing with the subject and seeing a broader
understanding of how to handle issues arising in our schools.
Both teachers and parents would gain knowledge of what can
happen and how to avert this destructive behavior. She also
provides an in depth list of resources in each state for further
So how do you keep your child safe? In her book, Sexual Harassment and Bullying: A Guide to Keeping Kids Safe and Holding Schools Accountable, by Dr. Susan L. Strauss suggests the solution requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes not only the schools and government, but also faith based communities, public health and parents and the students. It’s all a network of interdependence in which we live. What did Hillary say, “It takes a village…” Protecting our family is part of protecting our community. With societal issues dredging up the worst in behavior in those attempting to control others, we all need to step up and protect each other from inappropriate actions before they become destructive.
Dr. Strauss does an admirable job of identifying the problems encountered in schools and online. She discusses the laws and how schools should be accountable and when action should be taken. Her research delves into the results of a male dominated society and how sexual harassment results in their control.
This book is an interesting read for anyone dealing with the subject and seeing a broader understanding of how to handle issues arising in our schools. Both teachers and parents would gain knowledge of what can happen and how to avert this destructive behavior. She also provides an in depth list of resources in each state for further information.
Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Book Review by LeeAnn Sharpe
Henrietta Lacks led a life of poverty not all that unusual for a black woman in 1950’s Virginia. She had five children and a husband who stood by her through many trials, including a handicapped daughter and Henrietta’s own illness with cervical cancer. What was unusual was the way her cancer cells multiplied in a lab and that is why scientists know her as HeLa, the first initials of her first and last name. That is how they would name cell cultures in the lab. When the scientists cultivated her cells they grew at a phenomenal rate when most other cells would not survive at all. They were shared from lab to lab over the years growing more cells in labs than she ever had in her body. She and her family had no idea this was going on until many years later.
As interesting as her story was, the real story is in how medical research uses these cells to grow cultures that help to cure illnesses and develop vaccines. The ethical issues of who has rights to what had never been addressed until recent years when people started to patent cells and DNA. Now the question is who owns the rights to Henrietta Lacks’ cells. The issues of rights and monetary gains open all kinds of concerns.
The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, HeLa, are still alive today, though Henrietta has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine. They have uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects. They helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. They even went into space to see how zero gravity would affect man. They are so prolific they have contaminated many labs and sometimes create problems with other specimens.
A good deal of the book dealt with the author working with Henrietta’s daughter Deborah and her often psychotic on again off again support of the book Rebecca Skloot was writing. The author became a major character in the story. She did a good job of weaving the family and their story into the history of medical research from the 1950’s to modern day.
This is an excellent example of educating on a specific topic by sharing the history of a single person’s life into the significant events in history. It took Skloot over ten years to out the story together with interviews and travel, research and history unfolding. She had the book finished and then had to go back and amend when Deborah died. The story continues today as cell research climbs to new levels.
I enjoyed the book, listening to the audio CD’s. It even included an interview with the author which was nice.
Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas (2008, Hardcover)
I understand this is one in a series of light hearted romantic Regency era novels. Short and simple it is an entertaining read to anyone who enjoys the likes of Jane Austin and life in England of a certain time. For my reading this is an ideal quick treat and I shall look forward to all of Ms. Kleypas works in the near future.
Christmas was an especially good time to set this story as the tradition of putting a tree in the home and decorating had just started to become popular in America and was now being carried to Great Britain. The story brings to focus how trends can skip form Germany to the USA and back across the pond to England when families travel from one area to another.
Rafe Bowman is a rake who has arrived from America to settle on a marriage his father has decreed to earn his stake of the family fortunes. His chiseled good looks impress everyone, but his wild ways are known and may hinder his betrothed from accepting. Several love scenes get pretty juicy and my shock some readers. The author does a good job of being graphic without being obscene. His sisters and the Wallflowers (their friends) work in the most unexpected ways, seeing where his heart truly lies and work their magic to a happy end.
I enjoyed this story and will seek out more from this author.
Book Review “Being
George Washington” by Glenn Beck
Written as a telling of history from the Revolutionary War through Washington’s death, Beck used a chronology of dates, with frequent back tracking to significant points, noting the date and location such events took place. If you follow the timeline it makes sense and brings a fullness to the story he tells.
The moral of the story here is that George Washington was something of a God given instrument for the birth of our nation. He often said, “that doing the easy thing is rarely right, and doing the right thing is rarely easy. “ Building this nation was not easy.
The first three quarters of the book deal with the War and how difficult and almost impossible a feat it was to defeat the British. Basically we could not likely have succeeded had it not been for the French and their support. They only wanted us to succeed because they were also at war with the British. The incredible losses early in the war make it remarkable the Revolution was won at all.
Once the War was won another battle came with building a Constitution and government. Many of the key players did not agree and the battle between small and large states made a bit of lobbying necessary to compromise on anything. Some wanted to name Washington King and even referred t o him as “Excellency” against his wishes. Even when he served as President he stepped down after two terms knowing that professional politicians did not serve the country well.
Beck brings forth the point that many want to rewrite our Constitution and make it a “living document” changing with the times. Washington foretold of this desire from the beginning and warned against such as the beginning of the end for the republic. Further the Constitution relies on a moral populace with a belief in God and liberty. It’s also based on a free market economy of honest people. When treachery and deceit reign, the house of honest men will fall into civil disobedience and decay. Further, that career politicians have crippled our government with an elderly and unproductive group living off the public dole and doing little more than showing up to vote their party line.
Many of the founding fathers who played a lesser role in our nation’s formation were exposed in a greater light than most of us had known them from grade school or even college history classes. There were some interesting connections as relationships were built on staying at one another’s homes or sleeping in battlefield tents and sharing scant rations. Even physical descriptions allow us to see Washington towering over slightly built soldiers and commanding with his stature alone.
Although the battles can become a bit tedious they build the story and engage the character of George Washington as an almost angelic force and definitely the most indispensable man in history. Where would we all be if not for his success and where would the world be without America for the last two hundred plus years?
Beck calls out for our country to work toward creating the next George Washington through education, morality, and conscious. At a time when we really need him again, who will be the next George Washington?
#1 National Best Seller “The Devil in
the White City” by Erik Larson
You wouldn’t think a factual reconstruction of the building of an exposition would hold so much interesting story as this tale told by Erik Larson. The combination of the building of the 1894 Columbian Exposition in Chicago interwoven with a mass murderer taking advantage of the large volume of unescorted young women visiting the fair and his story make this an intriguing historical biography of the time.
Chicago was a dirty slaughterhouse town at the time. The stench of rotting blood and guts along with the blackened buildings from massive coal fires to heat the cold windy city made it a fairly unattractive place at the turn of the previous century. So the concept of a fair celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Columbus discovering America being set in such a place was fairly far-fetched. But somehow they pulled it off building a beautiful white city with the largest building and George Ferris’ wheel which brought in over $200,000. It was not without a great deal of pain and even loss of life.
Set against that background a mass murderer took advantage of so much transient traffic and used his businesses as a cover for his devious deeds. It’s hard to believe he was able to perpetuate his crimes for so long without notice.
Larson weaves and exciting and horrifying story based on copious documents and research of the time. He acknowledges the many inventions and standards that became commonplace in the country after the fair. Use of alternating current as opposed to direct current because that is what was used at the Fair on a grand scale with much success is now the standard. Walt Disney’s father Elias worked on the White City and surely helped Walt with inspiration for DisneyLand . L. Frank Baum found some inspiration for his book the Wizard of Oz in the magic of the White City. And what on the Japanese templed wooded island inspired Frank Lloyd Wright? Buffalo Bill made over a million dollars which helped him build the city of Cody, WY. Cracker Jacks and Shredded Wheat were first introduced at the Fair. Every fair now has it’s own midway and Ferris wheel thanks to the White City. It seems no one visited the White City without being touched in some way.
For the victims of H.H. Holmes it was not in a good way. He was responsible for untold number of deaths and swindled hundreds of people for millions of dollars. At the time he was touted as the most evil man alive. He was hung in 1896 admitting many of the crimes and even writing about them.
Larson tells a grand story with incredible detail bringing out a colorful portrait of the times. He goes into detail about the menus and clothing, plants and architectural detail that may be a bit too much for the casual reader. But for the student of history it is delicious. All in all it is a wonderful story and all the more interesting because it is true!
Book Review by LeeAnn Sharpe
“Killing Lincoln” By Bill O’Reily &
Martin Dugard as well as countless researchers
Based on facts known in one the most studied assassinations in history, this story keeps you turning the pages even when you know the outcome. When you grow weary of all of the battles and Civil War deaths in the early part of the book, you have to realize this was but a small part of the total of four years, 1861-1865, and over 625,000 American victims. An entire generation of young men were lost to our country and the book helps you understand why it wasn’t only southern sympathizers who were fed up with the war. The north was about to say get it over with as well.
Not a student of war history I found the background and character painting of the key players interesting. I learned more about Custer than I previously knew. Many of these players have been in and out of later significant moments in our history, so they are not strangers. Yet this gives a new side to their life.
After growing up hearing the abbreviated and simple story of John Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln, it is fascinating to learn many details, some of which have only been discovered this decade. The book even mentions the possibility of DNA matching to vertebrae of Booth’s in a museum being matched to descendants to put to rest theories that he had escaped to South America.
Taking some dramatic license,” Killing Lincoln” follows the plot and footprints of each of the would be assassins the night of the killings. Most brutal were the Seward stabbings with several victims. But the thought process Booth went through to plan Lincoln’s killing was brilliant. Everything from boldly wandering the theatre as he was a regular eccentric actor comfortable in the venue, to drinking in the tavern next door with the bodyguard. It also brings out the fact that much was subject to chance. Booth wasn’t sure which theatre Lincoln would attend as he had tickets for another venue, but changed at the last minute. Everything seemed to play out in Booth’s favor.
With all of the warnings and premonitions it is almost as if Lincoln knew his fate and just walked the steps to play it out. He could easily have demanded better security to prevent his death but did nothing to protect himself. He boldly rode and walked openly in public knowing half the country wanted him dead. Even Secretary of War Stanton had warned him against the theatre, yet he went anyway.
And the conspiracy theory involving Stanton is truly fascinating. There is evidence he covered up or destroyed materials confiscated from Booth; pages from his journal missing. There was no love between Lincoln and Stanton but did Stanton really want to see him dead? Was he building a case toward his ascension to the presidency? How sympathetic to the south did he lean? And what of the mysterious address where messages originated that shared a monetary connection with Booth and the sympathizer slush fund. This is an area that could use new revelations. You never know, things turn up even one hundred and fifty years later!
As a student of history and fancier of the era I found the book very interesting and a good read. I would recommend to anyone interested in the subject.
MAINE BOOK REVIEW by LeeAnn Sharpe
MAINE by J Courtney Sullivan
I so much wanted to be there for our Seasoned Readers Book Club at Barnes & Noble last night. But, Mom had an Alzheimer's melt down and I couldn't go. So to calm her I had a discussion of the book with her instead.
Our family spent summers in Maine near where this story takes place in Needick Beach, Maine, although our cabin was at Sebago Lake, not the ocean. Mom and Dad are both from the area and I still have oodles of cousins there. This story reminds me of my cousin Debbie’s home on the beach, just south of Old Orchard, surrounded by tall windswept pines. They get snow drifts in the winter up to the second story windows! But the summers are lovely. Only a five minute walk to the Atlantic Ocean!
I like the way Sullivan broke up the chapters speaking from the voice of each of the women in the family. That way we got into their heads and learned what they were thinking and feeling. Seeing the same summer from each of their points of view examined the dynamics that come into play in every family.
The matriarch, Alice held a life altering guilt her entire adult life. Once on the road to a bohemian artist lifestyle, a tragedy, the Coconut Grove night club fire, made her reach an agreement with God to do what her sister, lost in the fire, would have done, instead of playing out her own desires. No one else would have dumped the guilt on her that she herself held. The results paint her life in shades of dysfunction, the impressions of neglect and a devotion to her church beyond the norm.
My Mom remembers that huge fire at the Coconut Grove in Boston. It was on the radio and in the papers for months. I attach a picture of her family at exactly that time. The Philco radio they listened to is in the background. Her two eldest brothers both went off to war and Larry was captured by the Germans and was a prisoner for much of the war. He came back only 90 pounds down from 250 he left with. Mom is in the white blouse in the back row. She was 11-12 years old at the time.
Alice’s daughter Kathleen never felt loved the way she craved and felt the need to care for an alcoholic mother and then repeated the pattern with her own alcohol abuse. She even ran off with a new man after her marriage failed, effectively abandoning her daughter physically as her mother had abandoned her emotionally.
The daughter, Maggie, sought love from an emotionally unavailable man, just as both of her parents were unavailable to her. Her life apart only reconnected once she announced her pregnancy to her mother who came running to fix everything. Maggie was smart enough to lead her own life and even determined to raise her child alone.
Ann Marie is the daughter-in-law who wanted to control everyone and paint a pretty picture of life at the same time as her own world was far from the perfection she had envisioned or portrayed. She even decorated dollhouses as perfect slices of life she could not always have control of in real life. A gay daughter off in the Peace Corp and a son who couldn’t hold a decent job and was on allowance from daddy were represented as perfect children. Ann Marie held a secret longing for a neighbor, yet played the perfect wife. It all starts to unravel when she acts on her desires.
Sullivan gives sufficient description to the home and occupants to make you feel as if they are real and appreciated. It made me long for those days of my family at the beach with sand between our toes.
I recently learned why we all feel so invigorated after a barefoot walk on the beach. The earth’s electromagnetic charge actually charges our body and makes the brain and entire body process better!
This book made me feel like every family has similar drama surrounding life and death, alcohol and finances, personalities and control issues. In the end we all have to deal with what is there or walk away, which is one way of dealing with it. We still have our families and end up accepting them the way they are with all of their faults. It made me look at how I interact with my family and why. Sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done because you are there and a part of a family.
When reading Dr.Shinya's book "The Enzyme Factor" you will be awakened to an entire world of nutrition that you probably never knew anything about! No matter how much good healthy food you eat, it can not be utilized without enzymes which are destroyed when you heat food to over 118 degrees.
In his book Shinya explains the tragic circumstances that lead him to create the colonoscopy. The death of his wife and illness of his children motivated him to find a way to see what was happening in his patient's colon without the need for surgery. Today his procedures including the polopectomy have saved millions of lives and educated us how to improve our health. He graphically demonstrates how you can see a person's physically health through their colon.
Not only will you learn about your body and how to keep it healthy, you will be moved by his personal story.
Book Review The Sixth Lamentation
by LeeAnn Sharpe
by LeeAnn Sharpe
The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick
The Sixth Lamentation, published July 26, 2004, was the August selection for my Seasoned Readers Book Club. I read that the author, William Brodrick, was a Franciscan friar before leaving the order to become a practicing barrister. His character in the story, Father Anselm, has done just the opposite and serves as the narrator as such, going back and forth between the telling of the history and current trial and lives of the present generation. He weaves the church’s involvement into the Nazi war crimes suspects lives as they seek sanctuary in his Suffolk priory and learns they had been housed directly after the war as they escaped and assumed new identities to avoid prosecution.
The author notes his own family history that inspired the story including his mother’s attempt to smuggle an infant during the war, her arrest by the Gestapo and ultimate death from motor neurone disease in 1989. As a history laden thriller full of twists, turns, moving through time between occupied France and modern day England, it keeps you glued to what comes next.
The heroine Agnes Aubret writes her history in a simple notebook, knowing her life will end with terminal motor neuron disease, and wanting her granddaughter Lucy to know the stories she can not speak of aloud. Lucy, reads about her grandmother’s past in Occupied Paris as a member of a resistance group that smuggled Jewish Children to safety. Her story takes on a new life as Schwermann, a Nazi criminal is brought to trial all these many years later in London.
Father Anselm researches the heroic French resistance fighters of the Round Table, a group of students who attempted to rescue thousands of Jewish children. He weaves a story together that is never quite what it seems on the surface. Friends turned collaborators, babies adopted by conspirators, confusion over who died in death camps and who survived add up to an unfolding story filled with intrigue.
Brodrick writes well with a touch of prose to enhance the mood and bring this tragic story of tremendous loss of so many during the war to a bittersweet climax that brought tears and heartwarming satisfaction.
The Alienist: A Novel
By Caleb Carr
Carr had been the author of several historic works of non-fiction prior to embarking on this his first novel. So it is not curious that he would fill his novel with rich historic detail and characters who leap out as we know them from news of the past had painted them to us explicitly.
One such character is Teddy Roosevelt, Commissioner of the New York police department. Portrayed in his full bully persona, Roosevelt plays a part in allowing his old Harvard college buddies his support in capturing a serial killer using cutting edge techniques of the day including profiling and fingerprinting, in their earliest stages of acceptance by the legal system of the day.
The Alienist , refers to a common term for a
psychologist, here known
as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a specialist in children of tragic
circumstances who become victims and perpetrators of crime. A
series of murders with horribly mutilated adolescent boys, all
prostitutes from New York brothels, pulls the doctor and his
team including New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore, Sara
Howard, who works as a secretary in the police department,
two Jewish detectives trained in the strange new science of
'forensics', a black man in service to the doctor after being
tried for murder and Stevie, a young boy the doctor has
befriended, into a bizarre series of investigations.
Colorful people and places known to New York City’s past play
minor parts in coloring this adventure with sights, sounds and
tastes that transport you into a different era. Carr holds your
attention and leaves you wanting more.
The Angel of
Darkness by Caleb Carr (1998, Paperback) Book Club rated this
By Scott W. Cohen, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Dr. Cohen, co-founder of Beverly Hills Pediatrics, is a father of two, and author of Eat. Sleep. Poop. He will be at a special event Saturday, October 23rd 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM (Dr. Cohen's Sessions: 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 1:30 PM)at Destination Maternity, Chauncey Ranch, 18560 North Scottsdale Road, Phoenix, AZ 85054 (480)-563-3437. A Free copy of Eat. Sleep. Poop. goes to the first 50 customers.
Dr. Cohen, co-founder of Beverly Hills Pediatrics, is a father of two, and author of Eat. Sleep. Poop. He knows from experience the questions new parents have and what they need to know. So he wrote a user-friendly guide that walks moms-to-be through everything from preparing for baby to preventing illnesses to the ins and outs of those three basic functions: “Eat, Sleep, Poop”.
It's especially interesting to read a book written from both a father and doctor perspective. Dr. Cohen comments about what he has read or heard and what his personal experience has been. Often he relates to his own daughter and how they treat her and even when he has medical knowledge, parent intuition comes into play.
"Dr. Scott Cohen has managed to condense everything parents need to know for their baby's first year into a fun and readable guide. Today's parents have more questions than ever and Dr. Scott answers them all in this handy book. I will be recommending this one to parents for years to come," Says Dr. Jenn Berman, Marriage, Family and Child Therapist and author of Los Angeles Times best-selling book The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids.
In his pediatric practice, Dr. Cohen often finds that new parents come to him anxious, overwhelmed, and confused-they receive conflicting advice from books, the internet, neighbors, and relatives. He wanted to provide an alternative to encyclopedic, overwhelming books, strict regimens, and old wives' tales, so using his unique position as award-winning pediatrician and new father, Cohen set about writing a guide to your baby's first year that offered essential information in an engaging, easy-to-use format. Thus, EAT, SLEEP, POOP (Scribner; March 30, 2010) was born!
Dr. Cohen believes the best tool for parenting is informed common sense: know all the facts and then do what is medically sound and what feels comfortable for your family. It's an approach that's meant to simplify and reassure at a time when you need it most.
Organized by subject and chronology and filled with helpful diagrams, quick reference worksheets, and entertaining and revealing daddy vs. doctor sidebars, Eat, Sleep, Poop's user friendly format walks readers through everything from preparing for baby's arrival to preventing illnesses to the ins and outs of those three basic functions that will come to dominate a new parent's life. Chapters include:
· Eat-Breast, Bottle and Beyond, which addresses breastfeeding basics, introducing the bottle, and solid food guidelines.
· Sleep-Rock-a-Bye Baby includes advice for establishing a bedtime routine, teaching your baby to self-soothe, and preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
· Poop-The Scoop on Poop, which has tips for dealing with constipation and diarrhea.
· Hachoo!-Common First-Year Health Concerns, your go-to guide for handling illnesses from vomiting to Hand, Foot and Mouth.
· Protect-Vaccines, Dr. Cohen's thoughts on vaccines and autism, vaccines and Mercury and Aluminum and more.
Dr. Cohen handily uses his medical background and experience as a first-time dad to advise his readers, providing a straightforward "common sense bottom line" for each subject. This isn't a guide that dictates, but one that helps parents to work out what is best for their baby. Lively, practical and reassuring, EAT, SLEEP, POOP provides the knowledge you need to parent with confidence and to relax and enjoy baby's first year.
The film rights for EAT, SLEEP, POOP have been bought by DreamWorks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Scott W. Cohen, M.D., FAAP, is the co-founder of Beverly Hills Pediatrics and an attending physician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he was awarded Pediatrician of the Year in 2006 and the Physician Recognition Award in Pediatrics in 2005 and 2008. He completed his pediatric training in 2003 at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he was the recipient of the Victor E. Stork Award for continued excellence and future promise in the care of children and the Associates and Affiliates A ward for scientific knowledge, clinical judgment, and excellence in human relations. He was selected as one of the Best Doctors in America® for 2007-2008 and 2009-2010. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.
EAT, SLEEP, POOP: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year By Scott W. Cohen Scribner; March 30, 2010 304 pages, $16.00
A COOK'S TOUR
And then there is the food. Food porn is the latest obsession with TV shows or any books about food, it's an awful lot like the relationship between pornography and sex. Throw Anthony Bourdain, who understands the whole food porn phenomenon, into the mix and you have a winning combination. He spends pages and pages waxing poetic about ingredients and dishes that the reader wants to experience, but probably never will, and like porn you get it only in your dreams.
A COOK'S TOUR finds Anthony Bourdain, America's favorite ex-junky celebrity chef, traveling the world searching for the perfect meal, with each chapter devoted to a particular country or trip. Bourdain talks about what he loves including the Japanese obsession with quality, the toughness forged of hardship on the Russian frontier, the sense of community in small town Mexico from where most of his kitchen staff hail. Obviously his favorite, Vietnam is painted in contrasts of extremes that surprise him and shed light on a world many Americans experienced in the 1970’s.
Review by LeeAnn Sharpe
“The Butterflies of Grand Canyon” by Margaret Erhart, is an “Indie Next List Notable Pick” with good reason. Erhart brings the Grand Canyon of the American West to life with an intriguing romance and mystery. Her gentle characters, complemented by the sweet butterflies, provide considerable imagery against the might and majesty of the Grand Canyon.
Using local historic characters, Erhart builds a believable and interesting community where anyone can envision themselves stopping in for a summer vacation. For a young housewife, Jane Merkle, a summer visit rediscovers a sensuality that had been misplaced in her marriage to a much older St. Louis insurance salesman. Park Ranger Euell Wigglesworth awakens her desire. Communing with nature and chasing butterflies opens opportunities allowing Mother Nature to take her course.
Watching her sister-in-law, Dotty, carry on a tryst of her own, Jane is surprised to learn her brother-in-law, Oliver, knows all about it, and has for years. His sensitive understanding that his wife needed more than their marriage could provide allowed him to give her loose reins, which in turn, kept her coming back to him without a word spoken of her indiscretions.
Erhart created characters whose names were inspired by tags affixed to butterflies in the museum at the Grand Canyon National Park. The tag reads, “Mrs. Merkle, on the 17th of July, 1951, brings down a wood nymph or two at Point Sublime on the North Rim of Grand Canyon.” Another reads, “E. Wigglesworth captures a red admiral” in the same place at the same time. From here Erhart builds her story.
Grand Canyon National Park brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb photographed the canyon for decades and become an integral part of the story with a skeleton found in Emery's garage. Real life botanist Elzada Clover and her associate, Lois Jotter Cutter, are called into action to solve the mystery of the skeleton with a bullet hole at the back of the skull.
“The Butterflies of Grand Canyon” is a well woven mystery that combines romance and intrigue. Erhart keeps the reader coming back for more. This, her 5th novel, puts her hiking guide at the Grand Canyon experience to good use and may teach you a thing or two about its butterflies as well.
For more info about this and other Penguin titles please visit www.penguingroup.com
THE BUTTERFLIES OF GRAND CANYON By Margaret Erhart Plume Original/$15.00 978-0-452~29549~0
You Forgot... Along The Way” by Kentetsu Takamori
“Something You Forgot... Along The Way” is a collection of sixty-five heartwarming stories that show what it means to learn from life's events. You can see a common thread with many traditional fables, yet Kentetsu Takamori often has a lovely Japanese slant in the telling.
Of course he would, because Kentetsu Takamori is a Pure Land Buddhist teacher born in Japan in 1929. He has lectured throughout Japan and worldwide on Buddhism for more than half a century. As author of several best-selling titles in Japanese and the chair of the Buddhist organization Jodo Shinshu Shinrankai, he has earned a reputation for faithfully conveying the teachings of Shinran (1173-1263), the founder of Shin Buddhism (the True Pure Land School).
The first of his works to be published in English was “You Were Born For A Reason: The Real Purpose of Life” (Ichimannendo Publishing, Inc., 2006),which has sold over 600,000 copies to date in the Japanese release.
Takamori’s life has been dedicated to being a Buddhist teacher which comes out in his beautiful story telling style. He weaves a moral lesson into each short tale. Timeless in their simplicity and universality, each story pulls you into a world where things often seem one way, but on closer reflection, demonstrate why we need to think things through and look at all sides before jumping into a decision.
Easy to read and a joy in their wisdom and beauty, “Something You Forgot... Along The Way” is a wonderful gift to share with anyone, young to old. The book includes photos of beautiful scenery in natural color.
Takamori’s lives with his wife and their dog in a small town in Toyama Prefecture overlooking the Japan Sea and we are blessed that he shares his serene wisdom in this lovely tome.
“Something You Forgot... Along The Way” Paperback 5”x7” 178 pages ISBN: 978-0-9790471-1-4 Self- Help/Inspiration/Buddhism $11.95
Quote from book back: “These simple yet beautiful tales invite us to look deeper into almost any situation in life. In the tradition of Aesop's Fables each story concludes with a moral lesson. In these lessons, the author gives us a perspective on people and events that is both rare and unexpected, demonstrating a profound understanding of the human condition. This book is a joy to read for anyone: teenagers looking to share in the wisdom of an adult; parents and teachers who wish to share something invaluable with their children or pupils; and all people everywhere, young or old, who seek to better themselves and the world they live in. This is a book to cherish, to share, and to return to over and over again.”
By LeeAnn Sharpe
The Civility Solution by P.M. Forni, published 2008 from St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 0-312-36849-6, has 166 pages.
This book answers many questions with an extremely civil attitude that common sense dictates to most people, but frequently seems to be lost in today’s world. P. M. Forni, the award winning professor of Italian literature at Johns Hopkins University, has founded a Civility Institute. His 2002 book Choosing Civility has sold over a hundred thousand copies proving that what was once taught from childhood, has been lost for generations, and now must be learned by adults unaware that civility is what drives peaceful co-existence.
It’s no wonder we live in times where road rage and sideline parents at sporting events result in violence. Keeping ones cool in tense situations seems to be deemed as weak.
Forni’s book offers Eight Rules for a Civil Life that I find so simply elegant as to be words to live by.
Retails for $19.95 at all fine booksellers today.
Wonderful Tonight George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me by Pattie Boyd with Penny Junor Published by Harmony Books 2007
By LeeAnn Sharpe
Wonderful Tonight George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me by Pattie Boyd with Penny Junor Published by Harmony Books 2007
Pattie Boyd has had an incredible life. Even before marrying a Beatle and the guitar God of the 60’s, she had been raised in Kenya and had a modeling career in mod London. Her face epitomized the swinging London scene. How terrific can one life get! And it seems like she has had several very exciting experiences at all stages of her life. It’s easy to see how she became a muse to two of the most addictive and promiscuous musical geniuses in the history of rock and roll.
Born in England on St. Patrick’s Day, thus the name, she was moved to Kenya at the age of four to be with her maternal grandparents. Her mother’s remarrying kept them separated for a time, so she was raised by the grands in this strange and exciting world. Once Mum and the new hubby were settled she was back in England attending convent schools from the age of 10. By 17 she was working at Elizabeth Arden on Bond Street and eventually professional modeling.
In the early 1960’s there was nothing making more news than the Beatles. Pattie seemed somewhat oblivious of them until she was sent on an acting job at Paddington Station to play a schoolgirl in a film they were making called “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964. She caught the eye of George Harrison, he proposed ten days later and her life changed again into the world of rock and roll.
The girlfriend and then wife of a Beatle was about as center of the universe for most young girls as you could get. She traveled the world of rock and roll legends in the making, becoming acquainted with every major star of the era. Mick Jagger & Marianne Faithfull, Mick Fleetwood, Donovan, Dylan and anyone else in the scene were part of her life. All of the major Beatle events we heard about in the news were personal experiences for her and she tells the intimate behind the scenes details that flesh out the stories in from the inside.
Even day to day life was filled with history. She talks about George sitting at the kitchen table writing “My Sweet Lord”. He also wrote “Something” which was his most successful songwriting experience and Pattie had been his inspiration.
Their lives were filled with travel. Travel to exotic places like India to see the Maharishi opened her eyes to a whole new world. Although exciting and fun, it was often difficult and uncomfortable as it was happening. She talks about the experiences of sea sickness, unbearable hot humid weather, rushing to make trains or planes and the strange foods they were served.
In the public eye she even got her own fan mail. She was pursued by one man in particular for over a decade. Eric Clapton wrote her passionate love letters and even songs including “Layla” about his terrible love for her, the wife of one of his best friends. Years later when George and Pattie split, Clapton came in a swooped her up. But once he had her in his life, he lost interest and never found it necessary to be true to his “true love”. Part of the problem is his obsession had always been through a drug and alcohol haze. Once he went through rehad their relationship changed. And rehad didn’t stick.
Pattie always seemed to maintain a fairly level head through all of the highs and lows dealing with drugs and alcohol, infidelity, abuse and neglect. She regrets that her marriage to George ended. “Marriage is forever”, she wrote. And she loved him till the day he died and mourned his death alone on top of a mountain in Peru.
Her marriage to Eric was so passionate she felt incapable of resisting. Eventually the alcohol and drugs made the situation intolerable. Her leaving sent Eric into rehab again and he finally cleaned up. She thinks if she had stayed he would have drunk himself to death. And she would have never found her own identity. Having always been the wife of a famous man she was overshadowed and never seen for herself. Now as a writer and photographer, her own work is recognized.
Inspiration for George Harrison’s song “Something” and Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” and who knows how many other songs, the world is a better place for the muse Pattie Boyd. And she shares her exciting life openly in her book “Wonderful Tonight”. It’s a very enjoyable read to anyone who lived through the early years of rock and roll, a wonderful trip down memory lane. She shares lots of great pictures from her personal collection too.
“Shadows of the Silk Road” by Colin Thubron, 2007 HarperCollins Publishers
Review by LeeAnn Sharpe
“Shadow of the Silk Road” records 68-year-old Englishman Colin Thubron's journey along the greatest land route on earth, The Silk Road. In his 9th travel book Colin takes us along, without a camera, only his elegant prose to describe the land and people. From the heart of China, Xian, into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran and into Kurdish Turkey, Colin Thubron travels for some seven thousand miles in eight months along routes he had been before many years ago.
“Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart and camel, he travels from the tomb of the Yellow Emperor, the mythic progenitor of the Chinese people, to the ancient port of Antioch in perhaps the most difficult and ambitious journey he has undertaken in forty years of travel,” reads the dust jacket. The contrast of then (his previous experiences) and now, examination of the ancient and current conditions, provide a glimpse of how history has treated this most ancient of lands and people.
Without a camera, Thubron must paint a picture for us to see what he sees and that is the beauty of his prose. You can see, hear, smell and taste all he experiences in explicit detail. And you hear the voices in his head as he senses danger and fear in this insanely dangerous part of the world. Language is seldom a barrier as his gift for talking to people and getting them to talk to him is intriguing. Speaking Mandarin, Russian or the mélange of the many tongues along the way, he always finds a translator and or driver willing to take the time with him to explore.
We learn through his discussions with the common people there has been good and bad in the changes they have seen. China, transformed since the Cultural Revolution, has cities with all of the trappings of Paris or Rome and other towns untouched by the modern world. It has people making it rich and others in extreme poverty. Religion all but extinguished in the past is resurging in unusual ways. It’s a society without a conscious as we know it in the west. All of the stereotypes of China are just that and totally out of step with the reality of China today. The internet has opened the world to China. A generation ready to abandon their own world for what they view as a better world are quick to jump aboard the consumer train. Change in China is at an extremely fast pace with markets opened to her commodities worldwide.
The former Soviet held countries are faced with false nationalisms and an identity crisis on so many fronts. Ethnically Chinese intermixed with races of multiple invasions though the centuries from Alexander’s armies to Tamerlane and Genghis Kahn. Since the Soviet withdraw, factories have closed and workers are unemployed. On some level people felt better off under Soviet occupation. They have found the cost of freedom leaves them hungry.
True boundaries are not political borders, but the frontiers of tribe, ethnicity, language and religion. “It is a magnificent and important account of an ancient world in modern ferment,” reads the book jacket. So true, as the people of this ancient world survive upheaval after upheaval and still manage to get up each morning and go about their lives. Few places are untouched by the prejudice of where their people came from, their religion, or their class.
“Shadow of the Silk Road “encounters Islamic countries in many forms. Some are seemingly hard line totally devout in public, yet speaking another line in private. The young are playing a waiting game until the old mullahs die off and they can effect real change. The extremists we hear about are a small minority in most Islamic countries. The majority of their “faithful” go through the motions, and follow the traditions not even knowing the words they pray.
The only shortcoming of Thubron’s book is the fate of women and children. They are absent for most part as is the case in most of the Islamic world. A strange man would not have access to women. We briefly encounter a few women of great strength and courage. But most are elusive.
Still this story was intriguing and insightful about a part of the world most of us will never experience. And as Thubron often found, is quickly fading, being erased by war, development, weather and time. It made me think how sad the world will be when we lose the uniqueness of all of the wonderful cultures of the past all being homonogized into a dull sameness. At least we will always have stories like these to remind us of the rich culture that once was the “Shadow of the Silk Road”.
By LeeAnn Sharpe
“Clapton - The Autobiography of Eric Clapton” (Broadway Books 2007), takes you along for an incredible journey through the history of rock and roll and the blues from the early 1960’s to present day.
Early childhood trauma of being raised by his grandparents, who he thought were actually his parents, only to learn who he thought was his sister was his mother, left him with some deep and obviously painful wounds. Clapton's experiences with alcohol, drugs and women all attest to his emotional fragility that was only addressed well into his 50’s.
That’s all very interesting background, but what is more is how he managed to survive it all (drugs including heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and groupies) and still create incredible music. The fact that he is alive after all the abuse he put himself through is mind boggling.
Clapton goes into great detail about the music, expounding on who he liked and admired and how he felt he had to play true to his heart. The pop rock world kept pulling at him with commercial success, but his heart wanted to be a blues purist. Clapton modeled himself after blues players Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and Robert Johnson. Clapton’s first success was with the 1965 single “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds. He felt that it was too pop and before it peaked at #6 in the US, Clapton had left the band. He wrote, "I felt it was a dreadful waste of what had potentially been a good rock blues band."
Already his fame as a rock guitarist was known. “Clapton is God” was painted on a tube station wall just outside London and spread to walls throughout the city.
Covering such a long career, it seems he jumped from band to band. Just as they reached some level of success Clapton would bail on to a new adventure. It was often because he felt he was selling out on his goal of playing the blues. Or the opportunity to play with other musicians he admired was too great a lure.
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers provided the direction Clapton wanted building his reputation as a great guitar player. Then he helped form Cream, a blues trio that in 1968 broke into the US Top 10 with the gold single “Sunshine Of Your Love”. Over their brief three year career, Cream produced four gold albums including the post-breakup sets Goodbye and Best Of Cream, including a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” which would be the first single to feature Eric Clapton on vocals.
Personalities were often the cause of Clapton moving on. The artistic directions often clashed and he moved on to new horizon’s always seeking his own voice and learning from each group as he moved on. After Cream’s demise, Clapton formed a new blues-rock band called Blind Faith that produced a gold album and a tour before parting ways. A tour and live album with Delaney & Bonnie was his next stop. Then he went solo on his self-titled album in 1970. Eric Clapton produced the hit “After Midnight” and reached #13 on the charts. Before the album had even been released, Clapton had formed yet another band, Derek & The Dominos, which featured Eric on both guitar and vocals.
It was a turbulent time in his love life and the song Layla spoke of Eric’s passion for Pattie Boyd, wife of his good friend George Harrison. Derek & The Dominos made one studio album, 1970’s Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs. Upon release, Layla was panned by critics and fans alike. However, the record got a major boost with the release of the title track, which featured the recently deceased Duane Allman on slide guitar. “Layla” became a Top 10 US hit and the album went gold. Today, Layla is considered one of the greatest albums of all time.
About this time Clapton began using heroin, which appealed to him because it was steeped in the blues. It connected him to junkie musicians like Charlie Parker, Robert Johnson and Ray Charles. For more than two years, he fell firmly in the drug's grip.
Clapton experiences with Derek & The Dominos ended fairly quickly, but even in later years impacted his musical direction greatly. Learning he was better off recording solo and joining with friends without long term commitments he recorded 1974’s 461 Ocean Boulevard, producing the cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff”, as well as a minor hit in “Willie & The Hand Jive”. After a couple of less successful albums he returned in 1977 with Slowhand, which became Clapton’s first platinum album. It also yielded his second solo gold single, “Lay Down Sally”.
Pattie Boyd was the great love of his life and once he won her, (married in Tucson 1977)the thrill seemed to fade. Clapton was unfaithful on the road and sexually unresponsive at home. The alcohol and cocaine, now the drug of choice, were more important than anything. Clapton entered the Hazelden Clinic in 1983 to dry out. He wrote, "My fear of loss of identity was phenomenal. This could have been born out of the 'Clapton is God' thing, which had put so much of my self-worth onto my musical career. When the focus shifted toward my well-being . . . and to the realization that I was an alcoholic and suffering from the same disease everybody else was, I went into meltdown."
The early 80’s were not as productive for Clapton as the 70’s. Journeyman, released in late 1989 went double platinum in less than two years, making it Clapton’s career first record to move over 2 million units. In 1991 the soundtrack Rush included “Tears In Heaven”, a touching number dealing with the accidental death of his young son Conor, reached #2 on the US charts in January of 1992. Tragically he had just started bonding with Conor when the boy died. His personal life turbulent and his attempts at maintaining sobriety amid the drug and alcohol world of rock and roll were challenging. A numb, grieving Clapton was determined to stay sober. "At that moment I realized there was no better way of honoring the memory of my son." About this time he learns about another child he fathered, Ruth, and brings her into his life.
The box set Crossroads and Time Pieces both receiving accolades leading to an iconic appearance on MTV’s “Unplugged”, playing acoustic re-workings of some of his best known singles and blues classic. Unplugged, was a massive success, breathing new life into the classic “Layla”, which became a hit for the second time in its life. Clapton followed with 1994’s From The Cradle, a full album of electric blues covers that also reached #1 on the charts.1998’s Pilgrim, with “Change The World”.
With 20 years of sobriety Clapton has reached such a level of success his career is now a mix of old material and the desire to try new things. Reptile, Me & Mr. Johnson, an album of Robert Johnson covers and Back Home solo albums have done well. He’s also recorded two collaboration albums, 2000’s double platinum Riding With The King with blues legend B.B. King and 2006’s gold The Road To Escondido with famed songwriter J.J. Cale. His old stuff continues to sell well, like “Wonderful Tonight” the ode to Pattie written as he waited for her to get dressed for a party, being certified gold in 2005, nearly 30 years after its release.
With his personal life settled into the family life with four daughters and a young wife Melia, he worked on his autobiography while touring Asia. He released a double disc compilation, Complete Clapton featuring songs from his entire forty year career.
Clapton wrote, "For me, the most trustworthy vehicle for spirituality has always proven to be music."
The only thing I missed was more about his life with ex-wife Pattie Boyd. She published an autobiography that included excerpts from the unbelievably passionate letters Clapton sent her while she was still George Harrison's wife. His desperation in her book is apparent with threats of doing himself in if he can’t have her. His songs about her made getting over her difficult, as they would be played in every concert being among his top hits. He’s so open in his own book about everything else, but Pattie is absent in the index, although smattered throughout his book. Perhaps he lets the music speak of that love.
You come away after reading this easily flowing chronological tale understanding that “Clapton is God” was too much to put on the head of a 20 year old rock musician. His life struggles into the heart of rock and roll decadence and his eventual maturing into a musician at the top of his art are amazing to read. It’s as if you were having a pint and hearing the words straight from his lips. I found it very enjoyable and I highly recommend both the music and the book.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Book Review: “Peeking Over the Edge… views from life’s middle” by Cathy Jo Marley
Reviewed By LeeAnn Sharpe
Have you ever opened a new book and suddenly feel as if you are in the company of an old friend? That’s the way “Peeking Over the Edge… views from life’s middle” by Cathy Jo Marley made me feel. She instantaneously became my oldest and dearest and wisest friend telling me stories from her life experiences. Some I would shake my head and think yes, yes, yes, she gets it! Other times I would think, I need to share this wisdom with my daughter.
It’s not a big book, only 163 pages with large enough print even fifty some things can read without their glasses. But I warn you, once you pick it up you won’t want to stop reading. That’s a problem when you pick up a good book like this as you crawl into bed thinking a half an hour will put you to sleep. Two hours later I was finishing it off!
Nothing is off limits. Weight, vanity, aging and family are all discussed. Each chapter is a brief little vignette into her life’s experiences. Each chapter begins with a poetry verse, proverb or quote. Some even have song lyrics and one ends with a recipe. She brings humor into sad situations we all face in life and shows how life goes on, maybe not as we expected, but it goes on.
If you are looking for light hearted optimistic read for someone on your Christmas list, consider going to Cathy Jo Marley’s book signing and get an autographed copy as an extra special gift.
Award-winning Phoenix author Cathy Marley will be signing her heartwarming book, Peeking Over the Edge...views from life’s middle (Infinity Publishing, April, 2006), at two locations in December. The first signing is scheduled at Karen’s Hallmark, 10639 N. 32nd St. in Phoenix, from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Monday December 10. The second signing is scheduled at A Peace of the Universe, 7000 E Shea Blvd, # 1710 in Scottsdale, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday December 15.
Peeking Over the Edge...views from life’s middle takes a philosophical look at those moments and memories that contribute to a life well lived. Poetically fashioned and emotionally candid, this collection of personal reflections savors the joys of life after 50. As Ms Marley says, “In my writing, I talk about love, self acceptance, connection to the world and the legacy we choose to create for ourselves by the life we live. What I have said here goes beyond my own experience to truths that apply to anyone who has achieved middle age or just hopes to someday.”
Since its introduction in May 2006, Peeking Over the Edge has received high praise. In its Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review said, “From coping with a hysterectomy, to fondly recalling distant memories, to the luxurious yet tawdry experience of reading "bodice ripper" romances and more, Peeking Over the Edge offers a candid glimpse of the simple moments in life, and the relish of adapting to new changes with aplomb. A wonderful amalgamation of insights into the pleasures of life well lived.”
The first question she raised to which I could relate, and probably anyone over fifty, is “What mark?” That is what mark will I leave on the world? Writers are especially prone to ask the question and even write it down. Some people want to leave a grandiose beautiful mark that everyone stands up and cheers. They are usually artists, actors or politicians. But I like detailed drawings where hundreds of little marks add up to create a full picture. I hope my life of little marks adds up to a beautiful image. I know my main mark, my daughter, is a pretty good contribution toward a life worth living. Cathy Jo Marley offers this book and it is a nice stroke in her life painting.
Body image, family, mush brain, aging, and pack rat life are all things I found in common with Cathy. Her elephant in the room and little beasties leave enough room for anyone to fill in their own animals. Her words resonate in different ways for each person reading her book. She says she began crafting words to reveal her hearts deepest feelings.
Most of all her optimism about the rest of her life and where it has lead her to today made me think and hope for a future open to the possibilities of love and adventure. And it reminded me to stop and smell the roses along the way.
Peeking Over the Edge...views from life’s middle (Infinity Publishing, April, 2006), ISBN 0-7414-3169-6 $14.95
Western Author Elmer
Kelton Passes at
Elmer Stephen Kelton, 83, died Saturday, August 22nd at his home in San Angelo Texas. He was born April 29, 1926, at Horse Camp in Andrews County Texas to Mr. and Mrs. R.W. “Buck” Kelton, and grew up on the McElroy Ranch in Upton and Crane counties. He completed his education at the University of Texas after serving in Europe during World War II.
Kelton married Anna Lipp of Ebensee, Austria in 1947 and began a career in agriculture journalism at the San Angelo Standard-Times in 1949. He became editor of the Sheep & Goat Raiser magazine in 1963 and associate editor of Livestock Weekly in 1968, retiring in 1990. Kelton maintained a parallel career as a freelance writer, beginning with short stories in the post-war pulp magazine trade, progressing to novels, non-fiction books and countless magazine articles. In all, he wrote more than 40 books, including “The Time it Never Rained,” “The Wolf and the Buffalo,” “The Day the Cowboys Quit,” and “The Good Old Boys,” which became a Turner Network movie directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones. Kelton was named the number-one Western writer of all time by the Western Writers of America. The WWA voted him seven Spur awards for best Western novel of the year and the career Saddleman Award, and he received four Western Heritage Wrangler awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ann Kelton of San Angelo, sons Gary Kelton of Plainview and Steve Kelton of San Angelo, with wife Karen McGinnis, and daughter Kathy Kelton, also of San Angelo and companion Pat Hennigan. He and Ann have four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. He is also survived by his brothers, Merle and wife Ann of May, Texas, Bill and wife Pat of Atlanta, Texas, and Eugene and wife Peggy of McCamey.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the giver’s favorite charity or the Tom Green County Library’s Elmer Kelton statue fund through the San Angelo Area Foundation at 2201 Sherwood Way, Suite 205. Arrangements are pending at Johnson’s Funeral Home.
Video of Elmer Kelton discussing his life at the Western Writers Conference in Scottsdale Jun 8, 2008 Shot by LeeAnn Sharpe Sitting next to Cotton Smith and Johnny Boggs. I will forever cherish the hour I spent talking with Elmer and his wife Ann the next day while they took a quiet break from the action.
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