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Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories
China Miéville
Operation Greylord: The True Story of an Untrained Undercover Agent and America's Biggest Corruption Bust
Terrence Hake, Wayne Klatt
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
Aaron Franklin, Jordan Mackay
My System: 21st Century Edition
Aron Nimzowitsch
The Wheeling Year: A Poet's Field Book
Ted Kooser
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
Francis Fukuyama
My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love
Karl Ove Knausgård, Don Bartlett
James Madison: A Biography
Ralph Louis Ketcham
The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805
Richard Zacks

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster - Keith Gessen, Swietłana Aleksijewicz, Swietłana Aleksijewicz Honestly, I have no words, but fortunately she does. This is a must read, a statement I do not make lightly. Yes, it will depress you at times. Yes, you will weep. But to avoid is to turn yet another blind eye to not just history, but to reality, to humanity, and to forever hide oneself from the world and instead choose the fiction of a child. Understand.

Mob Cop: My Life of Crime in the Chicago Police Department

Mob Cop: My Life of Crime in the Chicago Police Department - Fred Pascente, Sam Reaves Largely unfocused rambling, punctuated by rudimentary library research in italics.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondō While there are certainly several sections which are certain to make many people's eyes roll, there are many more sections which contain priceless tips and advice on tidying. I find myself in many of her examples of well-intended but ultimately failed methods of tidying. Silly at times, perhaps, but still immensely useful.


Replay - Ken Grimwood Surprisingly good, think less [b:11/22/63|10644930|11/22/63|Stephen King|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327876792s/10644930.jpg|15553789] and more "Groundhog Day"
I devoured this in a single morning.
In all honesty the quality of the writing is perfectly fine, but not enough to warrant a lengthy analysis and review. But the concept and themes are excellent, and if you enjoy speculative fiction (or at least what I call that) then you'll surely enjoy this book. It's not high lit, but isn't that alright? If you want simular but more literary, try [b:All Men are Mortal|152057|All Men are Mortal|Simone de Beauvoir|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348844872s/152057.jpg|888707]

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel - Lee Harper Rather than properly review the book, I will comment on my literary friends reaction to it's release. I know, I haven't properly reviewed any book in a long while, but this is more worth the noise.

Should you read this book?
-Well, you shouldn't be avoiding it. If you liked [b:To Kill a Mockingbird|2657|To Kill a Mockingbird|Harper Lee|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361975680s/2657.jpg|3275794] you'll probably like this one too.

Will I be upset at the characters for ______?
-I don't know, I guess if you read Mockingbird for life lessons or to adopt a hero, then yeah, maybe. But that's the sort of emotional laziness that Lee directly addresses near the end of the book. She couldn't possibly have anticipated the sort of figure that two of the main characters clearly became after it's release, but for those saying that Lee has added facets or depth to the characters, with apologies to a couple who said that and who are my friends, the opinions of whom I esteem, no. She didn't.

Well then, why should I bother reading this book? Because the whole vulture/will sign anything in front of her/profiteering thing makes me really uncomfortable.
-Like I said, if you enjoyed the first one, you'll like this one. Basically it's the same tone....ri-ight up to the end bits, where the ending just... well, it just isn't well done. Essentially there's a crisis, which is done wonderfully, and then the dénouement, for lack of an appropriate word in English, is painfully awkward. The logic in the arguments is also painfully flawed, not that I expect you, Gentle Reader, to really notice quite how. There's also some flawed reasoning that's easy to notice as well.

-And as for her being unable to make decisions for herself, and profiteering, well if she's unable to grasp what's happening then she's unable to worry much about it. If you don't want somebody to profit, then don't buy it. I got mine from the library for free, and the ebook is floating all over the internet. Like it or not, that means that payment is a choice, and you vote with your pocketbook.

-And my friends who refuse to read it because it's popular, or because many people who aren't as advanced will say it's the best book ever, or think themselves somehow literati by reading it...what or who is that hurting, exactly? You think this is a worse book than ANY of the popular garbage? I'd say it's better. I know a lot of people who like to decompress from the heavy stuff with mysteries or hard case noir, etc. And you'd begrudge anyone this? I say read anything you want. If ANYONE reads this after reading only trash, then somehow is led down the path to far more amazing fiction, it's a win. Harry Potter was lauded as "look, the kids are reading, now they'll read better books." No, they read more YA fantasy. This lead directly to 50 shades, in my opinion. But this book will lead to...what? Maybe better books? I think that's possible here.

In short, quit being judgmental, and read this enjoyable little book if you feel like it. Then go read something else.

Love and Rockets, Vol. 2: Chelo's Burden

Love and Rockets, Vol. 2: Chelo's Burden - Jaime Hernández, Mario Hernández Stick with it, Gentle Reader, the story and art will continue to improve.

Hand-Made Books: An Introduction to Bookbinding

Hand-Made Books: An Introduction to Bookbinding - Rob  Shepherd Splendid introduction to basic bookbinding. A little confusing in a couple of spots, such as having to flip around to figure out what "mull" was, but a great start.

The Water Knife: A novel

The Water Knife: A novel - Paolo Bacigalupi Great premise, engaging delivery.
At times a little overwritten, a little eye-rolling. Wouldn't surprise me if there's a screen treatment. I could even see a cable series.

DOS Caminos Tacos: 100 Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Mexican Food

DOS Caminos Tacos: 100 Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Mexican Food - Joanna Pruess, Ivy Stark For those seeking the next step beyond traditional, these classic+nuevo+modern recipes will at the very least entertain. Don't be put off by the recipes you find especially odd, there's a number of great ones in here too.

Chess Openings for White, Explained: Winning with 1. E4 (Alburt's Opening Guide, Book 1)

Chess Openings for White, Explained: Winning with 1. E4 (Alburt's Opening Guide, Book 1) - Lev Alburt, Eugene Perelshteyn I seriously WANTED to give this high marks, but to be frank, it's filled with errors and gaps. There are typos, mislabeled diagrams, and while I would be willing to overlook that, believe it or not, what I am entirely unable to overlook is the giant gaping holes in the theory, where entire possible (and frankly common) lines are not considered, and other alternate lines trail off, suggesting the answer to anything down that rabbit hole is obvious. I'd be willing to think myself simply daft at that, except that computers AND better players than I agree. And please note, we're not talking about 20 moves in, we're more around...four, in places.

The intention is to create a stable and "hole-less" system for a player. The constant omissions make this someplace between bad work to a cruel joke for a weaker player.

W.B. Yeats Selected Poems

W.B. Yeats Selected Poems - W.B. Yeats I feels odd to give Yeats three stars, but I didn't relish the selection of these selected poems. I have a hard time rectifying my love of say, "The Second Coming" with my lack of passion for most of the poems in this volume. Oh well.

Station Eleven: A novel

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel review coming...

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers Considered a Southern Gothic classic, McCullers addresses the struggles of poverty and race in a 1930's mill town, focusing on several characters and explored by way of short episodes.

A great deal of ink has been spilt over various observations and theories related to this book, so I'll not try to add too much to the pot, but record my general thoughts.

Much of the book seems to focus on a mute, named John Singer, and much of the writing about the book focuses equally upon him. Singer provides a sort of moral underpinning to the other figures, his muteness providing them a blank canvas upon which to paint their impression of who he is. Of course, their ideas tend to reflect their own feelings and needs more than their understanding of who he actually is. The author is quite careful to refuse the other characters any true knowledge of him with the exception of minor observation by Biff. While much attention is paid to the idea of Singer as the center of the novel, he's a center like the center of a wagon wheel: the hole is important, but the spokes do the work.

Mick Kelly will surely be the figure a majority of readers will connect with, a young tomboyish girl who provides a mini-Bildungsroman to the novel, and surely you'll be expected to remember the author was twenty-three at the time of publication, making comparisons more or less inevitable, if partly misplaced.

Jake Blount, written by many (including Wikipedia) as being "an alcoholic labor agitator" is a more interesting character than that, mostly from making me wonder if the author wrote him from more personal experience of someone she knew, and that he seems to present classic Alcohol-Related Psychosis symptoms, possibly a thiamine deficiency, and dropping in on Blount later in life would almost assuredly present a splendid case of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. If anything, I find the author's positioning of Blount in the racial hierarchy of the community to be one of the more condemning (and possibly ignored) features of the book.

Dr. Copeland is a far trickier subject of study, and while interesting, I wonder if it's not also the weaker character for the author, along with Portia, his daughter. Of course, we're expected to know a little Shakespeare here, and she doesn't disappoint..except of course that I find the portrayal of the Copeland family a little one-dimensional in general. Oh hell, she was 23, right? Still, Portia exists more as a device despite the stereotyping, providing us with a Cassandra in addition to a couple of Portias. Yes, I realize that Portia is likely based upon a specific person, a cook she knew, but since when does being acquainted with someone real prevent any of us from applying a stereotype when we desire to?

Biff Brannon is far more juicy, really providing us with the observer/narrator that must represent at least a smidgen of authorial omniscience. In VQR, Louis D. Rubin finds almost the opposite results in comparison, finding Dr. Copeland to be the most complete character in a generally excellent article on the author's work. However for me, Brannon is filled with all sorts of ambiguity: personal, general, sexual. Though there's clearly autobiographical elements to the Mick character, I find Brannon to be the closest thing to our author in disguise. And while much is made about the "feminine" behaviors (to include aprons, perfume, and maternal impulses) representing confusion of sexuality, I suspect that Brannon is more of the blend of androgyny and semi-asexuality that his author almost assuredly shared (McCullers' brother apparently said quite strongly that she wasn't gay but asexual, and that sex ruined friendship and love) Brannon's attraction to a very androgynous Mick early in the book leads me to feel this even more. Contrary to confusion, I find Biff's use of perfume a more nostalgic impulse than act of sexual confusion. There are quite a few easy and obvious comparisons between Mick to the author herself, but I suspect this is almost an act of self-observation via dissociation. Mick is who the author must seem, but Biff is who the author must feel like.

I am indebted to the aforementioned Rubin,

and to Virginia Spencer Carr's 'Understanding Carson McCullers.'

A Death

A Death - Stephen King, Jon Gray My usual issue with King, that he could have been one of our greatest writers had he taken a slightly different route. Here he writes a great little story that once again shows a hint of what could have been. I intend no offense to King fans.

Our Oriental Heritage (Story of Civilization, Vol 1)

Our Oriental Heritage (Story of Civilization, Vol 1) - Will Durant Durant is unmatched in the beauty and clarity of his prose, and in the piercing gaze through the mists of history. Yes, there are elements which are dated thanks to more recent research, and yes, his sections which close the book on China and Japan are probably best forgotten due to the poor availability of translations and understanding of cultures, especially from ancient China. But were I to engage in the silly game of "desert island" books, this single volume would contend for that honor.

No single book or author can encompass all knowledge or research. No one man can encapsulate all history without fault or sin. But page after page, Durant will stun the reader with profound and poetic passages. Forgive him his other trespasses. Frankly the section on India (a subject he was especially familiar with) is worth the price of admission alone.

I recommend this book as highly, and as strongly as anything ever shall be. Quite honestly, if you don't like it I won't want to hear about it. I don't mean that to be offensive, believe me! But this book approaches as near and as dear to my heart as any does.

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History - Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, Jim DeFelice, John Pruden Fascinating subject matter, treated honestly and openly. A fascinating and for reasons I cannot grasp, polarizing man to many. My honest impression is that those unfamiliar with the mental and emotional tolls of conflict may be unable to understand a man like Kyle. This isn't to forgive any man his trespasses, but to understand them. But this has nothing to do with the merits of the book as a book.

The book is written in an engaging but supremely simplistic style. The ghostwriters clearly employed every hackneyed device they could think of. A dramatic prologue to expository background, which has a term associated with it that I forget at the moment is one used SEVERAL times. I strongly suspect this had little to do with the tastes of Mr. Kyle himself, and he was simply following the advice of others.

Still, his authentic voice shines through, though again, many readers or those who only skim summaries of pull-out quotes will easily misunderstand the meaning of his thoughts. At the service of better quality writing, this could have been a much better book. For those who wish to understand how our recent conflicts can change a man's world view, who better wish to understand the mentality or focus of such warriors, this might be a good, though polarizing, introduction.

But for me, books begin with five stars, shining with promise. The lack of a deeper self-reflection loses one, which isn't to say that there ISN'T self-reflection, only that I felt that more objective analysis was possible. It loses the other two purely on the merits of the writing. This isn't something I blame Mr. Kyle for, however.

I had heard of him before the book came out, and had heard about what an amazing man he was, was excited for the book, and hurt at the news of his murder. I have mixed feelings about the furor over the movie, and the many comments from talking heads about his character. I cannot believe some of the hateful things being said about him, and can only assume these people simply cannot get it. I suppose I wouldn't get mad at someone with a disability who couldn't do something that seems obvious to me, so I shouldn't get too upset with those who interpret something so wrongly because their background and life experiences make Mr. Kyle as different to them as someone living on Mars. I only wish people could find it within them to be open to how different lives make different men.

So in the end, I wanted to give this four stars, but the quality of the writing cannot bear examination. And the worst part is that you can spot where outside editors left fingerprints all over this book. The use of devices and specific grammar usages stand out like a sore thumb. This weakens the authors voice, but fortunately that voice is strong enough to still force its way through. Two stars.