In the fall of 1960, John Steinbeck set out on a journey across the United States with his French Poodle, Charely. His intetn was to find a narrative that would help to identify the Nation and its mindset at the beginning of the 1960's.
Meant intially as a travelogue, I feel that this has become more of a time capsule. Steinbeck was able to travel coast to coast while largely eschewing the interstate highway system that has since dominated the landscape, meeting folks from all walks of life and interacting with nature in ways that were most surprising to him. Along the way, he encountered migrant workers from Canada, bureaucratic border guards at Niagra Falls, roadside diners (who do breakfast well but not so much the other meals), a National Park ranger who understood the nature of dogs, and a pair coyotes who taught him about survival. He also witnessed the raial strife in the effort to desegregate the New Orleans Schools. Far different in tone from Steinbeck's novels, this book reflect our country at a particular time and is well worth the read.
Sarah Vowell, known to many as the voice of Violet in The Incredibles, never lost her fascination with the many odd twists and turns our country's history has expereinced. Vowell travels far and wide across the country to tell the story of presidential assassins and their targets. We get to re-trace the escape route of John Wilkes Booth, learn about a 19th century sex cult, visit Fort Jefferson, where Booth's co-conspirators were held until their pardon, and discover the weird coincidences of a growing country (Robert Todd Lincoln was perhaps the unluckiest man in history). References and comparisons to modern culture (MTV's Cribs, The OC) are peppered throughout.
The book is amusing and interesting, but it is not frivolous. We learn how the Republican Party of Lincoln began to turn into the Republican Party of today. There are many comparisons between the conflicts of the 19th century and the modern political era. Vowell's throwaway lines about popular vs. electoral majority and cult of personality will lead you to belive this book was written much later than 2006.
Memory is a funny thing and this account of the first ten years of Meg Bashwiner and Joseph Fink's relationship is proof of that. Each wrote separate essays about their first ten years together, each essay covering one year. The differences and similarities in their recollections are Rashomon-like. One person's minor phrase could be a major topic for the other's essay. Some stories are only heard from one perspective whole others have completely different accounts. (Who actually paid for the Plan B pill?)
The essays touch on love, loss, how we make the big decisions in life, and how those decisions are sometimes made for us. Their feelings of love, respect, and togetherness are felt throughout the book. I hope to hear from Meg and Joseph again in another ten years.
Roger Bennett, cohost of the television program Men in Blazers, is a great authority on international football, but his true love and affection has long been centered on all things United States. Spending his formative years in post-industrial Liverpool, Bennett developed a love of the music, films, television programs, sports and fashion of America in the mid-80's.
This is a story of hope, and the writing is a joy to behold. The enthusiasm leaps off the page. It gave me a new perspective on the impact of American culture and just how much we take for granted. The book is funny, touching, and very personal.
Our favorite Fool, Pocket of Dog Snogging, returns for another visit into the world of William Shakespeare. This time, he finds himself in the city of Athens, Greece and its adjoining forest. Pocket has three days to solve the mystery surrounding the death of Puck, Jester to the Shadow King.
Fans and experts in the writings of Shakespeare will enjoy the many references to the Bard's works while Wiki-experts (like me) will enjoy looking for the source material.
Shakespeare for Squirrels continues Christopher Moore's mission to bring Shakespeare's works to a new audience. Funny, Bawdy, and fast-paced, This is well worth the read!
Not a strictly a book about baseball as much as it is a look at how mistakes are made due to the poor assumptions, biases, and fallacies that we all make in our everyday lives. Each chapter looks at one or more poor decisions in the history of the game and the thinking behind those decisions. How does anchor bias influence umpire calls? What does suvivorship bias have to do with Nolan Ryan's high pitch counts? How does the sunk cost fallacy figure into player salaries? A great book for fans of the game who want to learn more about the psychology and economic thought that has shaped the game.