Paul Bradley Carr’s 1414° is a satirical thriller that reads like Carl Hiaasen’s take on Silicon Valley, “An industry built on the promise of limitless memory, by people who can’t remember what happened last week.” The book opens with former tech titan Joe Christian counting out his final hours in a filthy flophouse in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Someone, he is sure, has deliberately ruined his life. Someone he calls “Fate” has orchestrated his long descent from wealth and power to this sad, sordid end.
[Note: This book’s preface claims it’s based on a true story. It’s not. If you read this novel as an accurate account of Aboriginal culture, you’ll be misled. It should be categorized as New Age Fantasy. The end of this review contains a link to a story in which the author retracts her claims to the book’s authenticity. As fantasy, though, it’s a pretty good read.] Marlo Morgan, an American living in Australia, is invited by an Aboriginal group to what she thinks is an awards banquet.
A few months ago, I bought a RadCity 4 electric bike from Rad Power Bikes. I got it for commuting into town (5 hilly miles) and to the office (8 miles, with steep hills). The bike arrived about a week after I placed the order. It comes in a box, mostly assembled, with the customer having to do the final steps of attaching the pedals and handlebars, and connecting some wiring.
Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle presents an alternate reality in which the Allies lost World War II and the Axis won. The book was written in, and takes place in, the early 1960’s. Unlike many of today’s dystopian alternate-history novels, which tend to be dark and somber, Dick’s story is darkly humorous. Instead of focusing merely on how the victors oppress the vanquished, Dick transposes the absurdities and petty quarrels of twentieth century life onto an America colonized by Japan, a world in which two cultures, fundamentally at odds, must coexist without being able to fully understand each other.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Charles Farrell’s Low(life): A Memoir of Jazz, Fight-Fixing and the Mob. If you’re into true crime, boxing, jazz, or just good writing from a sharp-minded observer who has led an interesting life, check it out. Follow the link below to read my full review on Medium. Book Review of “(Low)Life: A Memoir of Jazz, Fight-Fixing and the Mob"
Alexander Starritt’s We Germans tells the story of a small group of German soldiers retreating from the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1944. The German soldiers on the Eastern front know the war is lost. Pursued by the ruthless Red Army, they’ve retreated a thousand kilometers on foot and are crossing the Polish countryside they destroyed years earlier, when they looked and felt invincible. The main character, Meissner, was drafted into the war at age nineteen as an artilleryman.
James Ellroy’s Blood on the Moon introduces LAPD Detective Sargent Lloyd Hopkins, a “genius” homicide investigator with a reputation for solving tough cases. First published in 1984, the book contains what are now a set of common tropes. Hopkins is a rogue cop working against the strictures of the department that employs him. His self-sworn duty to protect the innocent is born of his own childhood trauma. He can be as single-minded, violent, and relentless as the killers her pursues.
The Cocktail Waitress was the last book James M. Cain wrote before he died in 1977. Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai pieced it together from a number of manuscripts and published it in 2002. The book, as Ardai says, “is a classic Cain femme fatale story that’s told for once from the femme fatale’s point of view.” And what a point of view it is. The book opens with twenty-one year old widow Joan Medford standing at her husband’s grave.
Archivists preserve cultural artifacts and do their best to make them accessible to future generations. These artifacts traditionally included books, articles, images, music, legal documents, letters, and just about any other item that contains important or meaningful information. Until a few decades ago, these artifacts were primarily physical. Preserving them required good storage conditions and good handling practices. Making them available meant providing an index, such as a card catalog, to tell people where they were stored, and a physical space, such as a library or museum where people could physically access the items.
In The Hiding Girl, Dorian Box’s tough and resourceful young protagonist, Emily Calby, flees a horrific murder and spends months on the streets and on the run. Her survival depends on toughness and determination, and the help of a former gang member who recognizes in her shades of his own youth. In this sequel, she finds herself in trouble again right from the get-go, but it’s trouble of a different kind.
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