Wednesday, December 9, 2009

So if you guessed that I'm posting this to avoid working, you'd be right! You win! Congratulations - you should be receiving your free monkey soon.

Winter is officially here. I had to break out the snowblower and shovel this morning. This was the view out of my front window last night at 10pm. Yes, I assure you, I took that at 10pm...pretty stinkin bright, hey?!? This was right before I started losing electricity (five times in an hour and a half), and I was still wide awake, pulling blinds shut to remind my brain that it was actually night-time and that I should probably be getting to bed. Instead, I finished a book and watched The Golden Girls. You know, the usual.

Other than that, nothing much new has been happening. Lots of working, not a lot of paid hours, nothing new. Except for books, that is!

"Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life"
- Michael Greenberg, 2009
ISBN: 9781590513415

From the back cover: "Beg, Borrow, Steal" is an autobiography in installments, set in New York, where the authoer depicts the life of a writer of little means trying to practice his craft -- or simply stay alive. He finds himself doctoring doomed movie scripts; driving traucks and taxis; selling cosmetics from an ironing board in front of a women's department store; writing about golf, a game he never played; and botching his debut as a waiter in a coveted four-star restaurant.

Central characters include the City of All Cities; Michael's father, whose scrap metal business looms large; his elegant mother; his first wife, Robin, whom he met in a Greenwich Village high school; their son, Aaron, who grew up on the Lower East Side; a repentant communist who fought in the Spanish Civil War; a Chilean filmmaker in search of his past; beggars who are poets; a man who becomes a woman; and rats who behave like humans and cease to live underground. Greenberg creates a world where the familial, the incongruous, the literary, the humorous, the tragic, and the mundane not only speak to each other, but deeply enjoy the exchange.

Thoughts: Once I finally committed myself to finishing this book, it was an enjoyable read. Like so many things, I had started this one, left it sitting on my coffee table for a month, and then got so sick of looking at the bland advanced proof cover that I made myself sit down and get it done with. And I really liked it! I didn't know anything about Mr. Greenberg or what his writing would be like and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. It didn't have a reading "flow" to it, and it worked out wonderfully. These 45 essays are like little snapshots of his life experiences - just enough to get a sense of what his worldview is and what he sees around him. It's good, but I don't know if it necessarily qualifies for all of the accolades it has been receiving.

"The Vintage Caper"
-Peter Mayle, 2009
ISBN: 0307269010

From Publishers Weekly: Mayle uncorks a winning wine caper in the tradition of "To Catch a Thief". When a hot-shot Hollywood lawyer's most treasured and expensive wines are stolen, his insurance company calls in Sam Levitt, a gourmand and lawyer-of-all-trades with a varied background, to investigate. The investigation takes Sam to Paris and Bordeaux, where he hooks up with the elegant insurance agent Sophie Costes, a fellow wine and food snob. The trail finally leads them to a man named Francis Reboul in Marseille, and soon, with the help of Sophie's journalist cousin, Phillipe, they get an in with Reboul and close in on closing the caper. While the plot may be predictable, the pleasures of this very French adventure—and there are many—aren't in the resolution, of course, but in the pleasant stroll through the provinces and in the glasses of wine downed and decadent meals consumed.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Then again, I always enjoy Peter Mayle. No matter if it's fiction or non-fiction his writing, stories, mysteries, etc, are a gentle escape from everyday life. This book is certainly no exception. Dealing with a wine theft from a conceited s.o.b., a wonderful trip to Marseille, and a bit of a who-dun-it, it was an easy read that I looked forward to getting back to every time I had to put it down. If you're in the mood to read a book for pleasure that's not fluff, "The Vintage Caper" will happily fit the bill.

And now, between loads of laundry, I'll be nosing around on book blogs, checking out reading challenges for 2010, and probably signing up for a few along the way. On a related note, I should check out a HTML book, or look for a class - I don't know how to make my blog look better, and how to better post sidebar things, etc. Any recommendations are very welcome! See you later!

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