coming soon from bold strokes books  
   Like most soldiers, Declan Colette lost his fair share in the war—in his case a sailor, drowned off Iwo Jima. Since then he’s been scratching out a living as a cut-rate PI, drinking too much, and flirting with danger. Then a girl arranges to consult him, only to be murdered en route, and the cops tag Colette as their prime suspect. To save his neck he’ll need to find the real killer, a quest that pits him against a rival detective firm, a dangerously rich family, and a desperate foe whose murdering ways started back during the war.

   Could this be the case he’s been waiting for? Catching the killer could make his reputation. Failing, could cost him his life.

   Either way: win-win.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Yes, Virginia

   You'll probably come across this many places, but for some reason it resonated with me this year, so I chose to post it...

from the September 21, 1897, edition of The (New York) Sun
   We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

   Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
   Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
    You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
    No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

   You can learn more about the editorial, and the man who wrote it, HERE.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review ~ The Golden Age by Gore Vidal

The Golden AgeThe Golden Age by Gore Vidal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book grew on me as I progressed. I attribute the difficult time I had getting into it at the beginning to the fact that it was one of (actually the last of) a series. Several characters are dropped on the reader with very little introduction, yet a bit of research revealed these had been major players in a previous volume. As this novel's events unwound, these players faded somewhat as heir, Peter Sanford, took not so much center stage as central POV duties.

One thing that (especially at first) I found disconcerting was Vidal's insertion of himself as a character in the narrative. It initially comprised little more than a drive-by, which had little more effect on me than to cause a roll of the eyes). But by the end, the author/character had gone full meta and surrounded himself with his characters much like Samantha did that time she tried to write a story on Bewitched. It only managed to work (IMO) due to the inclusion of Aaron Burr, harkening back to the first entry in this series, which (full disclosure) I have not read.

I'm a huge van of Vidal but not so keen on his style as a fiction writer. His slightly detached, slightly pedagogic voice works better when he's functioning as a critic/essayist. Still, I enjoyed the book. It makes a great companion to his final collection of essays, The Last Empire.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Come home to Thanksgiving! Dear Children, come home!
From the Northland and the South, from West and the East,
Where'er ye are resting, where'er ye roam,
Come back to this sacred and annual feast."

 Horace Greeley (1846)
 New York Herald Tribune 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Barefoot in the Prints of our Ancestors

I meant to post all this week with historical and fun facts about Thanksgiving, but tonight as so many fires burn and so many more immutable crimes prove ultimately incombustible , I'm just going to reflect on the words of wiser men…

The quotes are assembled/ordered by me rather than as a reflection of any text or even any chronology. Which, I suppose, is a round-about way of saying: "Emphasis Mine."

James Baldwin, from The Fire Next Time:

“There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves.”

“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world's most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”

“If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world”

Thurgood Marshall:

“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”

W. E. B. Du Bois:

"One ever feels his twoness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

And, since I began with him, I'll let Baldwin have the final word (from The Fire Next Time):

"Whose little boy are you?”

Friday, November 14, 2014

A HUNDRED LITTLE LIES - Audiobook Just Released

The Audiobook of A Hundred Little Lies just became available from Audible. Read by JP Handler.

You can find it HERE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: China Dolls

China Dolls
China Dolls by Lisa See

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another book I hope to some day soon offer a full review for. I will say briefly, the revolving POV did not work for me, mainly because I didn't understand the point of it. I never felt it offered any deeper insight into the relationships of the three main characters and, except for very minor cosmetics, there wasn't a lot of difference in their voices. (Was this to point out a universal similarity? As I say, I never figured out why the author chose to write the story that way.)

The other main thing that annoyed me was that again and again plot points were sprung on the reader like grand "AHA!" moments, but never were actually AHA moments. Anyone paying attention knew well before it was revealed that Ruby and Joe were sleeping together, and that Helen betrayed Ruby. And, god knows, the bit about the weird dude attacking the other dancer with a knife wasn't so much foreshadowed as telegraphed.

Still a fast and comfortable read. Seemingly well-researched and written with an obvious love of the subject and period.

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