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Showing posts from April, 2013

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion

I will try to be Joan Didion's witness regarding A Book of Common Prayer.  It is a great, ambitious novel.  It is not common.  Even despite its title, none of its characters have a prayer.  A not uncommon trait afflicting the characters of Joan Didion's novels. That's just Joan being Joan. Cynical and ironic. Master of irony.  Cynic's mistress.  Joan Didion.  Making me ruefully laugh calling her third novel A Book of Common Prayer.  Amen.

A trait uncommon, I should amend, in the three novels I've so far read of the five novels of Joan Didion.  The other novel's by Joan Didion I've read being A Book of Common Prayer's predecessor, Play It As It Lays (1970), and Prayer's follow-up, Democracy (1984).   Perhaps they are common traits in the two novels by Joan Didion I've not yet read; her debut, Run River (1963) and most recent, though published nearly two decades ago around the time Clinton began his second term, The Last Thing He Wanted (1996).  …

Finding The Last Western by Thomas S. Klise at a Thrift Store for $1.49

The Last Western by Thomas S. Klise, the first and only novel he published (who is this guy, and why is this book so expensive to buy online?) was lost, but now is found.  Oh far be it for me to boast, but why exactly are people paying $60.00 online for a second hand, mass market paperback like the one I bought below, for a paltry $1.49.  Though I need to add, for sake of accuracy and honesty, that it was a 30% off Friday 4pm -- close, at the thrift store I regularly frequent, so the final sale price for my copy of The Last Western ended up being only $1.04 plus nine cents tax, for a total purchase price of $1.13.   By the looks of the creased spine and the minor frayed corners and signs of shelf wear and heavy use on its cover (though the copy is perfectly clean as far as I can tell) I'm thinking maybe I got ripped off paying $1.13 for this Argus Communications (A Division of DLM, Inc. / Allen, Texas 75002 U.S.A.) first printing of this mass market paperback.

Does anybody know wh…

Reassessing Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939, A Personal Choice by Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess knew what he liked and why he liked it, which is a lot more than I can say about many of today's alleged critics so quick with their clichés -- "it was lyrical," or my unfavorite, "an evocative meditation on ______" -- that are absent of any originality or insight whatsoever.  Burgess, crusty curmudgeon he could be (ask on-the-cusp-of-being-nominated-for-the-National Book Award-and-Pulitzer-before-Burgess-butchered-him, Steve Erickson, in 1993!) was always original.  Always insightful.  Being an innovative novelist and being so well versed in contemporary trends and classic tastes, he knew quality writing wherever he encountered it; knew what made for great novels and what didn't, no matter how popular or obscure the book might be.  Most of the time.  He was flat out wrong about Steve Erickson.  But that's an editorial for another day....

Burgess' selections for Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English Since 1939, A Personal Choice (p…