In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

26 June, 2008

BTT: Definition of a reader

What, in your opinion, is the definition of a “reader.” A person who indiscriminately reads everything in sight? A person who reads BOOKS? A person who reads, period, no matter what it is? … Or, more specific? Like the specific person who’s reading something you wrote?

Growing up, I heard the phrase "she's a reader" alot. As a child (and even now), I read alot. I read to experience new worlds, to visit places I someday hoped to visit, and to find out "who done it". I also read to escape the unhappiness of teasing at school, and family issues, but that is a whole different story.

As such I kinda hate the title reader. Yeah I read, so do a whole lot of others in the world.

But I think anyone who reads for pleasure is a "reader". Be they a child, teen, or adult who only reads once in a while, or those like myself who devour books in their free time. I think that anyone who has been drawn into a story and visited the world that the author has created is a reader whether they liked the book or hated it.

On a side note. I have a tote bag full of kids books for when friends bring their children over to visit. I love hearing "Can I get the books?" being asked as soon as they walk into the apartment.

25 June, 2008

In memory of:

As most of you have heard by now, comedian George Carlin passed away earlier this week.

His comedy has meant alot to me over the years. I remember watching his televiseed performances on the then young cable network with my dad, and listening to his recorded shows also with my dad (along with the Duck's Breath Mystery Theater, and the Firesign Theater), and I have devoured all his books over the years.

As I had just Finished listening to George read the audio version of his last book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? on the day of his passing, I would like to pass along a copy of the book in his memory.

This will be a gently read used hardbound copy of the book that has been registered at Bookcrossing. Leave me a comment telling me what George Carlin's comedy meant to you, and a way of contacting you.

I'll draw the winner's name on July 2, 2008. This is open to anyone anywhere in the world.

So long George! Thanks for all the laughs!

16 June, 2008

Book Review: Tin Lizard Tales by Schuyler T. Wallace

Read and Reviewed for Front Street Reviews

What do you get when you put a retired couple on a train for a month? Take them from Bakersfield, California across the United States to the east coast, then North into Canada and head them back west again, across the Canadian wilderness? Tin Lizard Tales is exactly that. Part travelogue, part historical look into the cities they cross through, and part discussion/rant on various issues brought about by the former. Tin Lizard Tales is author Schuyler T. Wallace’s recollections of the cross country trip he and his wife Carol took via Amtrak (in the USA) and the VIA Rail (in Canada).

Tin Lizard Tales attempts to show various parts of the country in current days, what the author and his wife saw and visited while touring the country. The history lessons come when the author adds in looks into the history of the areas they’ve traveled in, and the cities that they visit. Even the title of the book is a bit of history, gleaned from the old time railroaders’ name for streamliners. Here and there Mr Wallace slips away from his format and shares with us his opinions and essays on topics such as homelessness, the meat packing industry, and the service encountered on the many trains he and his wife rode on their trip.

Author Schuyler T, Wallace has the following to say about his book: “I was prompted to write this book by a lot of reading and large amounts of coffee. Strangely enough, that’s probably what you will need to get through it.” I don’t drink coffee, but I don’t know if it would have helped me speed through the book any faster than I ended up doing. There is a lot of information between the first page and the back cover of this book. I could only read it a chapter or two at a time before setting it aside to process what I had read. The portion I had trouble with most, was when the author talked about their visit to the World Trade Center site, and his exploration of the events of 9/11. Even though it’s been almost seven years since the attacks, it’s still a very raw subject. I skimmed through those chapters and on to the rest of the Schuylers’ visit to the city that never sleeps. I did enjoy the descriptions of the scenery they traveled through especially the descriptions of the length of track traveled along the Hudson River, and while crossing Canada. I’ve traveled long distance via Amtrak as well, and it was a memorable experience. Reading Tin Lizard Tales reminded me of that experience, and made me look forward to perhaps exploring the country by train travel again some day.

12 June, 2008

Book Review: Keeper and Kid by Edward Hardey

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

When Jim Keeper receives a call out of the blue from his ex-wife Cynthia’s mother, the last thing he expects to hear is that she is in the hospital. Jim drops everything to drive up to Boston to find out what the favor he has been told she needs to ask him is. A week later, when going to pick up what used to be their dog Arrow, Jim is faced with a huge problem that he was not expecting.

It’s been four years since He and Cynthia divorced, a little over three years since he had seen her last. His life in those years has changed significantly. He now lives in Providence, and is partner in a two man salvage shop. He spends his days looking for buyers of the stuff his partner and best friend Tim finds (everything from old mantelpieces salvaged from houses that have been demolished to antique toys), and running their warehouse. He has also just moved into a house with Leah, his current girlfriend.

Cynthia has passed away, and rather than going home with the dog he was expecting, he is introduced to Leo. Suddenly he is finding himself father to a three year old, whom he wasn’t even aware he had. Jim finds himself transporting home a toddler, and his belongings. He cannot fathom what has just happened, and can not figure out how to break the news to Leah.

His life becomes one of introduction to this small child who speaks of strange kid things such as the tv show Kipper, and who only eats round foods. Everywhere he turns, his small home he had been making with his girlfriend Leah is over run with bright colored toys, and child sized clothing. He is struggling to survive as a single parent, learning to cope with daily childcare and toilet training. Through all this, there is an urgency to get Leo integrated into the life he had, and to convince Leah to give him and Leo another chance.

Keeper and Kid is a warm and sweet story of a man and child thrown headfirst into each others lives. Edward Hardy has created an engaging look into life, as a new parent, as a single parent, and the receipt of an unexpected gift. Jim Keeper, a man who never thought about children in his life grows through the story. I found myself immersed in the book, and quickly sped through it to find out how Jim, Leo, and Leah survive the shock of being thrown together so suddenly.

05 June, 2008

Book Review: Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese

Read and Reviewed for Front Street Reviews.

Down to a Sunless Sea is a collection of fifteen short stories written by Mathias B. Freese. I have mixed feelings about this slim book. On one hand, there are a few gems in the collection. Then on the other hand, there are others that just seem to fall short of the mark. It took me a longer time than I usually take to commit myself to reading this book.

The author, uses his experiences and observations gained from twenty-five years as a clinical social worker and psychologist in crafting his stories. Most of them, are rather dark, keeping with the author’s dark view of humanity (something he has readily admitted to having). However, a few of the stories show both humor and a moving look at how we view life. In the introduction, Down to a Sunless Sea is promoted as “plunging the reader into uncomfortable situations and into the minds of troubled characters.” This is a very apt statement, but in my opinion a few of the stories just seemed abrupt, and the characters not given as much of an opportunity to establish themselves as they could. The stories, written over a thirty-year time frame delve deeply into the human psyche, and are excellently written if a bit raw and packed with emotion.

I found the story “Alabaster” to be one of most moving of the collection. This story introduces an old Polish woman and her daughter. The mother, a survivor of the Holocaust and her devoted daughter live in the neighborhood, but do not easily interact with their neighbors. They sit together, and alone, until their lives are brightened briefly by a small boy who is too young to know of the tragedy that they had lived through. He, after hearing from the old woman of her experiences during WWII, reads the tattoo she still carries out loud, wondering who 7859912 was. A person, the old woman can not tell him was herself as others had seen her, an undesirable, and not the alabaster armed young girl she once was.

The other stories I found enjoyable in the collection were:
“Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Father was a Nazi”
“Mortise and Tenon”