Wednesday, January 25, 2017
read by the author
Tom Davis was part of a comedy pair, Franken and Davis that started in the late 1960s. Davis and Franken (yes, that Franken, Senator Al Franken) attended the same high school in Minnesota and came of age in the hippie '70s and were present at the beginning of Saturday Night Live.
I've never really heard of Davis and don't remember him from SNL, although he was primarily a writer. Near the end of the rambling, pointless book (more on that later), he reads a recent bio of Al Franken where Davis is virtually unmentioned. Paraphrasing the article: Franken was part of a comedy duo, known as an actor from SNL, here's a picture with 'a friend', running for senate. Davis seems a little upset by his non-recognition. I thought it wasn't surprising considering Franken and Davis had a bitter break up (they seem to be friendly now), and much of their growing different sensibilities could probably be traced back to the point where Al go married, had a child, and stopped hanging out and doing drugs all the time. Surprise! Franken grew more famous after stopping doing drugs all. the. time.
I was actually expecting a point where Davis would describe his rock bottom and how he stopped doing drugs, especially after chronicalling the death of John Belushi and Chris Farley. But nope. More stories about his friendships with Jerry Garcia, and Timothy Leary. He was a major Dead Head fan of the Grateful Dead.
Davis includes the emails he wrote to Franken while writing this book as Franken provided details which I assume Davis had no clue about due to all the drugs he did. Franken wrote the introduction and Davis does a remarkable job reading in Franken's voice. All this book really made me think about was how much I'd like to read an Al Franken book, especially after seeing some of his work during the Senate confirmation hearings.
The book is just a bunch of random stories about people he knew and comedy sketches throughout his life. The sketches were funny, mostly, and Davis is still pretty proud of some of his funnier skits. The SNL stuff was the most interesting, hearing some of the behind the scenes stuff of the early years with Lorne Michaels and Dan Ackroyd.
But I couldn't sense the greater overall point of the story. He likes drugs. He wrote comedy. He knows a lot of famous people. (He didn't seem a fan of Mike Myers, who didn't seem impressed with the drug use of Davis when they met. Point for Myers, who I have recently written about gushingly.) I listened to it all, but eventually played it at 1.75X the speed just to get done. If you want a comedian's memoir from a SNL actor, try Martin Short or Mike Myers.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
read by the author, 4 h 40 min
A raw, non linear memoir, covering many topics but primarily non-traditional family and pregnancy. Nelson is married to the artist Harry Dodge,a gender fluid trans man, inherits a step-son, and surprisingly to herself, wants to get pregnant.
Interspersed between the personal, are references to queer theory which Nelson debates or comments on.
“A day or two after my love pronouncement, now feral with vulnerability, I sent you the passage from Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes in which Barthes describes how the subject who utters the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase “I love you,” its meaning must be renewed by each use, as “the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new.”
The writing is dense, full of ideas and I easily would go back five or ten minutes to re-listen to a passage and still miss parts of the narrative. This might have been a book that the print version would have been more beneficial to me. I had to take my time to absorb the language.
Much thinking required, but Nelson's thinking is so different from my life experience, that I liked the parts I got. She is not afraid to discuss anything, and much was deeply personal.
This book is from the list 40 New Feminist Classics. 5/40 read
Posted by raidergirl3 at 10:08 PM
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Canada by Mike Myers, 304 pages
Thank you Mike Myers.
You have written a wonderful book, a love letter of sorts, to Canada. For its 150th birthday!
I so enjoyed this book. There are probably a number of reasons for this:
1. Mike Myers is awesome and funny. He is also so quintessentially Canadian - talented, funny, appreciative, humble. This is really what his book is about, what makes Canada, and what made Mike Myers.
2. Mike and I are both of a certain age (50ish) so he hits all my cultural markers of growing up in the seventies/eighties. That's also what the book is about - the era of the 'making of a great nation' from 1967-1976, when Canada came of age as a country, from Expo '67 to the Montreal Olympics.
3. Mike is famous. The section about his making it big drops a lot of names, and I almost forgot how big and funny he was. I mean, Wayne's World? Classic comedy. He also dishes about how Wayne's World, while set in Illinois, is really very Canadian, and he purposefully included all these Canadian references.
4. Did I say he dishes? Not true. Myers is too nice to dish. He only has wonderful things to say, and if he was less than impressed with someone, he does not name names. This comes down to his innate goodness and wanting to look at the good side of things, and be appreciative of his opportunities. He periodically thanks Canadians as he talks about them in the book.
I posted some pictures on Facebook as I was reading the book, wanting to share my fun. This Fitness Award badge generated lots of comments and memories. In the seventies, a government department promoted fitness Participaction commercials and the Canadian Fitness Award. All students across Canada competed in 5 or 6 challenges and got bronze, silver, gold or award of excellence badges. (I never got an award of excellence fitness badge - the bar hang got me everytime down to bronze.)
Mike shared his memories of the Fitness Award in the book. The book is filled with pictures and random memories of growing up in Canada. (25 cent bags of Ketchup chips)
The first part of the book contains all the cultural notices, things that make Canada Canada. Pictured above, Stompin' Tom Connors, and the Canadian Tire, aka Crappy Tire, logo. True fact: every Canadian has a drawer stuffed with Canadian Tire money.
I'd be interested to hear what a non-Canadian thinks of this book. I have to say again, I loved this book. It reminded me of a cross between Martin Short's autobiography, I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, and Douglas Coupland's more visual Souvenir of Canada.
Myers covers a lot in the book - his childhood, getting into show business, getting famous. Also, Canada and how the nation grew and evolved, the differences between Canada and US. Some political stuff - he was a huge fan of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and then he ends with Justin Trudeau, which is such a stark contrast to the politics in the States right now. (Sorry, says this Canadian)
Thanks again, Mike.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 8:17 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. This week's topic is Ten Books from 2016 Which I Meant to Read (But TOTALLY Plan To). I am taking the titles from some of those 'Best of 2016' lists, and trying to focus a little more on nonfiction for this year.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi (and it is read by Cassandra Campbell!)
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Time Travel: A History by James Glieck
March: A Trilogy by John Lewis
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
So, have you read any of these? Plan to?
Saturday, January 7, 2017
When you don't read a book when it first comes out and everyone raves about it, then you don't read it when everyone starts criticizes many aspects of it and it gets so much backlash; when you wait that long, and read it, it falls somewhere in the middle of love and backlash.
I think this critique (Spoiled Little Rich Girl or Brave Woman?) sums up my feelings about the book. There are aspects of the book which feel self-indulgent - I don't want kids, I don't want to be married, who am I?, I'll travel the world! (with a book deal). But overall, who wouldn't like that opportunity - move to a country, by yourself and learn something new. And while I imagine it would be cool, I'm not the kind of person who could or would do that. But reading about someone else doing it is kinda cool, cool by association. That is why I like reading about other places and other people - to imagine what it would be like to do that or to be there.
Summary: girl gets divorced, feels crappy. Goes to Italy, and eats pasta, learns Italian. Moves to India, lives in an ashtam, eventually gets her brain to shut up so she can meditate; heads to Bali and makes some great friends and finds love even though she wasn't looking for it. Then Julia Roberts plays her in the movie.
I had bought the book at a book sale, but ended up listening to an audiobook from the library. When I listen to a book really quickly, I know I liked the book quite a bit. The author read it and I think it helped, hearing how she laughed, and getting her perspective on conversations. It was a great book to start the year off with, and helps me with my informal goal of reading more nonfiction this year.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 12:31 AM
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Last year I made up a challenge called Once and Again to read that second book by an author whose first book I thoroughly enjoyed. I had great success and read almost all 6 books I picked out. I was going to do it again, but realized I set too particular parameters, leaving out the third or fourth book, or even the first by an author.
What I really want to do is read those books I had placed on my Library List. Does your library have this? I can place books I want to read, or have read a great review of (thanks friends!) on a digital list. Not requested or anything, just my own personal TBR. There are books on that list now that I have no idea where I heard of them!
Libraries! What would I do without my library! I search and check there first, I can List it, or request it. Plus, PEI is so small, that all the branch libraries are part of the whole Provincial Library Services, so the catalog includes all the books in the province. I can see in which library the book I want is located. I can pick it up at that library if it is close, or request it and they mail it to my base library. Actual snail mail! Our book club reads nearly all our books from Book Club Kits available from the library.
So, here are the books that called out to me the most from my library list that I hope to read by the end of 2017. Join me if you want - read books from your library!
Wild Dogs by Helen Humphreys
Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
Slammerkin and/or Landing by Emma Donaghue
How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz
Glass Harmonica by Russell Wangersky
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta
Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan
Redshirts by John Scalzi
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. This week's topic is supposed to be Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half of 2017. However, I never did get my Best of 2016 list posted, so here we go:
Number of Books Read = 118
Number of Audiobooks = 56
Number of Female/Male Authors = 73/45
Fiction/Nonfiction = 102/16
The Trespasser by Tana French
Honourable Mentions Best Mystery (because I read a lot of mysteries)
Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridasson
The Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe
Criminal by Karin Slaughter
Best Start to a Series
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Best End to a Series
End of Watch by Stephen King
Best Historical Mystery
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
Best Recommended Book
The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters
Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge by Monica Kulling
Best Young Adult
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Best Science Fiction/Fantasy
The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
Best Book by a New to Me Author
The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami
Best Historical Fiction
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
Best Book by a Tried and True Author
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
The Wonder by Emma Donaghue
A God in Ruin by Kate Atkinson
Best Epic Apocalyptic
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Best Short Story Collection
Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie
Best Short Story
The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Runner up Most Heartbreaking
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Her by Harriet Lane
Most Unique Book
The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steven Sheinkin
Best Debut Book
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney