Pages.

If this blogging gig paid anything, I’d hire Jolene as my research assistant. Not only does she read the entire internet every day, she actually remembers what she read, searches like a ninja and is always able to provide a helpful link to something that ran six months ago. She was the one who suggested, a few days ago, that we start a discussion this month with recommendations of gift books for the holidays. So I’ll kick off December with her excellent idea.

Federal Trade Commission full disclosure: All links in today’s entry will take would-be purchasers through my Amazon Associates store, aka the Kickback Lounge, where yours truly will receive a tiny percentage of the purchase price. (Commenters’ links most likely won’t.) And a word to any fellow bloggers out there: Amazon’s payments, compared to Google’s AdSense, are the difference between your paychecks at a rural weekly newspaper and those of, say, Katie Couric. Which is to say I made about $17 last month, and sometimes I’d go months before making that much from the don’t-be-evil people. Who are.

OK, then: You’ve already read my thoughtstinsel on “Tinsel: A Search of America’s Christmas Present,” but I’m here to recommend it again. Hank Stuever has been getting some very respectable reviews for his look at how the holidays are celebrated in Exurbia, but for my money you can’t beat this one, from Amazon:

This is a nasty book written by a bitter, self-described homosexual with an anti-God, leftist agenda. That being said, it’s an “absolutely phenomenal” read.

Ha. Well. Actually, what comes through in the book (for me, anyway, and I’m not the only one to note it), is how much Hank actually likes all the people he writes about, even as he does not shrink from describing them in situ with the sort of all-seeing eye an anthropologist would envy. Recommended for the overdecorator, or under-spirited, on your gift list.

lifesentences2While we’re pimping our friends-who-just-happen-to-be-celebrated-authors, two for the mystery/crime fiction readers on your list — Laura Lippman’s fine standalone, “Life Sentences,” and her collection of short stories, “Hardly Knew Her,” the latter of which reveals more of Laura’s impish sense of humor than her long-form fiction. (Not that she’s a slug or anything, but many of these stories are just plain funny.) Also, the stories are available in paperback, so you can buy both and make a gift bundle, while tossing a few shekels at Laura for her bundle. I should probably mention that “Hardly Knew Her,” like much of her fiction, takes as its theme what a PhD might call the perfidy of women. Perfidy, but with humor. Win-win-entertain.

“Closing Time,”closingtime on the nightstand in the right rail for the longest time, isn’t new — it was published last year — but it’s worth your time even if you have to look a little harder for it. Joe Queenan’s memoir of being the abused son of a charming Irish drunk stayed with me for weeks after I finished it, and stays with me still. Rich with detail of growing up poor at a time when anyone with a work ethic could become comfortably middle class (if they didn’t have a drunk for a parent, that is), and not only poor but white and poor, and not just anywhere but in one of the most interesting cities in the country (Philadelphia), it’s a banquet throughout. It’s not a front-to-back bummer, either, but at its heart a story of how a person can overcome just about anything if he has the right kind of help and just a little bit of luck. I’ve been a fan of Queenan’s for years, and this book adds a new layer to my appreciation of a fine, funny writer.

Because we all know a lot of non-reading readers, and because America needs its share of books that don’t cause even casual readers to break a sweat, as well as something funny for your guests to page through while they watch you cook Christmas dinner, a recommendation from Mindy, who found the website that led to “Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong.” Revel in the simple yuks provided by cakes with names misspelled on them, or emblazoned: BABY SHOWER FOR BOY. Mindy recommends bookmarking Cake Wrecks as your daily amusement stop, now that the Lolcats seem to have run their course. Yes, what she said.

Which sort of fills out the entry for today, but I want to add one more, a website that should be a book and probably already is, but one you can look at right now — Ugliest Tattoos, name self-explanatory. Whatever you do, don’t click the “sexual” tag. OK, I warned you.

Now add your own recommendations. And for those who use the Kickback Lounge, I’d get your names tattooed on my heart if I could.

Posted at 11:45 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |
 

45 responses to “Pages.”

  1. Jeff Borden said on December 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Now that I have wrapped up my first semester of graduate school, I can read for pleasure again. I just reread Grapes of Wrath while we were in Florida for the holidays, thinking it would be an interesting book to revisit given our current economic times. I’d forgotten what a powerful polemic it is and, sadly, how timely it remains.

    While the Joads are driven from their Oklahoma farm by the Dust Bowl and the arrival of tractors and large-scale agriculture, their plight is not that different from the millions of Americans today who have seen their jobs disappear and with them their savings, their homes and their health. The same kinds of vitriol leveled at the Okies by the townspeople in California sounds so much like what some of our fellow citizens say about immigrants. The gnawing hunger that accompanies them every day is reflected in the stunning news last week of how many of us need food stamps to get by these days. The lack of proper nutrition and medical care ravages the Joads, who lose the patriarch and matriarch enroute to California and who see their beloved daughter deliver a stillborn for want of milk and decent food.

    Perhaps Steinbeck confers too much nobility on the Okies, who never receive a kindness that isn’t extended by another poor, struggling family. Perhaps he glamorizes the communal life in the government camp, the one place the Joads are treated like people. Perhaps he is overly harsh on the conglomerates that control the rich farmland of California, allowing land to lie fallow or destroying good crops to keep supplies low and demand high.

    Whatever, it remains a powerful if uncomfortable book. It’s worth your time.

  2. LAMary said on December 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I went on a cookbook buying binge a few weeks back and of the slew of books I bought the one that is the most inspiring is Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller. The grapefruit cake rules.
    Momofuku is another inspiring cookbook put together by David Chang who owns a restaurant by that name in NYC. The ingredients might be a little hard to find in some places. I live five minutes from Chinatown and have a son who loves to do Chinese grocery store crawls, but if you are not similarly blessed, it might be tricky to find some of the stuff needed for the recipes. If you’re ok with ingredient acquisition, you can generate some wonderful meals from this book and it’s fun to read.

  3. jcburns said on December 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Hey Nancy, as you slip into moviemaker mode again: http://trueslant.com/mikeharvkey/2009/11/30/the-10-best-long-tracking-shots-ever-filmed/

  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Colum McCann – Let the Great World Spin. I’d say more, but i gotta go. It’s an amazing, Ulysses-like novel, but much easier to read. I hope Frank McCourt got to read a proof of it before he died, he woulda loved it.

    Want to learn too much about Juggalos? No, i didn’t think so. Neither did i. These are the kind of days that send me back to Dickens and Trollope.

  5. adrianne said on December 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Just finished That Old Cape Magic by one of my favorite writers, Richard Russo. Highly recommended!

    I’ve just leafed through this one in the loitering library (aka Borders) but it is wonderfully written and tough: “Lit” by Mary Karr, about her life as a alcoholic mom/wife/poet and how she finally comes clean.

  6. beb said on December 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Book recommendations for kids, pretty much anything by Diane Wynneth Jones. She writes for children, tweens and occasionally teens.

  7. sueM said on December 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.

  8. Dorothy said on December 1, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Since I’m learning to knit I’m sort of consumed with that in my spare time. But I did read Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge recently and was transported with the way she has with words. That’s a cliche, I know, but it really sums up my feelings about the book. I went to Half Priced Books and bought two other books by the same author, and will get to them once I finish this knitted scarf I cast on about 10 days ago. It’s a Christmas gift so I must finish it!

    Ooops – editing to add – if any of you have to buy a gift for a knitter you love, you can’t go wrong with any books by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot!

  9. MarkH said on December 1, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Jeff Borden, re: Grapes of Wrath. Well said. Should be required reading, in fact. I bought it as a birthday gift for my son when he turned 18. “Here, you’re old enough to understand this. See how well-off you are.” He hasn’t finished it yet, and now he is 20. I keep reminding him. Another Steinbeck book I want him to read while he’s young is “Travels With Charley”.

    Grapes of Wrath was on TCM late last night, so stayed up to watch. So powerful in its own right.

  10. coozledad said on December 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I would recommend this, despite it’s being a little on the steep side. I guess you can get it through Nancy’s store, too:
    Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra

  11. Julie Robinson said on December 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Ooh, this will be a fun thread for a librarian’s daughter. Nonfiction hits of recent years for me: Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (tip the waitstaff, they’re making squat), Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner, Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

    For fiction: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and don’t forget the two current female detective writers Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton.

    Guilty pleasure reading: Janet Evanovich and Helen Fielding.

    My all time favorite author is CS Lewis and I reread The Chronicles of Narnia at least once a year. Disregard the tarted up Disney movies and go right to the source.

    I can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists: today you have touched on my passion.

  12. Julie Robinson said on December 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    How could I forget Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett? And for classics, of course, To Kill a Mockingbird. Like so many childrens’ books it is read on a much deeper level as an adult.

  13. moe99 said on December 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Wolf Hall, the Booker Prize winner for this year is extremely well written. I normally don’t read much historical fiction, having been spoiled by Dorothy Dunnett, but this is worth a look see.

    I’m more of a science fiction/fantasy sort of person.

  14. Jen said on December 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I have to admit, I really hated “Grapes of Wrath” when I read it in high school. I suppose maybe I should try it again, now that I’m a few years older and wiser. However, I loved “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck when I read it in college.

    Currently, I’m reading Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. I just started reading some of her books (she wrote the “Princess Diaries” books), and so far her books are very fun, light reading. My sister has read tons of Cabot’s books and loves her even more because she graduated from IU and lived in the same dorm as my sister.

  15. James said on December 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I’m re-reading for the umpteenth time The World of Jeeves, the omnibus version of those Wodehouse stories. Just plain funny.

    (not as deep and grown-up as all your choices…)

  16. Julie Robinson said on December 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Not about merry old England, but about an intersex person and his/her journey through life. Wickedly funny in print or audio.

  17. Peter said on December 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Mark, I loved the book, but I wasn’t so crazy about the movie – I think you could do a much better remake today.

    For all of you Grapes of Wrath readers out there, can you answer a trivia question that’s been bothering me? Going off of memory, so please give me a little latitude – when Steinbeck describes the roadside diner, he talks about the various signs and slogans pasted up on the restaurant walls, including one that said “ITYBTYWAD”. What the heck does that mean?

    Thanks in advance to the fine person who answers it.

  18. jcburns said on December 1, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    If I tell you, will you buy another drink?

  19. coozledad said on December 1, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Moe: I’ll have to check that out. Hilary Mantel is magisterial.
    I wish we had a decent library out this way.

  20. Jolene said on December 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, Peter, pretty impressive. You have stumped Google. No returns for a search on that term.

    Would like to second some of the books mentioned above: Bel Canto, Middlesex, and another by Ivan Doig, The Whistling Season (http://bit.ly/6sW4vc). And one more:

    Sacred Hunger, by Barry Unsworth (http://bit.ly/6noJd9) Also a Booker Prize winner. Not a light read, as it deals with the slave trade, but one of the most impressive and powerful books I’ve ever read. Here is the Publishers’ Weekly blurb:
    This vast, vividly realistic historical novel follows the crew of a slave-trading vessel from its Liverpool shipyard through days at anchor bartering human cargo on the Guinea Coast, then on beyond the slaver’s disease-ridden and mutinous Middle Passage. With an epic ambition that seems suited to its 18th-century setting, Unsworth ( Stone Virgin ) takes on a big theme–greed, the animating “sacred hunger” of the title–but at the same time fills his huge canvas with the alternately fascinating and horrifying details of shipboard life, colonial plunder and power struggles, the London clubs of absentee sugar lords, even a pidgin Utopia created by slaves and seamen on unclaimed Florida coast. Deftly utilizing a flood of period detail, Unsworth has written a book whose stately pace, like the scope of its meditations, seems accurately to evoke the age. Tackling here a central perversity of our history–the keeping of slaves in a land where “all men are created equal”–Unsworth illuminates the barbaric cruelty of slavery, as well as the subtler habits of politics and character that it creates. As intricate as it is immense, this masterwork rewards every turn of its 640 pages. (July) one with a continuing fascination for readers and authors alike–Unsworth illuminates its cruel ties and miscarriages, its floggings and murders, as well as the subtler habits of politics and character that it creates. As intricate as it is immense, this masterwork rewards every turn of its 640 pages.

    Will stop in w/ a few more ideas later–as soon as I finish my daily read of the Internet.

  21. jcburns said on December 1, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Um, no google hits because it’s actually IITYWYBAD…see above.

  22. mark said on December 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Night (Wiesel), Anarchy, State and Utopia (Nozick), The Stand (King), Band of Brothers (Ambrose), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (Sedaris)

  23. Hexdecimal said on December 1, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    In the spirit of the times, and of the season, I share with you the “Gift of the Magi” – by O. Henry.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/magi10h.htm

  24. Linda said on December 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Loved the tattoo site, especially the sexual ones. We have books and books of them in our library, mostly under lock and key not because they are dirty, but because they are one of the most stolen items we have (along with Bibles and sex manuals). Lots of people want to pick out good patterns for themselves.

    • nancy said on December 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm

      I cannot tell a lie: The one of the Loch Ness monster rising from beneath her underwear waistband made me laugh.

  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Ah, i’m smiling — thank you to jc, or whoever put in the NN.C’ed links for the books, and for giving me the chance to learn McCourt did indeed get to read this before he died! (There’s a review in the Amazon link by the man himself.)

  26. ROgirl said on December 1, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, anything by Barbara Vine (who’s really the mystery writer Ruth Rendell).

  27. MarkH said on December 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    OK, Peter, but it depends on who does the remake. I can’t think of anyone today (director, writer) who I would trust to truly convey the story. As for the original, well, you have John Ford, Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell (who was originally rejected for Ma Joad, until she proved that she fit Steinbeck’s original description), and it was 1940. I still weep at the scene where the man describes the death from heart failure of his children with bloated bellies due to malnutrition. It still works.

  28. LAMary said on December 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    My favorite cakes from Cake Wrecks are the one that says “NOTHING” in huge letters, and the one that says “CONGRATULATIONS” and beneath it “AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE.”

  29. LAMary said on December 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    What set me off on the cookbook buying binge was buying a new pressure cooker through the kickback lounge. That got me all psyched up for new cooking adventures so I ordered a pressure cooker book, three Mark Bittmans, Momofuku, Ad Hoc and the Santa Monica Farmers Market cookbook. The Mark Bittman books were for a friend who just bought his first house.

  30. coozledad said on December 1, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    The man whose appetites are prominently displayed on his upper lip reminds me of a guy I roomed with in college, who would pour cologne (probably Aramis) down his hairy back before hitting the wet T-shirt and jello wrestling circuit downtown.

  31. moe99 said on December 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Perhaps you could recommend the following for your college roommate:
    http://www.amazon.com/MANGROOMER-Yourself-Electric-Back-Shaver

  32. Dexter said on December 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    On my nightstand is a copy of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. It was given to me in 1980 by a veteran of The Great War; he had fought in France in that war.
    He died in 1981 . Here it is , 2009, and I finally cracked the cover. Why hurry? Anybody else ever hear of it or read it? The WWI friend of mine said it was important literature.
    http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/lookingbackward/summary.html

  33. Jolene said on December 1, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Here’s one more: The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    Two short blurbs from Amazon:

    “I grew up in a Maryland that lay years, miles and worlds away from the one whose summers and sorrows Ta-Nehisi Coates evokes in this memoir with such tenderness and science; and the greatest proof of the power of this work is the way that, reading it, I felt that time, distance and barriers of race and class meant nothing. That in telling his story he was telling my own story, for me.”
    — Michael Chabon, bestselling author of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation.” — Walter Mosley

    As Chabon says, this is a voice you won’t hear in your own house if you are a middle-class white person, but Coates’s intelligence and expressiveness are worth a couple of clicks at the Urban Dictionary web site. We read this in my book club and were all tremendously impressed, not least by his maturity, which was notable because he had to be under thirty when he wrote this. If you haven’t already done so in response to my previous exhortations, you should check out his blog. Lots of interesting stuff there today.

  34. LAMary said on December 1, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I have read books other than the cooking variety, and among those I recommend are the Lucia novels by E. F. Benson, and almost anything by Barbara Pym. The Rabbit novels by Updike and anything by Philip Roth. Larry McMurtry can create characters I miss when I’m not reading about them.

  35. paddyo' said on December 1, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    On the fiction front, how about some T.C. Boyle for the holidaze? Tortilla Curtain and Drop City get my nod, both paperback and fittable into those hung-with-care stockings . . . the latter for wacky counter-culture fun and the former for its 15-years-ago prescience on the undocumented (read: Mexican) immigration issue.

    Speaking of that, my one entry in the non-fiction category, still in hardback, is Just Like Us, a remarkable account of four girls’ journey from high school through college in Denver’s Latino/a community, two of them undocumented and thus handcuffed at every turn in trying to make their way (they came here as children with their parents). Fascinating, clear-eyed, even-handed account by the freelance journalist Helen Thorpe, who happens to be the wife of Denver’s mayor. That fact made for a very riveting set of encounters around huge controversy here after an off-duty Denver cop was shot to death by a young Mexican man who worked as a dishwasher at one of the mayor’s restaurants (held in trust at the time; Hizzoner has since sold his interest in his local string of brewpubs and watering holes).

    It was my book club’s read a couple of months ago, and I was prepared to be bored. I was not. It’s a great spin through the issue, but through lives you probably never had an inkling about . . .

    One more paperback read, very edgy, only an Xmas gift for the hard-core-can’t-be-scandalized on your shopping list:
    Kill Your Friends, by Brit writer John Niven. Devilish, never-mind-the-bollocks novel on the recording industry. Keen writing, really vivid, against an exhausting backdrop of wretched beyond-excess — and astonishingly hilarious.
    But again, very hard-edged. Only if you dare . . . maybe only for someone particularly naughty on Santa’s list.

    Just read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, too — an easy evening’s read (180 pages or so, and fast) and it takes place in one day, too. More grist for holding up the mirror to our society vs. the Muslim world. It’s fiction, but I could imagine the encounter in real life.

  36. Laura Lippman said on December 1, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I can’t resist recommending books. Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked is his best book, funny and sad and wise and he got the Internet right. Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets has a brief section about newspapers that really captures the way things are now, and it was also funny and sad and wise with a pitch-perfect ending.

    Just started Blame and I have a feeling my friends steered me right on this one, too.

    And for cookbooks, I really like Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. I’ve made the watermelon salsa, bread pudding, strawberry cupcakes, deviled eggs and pimento cheese. Oh, and the sweet tea and fried chicken. My focus group prefers the strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, but every recipe so far has found happy eaters.

  37. brian stouder said on December 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Jolene does indeed rule; between all the goodies she brings to the NN.c buffet, and the unfailing bounty that the proprietress always invites us to share, this place is simply indispensible, each day.

    I saw an article on msnbc about Award Winning Books, which ties in with today’s subject, and also (sort of) with the bad sex tattoos (especially the one where the woman has her name upside down on her shoulders, and rightside up just north of the small of her back)

    Bad Sex prize awarded to American author

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34222221

    an excerpt:

    A cringe-inducing passage which compares a sexual encounter to battle with an one-eyed mythological monster was awarded Britain’s Bad Sex in Fiction Prize on Monday.The editors of the Literary Review magazine said best-selling American author Jonathan Littell won the prize for describing a sex act as “a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg.” The offending passage compared female genitalia to various Greek fiends, including the mythical monster Gorgon and “a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks.”

    If the thing didn’t run 900 pages, I be almost tempted to read it! I recall a sex scene in a William F Buckley spy novel, in which he used a reptilian sex metaphor – something about springing for its prey – which stuck in my brain because the man did, in fact, look like a little like a reptile.

    Laura Lippman’s excellent books and short stories have a little sex stirred in here and there; not gratuitous or garish – but intrinsic to a story (or a character); a sense of immediacy rather than theatricality makes them an integrated part of the story, instead of a distraction.

    One easy, informative, quick read I’d add to the lists here is Gerry Prokopowicz’s “Did Lincoln Own Slaves” – an altogether engaging, funny, educational, and informative book, that would appeal to all people of all ages

  38. anonlurkermom said on December 1, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    my comments don’t seem to get through filters lately, but YOU MUST READ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire. I am too lazy to get out of bed to see the author. Awesomely well written. Bad news: the author died young, but there’s one more manuscript to publish. Tell me how much you love them!

  39. Denice B. said on December 2, 2009 at 12:18 am

    ‘Cake Wrecks’ and ‘Ugliest Tattoos-Gallery Of Regrets’ are among my ‘must see’ list. But for just a weird bit of fun, go to http://www.peopleofwalmart.com . The WalPeople are photographed wearing the most outrageous outfits. Just people shopping. And being oblivious to how they look! For my birthday last week my hubby gave me the ‘Ace of Cakes-Inside The World Of Charm City Cakes’ book. Thousands of cakes. Just a fun read.

  40. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 2, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Hmmm. I went “through the lounge” to get a tagged url from Amazon for a book i wanted to post at Facebook, and the post appeared, but a few minutes later, it disappeared entirely. Is this all Amazon.com links at FB, or just tagged/rewards links?

  41. Jolene said on December 2, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Just remembered one other interesting possibility. This one is a pair of books, which speak of the same people from different perspectives. The first is Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy. Her book is an account of what she endured as the result of cancer of the jaw, which she suffered as a child.

    The second is Truth and Beauty: A Friendship, by Ann Patchett, who is the author of Bel Canto. She knew Lucy as a student at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and then throughout her life until Lucy died after a, to put it mildly, tumultuous life at about 40. The book is about their relationship.

    Really fascinating to read these two accounts as, taken together, they raise many questions about who is telling the truth, whether it is right for Patchett to reveal unflattering aspects of Grealy’s life after her death and without her permission, the quality of the intense friendship they had prior to Lucy’s death, and on and on.

    Amazon is selling paperback copies of these books as a pair now for $20, so this is a great deal. Not too much help to Nancy’s Christmas fund, but a great read for yourself or someone on your list.

  42. Peter said on December 2, 2009 at 8:37 am

    JC – thanks so much – I’m too old, I guess, that I should just type what I don’t know on google or bing and sure enough something will pop up.

    As for that website – I’ll have to check back every so often to see if there will any entries to Jesus’ High School Yearbook – I think it’s a potential winner.

  43. Randy said on December 2, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I’ve got four to recommend:

    *The Abstinence Teacher, by Tom Perotta, author of Election and Little Children
    *The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, and it sequel, Paula Spencer, by Roddy Doyle
    *Sorry to be a huge downer, but the best of this year’s book for me had to be Columbine, by Dave Cullen, a non-fiction horror story. F***ed me up for a few weeks, most definitely.

  44. Jessica said on December 3, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Right on, even double right on, about the Joe Queenan book. I’ve seldom read a memoir with less self-pity and less self-justification in it. It made me think in a way that other Queenan books, which are excellent snarky fun, have not. And it doesn’t romanticize alcoholism, as so many child-of-a-drunk memoirs do.

    Read it and try not to think about the hundreds of thousands of kids living like that today.